Yesterday afternoon, GM Sandy Alderson confirmed the Mets’ signing of veteran right-hander Chris Young to a minor league contract. He will provide added depth to a team that lacks it– especially in the starting rotation.
ESPN New York writer Adam Rubin brought up something that we were all thinking when this signing went down:
Alderson said Young is “unlikely” to be considered as anything but a starter. The Mets, like any team, figure to go through more than five pitchers in the rotation during the season. So Young, as well as prospects such as Matt Harvey and Jeurys Familia, would be candidates for a second-half role if ready. By then, Mike Pelfrey could be on the trading block if the Mets have faded, too.
Young is definitely a starter, but the last time I checked the rotation went– 1. Santana, 2. Dickey, 3. Niese, 4. Pelfrey, 5. Gee– so that means if Young were to step in, someone would have to go. That someone, without a doubt, would be Mike Pelfrey. Pelfrey is the most inconsistent of the five starters, and one of the most overpaid. Plus, his contract is not guaranteed, which means that if the Mets were to cut him before the season, they would only be responsible for half of his $5.6 million salary this season.
Chris Young, a former All-Star, has definitely proven himself as an above-average starter over his eight-year major league career. From 2005 through 2007, Young went 32-20 with a 3.60 ERA and a stellar 1.161 WHIP– proving himself as one of the game’s best up-and-coming starting pitchers. Since then, however, he has fallen off the map due to constant injury. But when you take into account the production Young has provided throughout his career, despite the injuries, most baseball fans would take Young over Mike Pelfrey any day of the week.
We have established now that Young, when healthy is a better pitcher than Mike Pelfrey, but it looks unlikely that Young will actually grab Mike’s spot in the rotation and hold it and there are two main reasons why.
The first reason is Chris Young’s health. As I mentioned earlier, the likelihood of Young completing a 30-start season again may be unlikely. It’s possible, but it’s unlikely.
The second, and in my opinion, the most important one to the Mets, is the timing. Mike Pelfrey’s contract isn’t guaranteed. They could release him before Opening Day and save money. They would only do that, though, if they thought they had an able and ready starter to step in and pitch those 180-190 innings. Even if Chris Young could hold up through
September, the odds of him getting back to the mound, ready to pitch when his first turn comes around April 9 or 10 are very, very slim and the Mets know that. They aren’t going to release Mike Pelfrey because of this uncertainty.. The one thing Pelfrey does provide is innings and if the Mets don’t know for a fact that those are going to be filled, nobody’s going anywhere.
It’s a real shame that the Mets couldn’t get this deal done earlier with Chris Young. If they had, he may have been ready to pitch much, much earlier. Say what you will about the Mets training staff, but they would’ve prepared Young and gotten him out on the mound. This would have opened the door for releasing of Mike Pelfrey (which seems like the only way the Mets could get rid of Pelfrey because no one wants to trade for him). Sandy Alderson made a mistake in not signing Chris Young right out of the gate in Spring Training.
Even if the whole thing didn’t work out– at least there would have been a chance of removing Mike Pelfrey from his thrown., finally removing the pain in the side of most Mets fans, replacing it with possibly a more consistent, productive pitcher.
This post was also published at The Real Dirty Mets Blog.