Monday, August 1, 2011

Buyer's market

A pitcher who can keep the ball out of Petco National Park's left-field seats is well on his way to survival in a Padres uniform. Pitchers able to do this one simple thing are abundant, more so relief pitchers. Sounding like a school marm by now on this subject, this blog views relievers as a renewable currency for the Padres. None of this is to say the Padres are certain, or even likely, to soon find a reliever who matches Mike Adams, a setup ace with a lethal cut fastball. Adams did a whole lot more than keep the ball out of the left-field seats. But as we've seen, the Padres can find great value on relievers at the 99 Cents Only store. What a coincidence, then, that on the same day that Adams gets traded, the Padres call up a reliever who cost them how much? About 99 cents. Erik Hamren, the righty promoted from Double-A on Sunday, was signed out of a tryout camp. The price on such moves usually is one dollar. Hamren, 24, "throws 90-94 (mph) and has a swing-and-miss breaking ball," says Padres assistant general manager Jason McLeod. Maybe Hamren gets jocked by big league hitters, or can't find the plate. But it shouldn't surprise if he zips along for some time with a low ERA. (For an entire calendar year, Cla Meredith , a minor leaguer thrown into the Mirabellli trade, had an ERA half a run lower than anyone else in the majors.) Maybe Hamren lockers next to fellow reliever Joe Thatcher. The Brewers signed Thatcher out of a tryout camp, and he became a key cog for last year's Padres team that won 90 games.

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