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A’s Look at Lowe, Rowland-Smith and Wells

January 30, 2013

It never hurts to window shop and today it was reported that the A’s were on hand in Peoria, Arizona to watch workouts from three pitchers: Mark Lowe, Ryan Rowland-Smith and Kip Wells. Lowe pitched 2012 with the Rangers.

It is a bit surprising Lowe in this gaggle of players given he is far superior to his two counterparts. Lowe, 29, spent 2012 with the Rangers throwing 39 1/3 innings in 36 relief appearances, posting 6.4 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 and 1.1 HR/9 good for a 3.43 ERA and a weaker 4.32 FIP for a total of 0.1 WAR. He had a very low BABIP (.259) and high strand rate (80.5%) so his ERA should’ve been higher than it was. But that the market as a whole recognizes this yet still has chased other relievers with lesser pedigree (for his career he has a 3.94 ERA and 4.10 FIP so he does routinely outperform his FIP) makes him an odd fit amongst these three.

Australian Roland-Smith has not pitched in the majors since 2010 with Seattle, and just celebrated his 30th birthday two weeks ago. He spent his 2012 season pitching for the Iowa Cubs never finding his way up to Chicago’s North Side. That said he put up decent enough numbers facing AAA competition, which is akin to saying someone is a really amazing B student. He posted a 3.94 ERA to go with a 4.35 FIP with 7.2 K/9, 4.8 BB/9 and 0.7 HR/9 in his 77 2/3 innings of work.

The soon-to-be 36-year-old Wells pitched part of 2012 with the San Diego Padres and the rest with the Triple-A Tucson Padres. He didn’t really see success at either stop with his AAA numbers being a messy 4.80 ERA and 4.96 FIP over 50 2/3 innings of 3.9 K/9, 4.6 BB/9 and 0.7 HR/9 baseball. At the MLB level he was not much better, posting a 4.58 ERA that masked an ugly 5.85 FIP (good for -0.5 WAR), as he managed 4.6 K/9, 4.8 BB/9 and 1.5 HR/9. Yikes.

If the A’s offered any of these three pitchers an MiLB contract with an invite to spring training you would see no complaints for me. These types of guys always suddenly make their way up and prove to be useful, look no further than Jim Miller last year. Nothing stellar, no All Stars but still good solid pickups who give you quality innings. That said if the A’s had to pick one, it is clear that Lowe who has spent his entire career in the AL West (Seattle and Texas) would be the best candidate.

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