The Reds swapped oft-traded starter Travis Chick for southpaw reliever Eddie Guardado today.
Cincinnati’s bullpen ERA of 5.28 is dead last in the National League. They’ve also blown 13 saves, third worst. Current closer Todd Coffey‘s 1.38 WHIP doesn’t gel with his 3.08 ERA. He’s fortunate that it’s that low. With a 5.9 K/9, Coffey is more hittable than most teams like their closers. Since June 1st, Coffey has blown two saves and taken three losses.
35 year-old Guardado has been even more hittable, and he’s also had worse control and allowed a ton of home runs. The Reds should be on the hook for about $3 million bucks assuming the Mariners aren’t eating any salary. I’m not sure if this move improves their bullpen at all, but maybe a change of scenery will stir something in Guardado. After all, it’s only been 23 innings and Guardado was quite solid as recently as last year. Guardado was supplanted as Seattle’s closer by J.J. Putz this season.
Chick, a 22 year-old righty, has at least made progress in his strikeout rate at Double A. This trade reminds me of something Buster Olney said in his blog today:
"Many, many teams are looking for middle relievers but very few are available because, quite simply, most of them are cheap. "It really doesn’t make a lot of sense to trade a good middle reliever because you’re not paying him that much, and as soon as you trade one, you’ve got to find a replacement," said an AL GM. "Everybody is looking for the same thing," said another AL executive, "and there’s almost nothing out there.’"
This makes me think the Cubs might be able to get something halfway decent in return for their investment in Scott Williamson.