People are going to hype this move as the Rays “adding an established closer” and such, but here’s a fun game, tell me who Player A is in this comparison:
Jason Isringhausen last three seasons, average win value: -0.2
Player A last three seasons, average win value: -0.3*
Izzy’s fastball has remained between 91-92 on average along with a high-80s cutter and a high-70s curveball. To his credit, Isringhausen does have a history of inducing groundballs and oddly two of the past three years have seen an uncharacteristically high amount of homeruns. Whether that’s due to Isringhausen or simply a luck thing is a guess at this point. Isringhausen’s strikeout rates have been right around his career average as of late, but recently inflated walk rates and homerun rates have sunk his efforts.
Over the last three seasons Izzy has K/9 of: 7.59, 7.44, and 8.02 to go along with BB/9 of: 4.64, 3.86, and 5.86. The homeruns really do stand out, since Izzy allowed 1.05, 0.55, and 1.54 over the last three years. For a pitcher with a career HR/9 of 0.71, that just screams oddity.
There’s a loose chance Isringhausen opens the season in the Rays bullpen, but it seems more likely that he heads to Durham, shows that he can sustain some level of health, and then finds an opening around the mid-season point, perhaps due to an injury or general ineffectiveness.
On a minor league deal, and for substantially less – the deal is worth 2 million max — than what a certain similar reliever is making, you can’t hate this deal. The Rays continue to add potentially useful depth in their minor league system with low-risk, medium reward types. Morgan Ensberg, Adam Kennedy, the boat of middle relief types, and Isringhausen may or may not add value to the 2009 Rays, but you can’t fault the thought process behind any of these moves, regardless of the result.
*Player A is Troy Percival