So when Clark, Nick and I were
binge drinking divvying up the 40-man roster assignments, I drew Jonathan Broxton. That’s great. Because I pretty much already put the keyboard to the internet and laid down my thoughts.
— From 2005 to 2009, Broxton was one of the dominant relievers in the National League. First as a set up man, then as the closer for the Dodgers. In those four-plus years (he made only 14 appearances in 2005), Broxton had a 2.92 ERA with a 420 strikeouts in 317 innings.
— In 2010, he was off to the best start of his career with a 0.83 ERA and a 13.2 SO/9 through June 26. Let’s go to the Royals Authority archives for the rest of the story…
Now, back to the Dodger game on June 27, 2010. In that game, LA held a lead against the Yankees 6-2 in the top of the ninth when Broxton made his appearance. Strange that he would pitch in this game, since it wasn’t a save situation. Stranger still given the fact that Broxton had thrown 19 pitches over 1.1 innings in a 9-4 Dodger blowout the night before. You probably know the story of the June 27 game by now. Broxton retired the first batter before allowing the next five to reach as the Yankees tied the game.
Especially notable was how then manager Joe Torre sat on his hands and allowed Broxton to pile up 48 pitches in that appearance. Combine that with his 19 the day before and you see that Torre allowed his closer to throw 67 pitches in about 24 hours.
And as the story goes, Broxton hasn’t been the same since.
The numbers certainly bear this out.
Before Injury – 2.73 ERA, 12.0 SO/9, 3.4 BB/9
After Injury – 6.31 ERA, 7.4 SO/9, 6.5 BB/9
— He returned to pitch in 2011, but struggled with his command, walking nine and striking out 10 in 12 innings of work. Yeah, that’s a small sample, but it’s the only thing we have. At any rate, it’s notable because the control issues that plagued him the second half of 2010 were still an issue in 2011.
Broxton hit the DL in early May with fluid on his elbow. He tried to rehab in July and finally had surgery in September to remove a bone spur and other loose bodies that were said to be hampering his attempts to recover.
— At his peak, Broxton was pumping 97 mph gas. On average. Last year, his average fastball was 94 mph. Before he had elbow surgery. This chart best illustrates his drop in velocity. What’s interesting is that even while Broxton was having a great start to his 2010 season, his velocity was down from his previous year.
Now, his agent is throwing around phrases like “reinventing himself.” Hmmm…
— Broxton will make $4 million in base salary with an additional $1 million in incentives based on appearances. That’s down from the $7 million he made last year with the Dodgers in what would have been his final year of arbitration.
The Broxton move gives the Royals options. He can provide cover for Joakim Soria if he has difficulty staying healthy. He can serve as a reliable set-up man. He can be trade bait at the deadline. Or Soria could be dealt if he reestablishes his value. It also allows the Royals to try last season’s relievers like Aaron Crow or Everett Teaford in the rotation.*
*Not a huge fan of the asterisk, but I need to have one here. The entire proceeding paragraph is valid only if Broxton is healthy and has regained his control.
Broxton represents a $4 million gamble. But you know what? That’s what gamble’s cost on the open market. If Broxton was a sure thing, he’d be looking at a multi-year deal where he would be cashing a $12 million check per annum.
The bullpen – on paper at least – looks to be a strength. Assuming an eight man pen, because Yost won’t be able to resist…
Soria – closer
Broxton – 8th inning set-up
Holland – 7th inning set-up
Coleman – ROOGY
Mijares – LOOGY #1
Teaford – LOOGY #2
Herrera – general relief
Random long reliever
Again, that’s on paper. Best case scenario. However we know bullpens are notoriously fickle creatures. Last year’s pen was a strength. At least GMDM seems intent to build a better one. I’m still not sold on the strategy that you survive on your starters and thrive on your pen. But with the arms Moore has collected, it will be interesting to see how this great experiment works.