When I first read that the Milwaukee Brewers were going to be parting ways with Chris Capuano, who reportedly wanted a shot to start, I wondered if the Mets would be interested. Having seemingly been focused on Jeff Francis and Chris Young this past month I didn’t give it much thought, but after they made the move to sign him it all made sense. I mean the lefty is a former all-star and a ‘buy low’ candidate as he continues to recover from Tommy John surgery….. surely Sandy Alderson must have been chomping at the bit. Well the Mets have indeed brought Capuano in to compete for a rotation spot and with news of his signing came questions, in my mind, about what the team could expect in 2011.
In an attempt to get some of those questions answered I reached out to Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel. Tom has reported on the Milwaukee Brewers and Major League Baseball since 1985 and has published two books on the team ‘Brewers Essential: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Real Fan!‘ and ‘Where Have You Gone ’82 Brewers?’ Mr. Haudricourt was nice enough to take time out of his busy schedule to answer a few of our questions and for that we offer a big Metszilla thank you. Feel free to follow Tom on Twitter for updates on the Brewers and baseball in general.
“In reading the comment section of your recent posts “Brewers, Capuano part ways” and “Capuano signs with Mets“, I was amazed to see the love your readers showed the pitcher. What about the lefty made him such a fan favorite in Milwaukee?”
“Chris Capuano became a fan favorite because he’s a good guy with a strong work ethic who overcame tremendous odds in returning to the majors from a second Tommy John surgery. I think fans recognized the determination and perseverance it took for Capuano to endure the two-year rehabilitation process and make his comeback.”
“Were you surprised when the club broke off negotiations or did the Greinke/Marcum acquisitions along with the emergence of Narverson last year simply squeeze him out?”
“I think it was a mutual agreement that Capuano wouldn’t return after the Brewers acquired Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke. There no longer was an opening in the starting rotation and Capuano made it known he wanted to be a starting pitcher. There no longer was a fit with the Brewers, which led to the parting of ways.”
“Capuano has had 2 Tommy John surgeries and though he appeared healthy after coming back last season do you think the club had any reservations about his arm moving forward?”
“Only the Brewers know if there were reservations about Capuano’s arm. I never heard anyone express any such feelings. But the history of double-Tommy John pitchers is not good and you never know how long a pitcher might hold up over the long run. Of course, that’s the case with pitchers in general but, again, the history is not good. But if anyone can do it, it’s Capuano because of the work he put into his comeback.”
“Surgery can often cause a pitcher to alter the way he approaches hitters, did you notice any changes or adjustments made by Capuano during this past season?”
“Capuano never has been a pitcher who blows away hitters. His fastball did come back to the high 80s and occasionally touched 90 at the end of the season, which was a big difference from spring training. Obviously, it took time to build his arm back up. Capuano uses breaking pitches and a good changeup to set up hitters. That’s his forte.”
“What do you think the move from Miller Park to Citi Field will do for a pitcher like Capuano, who has seemingly been more of a flyball pitcher in the past?”
“It would help any pitcher to move from Miller Park to Citi Field, I would think. The ball carries pretty well in Miller Park, depending on the roof being closed or open, etc. Citi Field obviously is more pitcher friendly. If Capuano stays healthy, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he succeeds with the Mets.”
I have to thank Tom again for his time and participation. It was interesting to see him say that Capuano touched 90 towards the end of last season. Given what Willie Randolph recently said to Adam Rubin of ESPN NY, it’s nice to know the 32-year-old lefty was regaining his velocity:
As Tom mentioned above “Capuano never has been a pitcher who blows away hitters”, but for a pitcher who relies heavily on his changeup, a little extra zip on his fastball will only help in keeping hitters off balance. I encourage Mets fans to take a look at the comment section of Tom’s post “Brewers, Capuano part ways“, as it really is striking to see how much Brewers fans adored this guy. It really is ‘Francoeur-esque’ in a way. Things may or may not work for Capuano in Queens this coming season but he is pitching with something to prove and appears to be the kind of player that will only enhance an already strong team chemistry. Of course, if a couple successful seasons + hard work + positive fanfare equaled results then Jeff Francoeur would still be playing right field for the Mets, so let’s just hope things fair better for Cappy than they did Frenchy.
*Q&A conducted via e-mail 1/3/11-1/4/11
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