Tuesday, March 24, 2009
30 A's in 30 Days – Brad Ziegler
Acquired: Signed as free agent (June 18, 2004).
Contract: One year thru 2009. Eligible for arbitration after 2011.
Position: Set-up reliever, occasional closer.
Projected ERA: 3.70
Over/Under: Even if A's games don't start until 10:05 PM where you live, you've probably heard of Ziegler. He set a modern Major League record for scoreless innings (39.0) to start a career and finished the year with a 1.06 ERA in 59.2 innings. That said, I'm going OVER on that projection. Ziegler's streak was impressive enough. In his first 29 games, he held hitters to a .179/.252/.179(!) line. However, after he yielded his first run, that line leapt to .317/.394/.537(!!!) in his remaining 18 games. Small sample size or no, things will even out for Ziegler in 2009.
By the Numbers: .198, .280 – Batting average against Ziegler by righties and lefties, respectively. Ziegler is being talked up as a possible option for closer on days (weeks?) when Joey Devine is unavailable. If the A's have any hope of contending in '09, this won't happen. Let Ziegler face tough RH hitters with runners on in the 7th or 8th innings and rack up the double plays a la the effective version of Chad Bradford circa the 19th century. Don't let him face Ichiro Suzuki or Josh Hamilton in the 9th inning of a one-run game.
Surefire '09 Prediction: Ziegler's aw-shucks personality, combined with his overt friendliness towards the fans and media will ensure season-long protection from criticism. There's simply NO way he can repeat his run prevention from the year before. Instead of blame, Ziegler will be defended with excuses that reference his mechanics or his release point or a hidden injury.