In part twenty-seven of my almost 50 part series “Better Know An Oriole” (otherwise known as 2009 Orioles Retrospective), I take a look at reliever Cla Meredith… THE FIGHTIN’ SUBMARINER!
The 26 year-old righty spent the last few years coming out of the Padres bullpen before being dealt to the Orioles for Oscar Salazar. An extreme groundball pitcher, Meredith continued that trend in 2009 with a 62.9% GB rate – though that’s actually lower than his career mark of 67.1%. Additionally, Cla had his strike-out rate go down (5.1 K/9, 6.1 K/9 career) and his walk rate go up (3.4 BB/9, 2.6 BB/9 career). None of those are particularly great signs, and Meredith’s 4.09 FIP (largely in line with his 3.99 ERA) made him only a slightly above replacement level player at 0.2 WAR. By the way, Meredith walked a few more guys once coming over to the AL and gave up a couple more home runs (largely due to an unsustainable low HR/FB rate while in San Diego, even accounting for the park) – though he did strike-out more batter as well. Small sample size caveats apply even more than usual of course.
The one main difference I can see with his stuff is that Cla went from throwing his sinker ~76% of the time (like he did in ’06-’08) to 69% of the time. He supplanted it with the slider, which might explain the increase in walks but makes the drop in K’s confusing. I’m not a Pitch/FX pro so I can’t really look into it more, but I would assume throwing more breaking pitches would generally lead to more strike-outs and more walks, but if he’s just getting the latter and not the former maybe he should go back to utilizing the sinker more. I think Meredith can get back towards his career marks next year and contribute to the O’s pen (groundball guys are always useful).
I will readily admit that Oscar Salazar will likely be a more valuable player over the five more years that he is under team control than Meredith will be in his four years. While it probably wasn’t the optimal move, I’m still OK with the trade – especially if picking up Cla bolstered the bullpen enough to help allow the trade of George Sherrill for Josh Bell and Steven Johnson. Oscar is an above replacement level player, but I don’t think he’s actually that hard to replace. The Orioles “lost” the trade – I just don’t really care that much. Maybe it’s Moneyball bias towards Chad Bradford being imposed on all Chad Bradford-like pitchers.
Photo by Wigstruck and used under the Creative Commons License 2.0.