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January 22, 2013

Transaction Analysis

Doing the Lindy Hop

by R.J. Anderson

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IN THIS ISSUE

American League
National League

CHICAGO WHITE SOX
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Signed RHP Matt Lindstrom to a one-year deal with a club option. [1/19]

What is wrong with Matt Lindstrom? The White Sox are his fifth team since 2010 and his sixth team since 2009. Arizona declined a $4 million option earlier in the winter despite Lindstrom’s solid three-year stats (3.38 ERA, 2.48 strikeout-to-walk ratio) and stuff (mid-90s heater, knockout slider when he locates). Granted Lindstrom has always been a bit of a tease: a pitcher with better stuff than results is bound to change addresses more often than his counterparts do. But he’s also been an adequate reliever, particularly against righties. If the White Sox elect to move on after a solid season, then we might have our answer whether we realize it or not.

CLEVELAND INDIANS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Signed UTL-R Ryan Raburn to a minor-league deal. [1/19]

Ambrose Bierce once wrote, “Calamities are of two kinds: misfortune to ourselves, and good fortune to others.” Raburn’s 2012 season is then a calamity by definition. After jostling between the keystone and the outfield for Detroit over the past few seasons, Raburn spent most of last season on the disabled list and all of last season on the ineffective list. Now Raburn could find himself in the minors—a misfortune to himself.

The Indians are the benefactors here. They traded Jason Donald recently and could use Raburn and his offensive ability off their bench. When right, Raburn hits for an above-average amount of power while maintaining a decent average despite striking out a quarter of the time. The 2012 season looms large because no one can be quite sure what it represents. Is last year a hiccup or a precursor? Expect Raburn to get a chance in camp to put his spin on it.

COLORADO ROCKIES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Signed RHP Miguel Batista to a minor-league deal. [1/19]
Signed RHP Chris Volstad to a minor-league deal worth $1.5 million. [1/20]

Here’s what I wrote when the Royals acquired Volstad earlier in the offseason:

Let’s make no bones about it.  Volstad is a below-average starter. His lone marketable skill is generating groundballs—a bad idea in Kansas City because no team had a higher average against on groundballs than the Royals. The front-of-the-rotation potential, stemming from a large frame and projectable body, no longer exists. Volstad filled out without improving his stuff. He doesn’t miss a lot of bats, and misses the zone too much to serve as a counterbalance. Add in persistent issues with the long ball and left-handed hitters and there is a lot to not like about Volstad’s game.

This feels like a questionable match on paper. While the Rockies did turn groundballs into outs at a higher rate last season than the Royals did, Coors Field is not a place where a home run-plagued pitcher can thrive. Volstad figures to serve as low-cost depth for most of the season. Don’t be surprised if he sneaks into the majors for a few starts.

Speaking of low-cost depth, Batista keeps getting jobs. We had every right to bury his career after he posted a 6.26 ERA and 0.92 strikeout-to-walk ratio as a 37-year-old. That was in 2008. Since then, Batista has appeared in 184 games and completed more than 265 innings. Teams seem enthralled by Batista’s rubber arm and his intangibles.  Batista will have two opt-out opportunities if his charm fails to woo the Rockies. 

R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see R.J.'s other articles. You can contact R.J. by clicking here

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