The Mets moved a step closer to filling out their rotation and back end of their bullpen by signing Chris Capuano and Taylor Buchholtz. Capuano, a left-handed finesse pitcher, figures to become either the Mets fourth and fifth starter, and Buchholtz, a former top reliever, will fight for the 7th inning role or maybe even a long-man role.
As proposed last week, a Capuano and Mets union just makes sense. Considering the Mets never intended to sign a big-name starter, a reclamation project like Capuano fits perfectly with the Mets 2011 outlook. Capuano’s career with the Brewers started in 2004 after being dealt in a blockbuster deal from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Despite two consecutive successful seasons in 2005 and 2006, where he posted a combined 29 Wins, 4.01 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 7.2 K/9 IP, and 2.8 BB/9 IP, Capuano was forced to opt for his second Tommy John surgery before the 2008 season, knocking him out until mid-2010. While the lefty did not pitch the whole season, and even spent time as reliever, he did post a 4.14 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 6.7 K/9 IP, and 2.27 BB/9 IP in 9 starts. If healthy, Capuano is sure to win a spot in the Mets rotation, and could be a great comeback candidate too.
Similar to Capuano, Taylor Buchholtz’s career too was derailed by injuries. A former 6th round pick by the Philadelphia Philles in the 2000 draft, Buchholtz immediately caught the attention of scouts, and was named the #88 prospect by Baseball American in 2003, and the #50 prospect in 2004. He didn’t get a taste of the majors until 2004 after being packaged to the Houston Astros for Hall-worthy closer, Billy Wagner. Buchholtz posted a decent season as a starter for the Astros, but was shipped to the Colorado Rockies the following season, and used primarily in a relief role. The transition to the bullpen was a smooth one for the righty, posting a spectacular 2.17 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 7.6 K/9 IP, 2.4 BB/9 IP in 2008. However, Buchholtz tore his UCL, and only pitched 12 innings between 2009 and 2010. The good news is that those 12 innings came at the tail-end of 2010, so obviously Mets GM Sandy Alderson felt Buchholtz looked form enough to become a reliable bullpen arm in 2011.
Both Capuano and Buchholtz will be signed to one-year deals, with a $1.5 million base (plus incentives) and $600K base, respectively. According to sources, the Mets signing of Capuano does not completely take them out of the running for either Jeff Francis or Chris R. Young–which is good news within itself.