Joaquin Benoit or $5.5 million? I’ll take the cash…

By Unknown author

The Tampa Bay Rays had quite the tumultous off-season, led by the inevitable loss of Carl Crawford and followed by a mass exodus of bullpen staff, including closer Rafael Soriano and Australian flame-thrower Grant Balfour.

Matthew Silverman and Andrew Friedman spent a lot of time apparently on the sideline, watching as middle relievers with questionable pedigree made ridiculously lucrative deals. Joaquin Benoit is a perfect example. Not that I blame him for taking the deal with Detroit; honestly, it was a sweet payoff for him and I wish him the best. But looking over his stats, it seems to me that the Tigers have paid for a career year by a player whose numbers are almost certain to disappoint.

In his career as a part-time starter and middle reliever Benoit had five out of nine seasons with an ERA at 5.00 or above. His Base on balls per 9 innings (BB/9) was over 4.0 five times and his strikeouts per nine innings (SO/9) under ten in every year except his stellar season with the Rays. In fact, a look at his peripherals show a decent pitcher, but certainly not the one who struck out over 11 batters per nine innings and had a career low WHIP of .680…which was less than half the WHIP … again … five of his nine seasons. Of more interesting note, his ERA was considerably lower than his career average and minisucule when compared to any season prior to 2010. But the number that really jumps out is his strikeout to base on balls ratio (K/BB). In eight years with Texas, he struck out 1.91 batters for each one he walked. In his one year with Tampa, that number ballooned to 6.82 K’s per BB. Looking at his body of work and taking into account 2010 as a free agent year, which Joaquin Benoit would you bet on seeing this year?

Something tells me that the $5.5 million per year (plus a million per year in possible incentives) will be better spent by the Rays brain trust with the guys they’ve brought in to revitalize the pen. Stay tuned.