UPDATE: The deal is official now. Florida receives mid-level prospects Robert Bono and Luis Bryan, plus a player to be named later. And saves a bit of cash, of course.* * * * * * * * * *
Houston has been shopping for bullpen help
after closer Jose Valverde declined arbitration and setup man LaTroy Hawkins signed with the Brewers, and they’re reportedly on the verge of agreeing to a deal with the Marlins for Matt Lindstrom.
Nothing official has been announced yet, but Lindstrom informed
MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro that his agent told him to “hang tight” because the two sides are exchanging medical records.
Florida was looking to deal Lindstrom because he struggled in 2009 and is due for a raise via arbitration, but he had a 3.11 ERA and 105/47 K/BB ratio in 124 innings over the previous two seasons and even the mid-payroll Astros won’t have any trouble handling a price tag around $2 million. Lindstrom has just 20 career saves, but if the trade goes through he’ll almost certainly take over for Valverde as the Astros’ closer and bring his mid-90s fastball to a permanent ninth-inning role.
You hear a lot about pitchers tipping pitches. It’s often offered up post-facto as an excuse for poor performance by the pitcher himself or his own team. It’s sort of like the “best shape of my life” thing being offered in the offseason to talk about why the player got injured or played badly the previous year. “Smitty’s stuff is still great, he was just tipping his pitches,” said a source close to the player whose stuff is not really great anymore.
Which isn’t to say that pitchers don’t tip pitches. Of course they do. Opposing teams look for it, pick up on it and take advantage of it whenever they can. It’s just that (a) the opposing team has an interest in not talking about it, lest the pitcher STOP tipping its pitches; and (b) the guy actually tipping his pitches doesn’t want to talk specifically about it lest he starts doing it again.
Which is what makes this article at Sports Illustrated so interesting. In it Tom Verducci talks to an anonymous Houston Astros player who explains how Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches during the World Series, leading to him getting absolutely shellacked in Games 3 and 7. The upshot: the Astros knew when a slider or a cutter was coming, they waited for it and they teed off.
Darvish is a free agent now. I’m guessing, whoever signs him, knows exactly what they’ll gave him work on the first day of spring training.