The post 2008 version of Rafael Perez walks too many batters (~4/9 innings) and strikes out too few (~5.5/9 innings), and was the beneficiary of a fluky HR rate in 2010 (5.8% compared to his career 11.3%). Still, he throws with his left hand and has been very good (by FIP) in 3 out of the last 4 years. Chris Perez is coming off a good year generated on the strength of an unsustainable strand rate (86%) and an absurdly low BABIP (.236). While he strikes out a ton (9.5/9 innings) he also walks the park (4.3/9 innings). Nevertheless, he’s been worth positive value in all three major league seasons, with FIP/xFIPs hovering around 4.0, and he throws gas (average fastball at 94.6 mph). Joe Smith is a steady righthander that came up with the Mets in 2007, and could be a solid, if not exciting, member of the relief corps.
And then there’s Fausto Carmona.
I have to admit, even hearing the name Fausto Carmona still sparks PTSD-style flashbacks of the midge game (think Johnny Depp in “Fear and Loathing”). There are few moments in my baseball watching life that I recall as more debilitating as watching Joba Chamberlain (who had been, essentially, the best pitcher in baseball) blow that game. Carmona’s performance from the midst of the swarm was something out of a Spiderman movie. And it’s not as though he just showed up for the postseason–he garnered Cy Young and MVP awards for his performance during the regular season in 2007 as well.
|162 Game Avg.||4.43||38||30||190||116||96||1.436||9.3||0.8||3.7||5.5||1.50|
So what was the difference between Carmona’s 2007/2010, and his 2008/2009? Most importantly, in the latter years, he walked more than 5 batters per 9 innings, which was roughly as many as he struck out as well (both are crappy numbers). In addition, when batters got on base, he was more apt to let them score (64% strand rate compared to ~74% in 2007/2010)…which was probably a side product of the crappier K/BB ratio. 2007 and 2010 were also the years he turned in the lowest BABIPs of his career, though at ~.280, they were reasonably close to league average.
Oddly enough (given his lack of playing time in both 2008 and 2009), Carmona has only been on the disabled list once–for a hip strain in 2008 which earned him a trip to the 60-day DL. In 2009 he lost playing time because he was crappy enough that the Indians sent him to the minor leagues. And while this is a tactic other teams have successfully experimented with in the past … Lee and Halladay are the exceptions, not the rule.
In the end, Carmona only has two seasons of five in which he put up an ERA+ above average–his incredible 2007 (148; in other words, he was 48% better than the average starter by ERA) and his 2010 (102–just slightly above average). The Indians have made noises about not wanting to trade him (which, given their state and his impending free agency, is likely a bluff meant to improve their return), but I have to wonder whether he’s really worth giving up anything significant to acquire. He could be a net positive, sure. But in a rotation that currently has one sure thing (CC Sabathia), one good bet (Phil Hughes) and two unknowns (Burnett and Nova), adding a volatile name like Carmona could add fuel to the possible fire. Additionally, while his groundball tendencies have trended downward, he is still a “pitch to contact” guy, and the Yankees infield defense is…questionable. But then again, when the alternative is Sergio Mitre, you’ve got to do something…right?