From Nick Cafardo:
3. Manny Delcarmen, RHP, free agent — Delcarmen’s agent, Jim Masteralexis, says Delcarmen has several teams interested. Don’t bet against the Rays, who have seen a lot of Delcarmen over the years (40 appearances against them, a 5.06 ERA) and could use a middle/late reliever. Other than that, he has pitched respectably against AL East rivals New York (30 games, 2.20), Baltimore (32 games, 3.64), and Toronto (2-0, 3.30 in 29 games).
That seems to be speculation more than reported interest (although Sean McAdam reported something similar nearly a month ago), but nevertheless, let’s take a look at Delcarmen’s credentials.
He hopped onto the scene fulltime beginning in 2006. Pitching more than 50 innings for Boston while striking out nearly eight per nine innings and walking fewer than three. Delcarmen turned in another solid season in 2007 despite seeing a decrease in innings pitched. He increased his strikeout rate and gained fan appeal by lowering his ERA by three runs. The 2008 season represents the apex of his career to date. He appeared in a career-high 73 games, pitching a little over an inning per appearance while striking out nearly a batter per inning. His FIP finished below 4 for the third consecutive season and he looked like a long-term solution at the back of the pen at the age of 26.
That’s three seasons with averages of 57 innings pitched, 53 strikeouts, 21 walks, and four home runs allowed. Pretty successful work. Then the 2009 and 2010 seasons rocked everything we thought we knew about Delcarmen. He’s still averaged more than 55 innings pitched, but he’s struck out 41 per season, walked 33, and allowed 13 home runs. The Red Sox eventually traded Delcarmen to Colorado during the 2010 season, but not before declining a trade in 2009 that would’ve sent him to Washington for Nick Johnson.
What went wrong? Beats me. His velocity is still good, his usage rates static, and while his strike rates fell below league average (59% compared to 63%) they were never really above it to begin with (61% for his career). In cases where nothing else is evidence, one usually points to mechanics. I’m no pitching expert, but for the most part, it appears Delcarmen’s delivery, at least, has remained mostly unchanged:
Patrick Sullivan offered another theory that might make the most sense: “I have heard some talk of how, as he tried to expand his repertoire, he lost command of his [fastball] and breaking ball.” How recoverable those skills are is up for debate. Delcarmen has two more seasons under team control and isn’t in line for a grandiose raise, meaning he’s going to get at least one or two more shots to figure this thing out. If the Rays do sign him, don’t expect it to be for much. As for whether he can rekindle the flame? Who knows. It would be arrogant to lean too far either way at this point.
One thing we do know: the Rays do not scare away from home run heavy relievers. They’ve already added one this offseason in Joel Peralta, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them add another.