From Roy Halladay to David Herndon, the Phillies are on a hot streak with successful pitching acquisitions. They're hoping right-handed swingman Eddie Bonine, who was signed to a minor league deal yesterday, becomes the latest success story.
Bonine, who was mentioned as a possible target earlier in the week by FoxSports, went 4-0 with a 2.81 ERA with Detroit in the first half of last season only to fade into a 4-1, 4.63 ERA final mark. Bonine, a strike-thrower who offsets a mid-80s fastball with a secondary knuckleball he throws about 20 percent of the time, spent the entire season in the bullpen after floating in and out of the majors the previous two seasons as an emergency starter and mop-up reliever. Never seen as much of a prospect, he's 7-3 with a 4.74 ERA and 54/39 K/BB ratio in 129 lifetime big-league innings. After a good start to 2010, opponents hit .395 against him after the break. According to a report on the Tigers Web site, he was "inconsistent with his knuckleball, especially late in the season, and hitters made him pay for leaving his fastball in the strike zone." Bonine throws a slider and change-up in addition to the fastball and knuckler.
Phillies scribes see him as a minor league inventory guy who will be given a shot to make the club out of spring training. Still, based on their recent success in adding bargain pitching, I'm interested to see if Bonine can amount to something in the National League. The Phils are reportedly very interested in retaining free agent Jose Contreras and have reportedly made bullpen their early offseason focus.
Phillies sign catcher Kratz: In a move that surely marks the end of the Paul Hoover era, the Phillies added career minor league receiver Erik Kratz, a native of nearby Telford, Pa. Kratz, 30, is a career .252/.325/.434 hitter over nine minor league seasons, most of them in the Toronto organization. He finally earned a call-up last season with Pittsburgh and went 4-for-34 (.118). The rest of his season was spent with Triple-A Indianapolis where he hit .274/.380/.496 with 9 homers and was named to the Triple-A All-Star game, which was held in Allentown. He has pretty good power numbers, hitting 16 homers two years ago, has very strong career numbers against left-handed pitching and has earned high marks for his receiving and game calling. According to a profile about him on Fangraphs.com, he's one of few Mennonite players in professional baseball and is a product of Eastern Mennonite University.
He sounds like a very nice No. 3 catcher. The Phils still have Dane Sardinha as well, but allowed Hoover to become a free agent.