It was widely reported yesterday, so pardon me for not knowing the original source, that the Oakland Athletics acquired right handed pitcher, Edward Mujica from the Boston Red Sox. Wonderful. What better way to aid a struggling bullpen than to add a struggling reliever into the mix?
In 2015, Mujica has pitched in only 11 games for a total of 13.2 innings. His ERA is at 4.61 which is now the third worst ERA in the Oakland Athletics bullpen and he averages a home run per 3.6 outings. If this makes A’s fans nervous, it probably should.
So why would Billy Beane make a move like this without consulting us first? I honestly don’t know. As I go over his stats from 2014, hoping to find a line of reasoning that would lead to this acquisition, I don’t see anything that stands out. Mujica is not a bad reliever but I don’t see how he’s going to help this bullpen unless Beane is hoping his mere presence will right the ship.
To me, it seems like the A’s have a hole in their boat and instead of patching it with steal, they’re stuffing the hole with paper towels. It may hold for a minute or two but it’s not going to stop the boat from sinking.
Batters, in 2014, hit .188 with two outs and runners in scoring position against Mujica. That’s not the worst average I’ve seen, although it does mean that he allows a run almost 20% of the time in those situations, but that’s the best of his clutch numbers from last year. In “late and close” games, batters hit .268 and in tie games opponents hit for .324.
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Stripping down that last stat a bit more, Mujica pitched in 13 tie games last year, facing 44 batters and gave up four doubles, a triple, a home run, five walks and a stolen base while striking out six (13% K%) and allowing six runs. This may be why Beane acquired him; if it looks like an A’s reliever and it pitches like an A’s reliever, it’s an A’s reliever. Therein lies the problem, the 2015 Oakland Athletics need a reliever with at least one elite split. They need a pitcher who is lights out in high leverage situations or never gives up home runs or forces a lot of double plays or never walks batters or is unhittable for righties or lefties. Something, anything, in a clutch, high leverage split would be nice but with Mujica his 2015 stats and splits are not very good and his 2014 stats and splits indicate that he may be on the slide.
Of course, Beane and company look at a set of stats that the rest of us don’t even know about and the risk/reward analysis may be favorable to the A’s or, and we’ve seen it happen before, this is the first move in a series of moves that will get us the reliever that can truly boost this struggling bullpen.
Today is Mujica’s 31st birthday so maybe, just maybe, he’ll give A’s fans a gift and show up to the park, put on the white shoes and return to his 2013 All Star ability and prove all of us doubters wrong. Maybe.