I’ve made no secret here of my concern about the starting pitching depth. Johan Santana is returning from complicated shoulder surgery, and remains and unknown. Dillon Gee faded badly down the stretch, and doesn’t project as a frontline starter anyhow. Jon Niese has tired late in each of the past two seasons. And pitchers get injured all the time anyway, red flags or no. With the alternatives Miguel Batista, Garrett Olson and Chuck James, Plan B just isn’t reassuring.
But Chris Young is crazy if he thinks he should be holding out for a major league deal, as Ken Davidoff is reporting. It isn’t that Young isn’t smart, after all-guy went to Princeton.
Chris Young pitched a very effective 24 innings for the Mets last year. In 2010, he was dominant over 20 innings for the Padres. The year before that, he struggled in 76 innings.
That’s 120 innings, total, over three years. Exactly why would a team guarantee his contract, when he has been such an unknown?
Some market comparisons: Dave Bush, a year removed from 174 perfectly decent innings, signed a minor-league deal with the Phillies. Zach Duke, with 76 innings last year and 159 the year before, signed a minor league deal with the Astros. Jeff Francis, off of 183 innings with Kansas City last year, signed a minor league deal as well.
Granted, Young pitched more effectively than the above pitchers. But he did so in fewer innings over the past three years than the the first two posted in the past two years, and roughly half as many innings as Francis provided last year alone. The Mets, in other words, are right not to guarantee a major league deal.
Young would actually be wise to sign with the Mets, given the uncertainty in the starting five and relatively modest competition to step in if someone falters. Interestingly, though, he’s not supposed to be ready until May at the earliest, so if Santana can’t go to start the season, another pitcher stands a good chance of getting first crack at filling in. The stars are aligned, in other words, for Miguel Batista. Make of that what you will.