Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Galarraga Could Help Somebody

The Detroit Tigers have taken the unusuall step of signing Armando Galarraga to avoid arbitration and shortly after designating him for assignment. Galarraga made 24 starts for the Tigers last year but lost his rotation spot to Brad Penny when the Tigers signed that pitcher to a $3 million deal (plus incentives). The Tigers have indicated that they will try to trade Galarraga and if they can't, he'll go to the minors. Galarraga is 28.

Armando Galarraga is a bit of a mystery. After a strong rookie season in 2008 with 13 wins and a 3.1 WAR, the pitcher fell on hard times in 2009. He rebounded some for the Tigers in 2010 but only finished 4-9. He also had the almost-perfect game, a fluke that should not even enter the conversation. But the mystery? The mystery is that Galarraga has always put up peripherals in the high minors that included eight strikeouts per nine with between two and three walks. But that hasn't translated in the majors. Even last year in Galarraga's brief time in the minors, he struck out eight batters per nine but his major league level fell all the way to 4.6 after topping out over six the previous two seasons. He has also walked more in the majors than in the minors.

Here is the Fan's take on all that: Galarraga has been victimized often to the long ball which makes him more tentative in the strike zone. His three year string of homers to nine innings pitched was 1.4, 1.5 and 1.3. If you look at his career, Galarraga has reached a 3-2 count 274 times out of 2045 plate appearances. That's nearly 13.4 percent of the time, by far the highest of his plate appearances on any other count. If he could be given the confidence to pound the strike zone more effectively, he could become a really good pitcher.

Given the state of starting pitching in baseball, there has to be some interest in Galarraga. The Fan could easily see the Yankees parting with Romine, their third highest catcher in their minors' food chain, and another minor arm for him. The Tigers could use catching help and the Tigers have dealt with the Yankees before. But if not the Yankees, there are plenty of other teams that could use him such as the Mets...well, let's just say any team not being the Phillies or Giants.

The Fan still believes Armando Galarraga can be a valuable starting pitcher for somebody out there. Let's see where he ends up. A change of scenery could really help him.

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