Lukewarm Stove: Sources Say Cubs Interested in Chris Capuano

One of the hallmarks of the Jim Hendry era was a predilection for reclamation project pitchers. Chad Fox, Wade Miller, BJ Ryan, Chad Fox, Ryan Dempster, Chad Fox, Chad Fox … the list goes on. It was, in fact, one of a few Hendry strategies that I really liked. The risk in taking on a pitcher whom no one else wants, at least not on a Major League deal for big dollars, and who has something to prove – because of injury, ineffectiveness, whatever – is quite low. The upside, excepting Ryan Dempster, is usually fairly low, too. But “it doesn’t hurt to try.”

We’ll have to see how the new front office feels about reclamation projects.

The Mets took on a reclamation project of their own before the 2011 season: lefty starter Chris Capuano. Out of the bigs for two years prior to 2010, Capuano returned to his long-time team, the Brewers, for an up-and-down 2010 season, where he pitched more out of the pen than the rotation. After that year, few teams wanted to take a serious chance on an uncertain commodity like Capuano, but the Mets signed him on a one-year, $1.5 million deal.

The results were mixed. While he was healthy enough to make 31 starts, Capuano’s ERA was just 4.55, ERA+ just 82, and gave up 198 hits in 186 innings. Still, he hardly walked anyone, and struck out an impressive 8.1 batters per nine innings.

Whether Capuano, now a 33-year-old free agent, still qualifies as a reclamation project, and whether Jim Hendry would have taken a chance on him, are both now academic questions. Debate them if you’d like, but they don’t much matter at this point.

What matters is that the Chicago Cubs, under Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, are interested in Capuano, according to sources.

Capuano was little more than an average lefty in his time with the Brewers, before falling off the map in 2007, having his second Tommy John Surgery, and then pitching his way back in the minors. At one point, Capuano’s Brewers lost a jaw-dropping 26 straight games in which he made an appearance. A rabbit’s foot this guy was not.

So where do things stand today? Well, as I said, he pitched to mixed results last year, struggling overall, but showing well in the walks and strikeouts areas (the most important areas for a pitcher, according to Jed Hoyer). The Cubs could use a lefty in their rotation to give other teams a different look, but adding a lefty just to add a lefty is never a good idea. If the Cubs’ rotation stayed as it stands going into 2012, and the Cubs added only Capuano, does a Garza-Dempster-Zambrano-Wells-Capuano rotation really do much for you? Didn’t think so.

Adding someone like Capuano would be, I suspect, more about depth than about a guaranteed starting spot.

If Capuano is an inexpensive option, he could make for an adequate swingman in the Cubs’ bullpen, and, as last year demonstrated, you can never have too much starting pitching depth. In other words: As a guaranteed starter? Meh. As depth? Sure.

The Cubs aren’t the only team in on Capuano. The Dodgers have long been connected to Capuano as they look for inexpensive pitching options.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

49 responses to “Lukewarm Stove: Sources Say Cubs Interested in Chris Capuano”

  1. njriv

    I’m fine with it if it’s a more of a depth, swing-man type of move. Acquiring him as a starter….not so much, unless he really earns it in spring training.

  2. Fishin Phil

    I’ve never been a fan of his, even when he was healthy.

  3. kernzee

    you forgot mike sirotka

  4. Fearbobafett

    if we have a better defense then maybe.

  5. willis

    I’m about sick of lefty Brewer cast offs.

  6. EQ76

    he sounds like a left handed version of Rodrigo Lopez

  7. Spencer

    He kinda blew for my fantasy team last year. I say no.

    1. oswego chris

      I hope it was an NL only league….or there were 26 teams in there…

  8. Andrewmoore4isu

    If he blew do Spencer’s fantasy team well then I say no too

  9. baseballet

    You can’t pass up a 33 year old pitcher whose former team once lost 26 straight games in which he made an appearance. At the worst he could be a designated driver for Randy Wells.

  10. jstraw

    You have to have a couple of guys that can eat innings in laughers without any concern for their ERA.

  11. BetterNews

    Yes you can bird man.

  12. Jeff

    I’d rather see them take a flyer on Erik Bedard.

  13. JasonB

    3:1 K/BB ratios don’t typically end up with 4.55 ERAs.  It appears as though Capuano may have been a bit unlucky last year – BABIP .311, HR/FB 12%, LOB% 72% all suggest that there was some bad luck to his 2011 numbers.  His FIP was 4.04 and his xFIP was 3.67 – those are not numbers to sneeze at.

    Seems like he has historically had an above average HR/FB rate so his xFIP may be always be low and of course, fly ball pitchers have a tendency to struggle at Wrigley, but we can make worse signings than this for the money he will command.

    1. MoneyBoy

      Jason … It’s odd … Mets were tied for 4th best in # of errors in the NL.  Their pitchers were awful … tied for 25th in hits allowed and tied for 24th in BAA. Capuano’s WHIP was 2nd on the staff and a tick below the team average … shrug

      Brett … wouldn’t mind him on a 1 yr deal … but do NOT want to get into a bidding war for him!!!

      1. JasonB

        Well, it’s either odd or a sign that the Mets had a bad defense last year.

  14. die hard

    Yep..team is shaping up to reach 110 losses…I can accept so many losses if done with kids under 25 yrs old….not with projects like DeJesus, Capuano et al….Tidrow as GM looking pretty good right now…

    1. TWC

      Hey, Ace?  How’s about a Series She-View Preview?  Or maybe a Series She-View Run-Through, highlighting the best of last years’s match ups?  How about just some gratuitous boob shots?  I mean, this sort of trolling is incredibly tedious.

    2. Toosh

      Try to write something positive once.

      1. die hard

        I do every time…Positively suspicious of every move by the best front office money can buy…I stopped drinking the kool-aid after 1969…if you need help kicking the habit, let me know…

        1. EQ76

          So you’re judging the entire off season by one signing and a rumor? I’ll reserve my judgement until spring training.

        2. deej

          No one likes watching a team lose… but either be a Cubs fan and have some faith or go be pissy somewhere else.

          And I second TWC – Cubs and She-View: Great one, two punch! Can you She-View potential trades? Upcoming Meetings? haha

          1. Max

            How about a straight-up DeJesus she-view featuring his wife?

            1. Bails17

              Yes…I would like that very much!

            2. Bails17

          2. Toosh

            Hear, hear!!

            1. BetterNews

              Wow ! You Da judge?

              1. Katie

                If a bunch of boob shots make the trolls go away, I say bring on the tig ole bitties! Trolls be GONE!

                1. Fishin Phil

                  Taking one (out) for the team.  Way to go Katie!

                  1. Katie

                    Hey, I’m a giver like that.

                    1. hansman1982

                      Not sure what to make of this comment.

                2. Rancelot

                  I know MG is on a crusade to rid the earth of all the negativity associated with goats so let me be the first one to stand up for the Trolls. Listen, I have been to Norway and had the opportunity to frolic through the forest, hike the mountainous terrain, and share a few pints of mead with the little folklorians and let me tell you, they are nothing like the posters you call trolls. And another thing, they LOVE bOObs.

                  So, from this point forward I propose we refrain from using the term troll in favor of something more applicable: Blatherskites

                  A blatherskite is a noisy talker of blatant rubbish; foolish talk or nonsense. Enough said!

                3. Bails17

                  Who said that was a boob shot Katie?  Where’s your head at girl??

                  1. Katie

                    I was just stating that if there were boob shots on here it wouldn’t offend me especially if it made the blatherskites go away.

                    1. Bails17

                      Nuff said….BTW…love the tig ol’bitties comment!  And yes…it looks as if Mrs. DeJesus has had her set surgically enhanced!!

  15. EtotheR

    I’m not sure I hate this…he did show some flashes of brilliance while with the Brewers, and it seems like a sort of low-risk move. If he shines…he shines. If not? No worries…

  16. MightyBear

    We had a left handed starter Gorzelanny and dumbass Hendry traded him away to clear salary cap. He was making 1.9 million. That’s when Hendry lost me. I do like the idea that Capuano throws strikes. You can see the changes coming.

  17. MightyBear

    Here’s a little Cubby humor.

    What do the Cubs and Yankees have in common?

    Neither have won the world series since they moved into their new stadium.

    1. John

      haha, I like it!

      1. Spencer

        It’s funny, not not true :( Yanks won in 2009.

  18. Deer

    A 4.55 ERA playing in a spacious park in NY worries me. I wouldn’t hate the move, but it’s hard to envision him as more than a #4 or 5 starter.

  19. art

    if Theo, Jed, and Dale are serious about pitching and D, Soriano will not be a starter on this team.

  20. Fishin Phil

    If they want to go after a marginal lefty, I would much prefer they go after Maholm.

  21. ferrets bueller

    The Cubs had (have!) absolutely no pitching depth last year, as evidenced by the fact that Coleman and Ortiz actually managed to pitch major league innings for them. By the end of the year, pretty much anyone who had an arm attached to their side was welcome on the mound. Guys like capuano are what keeps teams from going down that route, something hendry never had the forethought to prevent. The SP depth would be greatly appreciated. You NEED +/- Average players on your teams to have any success- like Dejesus or capuano. This is one of the many things that makes Theo a vastly superior GM to hendry- realizing there is value in signing low level players.

  22. john

    My guess and betternews your sources should confim that the Cubs will sign …. Kelly Johnson and move Casro to 3rd. Barney to SS

  23. Ashley

    Have no problem if they do go after him. Cubs need a lefty pitcher and I he is a lefty and proably cheaper than many pitcher out there.

  24. Papi

    What about the “2nd year after Tommy John surgery” magic that pitchers supposedly get in their returns to the Bigs?  If it is true Theo & Jed must be betting the 2nd-year after the 2nd Tommy John surgery is gonna be HUGE for Chris (sarcasm font), esp. pitching against his old team 4-5 times next year