The Twins – who could use the bullpen help – thought so little of Jose Mijares that they cut him loose, rather than offer him arbitration. Meanwhile, the Royals – seeking to shore up one of the stronger aspects of their young team – saw an opportunity and plucked him from the free agent ranks. It’s an interesting look at how two AL Central rivals are positioning themselves for the 2012 season.
We know about Yost and how he wants to have two lefties in the bullpen. Well, in Mijares, he finally has that LOOGY he so often desired last summer. Check out his career splits:
Vs. RHB – .268/.353/.423
Vs. LHB – .212/.276/.331
Bullpens are by nature volatile. Mijares had his worst season by far as a major leaguer last summer… His walks were up, his strikeouts were down and his ERA ballooned to an unsightly 4.59. But even though his struggles, he was still able to get left-handed batters out. His line against lefties was .253/.330/.368. Again, those numbers were way off his career averages, but if Yost uses him in the proper context he’ll be a useful arm out of the pen.
The hope is, Mijares can rediscover some of his past success. What worked against Mijares last year was a notable drop in velocity – his fastball lost two mph over the last two seasons. There’s also the fact he threw a first pitch strike to only 51% of all batters. Major league average last year was a tick below 60%. Basically, he was falling behind way too often and then couldn’t get his fastball past hitters once he had to come back into the strike zone. His 93% contact rate was extremely elevated from his previous seasons.
The glimmer of hope in this was the fact Mijares’ strand rate was 68%, which is about 10% lower than his career average. Strand rate will fluxuate from year to year for relievers due to the small sample size, but his rate is so low, you have to figure he’s due for a positive adjustment.
Then, there’s the Mijares/Mauer kerfuffle from last summer. Mijares was brought in to the game to face Prince Fielder – who laced a two-run double – and wasn’t happy with Mauer’s game calling:
“I don’t know what’s going on with Mauer,” Mijares said. “He never put down a sign for breaking ball. Never. It was fastball, fastball, fastball, fastball.”
I’m pretty sure it’s against the law in Minnesota to speak ill of Mr. Mauer. Although I did enjoy his retort:
“Called for a fastball there,” Mauer said. “I didn’t call for it down the middle.”
Well said, Mauer.
Last season was a forgettable one for Mijares, but moving forward he’s worth the risk. The Royals have a deep bullpen, so if he bombs out early, Yost should be able to minimize the damage. And even if he pitches like last year, he’ll still be able to get left-handers out.
I’m going to wrap this week with a couple of videos…
Rex Hudler met the KC media this week. I’m OK with The Wonder Dog – for now. I get the feeling I’m in the minority. I also reserve the right to change my opinion.
And we leave with this Gary Carter video. Growing up in an AL city, I didn’t have the opportunity to see much of Carter, but always enjoyed watching him on The Game of The Week or the postseason. I loved the way he played the game.
This is Carter’s final plate appearance of his last game. It’s awesome for so many reasons… I’ve watched this about 20 times. Pure Kid.