Under the Radar: Yes, Even More Interesting Baseball Moves

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve turned this “Under the Radar” series into a regular occurrence. Anyway, onto the news.

The Cubs signed Xavier Nady, the Phillies signed Jose Contreras, and the Nationals signed Miguel Batista. Fascinating. With the bigger signings out of the way, let’s focus on the smaller, more interesting and intriguing moves.

First off, the Dodgers signed Timo Perez. Perez has always been a solid hitter, both in the major leagues and in the minors. While in the latter, he has hit .322 over the course of eight seasons, stealing 81 bases and scoring 316 runs. One year, he hit .357 and another, he hit .359—but that still isn’t his best. In 2002, he hit an astounding .571 in the minor leagues! (If you disregard the fact that he spent only five games on the farm that year, it seems a lot more impressive).

Oh yeah, he’s also done pretty well in the leagues. In eight major league seasons, he has a .269 average with 449 hits. He had a mug of coffee (because his stint was too big to be called a “cup”) with the Mets in 2000, and from 2001 to 2004, he served as a regular/semi-regular outfielder in the Mets and White Sox organizations. From 2005 to 2007 he served as a bench player or fill-in for the Sox, Cardinals and Tigers. He has not played in the big leagues since 2007, though in his most recent season he hit .389 in 90-at-bats.

Perez is a solid acquisition for the Dodgers. Not only does he provide good minor league depth, he is also still a solid bench player. He provides his team with good speed on the base paths, fine bunting skills and a player who doesn’t strikeout too often (big league career high: 36, minor league career high: 47). He should be a solid player at whatever level he is assigned to in 2010.

And just a quick bit of trivia about Mr. Perez: he has exactly 1,000 minor league total bases, through the end of the 2009 season.

Every year, there are top prospects that become busts, and there are has-beens that are now just trying to latch onto a team. Recently, the Rockies signed a player who falls into the “former top prospect who is now basically a has-been” category: Jimmy Gobble. Remember when he was supposed to be good? Not too long ago, he was ranked the #2 prospect in the entire Royals farm system. But now, he is just a run-of-the-mill middle reliever.

Last year, he had a 7.50 ERA in 12 relief appearances for the White Sox. In 2008, he had an 8.81 ERA in 39 relief appearances for the Royals. If this past couples of years is any indication, 2010 will be more of the same…

…but you never know. He has shown flashes of reliability (I’ll stop short of saying “brilliance”) in the past. In 2007, he went 4-1 with a 3.02 ERA in 74 relief appearances for the Royals. Even in 2008, the year in which he had an atrocious 8.81 ERA, he didn’t do poorly most of the time. In fact, he began the year without allowing a run in six straight games, and he ended the year without allowing a run in eight straight games.

Perhaps the reason his 2008 ERA was so disgustingly high can be traced to one game: on July 31, he allowed ten earned runs on seven hits and four walks. Though his ERA would still have been high even without that game, it would have been a much less hideous (though still unimpressive) 5.97.

The issue with Gobble is that he gives up runs in clumps. He can go five, six, seven games without allowing a single run, but then he all of a sudden allows four or five to score in a single outing. Take 2009, for example. His ERA was a high 7.50 over the course of 12 appearances. And yet, he only actually gave up runs in three of those games pitched. If he could figure out a way to not allow runs to be scored in clumps, he could be a solid pitcher, like in 2007.

And finally, just a few quick notes. The Red Sox signed Gustavo Molina, who—though unrelated to brothers Bengie, Jose and Yadier—is also a catcher. What is it with the name “Molina” and catching? Of the six Molina’s to reach the big leagues, only one (Gabe) has not been a catcher. Also, Eric Byrnes signed with the Mariners. The Diamondbacks are responsible to pay the majority of his former contract, which is around $11 million dollars. I bet they wish they didn’t waste that money on Byrnes, so they could actually use it to pay their star corner infielder Chad Tracy. Oh wait.

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