August 30, 2012
Does the Wolf Solve Problems?
Reportedly will sign LHP Randy Wolf. [8/28]
First Joe Saunders, now Randy Wolf. The Orioles are one Shaun Marcum away from acquiring every battered starter from last year’s playoff series between the Brewers and Diamondbacks. Wolf is a different animal than Saunders. This season, he’s been unable to put together consistently good outings. His quality-start rate is a career-worst in a season with 20-plus starts. Amusingly, Wolf had the best strikeout-to-walk ratio of his Brewers tenure, though he allowed 11 hits and more than one home run per nine innings.
You can never say when a player is done for certain, but given Wolf’s age, numbers, and stuff the words do pop to mind. He uses a variety of unimpressive pitches to get outs: a high-80s fastball, a mid-80s cutter, perhaps an occasional slider, a high-70s changeup, and a high-60s curveball. Can a junkballer succeed in the American League East? Or, in a playoff series? The O’s will hope to find out. Besides, what alternative do they have?
Maine isn’t your typical soft-tossing left-handed reliever with great minor-league numbers. His fastball can touch 94 mph and he backs it up with a breaking ball and changeup. Chicago acquired Maine in the 2009 Aaron Heilman trade, but never gave him more than 21 appearances in a season. The side-arming Maine did show a propensity for retiring left-handed batters during his time in the bigs, and situational relief could be his future home. Maine has one option remaining, so the Indians have time to figure out what they have.
Is anyone having a better year than Pearce? He started the season playing for the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate. In June, the Yankees traded him to the Orioles for cash. In July, the Astros plucked him off waivers. Here in August, the Yankees have re-acquired Pearce for more cash. Pearce has shown flashes of being able to hit left-handed pitching. Injuries and managers obsessed with veteran players limited his playing time, however, and he wound up settling for a minor-league gig this winter. In the span of one season, Pearce has gone from playing for a Triple-A team without a real home to hitting cleanup for the first-place New York Yankees. What a game, what a year, what a life.
The nasty underbelly to Pearce’s triumphant ascent comes in the form of McGehee’s demotion and Laird’s designation for assignment. This is a temporary setback for McGehee, who will return once rosters expand. At worst, he loses his playoff roster spot. For Laird, this pops his prospect bubble. Perhaps another team will take a chance on a corner infielder that can hit for some power without having the slightest of plate discipline. If not, Laird needs to look no farther than Pearce’s story for inspiration.
You get the sense the A’s were eager to rid themselves of Recker. Lalli is a 29-year-old organizational soldier. He does not field well enough to catch, nor does he hit well enough to play first base or the corner outfield. Even his best offensive trait, the ability to hit for average, is being called into doubt at Triple-A; perhaps that’s why it took parts of four seasons at Double-A to earn a promotion. No matter, Lalli may find himself in the majors if the A’s opt to use him as their third catcher in September. Josh Donaldson, another former Cub, is also a possibility.
Parker is a catcher-turned-pitcher trying to make it in this lonely world. He missed the past two months thanks to a stress reaction in his throwing elbow. One ominous sign deserves another, and Parker’s minor-league walk rates are red flags. He can zip his fastball in there when he wants to, but command and control issues limit his ceiling to middle relief. Expect to see Parker’s name pop up in future columns detailing his journeys to and from Chicago via Iowa.
Recker was something of a prospect a few years ago. Now, Recker is a catch-and-throw backstop, and serves as organizational depth. Recker does feature some impressive raw power, but contact woes render the pop moot. Look for the Cubs to use Recker as their third catcher in September before shaking him off the 40-man during the offseason.
Released LHP Erik Bedard. [8/28]
Pittsburgh’s decision to sign Bedard to a one-year deal appeared prudent at the time. Through Bedard’s first six starts, it appeared brilliant. He had a 2.65 ERA, 23 more strikeouts than walks, and 26 more strikeouts than runs allowed. Bedard then left his seventh start after five pitches with back spasms. He returned a week later and everything began going downhill. In Bedard’s final 17 starts, he allowed more than six runs per nine innings. Pittsburgh decided to move on from Bedard, his slowed fastball, and his 33 percent quality-start rate. The most commonly asked question in the aftermath is, “Why now?”
The answer might be that the Pirates just wanted to shape up their postseason roster. Although the Pirates have shrinking postseason odds, Neal Huntington recently spoke about putting together the club’s October 5 roster on August 31. The Pirates have some flexibility, with multiple players on the 15- and 60-day disabled lists, but Bedard obviously didn’t have a place in the plans; d’Arnaud, on the other hand, can serve as a utility infielder and pinch-runner. Speculation that Bedard didn’t seem to care enough about his struggles to fit into a playoff push is notable, though, as with all speculation, speculative.
It’s not yet clear who the Pirates will use in Bedard’s rotation spot. Kevin Correia is a possibility, which undoubtedly excites the other teams in the Wild Card race.