so I guess we have Joaquin Benoit now


image by Samara Pearlstein

So yeah, that happened, the signing of Joaquin Benoit.

He’s a reliever. He should be a bridge to Papa Grande, and maybe occasionally a fill-in if the Potato cannot go for some reason (overuse, injury, stretch of suckitude, etc). Fine. He was a Ranger for a million years up until last season, when he was a Ray. He had really good numbers last year, but he missed all of 2009 while he recovered from rotator cuff surgery. He usually sports a distinctive goatee. He will turn 34 halfway through the 2011 season.

THOSE ARE THE FACTS

The Tigers have signed him to a 3-year, $16.5 million contract. Allegedly. It’s not quite official yet, but it probably will be. Maybe. Assuming his shoulder is really as healthy as it should be post-surgery.

Maybe you are thinking that this sounds like a very large contract to hand out to some dude who isn’t even supposed to be the closer if things go well. It’s ok to think that. I am thinking it too. In fact everyone is probably thinking it, because

Benoit’s reported contract is believed to be the longest Dombrowski has ever signed for a reliever, and reportedly the largest given to any non-closing reliever since Scott Linebrink signed a four-year, $19 million deal with the White Sox three years ago.
Jason Beck/DetroitTigers.com

Eeek? I guess this is what it took to get things done in a market where everyone and their pet pitching coach is drooling after relief pitchers who aren’t filled with awfulness. Mr. Benoit’s 1.34 ERA and 0.680 WHIP are definitely not drenched in awful, so that meant he was going to be pricey. I guess.

This cat will be 36/37 at the end of his contract and his shoulder has already reduced itself to ground beef once. I don’t really like to see the Tigers saddling themselves with long, heavy, awkward contracts for aging/already-elderly players right when they were starting to shed such things. But if this ends up working and Benoit has a great 2011 and helps the Tigers win the PENNANT, I won’t complain. Much.

15 responses to “so I guess we have Joaquin Benoit now

  1. I’m not upset about this like SOME people, MLBTR. Seriously, some people were calling it the “worst signing ever from a terrible GM with no plan or direction”. Commence eyerolling.

    If Benoit is even a shade of the pitcher he was in ’10 for the Tigers in ’11, I will be a very happy cat.

  2. Also, courtesy of my mom: “We signed a pitcher named Joaquin? That’s no good. He’ll just be joaquin everybody!”

    Har har.

  3. I don’t know why that picture freaks me out so much, but it does. It does.

  4. Hey I’m excited! This one piece could bring in many more. Be prepared fans! Adam Dunn is (maybe) next!

  5. He’ll just be joaquin everybody!

    I can remember when one of the best pitchers in baseball was Walking Underware . . .
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/a/andujjo01.shtml

  6. If he’s good, we’re going to think he’s worth every bit of the $16.5 million.

    If he’s not… Well, it gives us something other than getting screwed during awards season to complain about.

  7. This is a tough one to judge. Yes, that’s a heckuva lot (in $ and years) to pay for a middle reliever who’s going to throw 60 innings a year, and Benoit’s history is marred by injury and mediocrity (though he’s been much better since moving to the pen — 3.32 ERA as a reliever vs. a Lima-esque 6.06 as a starter).

    The thing is, Benoit wasn’t just good last year in his comeback, he was unbelievably good. The guy gave up 30 hits in 60 innings! He struck out 75 and only walked 11 (1 intentionally). Digging a little deeper, he inherited 23 runners, and only allowed 2 of them (9%) to score. [Compare that to Ryan Perry’s 7 of 35 (20%) and Phil Coke’s 13 of 40 (33%) — and those guys were pretty good. Bonine was 61%, Thomas 49%, Weinhardt 45%.]

    He had three blown saves, but here’s a different way to look at it: He pitched in 22 games that the Rays eventually lost, but gave up runs in only 4 of them (a total of 6 runs). So in the 63 games he pitched, you could argue that he “contributed” to, at most, 4 losses. In every other game, he was flawless, or the Rays won. That’s a pretty reliable middle reliever.

    The only part of his 2010 performance that was less than exemplary was his tendency to give up (solo) home runs, and his HR rate was still probably better than league-average.

    So I’m thinking maybe the surgeon grafted Superman’s arm onto Benoit’s body, and that he’s totally for real. :-) Or, more seriously, he will regress a little and simply be an excellent reliever instead of an immortal one.

    My attitude in these things is: “It’s not my money. If the new addition improves the team and doesn’t prevent the Tigers from making better moves, I’m all for it.”

    I think Benoit makes the Tigers better, and even though it’s a lot of money, Ilitch isn’t exactly struggling to make his car payments, and this deal will probably provide a better return than the contracts given to Willis or Robertson or Bonderman.

    • I’m less concerned about the money… it’s the years. I just have this vision of him having one good year, or not even that, and dragging the team down with their inability to get rid of him for a couple years after. Dontrelle, Nate, and Bondo at least are/were all starters. This guy’s a middle reliever– not exactly a class of pitcher known for their year-to-year consistency.

  8. He must have felt really out of place in Tampa and Texas with such prominent stripes and whiskers.

  9. I predict he will be even better than last season; the new stripes and long whiskers will totally freak out batters.

  10. Pingback: The Sports Pages: Jayson Werth, Shin-Soo Choo, Miguel Cabrera and the Links | Motor City Bengals | A Detroit Tigers blog

  11. Pingback: The Sports Pages: Jayson Werth, Shin-Soo Choo, Miguel Cabrera and the Links | Baseball Bloggers Alliance

  12. Sam: Dare I be the first to say, “Welcome Al Al, this is your new teammate, Fred Fred.”

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