Thursday, February 15, 2007
Today’s topic … and this will be a bigger focus of mine in the coming days … is the bullpen and the Phillies new acquisition, Antonio Alfonseca.
A ten-year veteran of the MLB, Alfonseca was once a top-flight closer but is currently looking to rehab his career with the Phillies. If successful I am sure he’ll parlay his success into a long-term deal, but in the here and now his career is sort of on the line.
Alfonseca broke into the majors during the Marlins historic World Series victory in 1997. For the next seven seasons Alfonseca got a lot of work, pitching 60+ innings a season, good work for a reliever. In 1998 he saved eight of fourteen chances for the historically bad Marlins, and then saved 21 of 25 the next season. From 2000-2002 he was a full-time closer. In 2000 he saved forty-five of forty-nine chances for the Marlins. His 45 saves ranked him first in the N.L. The next season he saved 28 of 34 chances for the marlins before leaving for the Cubs in 2002.
His career took an ill turn in Chicago. He blew nine of his twenty-eight save opportunities in 2002 and saw his ERA spike. Since 2002 he hasn’t had a single save, returning to the role of set-up man. Since ’02 he’s blown seven save chances. His ERA has spiked:
His he struggled in Chicago:
Confused about what I’m talking about? Here are the stats I refer to defined:
ERA – Earned Run Average: (Earned Runs * 9) / IP = ERA
FIP – Fielding Independent Pitching: (13*HR+3*BB-2*K / IP) + League Factor Evaluates a pitching by how he would have done with an average defense behind him by keeping track of things that a pitcher can control (walks, strikeouts, home runs allowed) as opposed to things he cannot (hits allowed, runs allowed).
HR/9 – Home Runs allowed per nine innings: (HR * 9) / IP
K/9 – Strikeouts per nine innings: (K * 9) / IP
BB/9 – Walks per nine innings: (BB * 9) / IP
Alfonseca has bounced from team-to-team since. He spent ’03 with the Cubs, playing on the team that blew the NLCS in historic fashion to his old team, the marlins. The next season he rebounded and posted a nice ERA as the Braves set-up guy (recording a career-high 13 holds), but his return to the Marlins didn’t work out (1-1, two blown saves, 4.94 ERA). Then he played for the Rangers last season. The numbers aren’t encouraging:
I haven’t a clue what sort of numbers he’ll post with the Phillies but I am not encouraged. From where I sit, he’s got lots of issues with his pitching (when you issue seven walks to five strikeouts, you are really struggling as a pitcher), and isn’t a good bet to return to his old 1999-2002 form. On the other hand, if he rebounds than the Phillies got to steal a great set-up guy and potential fill-in closer for next to nothing. I guess we'll see.