Mike Williams stats this season aren't so great. There's no excusing a 6.27 ERA and it's easy to see where a lot of the problem comes from – control. In 36.1 innings, Williams has walked 22 and struck out 19 for Pittsburgh. Add to that, 41 hits and you have a formula for disaster.
Look deeper. In 2001 and 2002, Williams converted 68 saves out of 75 chances (91%), which is impressive to say the least. He was being used a lot more this season than he was in those two previous seasons, which might have led to some tiring. Keep in mind that Williams is 34 and it's likely that his arm doesn't respond as well as it used to.
Don't be surprised if Williams gets to know Joe Kerrigan very well over the next few days and weeks and if Kerrigan can't spot a minor flaw that may also be contributing to Williams' downfall this season.
WHAT WE GAVE UP: Frank Brooks, LHP, 24
|5 Minor League Seasons||33||31||3.50||19|
Pirates GM David Littlefield got value in exchange for Williams. Brooks was drafted by the Phillies in the 13th round of the 1999 draft and had just been promoted to AAA Scranton when the deal with Pittsburgh went through.
|Frank Brooks could be in the Pirates bullpen by the end of the season and could wind up staying there for a long time.|
The Phillies have a lot of good young pitchers coming along in the minors and while most of them are starters, there are also enough young relievers coming along to allow the Phillies to deal one or two of them in the right package.
The final word:
This could be one of those deals that serves the needs of both clubs very well. The Phillies have a strong bullpen and while the temptation is there to leave it alone (don't fix it if it ain't broke), it never hurts to add a veteran reliever. Keep in mind that closer Jose Mesa is prone to slumps and that Turk Wendell's pitching with a surgically repaired arm that could be one pitch away from giving out on him again.
It's likely that to make room for Williams, the Phillies will lose Hector Mercado to a waiver claim. If that's the case, the naysayers will make this deal into Brooks and Mercado for Williams. Mercado was expendable and even though the Phillies loved his potential, he never turned into the pitcher they thought he would be.
Financially, the Phillies got Pittsburgh to pay a chunk of Williams remaining salary, so it doesn't hurt the Phillies there, meaning that they can still take on some salary in other deals if it's absolutely necessary down the road. The Phillies bullpen also has a lot of potential free agents and the Phillies will have a club option to bring Williams back next season at four-million-dollars. Not necessarily a bargain, but maybe worth it if others leave the nest.
This was a smart move by Ed Wade and it should make the Phillies stronger and deeper in the pitching department. It gives some guarantee against injury and gives them a quality, veteran reliever who they can depend on this season and next, if they decide to do so.