Finally! After weeks of unconfirmed reports of being offered a contract, not being offered a contract, the truth has finally emerged: Chris Young will be pitching for the Mets in 2011.
Once again, a la Chris Capuano, Sandy Alderson has found an oft-injured pitcher who has had great success when healthy. This approach could provide great bang for the buck as Young has signed a guaranteed deal worth about $1.0 million that could jump as high as $4.5 million if certain goals are reached. It’s a deal that could be win-win for both the Mets and Young as the 31 year old pitcher has much to prove having missed portions of the last three seasons. Certainly, the Mets would be more than happy if Young reached all of his incentive goals.
Besides being a good deal from the contract side, Young has had plenty of upside when healthy. Lifetime, Young possesses 3.80 ERA, having pitched 751.2 innings while allowing just 614 hits. Batters have hit just .225 off of him. And if you like that stat, here’s a sweet little nugget: Young’s career H/9 of 7.4 is tied with Tim Lincecum and better than pitchers, Felix Hernandez (8.2), Roy Halladay (8.7), Johan Santana (7.6), Cliff Lee (9.1), Josh Johnson (8.2), Chris Carpenter (8.9), Adam Wainwright (8.3), Zack Greinke (9.1) and Justin Verlander (8.3).
If there is one statistic that may be pause for concern is that Young has a very high fly ball percentage at 53%. More fly balls means more potential home runs. But let’s break this down a little bit. First of all, if a pitcher is going to be a fly ball pitcher, he better have good strikeout numbers. Young has a career K/9 of 7.82 which can definitely support those fly balls numbers. Looking a little deeper, of those 53% fly balls, Young has a very high percentage of infield pop-ups at 15.3%. So these are fly balls that never leave the infield.
Lastly, Young has spent the better part of his career pitching for the Padres in pitcher-friendly Petco Park. CitiField is equally as friendly to pitchers as Petco . He has compiled a 2.85 ERA for his career at Petco with hitters batting just .205. These numbers should translate very well to CitiField.
Of course, all of this is well and good. The real test, like Capuano, will be to see if Young can stay healthy. He’s only has three seasons where he has made 30 or more starts and has never pitched 200 innings.
Yes, Young has great potential and could reap great rewards for the Mets if he can stay off the DL and pitch like he has in the past. Either way, the Mets have not extended themselves very far with this deal. It’s a risk, but a calculated one that could payoff big.