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Delcarmen Added To Reclamation Mix

Manny Delcarmen
With tepid fanfare, the Mariners added RHP Manny Delcarmen to the mix by signing him to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. According to a report on the PI blog, he had at least one MLB contract he could have signed in the National League, but chose Seattle because of "the opportunity."

Translation: Delcarmen thinks the M's bullplen blows, so it will be easier for him to make the team.

Manny, unfortunately, is right. There is a reason that he only got a minor league deal though.

As a prospect, Delcarmen looked like a rising star. He came up with the Red Sox, threw some serious heat,  and found success early in his career. However, Delcarmen has struggled the past few seasons. Across the board his numbers have declined. His strikeouts are down, walks way up, home run rate way up, and ERA up too. Going to pitch f/x data, his fastball velocity has dipped a mile per hour in consecutive seasons.

Still just 29 years old, Manny might be able to get back to his once promising form. However, if he were even 32 or 33 years old, I think most teams would see him as washed up. Covering up his age and just looking at the numbers, it looks to me like his best days are behind him.

Not all hope is lost though. One thing that has remained steady is Delcarmen's ground ball rate, which over the course of his career has been rather good. The home run rate he posted last year was quite high, especially in the context of his career numbers. That should regress, and Safeco Field may help him out even more. A plummeting home run rate alone will allow Delcarmen to again be a serviceable MLB reliever.

He is not the most hopeful reclamation project that will report to Peoria tomorrow though. I am higher on Chris Ray, whose velocity has not dipped, and is now two years removed from major arm surgery. He might be a splitfinger away from being good again, as I wrote a little bit ago.

I have an affinity for minor league deals with invites for spring training, probably because there is no risk involved, and some of them are bound to pan out. They make for good stories, and never for bad decisions. For all we know, Delcarmen will find his younger self again. The answer will start to come tomorrow.