If Chuck James sounds familiar, that’s because you remember him as a pitcher on the Braves. Chuck James was signed to a minor league contract this offseason by the Mets and is next in line with Jeremy Hefner on the outside looking in for a spot in the rotation this season. As already described in an earlier post, the Mets rotation is probably set right now, with Santana’s mark being the current question mark. Both Hefner and James could step in for the next available role, so who ever performs better in the spring will get the spot.
Chuck debuted with the Braves in 2005. He had a very successful 2006 season where he posted a 3.78 ERA in 116 innings of work. His 2006 season was OK, his ERA was good at 4.24, but he allowed a lot of homers (32) over 161 innings of work. 2008 was a bad season for James as he bounced around from the minors and the majors, while posting a 8.10 ERA in the majors. During the 2010 offseason, the Nationals signed him to a minor league deal, where he recorded his second straight season without making it back to the majors. The next offseason he signed with the Twins, where he spent time in the minors and the majors:
Minors: 38 G, 0 GS, 62.0 IP, 2.30 ERA, 9.6 K/9
Majors: 8 G, 10.1 IP, 6.10 ERA, 7.0 K/9
He put up great numbers in the minors as a reliever last year, just couldn’t match it in a limited exposure setting in the majors. I am really curious to see what the Mets decide to do with James in the Spring. If I had to guess, he would start off as a starter, since starters only pitched 2 to 3 innings at the beginning of Spring anyway. If he has success, then they will continue to stretch his arm out as a starter. If he has sorta success (like earlier in his “starts” but not in the latter part), then I think they will switch him back to a reliever to try out for a spot in the pen. If it doesn’t work, then he will probably get sent right back to the minors.
James is a good low risk, high reward sign. This is the type of move I like this time of year because it yield great reward without strain on the major league roster / budget.