Russell is a massive man (6’8”) with a mid-90s fastball that sinks and has good movement. He’s tallied 54 career big league innings with a sound groundball (45.2%) and whiff (9.1%) rates. He turns 28 in April, but age is mostly irrelevant with pitchers – especially relievers. In his Triple-A career he averaged eight strikeouts per nine and four walks per nine as well. By the way, his FIP during his big league time? 2.90. Don’t expect that to be replicated, but he’s got upside and enough cost control remaining that he fits the bills expected of a reliever acquired by Andrew Friedman.
Ramos has the lower ceiling and the floor of the pair. He turns 27 next June and throws lefty. His fastball sits in the low-90s and while most reports suggest he lacks a legitimate plus-secondary offering, his whiff rate over 20-something big league innings is very good. Ramos’ minor league numbers lack the sexiness of Russell, but he actually made 15 starts for the Padres Triple-A team last season and has been a starter throughout most of his minor league career.
My initial reaction is that the return isn’t bad at all. Everyone knew the Rays were going to move Bartlett, and while Nolan Reimold and Joel Hanrahan are prettier names, for whatever reasons those deals never came to be. No reason to dwell on them. It seems like a decent bet to pencil both into the opening day bullpen barring injury. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Russell slide into a mid-to-high leverage role before next season ends. As for Ramos, I wonder if his future is a situational reliever. The bullpen picture for 2011 took a step today in becoming more clear and not only that, but potentially for years to come.