The U Files# 39: Lloyd's Lot

He came to the Mets with the funkiest name on the team (Graeme!!!), but appeared to have nothing left in the tank. The towering lefty no fan wanted before the season was, however, able to come up with a half year (to this point) of unexpectedly good pitching. Being a lefty pitching well on a team going nowhere quickly, his biggest asset became trade value. Now today's news: traded he was, to the Kansas City Royals for RHP Jeremy Hill.

Notwithstanding the fact the haul was yet another reliever (someone should figure out what the record for minor league relievers acquired in one season is), getting something with talent for Graeme Lloyd can't be a bad move. At the very least, Jim Duquette took a pitcher that should by all rights have had a negative impact (coming off two years of + 5 ERA) and therefore be hard to trade, and got a power arm.

Lloyd, despite his impressive height, has always relied on good control and the ability to keep the ball in the yard to have success: he was always a low-strikeout pitcher. This year he followed that pattern perfectly. The Australian import has walked just seven in 35.1 innings (1.7 per nine) and allowed two home runs.

Hill came into Spring Training in contention for the Royals' closer job, losing out to Mike MacDougal. A converted catcher, Hill was moved to the mound when his bat was found lacking. Once a pitcher, Hill showed the ability to throw his fastball consistently in the mid 90's, and a funky delivery that is hard for the batter to pick up. Having scrapped a curveball, Hill is now working on a slider, and the ability to throw strikes with consistency. The development of the slider will determine whether his upside is that of closer or set-up man. Due to his stature (5'11) and fastball, he is compared to a righthanded Billy Wagner, or to Troy Percival.

Last year he pitched to an ERA of 2.36 at class AA Wichita with 80 strikeouts in 76 innings. This year his control has caught up with him: he has walked 42 batters in 40.1 IP on the way to an ERA of 7.81 for class AAA Omaha. He has struck out 41 batters. The fact he's new to pitching and justifiably raw lends itself to hope he can work out his troubles with more repetitions in the minors, despite his age (26).

He is a project, and not the only pitcher Duquette traded for that is such. However, the raw force of numbers insists there is an upside: with so many power-throwing arms, a number are bound to make it. This can leave the Mets with a good, young, strikeout bullpen in the mold of the Astros or Cubs bullpen (most likely not as good as the fearsome Wagner-Dotel-Lidige trifecta in Houston). Certainly this would be better than overpaying for old middle releviers like the Mets have done the past few years, clearing that extra money for other concerns (such as, perhaps, a power hitting outfielder???). Those who don't make it can be thrown out; the Mets would have nevertheless distilled something valuable out of these trades. It is also possible some of these relievers may wind up trade bait.

Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories