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Thursday, February 11, 2010
San Francisco adds Todd Wellemeyer as insurancePosted by Tommy Rancel at 6:55am
Yesterday, the Giants signed Todd Wellemeyer to a minor-league deal with an invitation to join the team in Scottsdale for Spring Training. Although the plan calls for Madison Bumgarner to be the team's fifth starter when camp breaks, that didn't stop the San Francisco Giants from adding a bit of insurance. It might not be good insurance, but the kind you need to have because you don't have it. Wellemeyer, 31, made 28 appearances, including 21 starts, for the St. Louis Cardinals last season after posting career best numbers in 2008.
In his first four and a half seasons, Wellemeyer made over 100 appearances as a relief pitcher for the Chicago Cubs, Florida Marlins and Kansas City Royals. Upon his arrival to St. Louis in 2007, he was converted to a starter, and as mentioned, had a pretty decent 2008 campaign for the Cardinals. He won 13 games while pitching 191.2 innings over 32 starts with a 3.71 ERA. All of those numbers reflect career highs.
In 2009, the glass slipper fell off and so did part of his shoulder. Whether it was due to the increased workload or not, he made just 21 starts and threw 122 inning of unimpressive 5.89 ERA ball. Looking at his LIPS ERA, it's not surprising that his 2008 season had a little bit of luck sprinkled on top. LIPS had him pegged with an ERA of 4.24, or a little more than half a run higher than his real total.
On the other hand, LIPS suggest that his 5.89 ERA in 2009 includes a bit of bad luck. Last season's LIPS ERA of 4.90 was a full run lower than his actual number. His BABIP also suggest more of the same. A career .300 BABIP pitcher, he enjoyed a .273 mark in 2008, but saw that shoot up to a .346 in 2009 despite actually seeing a slight decrease in line drives allowed.
Regardless of metric, Wellemeyer was below average in 2009. Throw in an additional candle on the birthday cake and a questionable shoulder and you can see why he signed a minor league deal. Throughout his career he has posted strikeout rates around 6.5 per nine innings, but not surprisingly those numbers have dipped to around 6.0 as a starter. He also walks more than you would like and gives up home runs at a sightly elevated pace.
Unless Bumgarner is just not ready, I find it hard to see Wellemeyer beating him for a rotation spot. Nonetheless, should that happen or if there were an injury to one of the other starting pitchers pop up, then Wellemeyer is a cheap band-aid option for the Giants. Unless you are just desperate for a starting pitcher, I would avoid Wellemeyer in any league.
Tommy Rancel is the Editor-In-Chief of DRaysBay as well as a contributor at Beyond the Box Score
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