Will Inman Rumors
The Red Sox have announced the signings of minor league free agents Carlos Silva, Brandon Duckworth, Charlie Haeger, Will Inman, Doug Mathis, Tony Pena Jr., Chorye Spoone, Jesse Carlson, Rich Hill, Justin Thomas, Pedro Ciriaco, and Nate Spears. The signings of Spoone, Thomas, Inman, Pena, Carlson, and Hill had been reported previously.
Silva, 32, was released by the Cubs in March of 2011 with $11.5MM remaining on his contract. He signed with the Yankees in April, but was released in July amid shoulder problems after seven minor league starts. The control artist was useful upon his initial change of scenery, posting a 4.22 ERA in 21 starts for the 2010 Cubs after the Milton Bradley trade. As the Red Sox press release notes, "No active hurler with at least 750.0 innings pitched has fewer walks per nine innings than Silva (1.73)." Silva will make a prorated $1MM while in the Majors, reports WEEI's Alex Speier.
Ciriaco, 26, was non-tendered by the Pirates in December. The middle infielder hit .231/.243/.300 in 289 plate appearances in his second career Triple-A stint. Spears, a versatile 26-year-old, spent the last two years in Boston's minor league system. In 2011 he hit .248/.355/.397 in 378 plate appearances, getting his first cup of coffee with the big club.
Haeger, a 28-year-old knuckeballer, spent 2011 with the Mariners' Triple-A club and the Red Sox' Double-A team. He posted a 5.44 ERA, 7.7 K/9, 5.9 BB/9, and 0.92 HR/9 in 97 2/3 innings. Mathis, a 28-year-old righty, last appeared in the bigs in 2010 with the Rangers. As a starter for the Giants' and Athletics' Triple-A affiliates, he put up a 4.27 ERA, 6.7 K/9, 4.2 BB/9, and 0.63 HR/9 in 86 1/3 innings. Duckworth, 35, last appeared in the Majors in 2008. He spent 2011 with Boston's Triple-A affiliate, posting a 3.97 ERA, 6.7 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, and 0.84 HR/9 in 118 innings.
Linebrink turns 31 in early August. Trade rumors swirled around him this offseason, especially involving the Phillies. His strikeout and walk numbers over the past three seasons have been consistent. However, in 2006 his less controllable numbers like hits allowed and home runs spiked somewhat. He was still worth a good 3-4 wins last year according to Baseball Prospectus.
However, Linebrink fell off a cliff this year. From Day 1 his strikeout rate has been way down; he's allowed a ton of home runs. You almost have to wonder whether he's healthy. He got by for the first two months with the reduced strikeout rate, but it caught up to him in June and especially July. Even as a seventh inning guy his value is very questionable. The Crew should recoup a draft pick or two when he leaves after the season, so that's something.
My trusty Baseball America Handbook tells me that 20 year-old righty Inman is clearly the jewel of the trade. He's a tough competitor; his 1.71 ERA in Low A ball last year was ridiculous. He does not offer dazzling stuff or projectability, however. He succeeds on the strength of his command and breaking stuff rather than velocity. He breezed through High A this year, posting a 1.72 ERA in 13 starts.
However, Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein questioned how his "below-average stuff and elite-level command" would play at Double A. The results in his first eight starts at that level have been mixed at best. He's taken a couple of shellackings, but has looked solid in his last three efforts. Goldstein wonders whether he may be a Yusmeiro Petit type, a guy who used deception to post some great minor league numbers despite mediocre stuff. Petit fooled the Marlins enough for the Mets to snag Carlos Delgado, at least.
Inman is very young for Double A; put him in PETCO in 2009 and I don't see why he can't keep his ERA under 5. Doesn't blow you away but innings eaters are fetching $8MM annually these days. Great move by Kevin Towers, because he won't miss Linebrink. He can't lose.
Didn't know much about the other two prospects. Thatcher is a 25 year-old southpaw reliever, another guy with average stuff. The results have been excellent through Triple A though. He's got a cut fastball, sweeping slider, and fine control. He was ranked 23rd among Brewers prospects by Baseball America.
Garrison is a 21 year-old southpaw starter, ranked 27th on the Brewers' list. He's working in High A currently. He too has average stuff without great velocity, another command guy. See a theme here? The pitchers plucked by Kevin Towers don't light up radar guns or make scouts drool, but still look like big league contributors.
You have to give this one to Towers, who traded from a position of strength to snag three pitchers known less for projection than probability.