Belated Look at the Mike Gonzalez – Pedro Strop Trade

I know this is like two weeks overdue, but it’s still worth looking at any good move made by the Orioles. This one had the Birds sending reliever Mike Gonzalez to the Rangers in return for reliever Pedro Strop. That makes twice this year the O’s helped upgrade the Texas bullpen, and also spelled the end of a tumultuous run in Baltimore for Gonzalez (who should never have been signed in the first place, but I digress).

The Orioles save about a million bucks in the deal, and add a cheap, hard-throwing right-hander to their own pen. At 26 years old, Strop is pretty old for a guy with just 31.2 IP under his belt at the major league level. He got a relatively late start to pitching though, as he came up a shortstop in the Colorado system. When that didn’t work out, the team moved him to the mound and thus moved back the clock on when he’d be ready for the big leagues.

Strop’s career Triple-A number look pretty good, with a 3.42 ERA, 11 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 in just over 100 IP. He’s carried some of that over to the majors, with a 9.7 K/9 career (in limited innings in 2009, 2010, and 2011), while also having some trouble finding the strike-zone (6.5 BB/9).

The small sample of PitchFX data shows a 94-95 mph fastball without too much tailing action, a slider that’s got just a bit of “curve” to it, and a relatively rarely used change-up with some sink. He’s been able to miss bats with all of his offerings, which is nice.

If Strop can bring the walks down, he could certainly be a solid reliever for the O’s. Maybe even the closer one day, depending on how things shake out (hey, if Kevin Gregg was given that job…). That’s not terribly exciting – and it’s not likely to do much to turn around the franchise – but trading older, more expensive players for younger ones who have some upside is, in general, the kind of move the Orioles should be making.