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Friday, March 05, 2010
Kiko Calero Signs With New York MetsPosted by Tommy Rancel at 7:00am
Even before the 2009-2010 offseason started, I was a fan of Kiko Calero. Calero returned to the big leagues in 2009 after missing most of the 2008 season (4.2 innings) with a rotator cuff injury. Not only did he return, but he enjoyed in his best season to date.
The 35-year-old pitched in 67 games for the Marlins going 2-2 with a 1.97 ERA and a sparkling 2.56 FIP. However, Calero remained unsigned until yesterday when the Mets agreed on a minor league deal with the right-hander. It seems strange that a player with those types of numbers was reduced to a minor league contract, but whispers have floated around about his medical records.
Unfortunately, I don’t have access to those records, but we can still look at his numbers. The biggest reason for Calero’s success in 2009 was keeping the ball in the hard. He allowed just one home run in 60 innings which gave him a microscopic 0.15 HR/9. The low HR/9 was a product of a ridiculously low HR/FB rate of 1.4%. If we normalized that rate, we see his xFIP jumped to 3.92 and his LIPS ERA to 3.69. Both are still very good numbers from a middle reliever.
Assuming he’s healthy, Calero will experience some regression in the home run department. That said, his career HR/9 of 0.71 and HR/FB of 6.7% show that he has been good at keeping home runs to a minimum throughout his career. In addition to home run regression, he is likely to see a slight BABIP correction (.259 in 2009, .286 career)
On top of the wonderful home run rates, Calero was pretty good at making the opposition to swing and miss at his pitches. Working mostly off his slider (54.4%) and fastball (41.4%), Calero struck out more than a batter per nine innings last season (10.35). Unlike the home-run rate, this was pretty close to his 9.63 career K/9 mark.
The Mets go into 2010 with Francisco Rodriguez as the unquestioned closer. However, behind K-Rod is a bunch of question marks. The Mets signed another favorite of mine, Kelvim Escobar, this offseason, but Escobar’s injury concerns are even greater than those of Calero’s.
Despite the minor-league deal, Calero has a legit chance of becoming the Mets set-up man. If something should happen to Frankie Rodriguez, Calero may steal a few cheap saves.
Tommy Rancel is the Editor-In-Chief of DRaysBay as well as a contributor at Beyond the Box Score
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