I have been doing my best to be vigilant this off-season. I semi-regularly wander over to the Twins website and the Strib blogs and a variety of other sources. But I freely admit to not being nearly as diligent as I am during the season, when trips to these sites occur multiple times daily. So it is with some chagrin that I must cop to having completely missed what is, sadly, one of the few highlights of the 2010 off-season (post Hardy for Gomez trade, of course) — the replacement of Bobby Keppel on the roster with Clay Condrey, who was non-tendered by the Phillies back on December 12.
All of this apparently went down back in early January — Keppel was released on the 4th (to go play for the Nippon-Ham Fighters! My favorite Japanese team, just because I always used to wonder what exactly a Ham Fighter was until I realized the team was owned by the Nippon Ham company — a truly disappointing day, I might add), and Condrey was picked up on the 6th. I am ashamed by my lack of vigilance.
As for the baseball ramifications of this, they would all seem to be to the positive. Back on October 14, I said:
The Twins could also decide to part ways with Bobby Keppel, whose 4.83 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, and .297 BAA were hardly the stuff of which legends are made. It would make sense to part with Keppel if the Twins are confident that they can find a replacement on the market — and this is an obvious place where they could spend wisely to improve the bullpen.
I was pushing for the Twins to clear Keppel from the roster as early as possible to free up roster space, and I’m thrilled that they did so. Condrey may not be a world-beater, but he is a far superior option to Keppel. For the past two years, Condrey has actually been quite good, with a 3.26 and 3.00 ERA and WHIPs of 1.51 (not so amazing, that) and 1.21. He also walks fewer guys than Keppel per 9 innings and strikes out about the same number. So, essentially, they have taken one of the weak spots of the bullpen and upgraded with a guy who gives up fewer hits, walks and runs and who has a longer track record of MLB success. This is a clear win for the Twins. Incidentally, Condrey should still be forced to compete for a spot — but I expect him to win one without too much difficulty. We’ll find out in February and March.