Yesterday, I talked about the viability of Francisco Cordero as a 7th inning option for the Tigers. Ultimately, we can probably conclude that Cordero is going to end up closing somewhere, and his price tag doesn’t fit what the Tigers are going to do. I went in search this morning for a guy that not only would be willing to pitch in the 7th inning, but I wanted this guy to have experience, and have some success as well.
Today, I give you LaTroy Hawkins.
Hawkins, is a 38 year old right hander who pitched for the Milwaukee Brewers this past season. He is actually going to turn 39 years old in December, making him a perfect candidate for a one year contract offer. This fits with the Tigers situation nicely, as they have some young bullpen parts, and probably don’t want to get tied up with another reliever for 2 or 3 years, given they signed Joaquin Benoit to that type of deal last season. Hawkins made a little over 4 million dollars last season, and I can’t imagine that he is going to cost much more this season. In fact, his age alone might mean he takes a small pay cut.
Performance wise, Hawkins is still getting the job done. Last season with Milwaukee, Hawkins had an ERA of 2.42 with the Brewers, pitching in 48 innings with the club. He has had some injury issues in the past 3 or 4 years, so that is a concern at his age. However, since turning 30 years old, Hawkins has been a reliable, if not a good reliever, for the majority of the past 9 years. He doesn’t quite throw as hard as he used to, but Hawkins can still bring it at around 91-95 MPH. He averaged 92.7 MPH on his fastball last season, and generated a tremendous number of ground balls at 61.7%. He doesn’t strike out a ton of guys anymore, his K/9 was just 5.21, but after struggling with control early in his career, Hawkins limits runners by walking only around 2/9 since 2002.
My biggest concern with Hawkins is probably his ability to get American League hitters out at this point in his career, but with inter-league statistics available, it looks like he should be just fine against the American League. His numbers against the American League the past few years are just fine. Besides, as a veteran, I don’t think the adjustment should be that much of an issue for Hawkins. It’s not like as a reliever he is getting the advantage of facing a bunch of pitchers anyway, most of the time in late game situations they are getting pinch hit for.
I would imagine that Milwaukee may try and re-sign Hawkins. With Francisco Rodriguez probably leaving via free agency, they still have a use for Hawkins as a set up guy. Hawkins at the end of his career might want a crack at a World Series, and while the Brewers are good, the Tigers are probably in an even better position. After all, our star 1B isn’t leaving. I’m sure with the right amount of money Hawkins could be persuaded to join the Tigers.
I would do this at the right price on a one year deal, because I think Hawkins is a more reliable option at this point than what is currently in place.
Obviously, I think this could be a solid move, what do you all think?