The Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen is quite weak right now, but they have just made it a bit better by signing set-up man Todd Coffey. The former Brewer was worth 0.5 WAR last season in his first- and only- year in the nation’s capital, and Coffey is an above-average 0.5 WAR reliever overall. The Dodgers will pay $1.3 million to him this season, and he has a club option for the 2013 season.
While Todd Coffey is hardly the most overpowering pitcher (career 6.67 K/9), he had a 3.41 FIP last season in 59.2 innings of work and is a welcome, veteran presence on any bullpen. Coffey’s fastball hits 93 miles per hour, but it is a below-average pitcher overall. However, his slider is a thing to behold and is undoubtedly his go-to pitch; it eats hitters alive.
Because of this large gap between his two pitches, Coffey struggles against opposite handed batters (lefties). He uses his slider a little over half the time against righties, but that figure dramatically drops against lefties. Coffey’s fastball is ineffective, and his numbers suffer when facing lefties. His career FIP against lefties is 4.66, but it is at 3.95 against right-handers. That gap widens even further when looking at his xFIP.
On the open market, $1.3 million will buy a team approximately 0.3 WAR, which means that the Dodgers have a quality deal on their hands, even with the inflated contracts given to relievers at this time. The Dodgers have made a big upgrade in their bullpen and have added a useful right-hander at a %40 WAR discount (in a sense).
Todd Coffey has walked into a favorable situation in LA, because he is at home in a pitcher’s park where his career 1.03 HR/9 and 11.9 FB/HR% won’t get him burned as often. He should strike out about seven hitters per nine and walk three every nine innings next season, and Coffey should be worth 0.5 WAR for the second straight season. He isn’t a star or an elite reliever, but the lack of name recognition to the casual fan doesn’t mean that he isn’t an effective reliever.
Earlier in the offseason, the Dodgers were wasting their time and money by signing players like Adam Kennedy and Chris Capuano. This most recent addition is a much better allocation of resources, and these are the kind of small signings that will actually help the Dodgers. Signing a solid SU to a better-than-average deal will make the late innings easier on Dodgers fans, and the deal itself is easier to fathom on a whole.
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