Zduriencik’s Pitcher Type
Since Zduriencik took over as GM, the Mariners have added five relievers to the organization who require spots on the 40 man roster. Those five are listed below, along with their 2008 walk rate, strikeout rate, and groundball rate
Jose Lugo, 10.5% BB%, 24.2% K%, 56% GB%
David Aardsma, 15.4% BB%, 21.5% K%, 44% GB%
Tyler Walker, 9% BB%, 21.6% K%, 46% GB%
Luis Pena, 19.3% BB%, 20.2% K%, 47% GB%
Jesus Delgado, 12.9% BB%, 21.7% K%, 52% GB%
You should notice a trend. These guys all got a ton of strikeouts, all of them had above average groundball rates, and all of them suck eggs at throwing strikes. Okay, lumping Walker in with the other four in that regard is a little unfair, because while he doesn’t have great command, he looks like Greg Maddux next to these guys.
The M’s have basically spent the winter collecting raw, unpolished arms for the bullpen. Velocity and movement matter, command not so much. And this is, honestly, a great way to build a really good bullpen. If we look at the relievers in MLB last year who posted the 10 lowest FIPs, you get the usual collection of Rivera/Papelbon/Lidge, but there are three names relevant to the discussion:
Kuo was the best left-handed reliever in the game last year. Coming into the ’08 season, he was a guy with good stuff and no command.
Balfour was an elite setup man, probably the best in the game, for the Rays a year after posting a 7.30 BB/9 in the majors.
Thornton, who you’ll remember for his good stuff/horrible command days with the M’s, had the best year of his career after seeing his command regress in ’07.
These three guys were on the level of the best relievers in baseball. Their teams got all-star value from these three live armed/bad command guys, all of whom were recently available for practically nothing.
The M’s aren’t going to get good work from all five of these guys. But the M’s are simply taking the right approach here, going with quantity over quality, and then waiting to see which one turns into a relief ace. Odds are, when you collect this many good arms, one of them is going to.