Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hacking at pitching depth

The Twins  on Tuesday signed minor-league free agent Eric Hacker to a major-league contract, which means he has a spot on the 40-man roster.

Eric Hacker was 16-8, 4.51 for the Fresno Grizzlies
(Giants Triple A team) in 2010 and was named the
PCL pitcher of the year.
This has been greeted with some consternation in the Twins' blogging community — not so much signing Hacker as expending the roster spot. He's 28; he's had all of three major league innings; his 2010 season, while good in context (the Pacific Coast League is hell on pitchers), wasn't eye-popping; he's bounced from the Yankees to the Pirates to the Giants ... on the face of it, he's the kind of arm who gets a minor league deal with an invite to major league camp.

This signing comes with no less than seven members of the Twins bullpen of 2010 going into free agency. It also comes on the heels of a season in which almost nobody on the Twins Triple A or Double A staffs impressed.

I don't see Hacker as a rotation possibility for the big league club. I do see some parallels between him and the minor league career of Matt Guerrier. Guerrier was, like Hacker, a minor league starter who had some success but was seen as being just slightly lacking as a starter. (One of my favorite Guerrier facts, one that I've not had opportunity to use: He was one of three pitchers in the 2000-2009 decade to have an 18-win season in the minors.) 

Now, Guerrier didn't emerge immediately as a crucial bullpen cog, and I don't expect Hacker will either. He might be the long man; he might not make the big league club.

He adds to the organization's pitching options, and right now, they need some.

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