Acquired: Traded by Chicago Cubs for IF Justin Sellers and OF Richie Robnett (February 2, 2009).
Contract: Two years thru 2011 (with club option for 2012).
Position: Set-up man who murders by slider.
Projected ERA: 3.27
Over/Under: In last year's "30 A's in 30 Days" feature; there wasn't any bigger whiff on my part than Michael Wuertz. I referenced hated names from past A's bullpens like Kiko Calero and Jim Mecir in describing what fans could expect in 2009. I called the over on his projected ERA of 3.98. I might've even coined a catchphrase for him, in anticipation of the T.J. Matthews-moments that were certain to occur whenever he took the mound.
Instead, the A's got an ERA of 2.63 in 78.2 innings with 102(!) strikeouts and a slider that performed microfracture surgery on American League knees all summer long – including an ERA of 0.94 over the season's last two months. Eligible for arbitration after 2009 (and slated for free agency after 2010) the A's, in a mild surprise, signed Wuertz to a two-year extension through 2011 ($5.25M total).
(TBG Note: I wrote this review last weekend and pre-posted it for today. I hadn't realized that Wuertz had not pitched in a game all spring before reading this curiously-reported piece on him back on Friday, March 12. I normally dig this writer's work, but...well, let's just say that there's NO convincing spin that can be put on a story like this. Five days later, Wuertz was listed with the dreaded parenthetical body part next to his name. Yesterday, Wuertz said that his slider would be at full-strength by the first week of April. I'm now taking the OVER. This...won't end well.)
By the Numbers: 31 – The number of 2009 appearances in which Wuertz struck out two or more batters.
Surefire 2010 Prediction: In 2009, Wuertz set a career high for innings pitched. He's not topping that number this year.
Snoop Dogg Track for the Season: Y'all Gone Miss Me