St. Louis Cardinals signed LHP Rich Hill to a minor league contract.
The memories of Hill’s 2006 and 2007 seasons with the Chicago Cubs become hazier with each passing day. The 6-5 left-hander with the slow, looping curveball had a 4.51 xFIP in 99.1 innings during ’06, whiffing 8.15 batters per nine frames and walking 3.53 per nine. In Triple-A that year, he terrorized the PCL to the tune of 12.15 K/9, 1.89 BB/9 and a 1.67 FIP in 100 IP. 2007 was even better, as Hill logged 195 frames with the Cubs. He posted rates of 8.45 K/9 and 2.91 BB/9, with a 4.13 xFIP.
The University of Michigan product was an extreme fly ball hurler (34 GB% from 2006-2007), but his high-80’s heater had positive run values both seasons (+0.22 runs per 100 pitches in ’06, +0.66 in ’07), while his curve rated as -0.26 in ’06 and +0.53 in ’07.
Then, the wheels fell off. Hill scarcely pitched in 2008, as he was sidelined with back problems. He issued 18 free passes in 19.2 innings with Chicago, and walked 44 batters in 47.2 IP between Rookie Ball, High-A and Triple-A.
Shipped to the Orioles last February, Hill missed the first two months of the season with a left elbow strain and continued to have Blassian issues finding the strike zone. In 57.2 frames with Baltimore, Hill struck out 7.18 hitters per nine innings but walked an obscene 6.24 per nine. His xFIP was 5.69, as he tossed a first-pitch strike just 46.9 percent of the time (58-59% MLB average). That was the lowest rate among all big league pitchers throwing at least 50 innings. In August, Hill went under the knife to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder.
Thirty years old in March, Hill is now a broken, control-challenged project. He’s a long shot to contribute, but New Busch smiles upon fly ball-centric pitchers: per the 2010 Bill James Handbook, Busch has decreased homer production by 20 percent compared to a neutral park from 2007-2009, while deflating run scoring by seven percent.
Chicago Cubs signed INF Chad Tracy to a minor league contract.
The last time Tracy played regularly was 2006, when he turned in a 102 wRC+ with Arizona. Since then, the 29 year-old lefty batter has been injury-prone and ineffective. Tracy was placed on the DL with an oblique strain and right knee tendinitis in 2007. He had microfracture surgery in September of ’07, which sidelined him until May of 2008. This past year, Tracy again hit the DL with an oblique strain.
From 2007-2009, the erstwhile D-Back authored an 86 wRC+. For 2010, CHONE offers an 84 wRC+ projection, while the fans envision a 92 wRC+. Even if he cracks the 25-man roster this spring, Tracy doesn’t figure to see much playing time with the Cubs.
Golson’s really fast and….did I mention he’s fast? The 24 year-old was once a warmly regarded prospect in the Phillies’ system, but a fatal lack of strike zone control has wrecked his career prospects. Golson did swipe 20 bags in 24 attempts for Triple-A Oklahoma. Unfortunately the former first-rounder “batted” .258/.299/.344, walking 5.8 percent and whiffing 23 percent. During his minor league tenure, Golson has a .263/.308/.395 triple-slash, drawing ball four 5.5 percent and striking out 26.5 percent. He’ll aspire to become the next Freddy Guzman.