Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Dotel a Mild Risk for Blue Jays

Octavio Dotel has agreed to be the Toronto Blue Jays' closer in 2011. The good news is that Dotel has been a strikeout machine his entire career, including the past three years. So even though he will be 37 in 2011, there should be no reason he should not continue to be a strikeout machine. Plus the Blue Jays didn't need to extend another silly three year deal to get the reliever they wanted. A one year deal mitigates the risk if Dotel doesn't have a good season.

And there is a risk that he won't have a good season. Octavio Dotel has been all over the map in his career as a reliever. He's had some very good seasons and he's had some that weren't so great. You probably wouldn't want to ask Yankee fans or Atlanta Braves fans about him. There have been two basic flaws in Dotel's numbers his entire career: Homers and walks.

Dotel has a 1.2 homer per nine innings rate for his career. He hasn't had a season since 2003 where that rate wasn't over 1 per nine. Thrown in the mix was the 1.6 he put up for the White Sox and the same figure he put up for the Athletics. His walk rate has also typically been high. His career mark for walks is 4.1 per nine innings. The last three years, that figure has been closer to five walks per nine.

But there are all those strikeouts. His career rate is 10.9 and he's been well over 10 in each of the last five seasons. Plus, Dotel has always been stingy with hits. He's allowed only 7.2 of them per nine innings for his career.

Dotel has never been known as a pure closer. He had one season where he saved 36 (in 2004 for two teams) and he has two seasons where he saved 22 (including last year when he pitched for three different teams. And that is part of the problem with Dotel. He's like a hired gun. He's pitched for ten different teams in his 12 seasons in the big leagues. It's like a team starts the year with him, tires of him and some other team in contention salivates over all his strikeouts and picks him up.

But again, this is a one year risk at relatively few dollars, which makes this a good pick up by the Blue Jays. If Dotel is at his best, he will certainly help them. If he's not, some team will panic at the trade deadline and want him.

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