Sunday, December 14, 2008

Whither Trevor?

If the San Diego Padres continue the fire sale—the one that includes dealing Khalil Green and trying to deal their best pitcher, Jake Peavy —then it seems that longtime Padre, Trevor Hoffman will be wearing another uniform next season. Which is a shame, because, like Tony Gwynn and the Chicken, Hoffman epitomizes San Diego, and he should go out wearing the uniform he represented so well.

But it looks like he will be wearing another one next season...but which one? Even though Hoffman is looking down the wrong side of 40, there will still be a ton of teams that would want him. The Braves, Cardinals, and before yesterday, the Mets, might have welcomed him with open arms. But the team who might value taking a flyer on the All-Time Saves leader would be somebody in his division. The Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Diamondbacks finished 2 games behind the Dodgers in the weak NL West last year. Just 2 games back—this despite batting a pathetic .251. The fact of the Diamondbacks powerful starting pitching kept them in the hunt when their bats failed them. One other thing failed them as well. Their bullpen.

The Diamondbacks had 23 blown saves last year (to whit; the Phillies led the NL with only 15 blown saves—don't let anyone tell you that relievers are overpaid and overvalued). Closer Brandon Lyon had a 4.70 ERA (up a smidge from his lifetime 4.64 ERA), including a GOD-awful 7.04 ERA at home. His WHIP was a 1.483 (Trevor Hoffman’s ' WHIP, to compare, was a 1.037). His clutch stats are not much better, with opponents batting .316 off him in "Late & Close" situations.

And it's not all Lyon's fault. Reliever Tony Pena has an ERA of 4.33. Chad Qualls, who replaced Lyon late in the season as the Diamondbacks closer, had a record of 4-8 and had 5 blown saves, even though he wasn't the closer until the final two weeks of the season.

All of which points to the Diamondbacks needing some help for their bullpen. And who better to help them than the man who has 41 career saves against them?

Hoffman would settle the bullpen. He immediately produces a calm in the Diamondback rotation, which, too often last year tried to pitch farther than they should have. (Dan Haren, for example, saw his Batting Average Against jump from .242 in the first six innings to .289 in the last 3 innings.) Even in a down year for Hoffman, he still had more saves in fewer innings than anyone on the Diamondbacks.

Hoffman would bring his .204 9th inning Batting Average Against to a team that has pitching solved except for that inning. And what's more, Hoffman would fit in perfectly. He went to the University of Arizona and is from the southwest. He wouldn't be a budget-busting closer like K-Rod—last year's salary for Hoffman was 7.5 million and he probably wouldn't be getting that again. And Hoffman probably wouldn't be asking for anything more than 2 years, so even if he doesn't work out, the damage wouldn't be severe.

Let's remember, Hoffman is just a few years from coming in 2nd place for the NL Cy Young Award. And standing there in street clothes, he's automatically better than anything the Diamondbacks have right now. So 2 years for 12 million doesn't sound like a bad idea, does it.

The Diamondbacks should call Hoffman's agent right now, if they are serious about beating the Dodgers next year for the NL West crown.

No comments: