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Should The Red Sox Target Chris Capuano?

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Sunday, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the Brewers had broken off talks with free agent Chris Capuano, essentially opening him up to the rest of the league.

Capuano, 32, made a successful return from Tommy John surgery last year, pitching to a 3.95 ERA including nine starts at a 4.14 mark. However, with the addition of players like Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum, the Brewers found themselves flush and weren't in particular need of a back-end starter, low-balling Capuano with incentive-laden offers.

So now Capuano is "out there", and if you ask me, he makes a ton of sense for the Red Sox.

If you look at the Red Sox' bullpen, the obvious question is who gets the lefties? Papelbon will be pitching the ninth, so forget about that. Daniel Bard, as great as he was in 2010, struggled against lefties with a 4.48 xFIP. Bobby Jenks dominated them, but also dominated everyone peripherals-wise, and so isn't the type of guy you want to throw away on a couple lefties in a row in a Dan Wheeler seventh inning. Oh, right, Wheeler, he's basically a ROOGY.

While the ideal situation is some simple progression of Bard, Jenks, and Papelbon in each-and-every game, it's not going to work out that way. Tito likes to rest his relievers as much as possible, and won't be pitching them in three games straight very often. That means we're going to see a good few seventh innings featuring Dan Wheeler and Scott Atchison, and that means we need someone who can face the lefties. It's nice to have that as the major problem, but it's a problem none-the-less.

Which brings us to Chris Capuano, and what he could do for the Red Sox in that situation. Last year, Capuano managed a 2.61 xFIP against lefties. It was a short sample size, but he looks like he's recovered from Tommy John nicely. He was never a power pitcher, but his velocity hasn't dipped since 2007. What has happened is that his pitches have their bite back, allowing him to get back to his old, solid numbers hovering around 4.00-4.30 xFIP. Against lefties, his career xFIP is 3.28. He can get the job done.

 

K/9 BB/9 FIP xFIP
2003 6.3 0.9 2.83 3.79
2004 11.49 3.45 1.84 2.27
2005 6.99 2.72 3.82 3.87
2006 7.26 0.45 2.82 2.94
2007 8.63 3.34 3.33 3.58
2010 11.29 3.44 3.84 2.61

(Chris Capuano vs. lefties)

But what's in it for Chris Capuano? Well, that brings me to my next thought: Tim Wakefield just isn't cutting it as the sixth starter. Or, rather, we could have better.

Now I love Tim Wakefield as much as anyone else. The guy has been the consummate team player for years and years, and as frustrating as a knuckleball can be to watch, it can also be plenty fun. In the last year-and-a-half, though, it's been trending towards frustrating, and that's a problem when you're starting nearly 20 games a year. The rotation, after all, never stays fully healthy, and some combo of the #6-#8 starters will usually end up contributing just as much as at least one of the initial rotation members.

Recently released, and recently returned from his second Tommy John, Chris Capuano would likely come fairly cheap. He would allow the Red Sox to stick Felix Doubront back in Triple-A for more seasoning, and be a lot more cost-effective than Brian Fuentes.

The question is whether or not Capuano would have any interest in the Red Sox. Really, this seems like almost a pipe dream addition, given the quality of the player and the position we're looking to improve. He could very likely find offers from other teams looking to stick him in a rotation spot from day one, which has to be a significant consideration. But if Capuano is looking to win, the Red Sox likely represent his best chance, and the team should at least give him the option of filling a role in Boston.