Lance Cormier, Come On Down

Per Dylan Hernandez, the Dodgers have signed righty reliever Lance Cormier to a minor-league deal with an invite to spring training. Cormier just gets added to the pile of veteran arms in camp on zero-committment minor league deals and is otherwise not really noteworthy, but I’d like to take you through my thought process when I saw the news.

First, I got flashbacks to Lance Carter, who also came to LA from Tampa, but as part of the ill-fated Edwin Jackson trade of 2006. Carter allowed 25 baserunners and 11 runs in 11.2 innings as a Dodger in what proved to be his final professional season. Thinking of Lance Carter makes me die a little inside.

Then I thought of Rheal Cormier, who had a productive 16-year MLB career with several teams, and whom I mainly remember because the name ”Rheal” is pretty awesome. 

Getting back to Lance Cormier, an initial look at his baseball-reference page shows that maybe this guy isn’t so bad, as he pitched in at least 45 games in each of the last three years, with ERA of 4.02, 3.26, and 3.92. That could be useful, right?

But then I look over to the right column, and see that he’s walked less than 4.3 per 9 exactly once in his career, and for a guy who doesn’t strike out all that many, that seems brutal. It was even worse in 2010, since he actually walked more (4.9/9) than he struck out (4.4/9). Not good.

The brain doesn’t stop there, though. Seeing that K/BB mark made me think that, “hey, didn’t I write about this guy already?” Indeed I did, back on December 3, when I was looking at the players who were non-tendered by other teams:

Cormier comes up because he had a 3.92 ERA this year. He also had a 1.648 WHIP and walked four more guys than he struck out. Uh, no thanks. PASS.

Yep. Gross. Still, Tommy Rancel of Rays blog The Process Report (and FanGraphs, and Bloomberg) chimes in with an explanation of how a guy with that kind of rate can be successful:

@MikeSciosciasTI Cormier is useful as a low-lev groundball guy.

@MikeSciosciasTI K/BB is awful. He had a reverse split, but I think he was overexposed to LHB last yr. If you need a GB in the 6th, he’s ok.

“If you need a groundball in the 6th inning” is probably what ought to be in the dictionary next to “minor-league invite”, right? So while the numbers aren’t great, he’s managed to kick around the bigs for seven seasons, and while he won’t make the team he might not be totally without his uses.

I don’t quite understand why guys like this bother with the Dodgers this year, though. As I mentioned the other day, the pitching depth is excellent – something like fifteen deep, and maybe only one spot open for discussion in the bullpen. He – or Mike MacDougal, or Oscar Villareal, etc. – wouldn’t have a better chance of grabbing a spot on a team with a more unsettled staff?

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  1. [...] game action like everyone else, it’s because Cormier was hardly ever allowed to even pitch. When he was signed, we had incredibly low expectations… Getting back to Lance Cormier, an initial look at his [...]