Sunday, February 19, 2012

A new home

I started this one-room crap-shack of a blog all the way back in 2006 out of boredom and in need of a baseball outlet. The original intend was not to entertain or attract a significant audience or even advance a writing career. I simply wanted to keep myself busy with my favorite passion.

You see, we had just had my daughter Avery and had taken a new position in my company that would send me on the road quite often. Without much to do in far-flung Marriott Courtyard in some largely suburban community, I saturated myself with as much baseball knowledge as I possibly could on statistics and how they can be applied to the game I loved so much.

But enough about what I do in hotel rooms alone.

Frankly, I enjoyed doing the research – asking myself questions and seeing if I can use data to determine answers or provide insight towards the game. Somewhere along the way, other people began to enjoy my research or writing or whatever because people starting crowding in to read my posts on a regular basis.

I was fortunate enough to meet some outstanding Twins bloggers in John Bonnes, Nick Nelson and Seth Stohs (among others) only to discover that we all had the same passion and/or self-destructive behavior for providing free Twins content on the Internet. We formed TwinsCentric to pool our collective talents together to provide content to the Star Tribune (also for free).

But, man, what a hassle for you, the reader, right? I mean, each morning, stops at my site, Seth’s site, Nick’s site, that weird site with photos of farm animals dressed like people, the Star Tribune’s TwinsCentric site and then, if you had time, John’s site. With all that surfing you figure we must be costing your companies a ton in lost wages as you spend from 8 AM to 1:28 PM -each day going from Twins blog -to-Twins blog.

So, while the Occupy Wall Streeters continue to tear down big corporations, we at TwinsCentric plan to assist the poor, defenseless coporations – at the very least, by attempting to get their lost wages back. Starting today, the TwinsCentric team is launching a new endeavor,, your source for not only informative and entertaining posts from your four favorite Twins bloggers but also a place to discuss and debate with other Twins fans.

With forces joined, we figured we could at least save the good people of Cyberspaceville the annoyance of making multiple stops along the information superhighway. Now you can lap up all the Twins news, content and chatter you want in one spot -- just like an Old Country Buffett with an open bar.

So, oddly enough, I am going to miss this shack. It’s the one I took care of for six long years and honestly, not very well. After all, I never actually gave it a real URL. Still, I will not be more than a click away as I will be posting at my new location within the Twins Daily site (found here). Additionally, all my archived posts will remain up here at the old site just in case you want to scroll through the posts and tell me how wrong I was back in 2010 when I called Glen Perkins washed up (plenty of crow eaten on that one).

Thanks again for stopping by this old girl. See you at the new home.

Twins Daily:

Twins Daily on Twitter:!/TwinsDaily

Friday, February 17, 2012

Will Francisco Liriano rebound in 2012?

Without a doubt, there will be plenty of storylines to monitor during spring training this year. One of the bigger ones that you should keep an eye on in Fort Myers is Francisco Liriano’s fastball.
Injuries took him out of the 2011 season but it was clear that the southpaw was not the same pitcher as he was the season before. Between a decrease in velocity, an inability to locate his fastball and regularly falling behind his opponents, Liriano posted a career high in walks (75) and his second-worst ERA of his career (5.09). Perhaps a bit predictably based upon his delivery and past history, he succumbed to injuries midway through last season and missed a significant amount of time. Suddenly, not signing Liriano to a long-term deal became one of Bill Smith’s finest moves as a GM.
For his part, Liriano, who was admonished for not following through with offseason workouts before last season, opted to participate in winter ball – the same platform that helped him regain his form two seasons ago. Unfortunately, the results were not quite as enticing this year as they were in the past. He threw 24.2 innings and posted a 25/16 K/BB ratio in winter ball. This outcome was a distant cry from his 2009 winter league performance in which he reintroduced himself to baseball as one of the more filthy pitchers in baseball. That year in 20 innings  Liriano posted a 30/5 K/BB ratio on his way to becoming one of the Twins more dominating starters in the 2010 regular season.
Admittedly, each pitch thrown between November and April means very little in the grand scheme yet the signs are not wholly positive at this juncture. What can Liriano do to become the pitcher the Twins so desperately need in 2012?
There’s no question that he still has the nasty slider that can catapult him towards being a Cy Young-caliber pitcher, however, as I detailed following Liriano’s first outing this offseason in the Dominican, the main question is whether he can command his fastball.
According to’s pitch f/x data, Liriano’s fastball was vastly different from the 2010 predecessor:

Liriano’s Fastballs (2010 vs 2011)

Called Strike
2010 Four-Seamer
2010 Two-Seamer
2011 Four-Seamer
2011 Two-Seamer
In addition to the decrease in velocity, notice the sharp decline in the amount of called strikes with his two-seamed fastball. This is the pitch he uses most often against right-handed opponents. This may explain why his walk rate when facing righties jumped from 8.5% in 2010 to 12.8% in 2011. Having scouted a couple of Liriano’s outings in the Dominican, you can see that he was still struggling to place the pitch in the Caribbean – specifically his two-seamed fastball against right-handers.
Outside of Scott Baker, the Twins have little in their rotation of being an elite pitcher. In order to reach that echelon which the team so desperately needs, Liriano, besides being healthy, needs to see an improved fastball in 2012. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Twins hitting coach looking to fix team's approach at the plate

Hitting coach Joe Vavra recently shared some ideas behind what was causing the drought at the plate with the Pioneer Press’s Tom Powers. Plenty of factors played into the team’s offensive ineptitude but for those who did make it to the plate, Vavra felt that the approach was fundamentally lacking:

“Some couldn't grasp that they couldn't pull every pitch or that sometimes it was better to take a few. As a result, they struggled.
Despite some fans objections to the contrary, Joe Vavra comes off as a smart, intelligent and process-oriented hitting coach. I have personally never had the opportunity to meet with him however in interviews and articles about him, he comes off as someone who has a keen understanding of the art and science of hitting. After all, as stated in this column and in previous interviews, he has a history of checking data to assist in his techniques and teachings – and advanced viewpoint coming from a position that has historically been of the “see ball, hit ball, spit chew, little bingo, how now brown cow” ilk.

In that particular piece, Vavra does not outright say what constitutes “struggling” or rather which metric he uses to gauge that, however, he cited batting average a number of times. Because pull-hitting often takes a toll on a player’s average, you can see why the Twins would want to discourage this practice. Using more of the field is an indication that a hitter is able to handle more pitches in more zones. For example, if a right-handed hitter gets too pull-happy and attempts to turn on a pitch on the outer-half, odds are they will be pulling something towards the shortstop rather than “going with the pitch” to right field. In theory, opposing teams will recognize this and attack the outer-half more which will incite a player to turn-over on the pitch more often and drag down his batting average.

This more or less seems to be what Vavra is saying happened to the 2011 squad, particularly the young right-handed hitters.

Given that the Twins cycled through a greater number of younger hitters through the lineup that hit from the right side (Trevor Plouffe, Luke Hughes, Drew Butera, Joe Benson, etc) Vavra’s theory makes sense. Not surprising, the data indicates that the right-handers turned on 29.9% of their balls in play – a sizeable jump from the 24.3% pull rate in 2010. As such, righties hit .237 as a group, their lowest in the past three seasons:

Now, the batted ball data shows the outcome but it clearly does not show intent. That is something that hitting coaches can detect and video can reveal a bit more on what a hitter was trying to do when being pitched away. While a near 30% pull rate is high, there may be more outer-half pitches that hitters attempted to pull but directed them towards center instead of right field. What data might show some of that is the precipitous drop in using the opposite field successfully over the past three years. The idea is that if a hitter is focused on going oppo, the result should be better:

As you can glean, the 2011 Twins were considerably less successful at going the opposite direction than their predecessors. If the 2011 lineup was indeed less focused on driving shots to right field, it is reflective in those splits.

So, redirecting those players who may have grown too pull-happy like Trevor Plouffe or Danny Valencia back towards the big part of the field may help bolster their batting average but what of the power?

As I’ve written about extensively here, Target Field plays more favorably for pull hitters. This offseason, Josh Willingham and Ryan Doumit were added to the lineup and both hitters showed clear pull tendencies over their careers. In Willingham’s case, he moved to Oakland and grew increasingly pull-happy to combat the spacious park. Although he set a career high in home runs (29) that came at the expense of over 20 batting average points and a significant amount of on-base numbers. If the team wants the home runs added to the repertoire, they should encourage Willingham to keep the same approach he had as an Athletic.

Not long ago, the Twins tinkered with Hardy’s approach at the plate, suggesting he was getting too pull-happy. Hardy had incorporated the opposite-field mentality to his approach which the Orioles hitting coach told him to forget. Not only did Hardy’s batting average remain at a high level after going back to being a pull hitter, he also jacked 30 home runs.

Will Vavra allow Willingham and Doumit to retain their approaches? Of course it is up to the individual but it sounds as if Vavra had his way, it sounds like he would discourage the pair from this method. According to Tom Powers’ column, the Pioneer Press scribe posited the question if power hitters should try “to yank the ball” to which Vavra replied “I’d challenge them on that”. The reasoning behind Vavra’s contention was never clarified but I would speculate that it has to do with what amounts to a batting average drain.

Clearly, talent certainly played a key factor in the degeneration of the batting average from the right-side for the Twins but the inexperience and the pull-heavy tendencies also contributed. The old adage “hit it where it’s pitched” applies. Still, pulling the ball is not as big of an enemy to the offense as some would think. 

Monday, February 06, 2012


Over the Baggy posts will be on a brief hiatus for the next week and change as I indulge in cool cervazas by the beach in Mexico. 

Friday, February 03, 2012

Danny Valencia: 99 problems but a hitch ain't one?

According to Joe Christensen, Danny Valencia has been working hard all offseason at improving his overall game. In addition to trying to repair his shoddy defense, he has used video to help him make a few changes to his offensive approach:
“Valencia, 27, also studied video of his at-bats and decided to make a subtle change with his hands. Last year, he would trap his hands toward his body, forcing a longer loop before his swing. Now, he is bringing his hands straight back, giving him a straighter path to the ball.
Here’s a look at what Valencia has seen:

Focus on his hands. Notice that during his loading process, he drops his hands while bring the bat inside then brings his hands back up to his launch position. This action is what causes the “longer loop” as Christensen describes it.

Compare Valencia’s loading process to that of fellow right-hander and former teammate Michael Cuddyer:

Rather than moving his hands towards his body, Cuddyer simply shifts his set back to the launch position, maintaining the same linear plane and creating the “straighter path to the ball.”
From the side view, this will better highlight Valencia’s subtle hitch in comparison to how level someone like Cuddyer keeps his hands:

What is interesting about this is that throughout his career, Valencia has had this hitch in his swing – at least it was a trait he featured dating back to at least 2008 in the Arizona Fall League. It is clear that he has a hitch but this approach worked well for him during his time in AA (.287/.353/.483 in 539 plate appearances), AAA (.289/.322/.421 in 484 plate appearances) and at the major league level last year (.311/.351/.448 in 322 plate appearances). Of course, when you come off a season like Valencia did in 2011, obviously the performance demands some answers.

Did his hitch derail his season? Were big league pitchers better at exploiting this than their minor league counterparts?

Delving into his batted ball numbers, you see almost mirror images of his batted ball output. The difference lies in the quality of ball put into play (a much higher well-hit average in 2010) which likely led to the large batting average on balls in play discrepancy:

Well-Hit Avg
(via &

Plate discipline-wise, the story remained the same as well. There was a minor growth in a tendency to expand the strike zone and his contact/strikeout rate both made movement in the wrong direction but none of those indicators are suggestive of someone struggling through a season:

Out of Zone%
Swinging Strike%
(via &

So, there was not a spike in ground balls or a great inflation in fly balls that would lead someone to believe opponents were more successful at keeping him off-balanced in 2011. Same goes for his plate discipline numbers. What’s more is that with the exception of a slight shift in more hard-velocity pitches thrown to him (fastballs, sliders) over off-speed stuff (change-ups, curves), Valencia saw almost the same palate of pitches.

Nevertheless, it is hard to ignore how quickly his hit rate dropped between the two years and how his ability to handle right-handed pitching disappeared as he went from hitting .280/.303/.410 against them in 2010 to .252/.303/.352 in 2011. Was it because of his longer swing? Probably not. Will adjusting it help? It’s very possible.

Without anyone in the system pressing him at third, the Twins went out an acquired a small insurance policy in Sean Burroughs. Burroughs, who had a solid defensive reputation and a decent minor league track record, may be the safety net for Valencia in 2012 – or a left-handed platoon option if Valencia cannot solve right-handers.

Based on his prior successful output with the hitch (or longer loop in his swing) combined with the batted ball and plate discipline data, it is difficult to pinpoint his 2011 woes on that part of his swing so changing that aspect is not a magic bullet for him to rebound in 2012. Still, if he’s able to adapt to the new approach, this should give him a quicker swing (perhaps covering the inside portion of the plate where he’s had some struggles). And, if he maintains a similar line drive rate in 2012, it would not be unexpected to see his BABIP increase and with it, his overall numbers too. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Should Ben Revere play center?

Before the spikes have even hit the turf at Hammonds Stadium, manager Ron Gardenhire has gone on the record as saying Denard Span is his 2012 center fielder.
"[Span's] going to lead off and be my center fielder. That’s my expectations. If somebody were to tell me that he’s not able to do that, then we’d have to ad lib. But if Denard comes in healthy, then he’s my center fielder, there’s no questions to me about that."
Apparently, Ben Revere, who performed admirably in center in Span’s absence, was just keeping the position warm for the incumbent.
There is probably little doubt that Gardenhire is basing some of his decision on the fact that Revere has a substandard arm. From the wisdom of the crowd, polled their readers to compile a collective scouting report on all players. Their contingency gave Revere’s Arm Strength a 4. This was by far the worst rating among all center fielders and a 90-point difference between him and the leader, Rick Ankiel. Also viewed critically was his release: the crowd said that his release rated as a 28, the third-lowest mark in that category too.
It doesn’t take advanced metrics to recognize that Revere has a weak arm. It takes a bit more scouting acumen to see that he has a long arm throw which delays his release. Combine these two factors and it equates to extracurricular activity on the base paths.
The question is what did Revere’s skill set cost the Twins and does it preclude him from being the starting center fielder?
According to, the website which warehouses a vast majority of the Baseball Info Solution’s defensive data, they peg Revere’s arm as the worst among qualified center fielders in 2012 (minimum 700 innings) – adding data to the fan’s observations. He managed to accumulate 3 kills (throwing out runners) but allowed 63.9% of runners who had an opportunity to advance to the next base did so during his watch.
Here’s what we know about Revere: He’s fast. Because of this, we might also assume that he gets to many balls quickly, even those that fall to the ground. If he can get to more balls quicker than slower center fielders like, say, Rick Ankiel, one would think it would have some effect in preventing coaches from sending runners around the bases. Until we have other data available like how quickly an outfielder gets to a ball or how much velocity someone throws or how quick their release is, we are simply not going to have a comprehensive overview of how to judge someone’s arm. Still, looking at how many times opposing teams have had the opportunity to advance a base on him (89) versus how many times they decided to move up (56), you have to reach the conclusion that Revere’s lack of an arm has an adverse affect even if he is able to get to the ball quicker than the rest.
Allowing runners to move up has been the crux of the argument for those wanting to keep Revere out of center. After all, in addition to patrolling the deepest part of the field, a center field has one of the longest throws to home plate among the three outfield positions and has a hefty chore when throwing to third base as well. In Revere’s case, opponents took note of his arm strength last year and used it to their advantage, wheeling around second-to-third or third-to-home. Understandably, if opposing teams recognize this opening, they will like walk through it at a high rate and put themselves in scoring position whenever possible.
That idea certainly makes a manager cringe but, ultimately, it might be the wrong thing to focus on when deciding who should man center field.  
Moving Revere to left field definitely cuts down the distance on the throws, giving him an opportunity to cut off runners advancing to third or home. On the other side of the coin is the fact that Revere can cover ground like no other. Last year, Revere finished tied for third in Plus/Minus among center fielders with a plus-twenty (+20) mark. That means he was 20 plays better than the average center fielder which added up to 11 runs saved.
What this boils down to is that by the Plus/Minus system, it is much more valuable to prevent hits than it is to allow the opposing team the opportunity to move into scoring position.
In terms of his arm, Revere has spent the offseason trying to improve in that area. Revere told 1500ESPN’s Judd Zulgad and Joe Anderson that he has been throwing “long toss with a football” to build strength. And while he may be able to add a few MPHs, his long arm action still needs to be pared down to shorten his release time. Additionally, there are no real precedence set to say how much a player’s arm can develop over an offseason so there is no way of telling how much Revere can improve his arm.
To be sure, Denard Span is no slouch in center himself, especially in his 500-plus innings there last year. While he was not quite at Revere’s catch ‘em all caliber, he managed to save six runs which ranked him as the 11th best center fielder according to the P/M system. In the end, moving Revere out of center may play towards his lack of arm strength however it might wind up costing the Twins some outs when he is no longer patrolling the spacious center at Target Field. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Mauer needs a solid foundation

Joe Mauer has spent a substantial amount of time over the past few weeks on various media outlets attempting to erase memories of his contributions (or lack thereof) to the 99-loss season.
He’s working hard. He’s putting on weight. He’s eating Wheaties. He’s saying his prayers. He's drinking nothing but unicorn milk. He’s doing the Rocky IV training in Russia. He’s P90X-ing while Tae Bo-ing. Etc. Etc.
Merited or not, he has earned himself a reputation among the media types as being soft. KFAN’s Dan Barreiro had an on-going bit entitled “How Long Would Mauer Milk It?” alluding to various other afflictions (rug burn, paper cuts, etc) and the time the Twins catcher would spend on the bench. This also leaked from being a local gag to a more national sentiment. In fact, Chicago Sun-Times columnist Joe Cowley recently wrote that “Joe Mauer is the guy in the foxhole who’d rather push someone else onto the grenade than risk his hair getting messed up.” That’s a pretty damning view of his character, especially coming from a visiting columnist who does not see the inner workings of the clubhouse last year.
True, while he may have ticked off some teammates and writers with his spa treatment in the whirlpool facilities, when he was on the field his performance was substandard for the bar that Mauer had set. Clearly, one of the biggest mitigating factors behind this was his health. It is unfortunate that he has had to jump through these hoops to explain that he wasn’t 100% last year but that comes with the $23 million dollar territory.
During an interview on1500ESPN with Tom Pelissero and Phil Mackey, Twins hitting coach Joe Vavra discussed what he perceived as causes for Mauer’s disappointing 2011 season and the effects the various injuries and ailments had on his performance. Because of his leg injury, Vavra said that the Twins catcher had troubles “getting off his backside and favored his legs a bit.” This, he said, led to more head movement as well as him being “unable to turn on the ball.”
Vavra, a very astute hitting coach, said he first noticed the change in Mauer late in the 2010 season when he showed less of a tendency to turning on the ball. The subsequent offseason surgery and inability to fully recuperation likely exacerbated his leg issues into the “bi-lateral leg weakness” that sprung up. Without much of a foundation, Mauer struggled to pull the ball in addition to lifting the ball in the air.
As anyone who has spent one iota of time watching the Twins knows, Mauer’s bread-and-butter has been his ability to go the other way. Not only is he able to drive the pitch on the outer-half to left field, he often uses that inside-outside to muscle pitches on the inner-half the other way as well. After all, he’s a .436 career hitter when going oppo and, during his magical 2009 MVP season in which he smacked 28 home runs, a high percentage of his home runs were actually hit to left field (11 opposite field home runs).
Even though he made his millions feasting on left field, he still showed the potential to sock one to right every now and then. In 2011, that tendency decreased considerable. As you can see, Mauer’s ability to pull the ball has diminished some in comparison to the past several years and compared to his career too:
Similarly, Mauer had troubles lifting the ball to center as well, showing little power when smacking a pitch back up-the-middle:
Visually, his batted ball spray chart tells the same story. In 2009 and 2010 Mauer placed hits liberally to mid-to-deep center field and right field. That essentially evaporated in 2011 as only a handful of balls leaked out to (and over) the wall.
(Click to embiggen)
What all this says is that he did not drive the ball as well as he did as recently as 2010.
As the data showed above, Mauer definitely struggled to get around on pitches but what’s more is that he was unable to generate any lift. In 2011, just 21.5% of the balls he hit were of the fly ball variety – the lowest rate of his career. This put him in the category with punch-and-judy slap hitters like Ben Revere, Wilson Valdez, Derek Jeter, Ichiro Suzuki and Elvis Andrus – the only hitters ahead of him who hit fewer fly balls. Without a strong foundation, hitters have troubles elevating the ball and without elevation, you lose extra base hit capabilities.  
A year ago, Vavra cited Denard Span’s head movement as a major impetus behind his drop-off in 2010. That season, Span’s number declined as his groundball rate grew a bit. According to Vavra, Span was demonstrating too much head movement, rising up when the pitch was coming and causing him to shift the plane which led to less square contact. Now Vavra has made a mention of this being one of the issues for Mauer. If Mauer has been doing the same thing, it is not showing up on video footage of him (at least not to the extent that Span’s head movement had shown).Nevertheless, his 55.4% groundball rate in 2011 was the highest of his career and changing his vision plane would be a logical source for this increase.
What are the odds that Mauer can bring himself back up into shape for 2012?
Mauer had said he has rededicated himself this offseason, reportedly adding 30 pounds after shedding so much during the season last year, but mostly concentrating on his knee:
"My workouts at this point were focused on rehabbing the knee, and I really didn't get to work on other things. Being a baseball player, with all the other movements you need to make, you need to focus on total body, and I'm able to do that now.”
If healthy in 2012, Mauer should be able to turn on the ball a bit more, adding some lift and distance, and make people forget that he spent in the infirmary. He will likely never match that special 2009 season but as a high average/high on-base, solid defensive catcher, he is capable of being the anchor this team desperately needs.

Monday, January 23, 2012

What's left to spend?

This past week the Twins made several notable moves that affected their payroll – signing free agent reliever Joel Zumaya and coming to terms with several arbitration-eligible players including Glen Perkins and Francisco Liriano.

The Twins signed Zumaya to an incentive-laden deal that can be as little of a commitment as $400,000 if he fails to break camp with the team all the way up to $1.75 million if he reaches certain performance bonuses.

Shortly thereafter, the team agreed to deal with Perkins ($1.55 million) and Liriano ($5.5 million) while continuing to work on an agreement with their last arb-eligible player, second baseman Alexi Casilla. Casilla’s camp submitted a figure of $1.75 million while the Twins countered with a deal offered $1.065. Considering this organization does not enter arbitration with players regularly, it is assumed that the team and Casilla will eventually split the difference on a one-year contract.

Given those recent transactions, here is the current 2012 projected payroll based on the existing knowledge found at Cot’s Contracts and the Star Tribune’s Joe Christensen’s prior assumptions:

As of right now, the Twins are anticipated to spend around $98.5 million on the 2012 team. That is significantly under the $115 million that the 2011 team was paid out, however, given the ownership’s desire to lower than figure, the drop-off should not be surprising. A few months after La Velle Neal’s interview with Jim Pohlad, the team fired general manager Bill Smith and replaced him with Terry Ryan. During Ryan’s reintroduction press conference in November, he gave a few more details regarding the payroll number:
“I think it's going to somewhere around 100 (million)." Ryan added, "There's nobody up here that wants to hide anything. If it's 95, if it's 100, if it's 90, we're going to make due (sp) with what Jim (Pohlad) and the family and (team president) Dave (St. Peter) give us.
At the $98.5 million mark, the payroll is right in that sweet spot of where Ryan was describing. Because of that, it isn’t necessarily a given that the team will seek to spend that $1.5 million remaining from the assumed $100 million payroll. If Ryan opts to close up shop right now and move forward with the present lot, no one could blame him.

Then again, that wouldn’t be in the best interest of the on-field product, especially considering the state of the bullpen.

Even though Zumaya could be a very capable arm, based on his injury history, there is no guarantee he can sustain the duration of the season (in fact, I would easily bet against him making the maximum of his contract). Outside of Zumaya, the Twins have a bevy of intriguing yet unproven right-handed arms. The most prudent thing would be to use that money towards signing someone like Todd Coffey or Dan Wheeler.

As I outlined recently, Coffey could be a valuable but inexpensive addition to the bullpen to stave off right-handed foes. Making just $1.35 million with the Nationals last year, Coffey figures to have his potential earnings diluted in the current plethora of relievers on the market and could easily be signed for $1.5 million or less. Meanwhile Wheeler, who is even more of a threat against right-handed hitters than Coffey, made a pretty penny in Boston a year ago ($3 million) but a shoulder injury at the end of the season combined with the deep market could also push him into that $1.5 million range as well. Either option would be a solid addition to deepen a fairly shallow bullpen.

For the Twins, who are down to their final few schillings, choosing to spend that $1.5 million to land a bargain bin-priced reliever would undoubtedly strengthen the pitching staff.