Here are five recent — and not entirely inconsequential — moves.
Baltimore Signs Taiwanese Left-Hander Chen
The Baltimore Orioles signed Taiwanese left-hander Wei-Yin Chen to a three-year, $11.3 million deal on Tuesday, reports a large portion of the internet. Our man David Goleblahblahblah, writing for RotoGraphs, looked at Chen in some depth yesterday. The salient details: Chen is 26 years old. His strikeout rates have plummeted over his four years in the NPB (8.4, 8.0, 7.3, 5.1 K/9). His walk rates have also declined (2.6, 2.2, 2.3, 1.7). All things being equal, more strikeouts with more walks — like, with the same strikeout-to-walk ratio — is better than fewer strikeouts and fewer walks (i.e. a pitcher with a 9.0 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 is more valuable than one with a 3.0 K/9 and 1.0 BB/9). His fastball velocity has declined about 1-2 mph over that time (per Patrick Newman’s NPB Tracker). He only needs to produce, like, 2.5 wins to earn his contract. He’ll probably have a better 2012 than Brian Matusz had a 2011.
Baltimore Acquires Miller from Oakland
The Baltimore Orioles acquired outfielder Jai Miller from Oakland for cash on Tuesday, reports MLB.com’s Bill Ladson. Miller, entering his age-27 season, has a gigantic hole in his swing, having struck out in 30.8% of his 3750 minor-league plate appearances (and 37.7% of them in 2011). His 2011 at Triple-A Sacramento provided some interesting numbers, though. To wit: 32 HR in 475 PA, 15-for-15 SB, 11.4% BB. He appears capable of covering all three outfield spots, in any case. Also, he has a disproportionate number of highlight videos (nine) for someone with only 73 major-league plate appearances. That’s, like, eight plate appearances for every notable feat.
Boston Signs Right-Hander Cook
The Boston Red Sox signed ground-balling right-hander Aaron Cook to a minor-league deal on Sunday, reports the internet. Cook, entering his age-33 season, has always induced ground balls (57.4% GB career, 55.1% in 2011), but has only rarely put enough space between his strikeout and walks rates to be above-average. Cook has spent his whole career in the less-than-friendly confines of Coors Field, so his move to Boston will be interesting for that reason. The Boston Herald’s Michael Silverman reminds us that the Red Sox have quite a few candidates for the last, like, one and a half rotation spots — including Carlos Silva!
Houston Claims F-Mart Off Waivers
On Tuesday, Chris Cwik asked “Is Fernando Martinez worth a waiver claim?” On Wednesday, the Houston Astros replied (per MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart), “Yeah, dogg.” Martinez was ranked on Baseball America’s top-100 prospect list for four consecutive years, from 2007 to ’10 (Nos. 22, 20, 30, and 77), but has suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune in the meantime — or, if not outrageous, then pretty bad. He’s still only 23, however. Here’s an interesting thing: John Sickels compiled five years’ worth of comments on Martinez from his annual prospect book.
Milwaukee Claims Bianchi off Waivers from Cubs
The Milwaukee Brewers claimed 25-year-old infielder Jeff Bianchi off waivers from the Cubs on Wednesday, reports MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. Bianchi never played for the Cubs, having actually only just been claimed off waivers from the Royals a month earlier. Bianchi spent his first six years of minor-league baseball in the Kansas City system. His greatest asset appears to be his glove, where he rated well per Total Zone for years in which we have data. Neither his plate discipline (148:382 BB:K in 2051 PA) nor his power (31 HR) are particularly notable.
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