About a month ago, I lamented about David Ross‘ waste of talent riding the tar in Atlanta. Today, one of my favorite pitchers in baseball, Chad Gaudin, was reportedly put on waivers by the Yankees. Why is this a big deal? Because, like David Ross, Chad Gaudin is both underrated and a victim of circumstance, a true baseball tragedy.
Gaudin is a really interesting case. He got off to a solid start to his career with the then Devil Rays, posting FIP’s of 4.46 and 4.27 as a reliever and occasional spot-starter in his age twenty and twenty-one seasons. His reward was getting dealt to the Blue Jays for Kevin Cash, and after pitching just thirteen innings for Toronto in 2005, he was basically given away to the Athletics in the off-season. Gaudin blossomed in Oakland, posting a 4.65 FIP in 2006 out of the pen and 2.2 WAR in 2007 as a starting pitcher. He moved back to the pen in 2008 and was traded to the Cubs in the Rich Harden deal. Much like what happened today, Gaudin was released by the Cubs at the beginning of the 2009 season, eventually latching on with the Padres. San Diego let him start again, and he again succeeded. Looking for depth in the rotation and bullpen, the Yankees purchased Gaudin in August, and Chad went on to post a 4.16 FIP for the season in twenty-five starts. Although he campaigned for a spot on the Yankees roster this spring training, it appears he has failed in that pursuit.
But what to make of Gaudin? Dave Cameron gave us a good look back in August when he was acquired by the Yanks:
Against right-handers, he’s terrific, using his slider to generate a ton of swinging strikes, which puts him ahead in the count and gives him a real out pitch. Against lefties, the slider doesn’t work, so he just nibbles the corners and ends up walking everyone. He does a good enough job of pitching away from the strike zone that lefties don’t light him up when they make contact, but by living on the edges, he ends up as a high-walk, pitch-to-contact guy.
In reality, he’s best suited to relief work, where his problems against LHPs can be minimized, but he’s got enough endurance to start, which is why teams keep running him out there as a member of their rotation.
The numbers back up Cameron’s claims. Here are Gaudin’s career stats versus righties and southpaws:
Vs. righties: 3.97 FIP, 4.05 xFIP, 2.80 K/BB, 1.30 WHIP
Vs. lefties: 5.16 FIP, 5.39 xFIP, 0.84 K/BB, 1.77 WHIP
So Gaudin is good against righties and so-so against lefties. What options are we then left with? As Dave said, teams can try to put him in the starting role and hope that his struggles against lefties are outweighed by his performance against righties. Or, teams can put him in the pen as a long reliever and, more importantly, a ROOGY. Here, Gaudin can be specially matched up to take advantage of right-handed hitters late in games. Either way, you’re going to be getting some nice value from him.
Finally, let’s look at what the prognosticators say:
Bill James: 4.24 FIP
Marcel: 4.36 FIP
CHONE: 4.58 FIP
ZiPS: 4.42 FIP
Fangraphs Fans (32): 4.54 FIP
Pretty similar stuff across the board, and solid numbers overall. While the Yankees seem to have lost out on Gaudin (unless they’re able to stuff him in Triple-A), it won’t be a big hit for them whatsoever. However, for a team that’s looking for a fifth starter or some help in the pen, picking up Chad can bring you a long way.