Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Villone Adds to Bullpen Depth 

Ron Villone has signed a one-year deal with the Mariners. The contract details are a bit murky right now, with questions about whether the 1-year $1M is guaranteed or not, and what the heck the reported $1M in performance bonuses are. The M's blogosphere is up in arms over this waste of money, but I will withhold judgement until these details are clarified.

So what have we got?

Villone started last year in a relief role with the Diamondbacks AAA affiliate but was granted his release on May 15th when he was not on the MLB roster. The Houston Astros decided they need another starter, and picked him up a day later. They got him reacquainted with starting by giving him 5 starts for New Orleans in the PCL where he dominated (3-1, 1.23 ERA) earning himself a spot on the big league club. Villone started out fantastic, going 6-2 in his first 13 starts with a 3.21 ERA. He faded down the stretch going 0-4 in his last 6 starts including an ugly outing in Coors, and ended the year with a 4.13 ERA and a nice K/9IP of 7.71.

Villone earned $900,000 from Pittsburgh in 2002 and $2.8M from Colorado in 2001 and signed a minor league contract in 2003. His success as a starter resulted in interest in Villone from several clubs and seemingly rejuvenated his career, gaining interest from 3 or 4 teams this offseason. Keep in mind when hearing about Villone's three year splits that he spent 2001 in Coors and the next year with a crappy Pirates team in a variety of roles. 2002 was obviously a bad season for Villone, as he started in the rotation, had a few rough starts and was sent to the bullpen in long relief roles. But even so, he held lefties to a .634 OPS against during this season, but was hammered by righties to the tune of .836.

The M's are obviously hoping to get the pitcher from the first half of 2003, who held batters to a .200 BAA in June and July. Villone gives the M's flexibility as a spot starter or long reliever, and should be a solid addition to the bullpen. The Optimist says look at his 2003 game log, and enjoy the fact that our 6th or 7th starter has some skills and is in the best environment of his life where he may just blossom.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?