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Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Phillies happy to welcome Mets' castoff

And the Mets-Phillies rivalry becomes just a tiny bit more delicious:

It's been an odd career. Figueroa's spent all or part of 11 seasons in Triple-A -- including last season, during which he turned 35 -- and his 81 Triple-A wins must rank at or near the top of the list among active players.

Essentially, he's one of those 4-A starters you're always hearing about. His ERA in Triple-A (largely as a starter) is 3.53; as a starter in the majors he's got a 4.96 ERA. Sure, that's only 49 starts in the majors and a conscientious sabermetrician would regress all those numbers. But fair or not, that's the take on Figueroa.

Meanwhile, he's been slightly better as a reliever, with a slightly lower walk rate and a significantly lower home run rate. That's just 105 innings, but of course we expect pitchers to look better when relieving than starting, simply because (frankly) it's an easier job.

The nice thing about Figueroa is that you know what you're getting. When he relieves, he'll be decent. When he starts, he'll essentially give you the typical performance of a NO. 4 or 5 starter. There's something to be said for reliability. As Joe Janish points out, Figueroa "had a spectacular spring, he had a great winter campaign, [and] an outstanding year at AAA in 2009..."


I don't know if I'd go quite that far. After all, we're talking about a 35-year-old pitcher with 13 wins and 0 saves as a major leaguer. But considering that the Phillies usually are smarter than the Mets, one does wonder ...