To his credit, JP has assembled the best-armed armed fighting force the world has seen since the Khrushchev-era Red Army. As such he really shouldn't feel much pressure to add to the best staff in the majors in the offseason and even if he did want to build on what he's already got, why would he throw another reliever into an already-crowded bullpen?
The answer is baffling tale of 25-year-old Vancouverite southpaw RJ Swindle.
MLBTR informs us that Swindle was just DFA'd by the Phillies after 4 2/3 innings in the bigs. Pat Gillick, who's been enjoying a shockingly good year from a pen that was a massive weak spot for his club last season, uncermoniously dumped the young Canuck so he could add retread Japanese infielder Tad Iguchi to the Phillies 40-man roster for the stretch drive. This is the sort of transaction that usually gets buried in very, very fine print on the back pages of the sports section.
The move becomes considerably more eyebrow-raising when you look up Swindle's numbers. The only reason I felt curious enough to do so came because I remembered his name from something I posted on the Canadian Olympic baseball team. His minor league resume is stunning, really.
Some highlights through his 194 IP:
* a startling 9:1 K:BB ratio and 10.48 K/9 IP (226 K and 25 BB)
* 150 hits allowed
* only 4 HR
* 1.58 ERA
* WHIP of 0.90
* AAA success this year
You might wonder how someone with such a strong college background (Big South Conference Rookie of the Year, MVP and Pitcher of the Year awards) and the stuff to put up these sorts of pro numbers could be overlooked in independent ball then get bounced by three major league organizations (Bosox, Yankees and now Phillies). It's positively baffling...
The answer there would be this: despite his 6' 3", 195 lb frame has a BP fastball that tops out at 84 mph and makes his living off a looping 55 mph curve.
Just to demostrate how irrelevant his velocity is, how would you feel if I told you a minor league reliever had posted the above numbers with his 135 kmph fastball and 89 kmph curve? You'd be impressed, right?
It seems odd that post-Moneyball scouts would still dismiss something that doesn't quite conform to our pre-conceived notions of how players are supposed to look/play when the numbers clearly indicate that Swindle is succeeding mightily.
If only for AAA depth in '09, bring him home, JP, and score some nationalism points against Griffin/Elliot/et al. to boot.
I've refrained from commenting on the Jays' current winning streak largely because a) moving house and post-moving errands are so horrible that they should be made illegal and punishable by death; and b) I think the baseball that's being played now is pretty much self-explanatory, or perhaps unworthy of any greater dissection with the end-of-year post mortem just 3 weeks away. That's not to say I'm not enjoying the work of my colleagues here, the raging awesomeness of the Ghostrunners, the steady yeomanry of the Taos, the wistful Cassandra-ism from Jon Hale, and the 24-hour keg stand that is DJF. But I've kind of come to the view that it's meaningless to discuss whether these games are meaningful or not; just enjoy them for what they are. Or don't. Your choice.
-- Johnny Was