Tagged: Bullpen

George Sherrill: Kyle Farnsworth Redeux ?

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Early last week I read – and choked on – an article
by Mark Bowman
where he opined that adding George Sherrill and Scott
Linebrink was a good thing. According to Mark “. . . Wren seemingly proved
successful in his bid to add leadership to his bullpen mix. Scott Linebrink and
George Sherrill have both experienced recent struggles. But they both seem
capable of proving effective in defined middle-relief roles. More importantly,
they are quite capable of providing the kind of direction that Craig Kimbrel
and Jonny Venters need.”   Well, yes and
nope not likely. 

Scott
Linebrink
will probably be an okay trade. He’s been a
steady middle/late relief guy with good numbers throughout his career.  In fact in 2004 and 2005 he was the Padres go-to-guy posting ERAs
/WHIPs  of 2.14/1.036 in 04 and
1.83/1.059 in 05. In 2006 those numbers slipped to 3.57/1.216 and in 2007 it
the slid further to 3.80/1.222 before the Padres sent him to the Brewers where
he was 3.55/1.500.  With the White Sox From
2008 thru 2010 in the admittedly tougher AL Central he was 3.69/ 1.079,
4.46/1.661 and 4.40/1.326 in middle relief.  
Statistically Scott
Linebrink fills the need for a solid middle inning guy to take the strain off
of Moylan. From a veteran experience point of view he fits the bill as
well having performed well in the post season.  If he can keep the ball in the
park and induce double plays instead he can be a very good pickup.  George Sherrill is a different story. Mark Bowman seems to like him and the beat writers should know – at least I expect them to know – But when I heard George Sherrill I thought – left handed Kyle Farnsworth.

sherrill dejavu.jpg

I decided to examine the numbers objectively and see if I Mark Bowman was right and I was over reacting.

George Sherrill was okay from 2006-2009 (WAR > 1.0) but to say he had “recent struggles” is liked saying New England had a little snow this winter.

In 2010 his ERA exploded (6.69) his WAR collapsed (-0.4)
and in all measures he was just plain BAD:
his strikeout rate dropped (6.1) and his walk rate headed the other way (5.9) –
meaning effectively he walked as many as he struck out.  He was so bad
the Dodgers and Joe Torre – not known for abandoning veterans –
designated
him for assignment
midyear because he could not be trusted was injured. 
Okay, a guy can have a bad
season, does his career reflect has the kind of quality appearances
and veteran experience Kimbrell and Venters need; specifically being dependable
and performing well in pressure situations? Uh . . .no.

Sherrill always handled lefties well (.192/.286/.288 – 1 homer last year,
.167/.235/.265/.500 – 9 homers career) – but was never good against right
handed hitters (.276/.381/.418/.800 career era of 4.78 15 homers).  Last year he was horrible; righties were 427/.516/.707/ 1.223 (32 of 75, 14 walks,
13 extra base hits, 3 homers).  By
comparison Eric O’Flaherty was .229/.340/.349/.690 (19 of 83, 13 walks, 7 extra base hits,
1 homer) even though he was ill a good part of the year
. Conclusion?

George is no Eric; not even close. While Sherrill’s numbers have a downward trajectory over the years Eric’s have gone steadily up. Sherill can’t be
trusted against right-handed hitters period. As a middle inning reliever that makes using him problematic dangerous. As
a situational lefty you would only bring him in when there was zero chance the other manager would
pinch hit with a right handed bat.  What
about “veteran presence”?

For me veteran presence means more than being old; everyone gets old but everyone is not a desirable veteran presence – think Kyle Farnsworth. He was a veteran and look what he provided. . . nothing useful. I define Veteran presence is the ability to provide a calm point of reference in the storm of a pressure situation. One get’s this from performing at a high level in those situations. Having succeeded in such an environment, young pitchers can look to him as one who has been there done that; think Billy Wagner, John Smoltz, Tim Hudson, Trevor Hoffman. 

George Sherrill is a veteran of the Seattle Mariners and Baltimore Orioles and the 2009 Dodgers. Neither the Mariners or Orioles put him in a crucial pot boiling situation during a big game or season determining series.  Joining the Dodgers midyear
2009, he pitched very well 27.2 innings, 0.65 ERA, whip of 1.084 and one save. Then came the
post season.

In his two post season series he pitched 4.1 innings; 2.1 in the St
Louis series when he gave up one hit, one run and hit a batter (ERA 3.86) and 2
against Philadelphia when he surrendered 3 earned runs on 2 hits (1 homer), 3
walks and 2 hit batsmen while striking out 2 (ERA 13.50). That’s experience under pressure but not the kind presence I want our pen to emulate. So objectively it’s not accurate to say he brings a proven veteran presence to our younger staff members; Moylan, Proctor and Linebrink have better credentials.

Fangraphs’
Jack Moore
has it just about right: “. . .  If Sherrill is truly used as a Left handed One
Out GuY, he could be productive for Atlanta. However, he simply cannot be
allowed to face a righty in a high or even medium leverage situation. Sherrill
would be a fine pickup, if teams weren’t limited to 25 men on the active
roster.  .  . Sherrill’s skills just don’t seem to
provide enough given his limitations and the scarcity of roster spots.”

I think signing George, like trading for choke-master Kyle last year, was a mistake; a
waste of time and money better used elsewhere. He’s not shown th eability to lead/win under prerssure.
What he has shown the ability to do and brings to the the young pitchers in our pen is the probability of being this year’s

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Kyle
Farnsworth
. We didn’t need Kyle in 2010 and we REALLY don’t need George in 2011.