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Friday, December 10, 2004
Sox Sign Hermanson

Yeah, Yeah, I could include a link, but if you didn't already know this, you've been living under a rock. No, it's not a big signing, or even a good one(we'll get to that later), but it was the first action from KW and the Sox brass this off-season.

So first let's take a look at the contract. Hermanson is due to make $2M in '05, $3M in '06, and has an option for $3.5M in '07 or a $500K buyout. That's $5.5M in guaranteed money to a guy who's been barely above replacement level for the last three seasons. Not a wise investment for a cost-conscious franchise.

Hermanson's best years are far behind him. He posted three solid seasons as a starter in Montreal from '97 to '99, with ERA+ marks of 114, 131, and 112. Since then, however, he has failed to post anything significantly better than league average, with an ERA+ of 104 in 2003 being his best showing.

There could be a positive to the Hermanson signing, though. According to most, he has 4 pitches. So you'd think that he would be able to mix it up and get some people out.

I happened to catch a lot of the Giants' games down the stretch when Hermanson was the closer. He seemed to thrive on the pressure of the late game situation. His numbers tend to bear that out, despite the poor ERA from the pen, Hermanson had some good peripherals.
  IP   H   R  ER HR  BB   K   BAA

27.0 22 14 13 2 11 28 .224
The key to his success in the pen is to prevent the Garland-like big inning, like the one he gave up to the Dodgers that allowed them to clinch the NL West. Here's how he fared in his 29 relief appearances last year.
0 ER: 24 

1 ER: 1
2 ER: 2
3 ER: 0
4 ER: 2
To give you some more numbers to chew on, here's the ZiPS projection for Hermanson.
 W   L   G  GS   IP    H   ER  HR  BB  SO   ERA

5 7 41 14 105 114 60 18 39 74 5.14
Probably because I'm a White Sox fan, and partially because I'm an eternal optimist, I'm pretty sure that he'll be better than the projections indicate.

My problem with this signing stems from the fact that I think the Sox are rather deep when it comes to bullpen arms on the cusp of contributing at the major league level. Cotts and Adkins should be back, though I think one might not make it(more on that in a minute). Bajenaru, Munoz, Diaz, Matt Smith and Josh Fields(the other one) are all going to get a shot to make the big league club out of camp. Nobody expected Cotts or Adkins to make the squad last year, and nobody expects these 5 to make it this year, but at least one of them will. Here's hoping it's Munoz as a LOOGY so that Cotts can get some serious work down in AAA.

I think that Adkins showed late in the season that his early success may have been a fluke, and Cotts disappointed late in September. I only expect one of them to be a contributing member to the Sox this season. I can't say which, it's just a feeling I have. Adkins is an anomaly; he seemed to get hit harder when he had more movement on his pitches. And Cotts has a that straight sneaky fastball, which if a player cheat on it ends up in the seats. Now that 2004 is over, I think my biggest regret from the season was that Cotts didn't get more time to develop at AAA. He would have benefited greatly from 100+ innings at Charlotte, learning how to pitch in a bandbox and refine the pitch that he needs to master in order to be successful at the major league level, the change-up.

All in all, Kenny could have made a worse signing, but I don't think that this one really does much to improve our team. I would have preferred Chris Hammond, or Jim Mecir, but I don't make the decisions. I just get to write about them.