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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweeted not long ago that, according to the player’s agent, the Twins have signed RHP Eric Hacker. It has now been confirmed by Star Tribune beat writer Joe Christensen that Hacker has been added to the Twins 40 man roster.
A quick look at Hacker should give Twins fans no reason for excitement. Last year with Fresno, the AAA affiliate of the Giants, he went 16-8 with a 4.51 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP. He was named the top RH starting pitcher in the Pacific Coast League which is pretty sad. The Giants recently decided not to put him on their 40 man roster which meant that he became a six-year minor league free agent. He is actually an eight-year minor league free agent because he was originally drafted by the Yankees in the 23rd round of the 2002 draft. By Opening Day 2011, Hacker will be 28 years old. In 2009, he was let go by the Yankees and signed with the Pirates. He even got into three games (gave up two runs in three innings). Last year, the Giants put him on their 40 man roster, but he pitched the entire season in Fresno.
The initial glance at his numbers are anything but awe-inspiring, so I wanted to take a look at league averages in 2010 to see if his bad numbers could be blamed on the PCL, a notoriously hitter friendly league.
- Hacker 4.51 ERA 1.47 WHIP
- PCL 4.78 ERA 1.48 WHIP
- Int Lg 4.15 ERA 1.37 WHIP
Based on that, Hacker’s ERA was slightly better than league average and his WHIP was essentially average. If that translated to the International League, typically more of a pitcher friendly league, it might translate into an ERA between 3.90 and 4.10 with a WHIP around 1.37.
These numbers are not terrible, by any means. Most important, those types of numbers would have been welcomed with open arms for the Rochester Red Wings. Here are the ERAs in 2010 at Rochester for various starting pitchers: Glen Perkins (5.81), Matt Fox (3.95), Anthony Swarzak (6.21), Jeff Manship (5.13), Ryan Mullins (4.60), David Bromberg (3.98), Yoslan Herrera (6.08), Deolis Guerra (6.84). Based on this, he ranks pretty similarly to Matt Fox, which again, isn’t a bad thing. I just don’t know that it is worth a roster spot. The fact that Hacker is 28 puts the numbers into perspective when considering what Bromberg did in nine starts.
The baffling thing to me is why you would use up a 40 man roster spot on someone like this. He wouldn’t have been available on a minor league deal? Based on the Twins signing, I’m guessing the answer was no. I think that the Twins have a few extra 40 man roster spots to ‘play’ with, so this shouldn’t affect anything else they decide to do this offseason. It does make me wonder why they would pick this guy over Kyle Waldrop (if they decide that they will not put Waldrop on the 40 man roster by November 20th). It also makes me wonder why Waldrop agreed to sign a minor league deal with the Twins rather than test his free agent opportunities, a decision that would have put the Twins in a position to have to make a 40 man roster decision on him right away.
Listen, I do not understand a move like this at all. Adding a guy like Hacker to a AAA roster makes a ton of sense. He could be a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter for the Red Wings. If the Twins starting pitching ends up performing as it did for periods in 2010, he could see time with the Twins. It’s hard to be completely critical of the move when I know so little about Eric Hacker. Also, the Twins typically do a nice job signing and getting the best out of fringe types of players. That’s what Hacker is. At 28, he is what he is. A tweet from Ben Badler says, “Scout on Eric Hacker: 88-92, works both sides, average slider, stuff very hittable, solid AAA-type arm.”
It’s hard to get excited about such a move, but it’s always important to remember that division and league and World Series championships are won by the 40 man roster and more, so depth is never a bad thing.
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