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Red Flags on Matt Capps; Colon In Citi Field?

By Mike Silva ~ November 15th, 2011. Filed under: New York Mets.

There were reports out of the Milwaukee GM meetings that Matt Capps might be on the top of the Mets closer shopping list. Capps was a name I did not discuss on Sunday when I talked about who would be a fit to close ballgames at Citi Field next season.

Unlike Broxton, Lidge and Nathan, Capps is coming off a healthy, albeit ineffective season. He was nearly a member of the Mets in 2010 when the Pirates non-tendered him, but he elected to go to Washington where he felt he had a better opportunity to close ballgames. He won the job, was traded to Minnesota mid-season in the Wilson Ramos deal, and actually did a nice job for Ron Gardenhire that season.

Capps had 14 saves in 2011 with a 4.25 ERA. Historically, he is a pitcher that had good control, kept the ball in the park, and struck out about 7 per/9. The drop in K-Rate last year (4.7) is where the alarm bells go off for me.

Historically a drop of nearly 3 per/9 tells me his velocity is down, or there is a lack of location or movement with his pitches. His fastball did drop 1-MPH according to Texas Leaguer Pitch f/x, although his groundball and fly ball rates were aligned right with his career average. Typically, an increase in fly balls is a warning sign for a pitcher as well. It wasn’t like he was unlucky either, as a .263 BABIP was well below the league average of .300. Personally, I don’t take that data as seriously since I believe there is good and bad contact that could skew that theory.

Capps would certainly require a 2-3 year deal. He is better than the internal options, but clearly a risk as well. I am guessing he would be looking for something like a 2 year deal for $18 million with a $10 million dollar option.

Again, there are some red flags here that worry me.


Joel Sherman mentioned Jeff Francis and Bartolo Colon as low cost options for the Mets rotation. Colon intrigues me because of how well he pitched for the Yankees and in the American League East.

He became the forgotten man at the end of the season because of his August and September struggles, but for a large chunk of the season he was the Yanks #2 behind CC Sabathia.

I think a National League lineup and pitcher friendly ballpark in Citi Field would be a perfect fit for Colon. You would have to monitor his innings, as I think Joe Girardi pushed him a bit too hard in the first half. He averaged about 7 innings per start before the All Star Break, and around 5 after. Part of that was due to effectiveness, but I think limiting Colon to 5-6 innings on most nights will keep him fresh for an entire season.

The biggest concern is his body. Could he play in the National League where he will be expected to run the bases and bunt? You saw how seriously pitchers can get hurt when Chien-Ming Wang tore up his foot running the bases in Houston in 2008.

Obviously, health is the biggest question mark here. Remember, it was revolutionary stem cell surgery that helped speed up the recovery on his elbow and shoulder so there is little precedent on how that holds up long-term.


Let’s not forget Jeff Francis, who was on the Mets radar last year. He lost 16 games for Kansas City with a 4.82 ERA. He is a ground-ball pitcher that historically has pitched to contact. All his career peripheral numbers were in line, but the results were far worse than what we saw in Colorado. To be fair, this was his first year back from shoulder surgery, so that obviously played a part in it.

Both Francis and Colon are risks, it just depends who you think could hold up for a full season with the maximum effectiveness. Right now, I think it’s a flip of the coin.

Maybe there is a way to bring both into camp. Colon could always pitch long-relief out of the bullpen.


Finally, I do like the idea of bringing back Endy Chavez as a fourth outfielder/spot starter if Angel Pagan remains with the team.

Chavez is not a full-time starter, but he will give you a solid 250 at-bats in a backup role. He can pick it in the outfield, is popular with the fans, and a good guy to have in the clubhouse.

I never understood why he fell into the abyss when Jerry Manuel took over.

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