Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Bullpen candidate profile: Eric Hacker

Eric Hacker has three
major league innings
on his resume,
with Pittsburgh in
Pitcher: Eric Hacker
Throws: Right
Age: Turns 28 later this month
Roster status: On the 40-man roster; probably has option left
Chance of making team: Slim

Eric Hacker was named pitcher of the year in the Pacific Coast League last season, an honor that is not to be confused with being reckoned the best pitching prospect.

He went 16-8, 4.51 for Fresno, the Giants' Triple A team; the ERA, in the overall context of the hitter-happy PCL, isn't bad, but his key component ratios aren't nearly as impressive.

The Giants didn't need his help last season; they used a mere seven starters, and one of them made just one start. Basically, they replaced Todd Wellemeyer halfway through the season with Madison Bumgartner; the other four starters (Tim Lincecum. Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and Barry Zito) made 33 starts apiece. Hacker didn't get so much as a September callup; he may not even have been on the 40-man roster.

That won't be an obstacle for him with the Twins; they signed him to a major-league deal early this offseason, a move that many outsiders found curious and would be completely inexplicable if he's out of options.  Despite his presence on the 40-man roster, he appears to be another piece of Triple-A depth brought in from the outside.

I rather expect Hacker to be a relatively early cut this spring. He figures to be in the Rochester rotation, perhaps the first starter in line for a call-up if needed, and as such will need to be stretched out this spring.

He's not, as matters stand. Plan B for the Twins rotation; Plan B will be whichever of the established starters winds up in the bullpen. He may not even be Plan C; it could be him, it could be Jeff Manship. And it's expected that by midseason Kyle Gibson will be deemed ready for the majors.

He's more a rotation candidate than bullpen candidate, and there's no room in that inn either.

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