I’m out at dinner tonight with some friends from MLB.com.
One checks his phone, and seeing the press release, says to me, “Brad Penny and Cory Wade to the DL.”
I reply, “no surprise on Penny. Too bad about Wade, he’s been really good. Who’d they call up?”
He says, “Eric Stults… and a former Yankee.”
Him: “Worse… Worcester’s own…”
Me: “Oh my god! Not Tanyon Sturtze! Really?!”
Sturtze is 37 years old, and he actually had to start his 2008 at Jacksonville this year, which is an experience I can’t even imagine for a non-rehabbing pitcher of that age. Look, we all know why he’s here; he’s another one of Joe Torre’s unexplained relief pitcher mancrushes, despite the fact that he was never even very good for the Yankees. In his 3 seasons in New York (2004-06), he was reliably below average, posting ERA’s of 5.47, 4.73, and finally 7.59 in 18 games in 2006 before being shown the door. Sturtze hasn’t been even league average since 2001, and suffered through a brutal 4-18 campaign for the 2002 Devil Rays. Last year, he didn’t even get to taste the majors. He somehow spent time at four different levels of the Atlanta system and put up a glowing 9.53 ERA. He’s at least been better than that this year with a 4.70 ERA at Jacksonville and a 4.13 at Las Vegas, but it’s like that’s very good either. Why him to be the 42nd Dodger we see this year rather than, say, Matt Riley, who’s outperforming him in AAA by a good margin? Why not Mike Myers, who had a 166 ERA+ in 55 games for the Yankees last year and is outperforming Sturtze in the minors this year? It’s not really that I think the last man in the bullpen is going to change the course of the season; it’s that, as we’ve seen with Scott Proctor and Brian Falkenborg, when Joe Torre gets one of his security blanket guys, he tends to put them into high-pressure situations no matter who else is available. And that does worry me.
Speaking of Falkenborg, former Dodgers GM Paul DePodesta - now working in the Padres front office - blogs about him today:
Fortunately for Brian, he has had stints in the big leagues in each of the past five seasons with the Dodgers, Padres, and Cardinals. Brian has always had a good fastball/curveball combination, but his stuff has really exploded in the past year. Typically armed with a 91-93 mph, Brian has been regularly touching 95, 96, and even 97 mph this season out of the bullpen.
Always showing solid command along with his stuff, this year he walked just 2.1 per nine innings and struck out 10.5 per nine innings before getting the call to the big leagues. So far he had pitched just 11.2 innings in the big leagues, giving up 11 hits, four walks, and striking out nine before being placed on outright waivers.
Our scouting reports from both Chris Gwynn and Randy Smith indicate that he has become an aggressive reliever whose fastball has been overpowering at times. We’re excited to have him back in San Diego and anticipate giving him a good look between now and the end of the season.
This blog wasn’t around during the DePodesta holy wars, but if we had been, we’d have been squarely on his side (how anyone can still say that the Penny/LoDuca trade was a bad one is beyond me). But in this case? Sorry Paul. If Falkenborg really had “solid command” and stuff that “has exploded”, he probably wouldn’t have, you know, sucked so much over his career. He’s all yours. But if you want to send us Greg Maddux, that’s fine by me.
- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness