Thursday, November 16, 2006

$4 Million For Jamie Walker? It's The Sign Of The Times

The way things are going lately in MLB, I figure Jamie Walker has maybe 10 more good years left in him, at the outside.

Lefthanded reliever Walker, 35, is set to join the Baltimore Orioles after five seasons with the Tigers, reports indicate, for three years at somewhere near $4 million per season.

Four million dollars for a relief pitcher. Someone check Walter Johnson and Christy Mathewson's graves for any signs of disturbance, like spinning going on inside.

Walker: Keep that arm safe and sound

But if you happen to be able to throw a major league baseball with your left arm, and do it reasonably well, you can attain job security that rivals that of the Supreme Court Justices. MLB teams' fascination with the southpaw pitcher is long-dated. And so lefty-lefty conscious managers are nowadays that a lefthanded reliever can pitch in 80 games, yet only register maybe 50 or 60 actual innings pitched. I wonder when the last one of them broke a sweat in a big league game.

Yet here Walker is, set to bolt the Tigers, American League Champs, for the downtrodden Orioles, who must be parched for lefty relief to want to commit $12 million to Walker. This is nothing against Jamie Walker, a good chap who gave the Tigers some reliable relief. In fact, it says more about the state of the Orioles -- and the big league game today, than anything.

You ever wonder why you hardly ever see lefthanded closers? Because a majority of hitters still bat righthanded. And the lefty reliever is seen as someone best used in the sixth, seventh, or eighth innings, mano-a-mano with the lefthanded batter. One and done, usually.

So no wonder their stamina is high, and that many of them pitch well into their 30's, and even into their early 40's. Jamie Moyer is an exception. He's a 40+ lefty, but he's a starter.

It wasn't expected that the Tigers would match the O's offer for Walker. Already their search, folks say, is underway for a (cheaper) replacement.

You just have to have that reliable lefty in your bullpen, in today's game. But the Tigers, for one, aren't a team that's willing to concede that that need equates to $4 million per season. Maybe someday it will be.

Until then, let the search begin!


Blogger Ozz said...

I really don't think Walker is worth that much. Maybe this is a chance for a dude like Wil Ledezma to step up.

For the most part, Wil's never been a guy who has had a defined role or a truly important role. He's just been a spot starter or an inning eating long reliever. Basically he's just pitched wherever and whenever he was needed.

It's time to find out what they've got in that arm once and for all.

6:32 PM  
Blogger Greg Eno said...

I don't know that I'd "waste" Ledezma's arm as a situational lefty, if that's what you're inferring. He has starter stuff. But you're right that he's been kind of a "utility" pitcher, if there is such a thing!

7:05 PM  
Blogger Ozz said...

He's got a good arm. I just never really feel confident when he's out there, no matter what role he's filling. He just hasn't been consistent. Maybe if they give him a really important role, that would boost his confidence, and he could perform up to his potential. Then again, maybe not.

12:37 PM  
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4:05 PM  

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