Paired season recaps of two guys who do not hang out together. J.J. Putz
Stat Line: 54 IP, 2.83 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 3 saves, 41 H, 4 HR, 65 K (10.83/9 IP), 15 BB (2.5/ 9 IP), 2.52 FIP, 1.5 WAR
What did we expect?: True to his 'go to the local beach with a metal detector' nature, Williams snatched up the once uber-successful Putz after an injury-filled disaster of '09, on the basis that his elbow was healthy, and he still had the will to live after two season of being cursed at and mooned. Being a tremendously foolish person who had just bought an Ozzie plan, I jumped on board, convinced that the invisible spaceship Williams invited me on was real.
"Putz is back from elbow surgery and ready to return
to form. Now while he does the dreaded soul patch that has marked
God-awful Sox closers of the past (KOCH! KOCH! BILLY KOCH!), this is a
guy who was completely unhittable in '07 and is capable of a very high
strike out rate. I like him to take over the 9th once Jenks blows 10
saves in a row/gains 50 pounds/bleaches his back hair."
Citing '07??!?! Really? What was I thinking? Back in '07, Joe Crede could still walk upright!
While I definitely saw a return to form coming, an injury-filled disaster wasn't out of the question. Then again, is it ever?
The result: Like probably a lot of players on the roster this year, J.J.'s year perfectly mirrored the White Sox season. He kinda played in a fog of malaise for the 1st two months, all of sudden morphed into a ridiculously dominant player in June and July, endured a dreadful August, and returned to form in September after things stopped mattering.
Early on, it seemed like Ozzie Guillen was like...hesitant to trust high leverage situations to a guy coming off of elbow surgery or something (crazy!). An unfortunate combination of Putz taking a while to work his way to top velocity (he blamed the weather), and his tendency to avoid walks by challenging hitters over the plate led to a couple isolated incidents of being hit very hard. Very isolated. Putz had a less-than thrilling 3.38 ERA after May, but those runs had all come in 2 of his 16 outings.
And that's when the preposterous 27-appearance scoreless streak begin. Putz only walked three batters during a stretch that lasted over 2 months, and his shining consistency propelled him from nondescript bullpen rotation member to the right-handed set-up man who often filled in for Bobby Jenks in the 9th as that situation went straight to hell at times.
A taxed bullpen called upon Putz to be hellaciously overworked in August, which inevitably blew up in everyone's faces like stolen bank money. J.J. threw a HR to lose that extremely ominous 4-game set dropped to Baltimore, was the central figure in the disastrous Detroit series, and suffered a scary knee injury that robbed him of his velocity near the end of the last Target Field series. J.J. wound up returning to himself by mid-September, but everything looked worse because Putz reacted to his knee betraying him with a "my girlfriend just dumped me right in front of the whole prom" facial expression.
Love him or leave him?: As hard of a decision as there is this off-season for a player who wasn't on the '05 World Series team. Putz clearly proved himself still capable of being a top-level reliever, but also continues to be a bit of a risk due to his lack of durability....but then again, talent like Putz probably isn't in the South Side budget if he's not injury prone.
J.J turns 34 before the 2011 season starts, and should command double his $3 million salary after finishing the year healthy. He's on the record as loving it here, and even with Sergio Santos due to see an increased role, I don't think you can let Putz AND Jenks slip away in the same off-season.
Stat Line: 4.2 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 2 H, 0 HR, 5 K, 4 BB, 3.51 FIP, 5.25 xFIP (I haven't been including xFIP in most cases, because it seems unfair to cut down what a player did for a whole season with a projection, but c'mon....he threw 4.2 IP)
What did we expect?: This is an absurd question to ask me....I had no idea...What did FutureSox.com have to say?
"After his awful finish to 2009, the Sox converted him to a reliever
and the change has made a world of difference for the 6'2" right-hander
this year. He struck out 35 against 15 walks in 33.2 IP for the Dash,
earning a spot on the Carolina League All-Star team and a promotion to
Birmingham in July. Infante handled the transition to AA well, striking
out 34, walking 12 and posting a 3.42 ERA in 26.1 IP.
Reports came out about 100+ mph fastballs and he received some attention in prospect circles. Baseball America listed him in a group of top relief prospects saying he has a 94-98 mph fastball and an inconsistent, but occasionally sharp curveball."
Well then. He can overpower hitters, and everything else--including throwing strikes--is a bit of a work in progress. Frankly, I'd rather face Mark Buehrle than a guy who throws 100 mph with no control any day....but that's more about not dying.
The results: Of course, Infante only got garbage time, and it's a sample size too small to judge anything from. What if we judged Dayan Viciedo based on 4.2 innings??!?! And it was during a 4.2 inning span where he drew a walk?!?
The results were as you could expect, Infante racked up the K's and the walks in almost equal measure. For some reason, Greg was able offer opponents groupons to the basepaths without sustaining any actual damage. One would bet a .197 BABIP had a role in that.
Love him or leave him: Infante definitely shows a lot of promise, but good gravy, there's just no way someone that unpolished and wild can make the roster before significant improvement is made. Then again, control problems are our pitching coach's specialty, and we did kick a roster spot to Sergio Santos this season.
Can't be worse than Linebrink.