Maybe Randy Williams isn’t a lock to be the second left-hander out of the White Sox bullpen after all.
For the better part of the offseason, the general consensus has been that a bullpen spot was there for Williams, who was neither awful nor good in 25 appearances with the Sox in 2009, to lose.
Despite an abnormally high walk rate (6.11 per nine innings), Williams held down a spot in the White Sox’ bullpen by having good success against left-handed batters. Against lefties in ’09, Williams only walked four of 43 batters while holding them to a .549 OPS.
Granted, that was in a small sample size, but Williams’ three-quarters delivery and mid-90’s fastball did prove to be somewhat successful in LOOGY situations. Against righties, though, Williams was lit up for an .868 OPS while walking eight of the 37 batters he faced.
If used properly—only against lefties and sparingly in medium or high-leverage situations—Williams could theoretically be somewhat effective. He only should become a liability when used against righties, especially in medium or high-leverage situations.
But Williams may not get that chance in 2010 thanks to a potential Don Cooper project.
“Threets seems to be the most interesting cat,” Cooper said. “It was only Jan. 8, but he has enough stuff to control lefties.”
At 6-foot-5 armed with a mid-90’s fastball, Threets could be one of those pitchers that improves under Cooper. He’s a non-roster invitee to training camp and could find himself in the majors if he pitches well and/or Williams tanks.
The problem with rewarding Threets a job based on his spring training performance is that the sample size of March won’t be big enough to really determine if he’ll sustain success. The entire body of a player’s work needs to be looked at, and that body of work isn’t exactly impressive for Threets.
Despite his imposing frame and fastball velocity, Threets hasn’t been much of a strikeout pitcher in his career. His strikeout numbers the last five years have been unimpressive, and those numbers have been coupled with an abundance of walks. His K:BB ratio over the last five minor league seasons has hovered around 1:1, which certainly won’t cut it in the majors.
Maybe there’s a flaw in his delivery that hasn’t been noticed by former coaches. Maybe Don Cooper can fix that flaw. And maybe, with that hypothetical flaw fixed, Threets could be a somewhat effective major league reliever.
But the Cooper fix isn’t a guarantee. While his career strikeout numbers were far better, Andy Sisco comes to mind when looking at Threets—and he was anything but a Cooper success story.
So even if Williams tanks in the spring and doesn’t make the opening day roster, it might not be a good idea to replace him with Threets. Instead, if Threets has a good spring, the Sox should go the same route with him as they did with Williams last year—send him to Charlotte and consider him for a mid-season promotion if he continues to pitch well in the minors.
Granted, if Williams tanks to the point where the Sox don’t think he can be effective in the majors anymore, then the team will likely be left with Threets as the only left-handed option. But it probably would be better to take Jhonny Nunez—who at least held his own against lefties between Birmingham and Charlotte last year—rather than Threets.
- Colin takes a stab at a contract extension for John Danks at South Side Sox. I said yesterday that I didn’t think Danks would sign an extension after avoiding arbitration, but after sleeping on it, I’m backing off that opinion. There’s really no reason to think the Sox and Danks aren’t working on an extension to buy out his arbitration years—it just makes too much sense at this point.
- Scott Linebrink talked about his 2009, offering no excuses. (hat tip: Sox Machine)
- University of Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy was disappointed his Dodgers traded Juan Pierre.
- And, in case you missed it, Carlton Fisk ripped Mark McGwire.