3.26.2006

Your 2006 Giants: Worrell and Kline, Two Setup Men, Not Settling For

Tim Worrell and Steve Kline came to the Giants with poor performances in 2005. Worrell had personal problems that took him out in the early 2005 season and Kline just never adjusted to his new team and league. Some Giants fans question the acquisitions of these two relievers, particularly since Hawkins is pretty good against LHP, reducing the need for a LOOGY like Kline plus they gave up cash as well. But there were extenuating circumstances in both cases.

In Worrell's case, after he resolved his personal issues, he pitched well, compiling 2.55 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, .261 BAA, 6.9 K/9, 2.3 W/9, 3.0 K/W, and 1.3 HR/9. This was very good and in line with his performances over the previous past 6 seasons. It was particularly good since he pitched at a hitters park like the BOB (now Chase).

In Kline's case, he had been a good reliever for 7 seasons prior to his poor year in 2005, with ERA's in the low 3's or lower and WHIPs under 1.40, plus strong strikeout rates and low HR rates, his main problem had been walks. But in Baltimore, where not only was he not very happy, but he publicly let that be known and the fans rightly crucified him for it, and he didn't know the hitters or the parks, which all added up to a horrible year all around for him. His return to career norms is not as assured as Worrell but he did do better the last two months of the 2005 season, compiling a 1.96 ERA and 1.17 WHIP, with low 2.7 W/9 though very poor 2.7 K/9 and 1.2 HR/9. However, Felipe Alou was his manager when he first did well and Kline has expressed confidence that Alou will know how to use him to best effect - often and in key situations.

2006 Worrell

He's been like the energizer rabbit for the most part over the past 7 seasons except for his personal problems early last season - hopefully he is over them and from his record afterward, he was. He may be old but he's never relied on a blazing fast ball nor been injured in the recent past. He's happy to be back - he didn't want to leave in the first place he said then and now and is glad to be back - and as noted he pitched well after he returned to action, so there's no reason to believe that he won't continue to do as well as he has over the past 7 seasons, he'll be a bulldog in the bullpen like he was when he was here with the team his first time around.

2006 Kline

He was very good for 7 seasons, with dominance in 2 of the prior 4 seasons for the Cardinals, but then stunk up the joint in 2005? And he's only 33 years old. We know how unhappy he was in Baltimore plus he started finally coming around the last two months of the season for the Orioles and now he's back in the league and hitters he is most familiar with plus the catcher he had his biggest successes with in Matheny plus a manager that he first enjoyed success with and who he is looking forward to relieving for because he believes that Alou knows how to use him best for performance and will use him often, which is the way Kline likes it.

In addition, there were flukey elements to his 2005. His HR/FB was 20% whereas the mean that all pitchers show fall to is 10%, so it was a huge outlier in terms of this metric, particularly since he didn't give up that much more flyballs than usual. In fact, his GB/FB ratio actually was pretty high as his LD was down from historic norms. And he actually pitched OK in Baltimore, it was on the road that he was not doing well at all, his BABIP was off the charts when normally it should be in the .300 range (generally plus based on career norms for prior three seasons). Plus he was about normal against RHH but just blew it against LHH, which I would consider to be an aberration given he was still OK vs. RHH, it was just one of those years.

The Giants fans complaining about the trade of Hawkins forget that despite the Giants giving up cash in the deal, they saved that much in salary after all is said and done. And that amount is approximately the salary that they paid for Vizcaino over Angel Chavez. So look as it as a trade of Hawkins with Chavez as backup MI to Kline with Vizcaino as backup MI. Plus while Hawkins could be very good at times, even with us he seemed flakey to me, I would not have been comfortable knowing he was coming into a high pressure situation whereas Kline has a history of doing well in pennant situations with the Cardinals.

2006 Setup

I think the Giants set up situation is going to be fine in 2006. Worrell and Kline has a history of doing well, with just a poor 2005 season to show for their troubles. I think Kline will replace Eyre's production for the most part, he has had 3 seasons similar to Kline over the previous 7 whereas this was Eyre's first good season so there was no guarantee that even had we retained Eyre that even Eyre would have replaced his 2005 production. He should return to his effectiveness against LHH and do well in AT&T where his groundballs will be gobbled up by a good defensive infield. Worrell will be the ace in the hole should Benitez falter in any way but will be a pillar in the setup role like he was in the past for us.

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