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Minor Moves: Wellemeyer to SF, M. Jacobs to NYM

Posted By David Golebiewski On February 12, 2010 @ 2:51 pm In First Base,Starting Pitchers | 2 Comments

San Francisco Giants signed RHP Todd Wellemeyer to a minor league contract.

Wellemeyer gets a non-roster invitation to spring training, where he’ll try to crack San Francisco’s pitching staff as a long reliever. Chris Haft’s MLB.com article quotes Giants VP of baseball operations Bobby Evans as saying, “we’re looking at him right now more as a long man.” Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez and Zito fill the 1-4 spots in the rotation, and Madison Bumgarner, Joe Martinez and Kevin Pucetas are expected to compete for the fifth spot.

A former Cub, Marlin, Royal and Cardinal, Wellemeyer was a wild man in major league stints from 2003-2007. He appeared to turn a corner in 2008 with St. Louis, with 6.29 K/9, 2.91 BB/9 and a 4.49 xFIP in 191.2 innings pitched. A low BABIP (.273) and a high rate of stranding runners on base (76.9%) suggested that Wellemeyer wouldn’t replicate his 3.71 ERA, but he entered 2009 with a steady big league job for the first time in his career.

Unfortunately, Wellemeyer was walloped. He was placed on the DL in August with right elbow inflammation, but the injury appeared to diminish his stuff for most of the season. In 122.1 IP, Wellemeyer whiffed 5.74 batters per nine innings, with his walk rate rising to 4.19 per nine frames. His xFIP was 5.21.

The 31 year-old’s average fastball velocity dipped from 92.3 MPH in 2008 to 91.5 MPH in ’09. That heater wasn’t especially effective in ’08 (-0.56 runs per 100 pitches thrown), but it was even worse this past season (-0.96 runs/100). Despite a one MPH dip in velocity, Wellemeyer’s slider remained sharp (+1.63 in ’08, +1.5 in ’09). His changeup was battered, though: -4.52 runs/100 pitches in 2009, compared to +1.25 the previous year. Wellemeyer’s contact rate increased from a league average 80.3% in ’08 to 82.8% in ’09, with his swinging strike rate declining from 9.2% in 2008 to 7.6% in 2009 (7.8 percent MLB average for starters).

Wellemeyer’s fantasy value is negligible at this point. He has one year of average pitching on his resume, surrounded by years of getting drubbed and a troubling history of elbow ailments. According to the Fantasy Pitch F/X DL Tool, Wellemeyer missed a month and a half with an elbow sprain in 2007, and missed some time in 2008 with elbow inflammation as well.

New York Mets signed 1B Mike Jacobs to a minor league contract.

Jacobs, 29, will try to work his way into New York’s first base mix, which includes Fernando “two grannies in one inning” Tatis and Daniel “please don’t play me in left field” Murphy.

A former Mets farmhand shipped to Florida in the November 2005 Carlos Delgado deal, Jacobs is basically a fantasy landmine. Sure, he has power, and if you’re not careful, he’s the sort of player that can lull you into thinking he’s a decent option.

Following an abysmal season spent in Kansas City, the lefty batter has a career .335 wOBA. And, he has a 32 homer, 93 RBI campaign to his name, too. That sounds OK, right? Not for the position that he plays. The average first baseman posted a .350 wOBA in 2009, a level which Jacobs has never come particularly close to during his big league tenure.

He doesn’t control the strike zone, and as Jacobs’ splits page shows, lefties make him jelly-legged (career .281 wOBA in 449 plate appearances). Even if we regress that mark against southpaws toward the mean, Jacobs’ projected wOBA against left-handers is about .293, compared to .334 versus righties. In other words, he’s terrible against same-handed pitching, and a slightly above-average MLB hitter against right-handers. That doesn’t cut it at first base.


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