Oakland Athletics: The underrated Kiko Calero
By David Hill
Middle relievers do not get noticed unless they implode on the mound. That was the case with Kiko Calero, an underrated part of the Oakland Athletics bullpen.
When the Oakland Athletics decided to trade Mark Mulder, it was the end of an era. The Big Three of Mulder, Barry Zito, and Tim Hudson were being dismantled, with Mulder heading to St. Louis. In exchange, the A’s received what appeared to be a solid return for a rebuilding team – Dan Haren, Kiko Calero, and top prospect Daric Barton.
Barton had flashes of brilliance, but was ultimately unable to capture the form that made him such a highly valued prospect. Haren had three strong years before being shipped to Arizona. Then there was Calero, whose career was a tale of two halves.
Calero was typically unnoticed during his time in Oakland, which is not the worst thing to happen to a middle reliever. His overall production as a member of the A’s was solid, as Calero posted a 3.96 ERA and a 1.321 WHiP, striking out 157 batters with 56 walks in 159 innings.
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Yet those overall numbers are disappointed based on how Calero began his tenure with Oakland. Over his first two seasons, he was a solid middle reliever, posting a 3.33 ERA and a 1.205 WHiP, striking out 119 batters with 42 walks in 113.2 innings. He may not have been spectacular, but the A’s had a solid bullpen piece on their hands.
Then came Calero’s 2007 campaign. Perhaps he was battling fatigue from the past two seasons and his time pitching for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic, but Calero was not close to the same pitcher. He posted a 5.75 ERA and a 1.648 WHiP, striking out just 31 batters while issuing 21 walks in 40.2 innings.
That season would essentially spell the end of Calero’s time in Oakland. He did get into five major league games in 2008, but was eventually cut loose. Calero was signed by the Rangers, but remained as minor league depth. He had one more solid showing with the Marlins in 2009, then spent the following season in the Mets and Dodgers farm systems. After pitching in the Puerto Rican Winter League and the Caribbean Series in an attempt to drum up interest in his services, Calero called it a career.
Kiko Calero was never a pitcher that garnered much attention, but he had a solid run with the Oakland Athletics. For pitchers like Calero, being anonymous simply means that they did their job.