Gads. The Brewers went on a bit of a spending bender on pitchers today, signing Randy Wolf and now LaTroy Hawkins to a $7.5 million deal. The Brewers are penciling him in to set up their ancient-yet-effective closer Trevor Hoffman. It’s probably not a terrible idea to have a fallback option should age finally catch up Hoffman, although Hawkins is 37-years old himself.
Stuff-wise, Hawkins has evolved into a bit of a different animal since his glory days as a Minnesota Twin. He used rely on the strength of his fastball almost exclusively. Since becoming a vagabond reliever, he’s become more reliant on a couple of breaking pitches; a hard slider and a curveball. At 37 years young, Hawkins can still bring the heat, averaging 94 on his fastball last season.
I’m thinking Doug Melvin came away a little too impressed with some of his baseball card numbers last year: 11 saves, 19 holds and 2.13 ERA in 65 appearances. Hawkins’ 2.13 ERA can largely be credited to a 90% strand rate. Despite a solid arsenal of pitches, Hawkins has a middling strikeout rate for a reliever at 6.4 K/9. He also has experienced some on-again/off-again bouts with gopheritis; last season his HR/FB rate was 12%. Combine a 25% line-drive rate and Hawkins gave up his fair share of hard contact last season. One of his saving graces he does a solid job at giving up free passes.
Take away the veneer of a shiny ERA and you have a 3.97 FIP and a oogly 5.25 tRA. His xFIPs for the previous two seasons are 4.10 and 3.97. Hawkins is more of a “proven commodity” than some of the other available free agent relievers out there, but there are cheaper and probably more effective ways of cobbling together a bullpen than this.
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