Giants news has slowed down some lately and unless you count the faux-Manny rumors du jour, not much has been happening. Probably the most recent news item is that former Giant, Tyler Walker, has found a new home with the Seattle Mariners.
From the MLB.com Mariners website:
“Tyler is a pitcher we had identified early on as a guy who could help us in the bullpen,” general manager Jack Zduriencik said in a release. “He has the ability to pitch in any role: middle relief, set-up and he has experience as a closer.”
I was a little surprised to see Walker get a 1-year major league contract. Kevin Correia, who’s probably the better reliever, had to settle for a minor league deal with the San Diego Padres. But, after looking at the career numbers for Walker and Correia, I was a little surprised at how similar they were in relief.
That’s basically the same pitcher. And what you’ll get with both of them should be a slightly better than replacement level reliever. Let’s see how Walker projects for 2009. In 2008, Walker actually had some positives going for him (if you can block out the unfortunately timed HR’s that he had a habit of giving up). He posted a FIP of 4.24 in 2008 and showed a stronger groundball tendency than ever before when 47.7% of his BIP were on the ground. That was a career high for Walker. He also boosted his K% to 21.6%, also a career high.
Marcel has Walker projected to throw a 4.22 FIP next season. And that doesn’t account for league adjustment, since Marcel isn’t concerned with league adjustments but you could probably move Walker up to a 4.30 FIP in the American League.
Walker could see his way into the closers role in Seattle depending on how their team bullpen develops. Obviously, his work in high leveraged situations — for better or worse — was one of the selling points for the Mariners. I believe Walker’s deal is for $750K which is about right for what he’ll give the Mariners. If he pitches 65 innings of 4.30 FIP baseball in a closers role, he’ll be worth about +0.25 wins above replacement. You can see how his win values change with his usage.
For all the abuse he took, Walker wasn’t the worst pitcher at times in the Giants bullpen but he probably shouldn’t have been setting up at times last year. Bochy’s commitment to defined roles probably brought more fan heat on Walker than he deserved. The Mariners are getting an arm that’s a tad better than replacement, not world-beating, but usable in the right scenarios. It’s good that the Giants have been able to move on from the Walkers, Correias, and Hennesseys of the world this offseason because they are all essentially the same pitcher. The bullpen has gotten better, and at this stage in the game, I’d rather see if Hinshaw can not walk 6.58 hitters per nine innings or if Luis Perdomo, Justin Miller, Justin Hedrick, etc. can develop into something useful instead of running out the W/C/H trio for another season.
Walker was a local guy, and he was fun to root for in a way, because you knew he liked wear the uniform with ‘Giants’ blazed across the front. Best of luck in Seattle, Tyler.