Rich Hill posted incredible strikeout totals in the minors while coming up through the Cubs’ system and had a 3.92 ERA with 183 strikeouts in 195 innings in his first full season as a starter in 2007.
Unfortunately because of injuries and prolonged bouts of wildness that stands as Hill’s only full season as a starter, and during the past three years he’s logged a total of just 81 innings in the majors with an ugly 6.53 ERA and 64/59 K/BB ratio.
After spending most of last season in the minors Hill joined the Red Sox in September and tossed four scoreless innings out of the bullpen, and now Alex Speier of WEEI.com reports that they’re looking at him as a possible relief option for 2011.
He’ll compete for a bullpen spot on a minor-league deal that will pay $580,000 if he cracks the Opening Day roster and it could be a head-to-head battle with fellow control-impaired southpaw Andrew Miller. Hill’s fastball-curveball combo is definitely good enough to make an impact as a reliever, but counting on the 30-year-old lefty to simply throw the ball over the plate consistently is a big question mark.
The Nationals will be many people’s favorites in the NL East this season. Not everything is looking great, however. For example, their ace — defending NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer — can’t even throw fastballs right now.
The reason: the stress fracture he suffered last August is still causing him problems and Scherzer is unable to use his fastball grip without feeling pain in his right ring finger. He will throw a bullpen session tomorrow, but will only use his secondary stuff.
Scherzer has not been ruled out for Opening Day — the fact that he is throwing some means that his timetable isn’t totally on hold — but you have to figure, at some point, not being able to air things out and use his heater will lead to some problems in his spring training routine.
File this under “man, that would’ve been cool.” Or, if you’re a Tigers fan, file it under “man, that would’ve signaled several years of misery.” However you fall on the matter, however, know that, according to Jon Heyman, the Dodgers inquired about trading for Justin Verlander over the winter.
It never went anywhere, but it’s not like it was silliness for the Dodgers to ask. As you may recall, the Tigers were reported to be willing to listen to offers on any and all players back in November, as GM Al Avila contemplated a tear-down. That never came to pass — the Tigers had a quiet offseason and are keeping the team together to make another run at the playoffs with the Verlander/Miguel Cabrera core — but it couldn’t hurt to ask.
Verlander, who is coming off a resurgent season which saw him return to form as one of baseball’s best pitchers, has 10-5 rights, allowing him to veto any trade. He’s married to an actress/model, however, owns a home in L.A., and the Dodgers are a clear contender, so there’s a good chance he would’ve allowed such a trade to happen. Heck, dude even loves pitchers batting, so a chance to do it all the time would be right up his alley.
The bigger issue likely would’ve been Verlander’s $28 million salary. The Dodgers already pay the luxury tax so taking on that commitment would cost them more than the sticker price. And, of course, if the Tigers are going to ever give up one of the best players in franchise history, it would take the motherlode of prospects to do it.
So, no, a Verlander-to-L.A. trade wasn’t ever a strong possibility. But even the slight possibility seems exciting in hindsight. It was a boring as hell offseason.