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March 31, 2008

Final Transactions

Texas purchased the contracts of pitchers FRANKLYN GERMAN and JAMEY WRIGHT and catcher ADAM MELHUSE, optioned reliever WES LITTLETON to AAA Oklahoma, and designated pitcher ROBINSON TEJEDA and outfielder NELSON CRUZ for assignment.

Dustin Nippert’s arrival sealed Tejeda’s fate, but Tejeda also lost out to non-roster invites Wright and German. Here’s an interesting comparison:

Pitcher A
Pitcher B
MLB Career
ERA+ 95 92
HR% 2.5% 2.8%
BB% 11.1% 12.4%
SO% 11.9% 15.7%
08 Spring

Pitcher A has walked far too many people and doesn’t miss enough bats. Opponents batted .320/.370/.340 against him this spring.

Pitcher B is even wilder than Pitcher A but at least has produced a league-average K rate. He surrendered a .260/.309/.460 line in March.

“A? is Wright, “B? Tejeda. Aside from the homer that inflated his opposing slugging percentage, Tejeda pitched more effectively this spring and has comparable (if uninspiring) Major League results. Yet it was Wright who once again, for reasons not completely clear to me, secured a job in mid-March. Here’s one reason: despite the extra hits allowed, Wright pulled down a 3.11 ERA compared to Tejeda’s 6.23. Wright spread out the damage, Tejeda allowed baserunners in ugly clumps.

I don’t think it matters much whether Wright or Tejeda is mopping up. But I would point out that Wright’s 3.62 ERA was the result of some seemingly unrepeatable splits. Wright was terrible out of the gate (opponents batted .391/.475/.478 when leading off an inning) but brilliant with runners in scoring position (.188/.284/.325). He also walked more batters than he struck out. A more typical distribution of baserunners should push his ERA into the fives. Again, that doesn’t hurt much if he’s only pitching in blowouts. Still, I don’t think Tejeda’s any worse than Wright, and there’s still a small chance he might improve.

Jason Botts won the battle with Cruz and Kevin Mench, for which his reward will be encasement in carbonite at the end of Ron Washington’s bench. I maintain that Botts’s willingness to adjust indicates a possibility of success against Major League pitching, while Cruz’s stubborn “grip and rip? philosophy (even after demotion to AAA last summer) shows he’s topped out. Botts needs 197 MLB appearances to catch Cruz on the Tryout-o-meter.

German supposedly cured his wildness this spring, yet he ended up walking five of 39 batters faced (12.8%, actually substantially lower than his awful career rate of 16.4%).

Melhuse has adequate defensive skills (though nailing basestealers isn’t among them) and hasn’t hit a lick since 2004. He’s absolutely unsuitable as a fill-in if Laird gets hurt.

Posted by Lucas at March 31, 2008 12:33 PM