The Giants have inked Guillermo Mota to a minor league deal. Unlike Byung-Hyun Kim and Horacio Ramirez, Mota gets a invite to Spring Training. Most fans will remember the walk-off home run that Uribe hit off the Dodgers on August 12th. That HR came off of Mota.
Mota had a streak from 2002-05 where he was a pretty good relief pitcher, posting FIP’s of: 3.64, 2.78, 3.64, and 3.68. But in recent years the 36-year-old Mota hasn’t found the same success as he had in the early to mid-00′s. Here’s a graph of Mota’s FIP, K/9, and BB/9 over the past few years.
Mota’s K/9 has dipped a little since a high mark in 2003 (8.49) but he’s been consistently in the 7′s (the league average reliever in the NL had a K/9 of 7.7) every year except for 2009 when he posted a K/9 of 5.37. The drop in his K/9 isn’t comforting, but a quick look through FanGraph’s pitch-type data seems to indicate that he’s still throwing 93-94 mph with a slider and changeup that come in around 84-86 mph. One interesting observation is that by the same pitch-type data, Mota threw his fastball 67.2% of the time in ’09 — that was the highest fastball usage from Mota since 68.7% way back in 2002. Mota has exhibited slightly better than average BB/9′s for a reliever in the NL each year except in 2008 when he walked 4.42 hitters per 9. The league average BB/9 for relievers in the NL has been around 4 the last couple of years.
CHONE projects Mota as a 4.59 FIP reliever in 2010 which looks to be consistent with performances since 2006. Mota’s ceiling isn’t huge, but he’s a known quantity that’s better than guys like Kim and Ramirez. Quotes from Bobby Evans in the article linked above sound pretty positive on Mota. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him break camp with the team, but the Giants have better relief options to use once they are in-game. He could be this year’s Brandon Medders, which for Mota, sure beats sitting in Fresno for half the year.