Danny Graves of the Cincinnati Reds was designated for assignment today, and it seems he's destined to be given his unconditional release very soon. I really hope this does not happen, but this seems like it might be a very tempting player for Brian Sabean. Currently Graves has a 7.36 ERA, which sounds horrible, but if one looks at his season game by game, it's pretty easy to see that he hasn't been that bad of a pitcher this year. Most of his ERA is tied up in two bad outings in the last week (take those two out and Graves has a 3.17 ERA in 18 appearances). Does this mean that he's a guy that can help the Giants? He is a closer, right?
Nyet. Non. Nah. Nope.
A couple of statistics lead me to believe Graves' fortunes would not be any better in San Francisco than they were in Cincinnati: k/9, and OPS against.
If one looks at the quick headline stats for Graves, one might conclude that this year is flukish for him, as he had an entire season of sub-4.00 ERA, plus a nice little 3:1 k/bb ratio. He had a poor year in 2004 (mostly as a starter), but a very nice one in 2003. A few GM's may conclude that there is some good pitcher still in there if he's used exclusively as a reliever.
However, looking at the OPS opposing hitters ran against him, and it reads like this over those last three seasons: .801, .869, .674. So really, 2002 is the last season Graves really put it together. The line against him last season was .282/.317/.484 -- that's getting hit very hard for a relief pitcher, and is not the kind of line you want against your closer. The only thing that probably saved him from having a higher ERA was his low walk totals. This year his opponents' line is .357/.433/.607, so he's allowing walks at a significantly higher rate than last season along with giving up extra-base hits at a higher rate, too.
So opponents have been hitting Graves very well since 2003...if you add that fact onto his anemic k/9 innings, which have read like this since 2003: 3.20, 5.27, and this year 3.93...the Giants don't need a reliever like that -- they already have Matt Herges for those kinds of things.
Let's hope Sabean doesn't look at his still-not-stable bullpen, look at Graves' better ERA's from two of the last three years, think that the one bad year was because of the failed conversion to starting rather than relieving, then think that Graves could help the Giants out (let's also hope Sabes doesn't use run-on sentences like the monster I just made). There's also the tempting factor of SBC/Mays being a more pitcher-friendly park than the Great American Ballpark. I don't know why I think Sabean might be interested, but his track record with relievers over the years is less than stellar. We'll find out in about 10 days.