You’d think signing a new starting pitcher would be a cause of excitement, but “Dodgers sign Randy Wolf” was something we’d all seen coming weeks ago. We’ve discussed the merits of signing Wolf around here on more than one occasion, so there’s no need to rehash it again. He’s incredibly average, he’s not going to kill you, but he’s not always healthy enough to take the mound. He hasn’t had a season in which he was able to make 200 innings and be at league-average or above since 2002. Since then, he’s either been hurt, below-average, or both.
Yet, while this signing doesn’t thrill me, I can’t really say I’m against it. With the recent revelations about Ben Sheets’ impending surgery, Wolf was the best remaining starter on the market – and the Dodgers clearly needed to get someone. Besides, you can’t really argue about the price, right? $5 guaranteed for a guy who was offered $28 million over three years earlier this offseason seems like a steal. I know, I know – that offer was pulled by Houston due to the declining economy, but they had still put that number out there. Whether that says more about the value of Wolf or the gross incompetence of the Houston front office, I’m not sure.
As for what we can expect from Wolf, assuming his health, in 2009… well, his 2008 was one of the oddest years you’ve ever seen. Who puts up a lousy year in a great pitcher’s park (4.74 ERA in San Diego) only to go to a terrible pitcher’s park and wildly improve (3.57 ERA in Houston)? Well, I’ll tell you who: someone who didn’t really change anything at all except for the end result.
2008 first half: .264/.342/.414 .314 BABIP
2008 second half: .261/.330/.402 .307 BABIP
Not much change there, right? So don’t let the huge improvement in his stats to end the year in Houston fool you; I’d be floored if Wolf actually puts up a 119 ERA+ over a full year in Los Angeles – if he even makes it through a whole year this time. But, the Dodgers needed a starter, and Randy Wolf certainly fills the job description of “starter”. For the price, you could do a lot worse.
So welcome back, Randy. I look forward to yet another endless spring of “hometown boy returns” stories.
(Why did I choose this picture? Because using an action shot is cliche, and I found this out on the series of tubes. How could I not go with it?)