Arredondo goes from 10-2 with 1.62 ERA to Triple-A

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Jose Arredondo began last season in the minors, but quickly joined the
Angels’ bullpen and went 10-2 with a 1.62 ERA and .190 opponents’
batting average in 61 innings while gradually moving past Scot Shields
to become Francisco Rodriguez’s primary setup man.

Rather than turn to Arredondo as their new closer when Rodriguez
departed as a free agent this offseason, the Angels signed Brian
Fuentes to take over ninth-inning duties and left Arredondo in a setup
role … where he’s posted a 5.55 ERA in 25 appearances.

Arredondo was demoted to Triple-A this morning, with manager Mike Scioscia explaining
that he “needs to work some things out” and “has obviously taken a
small step backwards.” There’s no getting around the fact that
Arredondo has allowed far more hits and runs than last year, but
delving a little deeper into his performance reveals some interesting

While certainly very good, his 57/22 K/BB ratio in 61 innings last
season wouldn’t normally produce a 1.62 ERA or .190 opponents’ batting
average. Arredondo was extremely fortunate in terms of his balls in
play being converted into outs, which the Angels’ defense accomplished
an astounding 76 percent of the time compared to the AL average of 69

The opposite has been true this year, as his 27/12 K/BB ratio in 24
innings is much better than his 5.55 ERA–and not far from his 2008
rates–but the Angels’ defense has turned his balls in play into outs
just 60 percent of the time. Scioscia is no doubt right that he could
stand to work on some things and his increased line-drive rate has also
played a part in the ball-in-play numbers, but the biggest difference
between last year’s 1.62 ERA and this year’s 5.55 ERA basically boils
down to luck.

Last season Arredondo struck out 23 percent of the batters he faced,
walked 9 percent of the batters he faced, induced 51 percent ground
balls, and served up two homers in 244 plate appearances. This season
Arredondo has struck out 25 percent of his batters faced, walked 9
percent of his batters faced, induced 49 percent ground balls, and
served up zero homers in 110 plate appearances.

The nuts and bolts of his performance really haven’t changed much at
all, and in fact in some ways have actually improved. As usual focusing
on ERA fails to tell the whole story, particularly for relief pitchers,
and a deeper look at Arredondo’s numbers suggests that he would have
turned things around soon enough. However, the guy with a 1.62 ERA from
last season likely isn’t coming back because he never really existed
outside of a world where the defense behind him is played by four Ozzie
Smiths and three Willie Mayses.

The Cubs acquire Rex Brothers from the Rockies

Rex Brothers Rockies

The number of people who, if you held a gun to their head, would say that “Rex Brothers” was a game show host and/or local TV news personality from the late 1970s or early 80s is not insignificant. But if you’re a Rockies fan or if spend all day thinking about baseball you know that he’s a reliever who has played in Colorado for the past five years. Now you know him as a reliever for the Cubs:

Brothers — a former Best Shape of His Life All-Star — was pretty good until he hit a brick wall in 2014 and spent most of 2015 in Triple-A. He had something of a bounceback after being called up when rosters expanded in September, but that’s not the sort of thing to excite anyone. He could be useful for the Cubs or just spring training cannon fodder and organizational depth.

Cabrera just turned 18 a couple of weeks ago and pitched a grand total of 14 games in the Dominican Summer League. He’s young and was a $250,000 signee from the Dominican as a 16-year-old so, by definition, he’s a project. Worth giving up Rex Brothers for him if you’re the Rockies, worth risking for some depth in the pen if you’re the Cubs.

Diamondbacks hire Dave Magadan as hitting coach

Dave Magadan Rangers
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Steve Gilbert of reports that the Diamondbacks’ new hitting coach is Dave Magadan, who “parted ways” with the Rangers last month after three years filling the same role in Texas.

Magadan also previously was the Red Sox’s hitting coach and his teams have generally done pretty well, including the Rangers scoring the third-most runs in the league this year.

He’ll have plenty of talent to work with in Arizona, as the Diamondbacks scored the second-most runs in the league led by Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollock, and David Peralta. Turner Ward, who had been Arizona’s hitting coach, chose to leave the team two weeks ago.

A’s reacquire Jed Lowrie in trade with Astros

Jed Lowrie

Jed Lowrie, who was traded from the Astros to the A’s in 2013 and then re-signed with the Astros as a free agent last offseason, has now been traded back to the A’s.

Lowrie got a three-year, $23 million deal from the Astros with the idea that he’d play shortstop in the first season and then move to another position whenever stud prospect Carlos Correa arrived. Instead he got hurt right away, Correa became an immediate star, and the Astros weren’t so keen on paying him $15 million over the next two seasons.

He could resume playing shortstop for the A’s, who watched rookie Marcus Semien make an absurd number of errors there this year. Lowrie hit .271 with a .738 OPS in two seasons in Oakland, which is similar to his career totals and makes him a solidly above-average offensive shortstop. There’s a decent chance the A’s will have a Lowrie-Lawrie double-play duo in 2016.

In return the Astros get minor leaguer Brendan McCurry, a 24-year-old right-hander who split 2015 between high Single-A and Double-A with a 1.86 ERA and 82/17 K/BB ratio in 63 relief innings. He was a 22nd-round draft pick in 2014 and doesn’t have exceptional raw stuff, but McCurry’s numbers are incredible so far.

White Sox sign catcher Alex Avila to a one-year deal

Detroit Tigers' Alex Avila, right, is congratulated by third base coach Dave Clark after his solo home run in the third inning in the second game of a baseball doubleheader against the Chicago White Sox, Monday, Sept. 21, 2015, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

There have been a lot of articles published in the past few days about how to navigate awkward Thanksgiving conversations with your relatives. Heck, we even wrote one.

But there’s always room for more! Such as “How to talk to your father at Thanksgiving dinner about the fact that he let you walk away from the only team you’ve ever known to sign with a division rival.” Which is what Alex Avila will likely be talking about with his father, Tigers GM Al Avila:

The older Avila can’t even say he did it because he’s opposed to nepotism. After all, he just hired his other son — who has had his law degree for just over a year — as the Tigers assistant legal counsel for baseball operations. Though I’m sure that wasn’t nepotism. He probably just aced the interview and impressed everyone more than the other candidates did.

OK, those are jokes. In all seriousness, this is a good move for Alex and Al and, probably, the White Sox. With the emergence of James McCann, there really is not space for Alex Avila in Detroit in anything other than a backup capacity. In Chicago, he’ll get more playing time. At least if he can (a) stay healthy; and (b) not hit .191/.339/.287 again like he did in 2015.