Burke Badenhop …

After reading yesterday’s post on Edward Mujica, Marc pointed out that I missed the Burke Badenhop signing.

On November 22, the Red Sox traded LHP pitching prospect Luis Ortega to the Brewers for Badenhop. Badenhop was drafted by the Tigers in the 19th round of the 2005 amateur draft. Since then he’s been traded, including this most recent trade, four times. He was a part of the Miguel Cabrera deal in 2007, then in 2011 he was traded to the Rays for Jake Jeffries, and in 2012 he was moved to the Brewers for Raul Mondesi, Jr. He will be reunited with his former Tiger teammate and trade partner Andrew Miller, also a part of the Miguel Cabrera deal.

As an aside here (and a pretty lengthy one at that … we’ll get back to Badenhop in a moment), you have to wonder about how some teams go about developing pitchers. Andrew Miller is a prime example. He was drafted by the Tigers with the 6th overall pick in the 2006 amateur draft out of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. That same year Daniel Bard was drafted by the Red Sox in the first round. Oddly, Bard started off well and then lost his control, while Miller started off poorly with bad control and has now seemed to have found himself.

Miller was quite the college star. He set numerous UNC records, received the Baseball America National Player of the Year award after a fine junior season when he was also awarded the Roger Clemens pitcher of the year award beating out Eddie Degerman, Tim Lincecum and Brad Lincoln. His junior year Miller threw 123 innings, gave up 100 hits, walked 40 and struck out 133. I’m sure many major league teams hoped the Clemens parallel might hold true.

He was drafted by the Tigers (one pick ahead of Clayton Kershaw and four picks ahead of Tim Lincecum – imagine a Tiger rotation of Kershaw, Verlander and Scherzer!) and signed on August 8, 2006. He was sent to the Tigers high A minor league Lakeland team where he made three appearances, tossing five scoreless frames. He made his major league debut on August 30, 2006 at the age of 21. He appeared in 8 games, tossing 10 1/3 innings in which he gave up 8 hits, 10 walks and allowed 7 earned runs. In essence, he wasn’t ready for major league caliber hitters. At the start of the 2007 season he was ranked the #10 prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America. The Tigers sent him back to Lakeland to start the 2007 season. He moved rapidly through the system, from high A to AAA, making 13 minor league starts amassing 78 innings with 2.77 ERA and striking out 61 batters before a major league recall where he made 13 more starts for the Tigers going 5-5 with a 5.63 ERA. In 64 IP he gave up 73 hits, walked 39 and struck out 56. It seemed that he still had a lot of work to do.

Then, he was traded to the Marlins, who over the next three years bounced him back and forth between the minors and majors. With each passing year, his major league participation dwindled from 107 IP in 2008 to 80 IP in 2009 and then 32 IP in 2010. He was given scant minor league development time by the Marlins. In 2008 he tossed 19 innings between rookie and AA ball, in 2009, 28 IP between rookie and AAA ball, and then finally in 2010 he got a bit more time in minors throwing 101 innings between high A and AA. Really, the development scheme here was non-sensical and surely a detriment to Miller.

Finally, the Marlins, in part due to the fact that Miller had been bounced back and forth between the minors and majors and was out of options as well as the fact that he was probably due a raise from his $1.79 million salary, shipped him off to Boston after the 2010 season for Dustin Richardson. In 2011, the Sox started Miller at AAA Pawtucket. There he made 12 starts, went 65 IP, had a WHIP of 1.173 and struck out 61. One had to wonder if the Sox had helped Miller discover how to control his stuff. He was called up to the big club and promptly returned to his old erratic ways. He started 12 games, threw another 65 innings, but this time with a WHIP of 1.81 and an ERA of 5.54.  There was still more minor league work to be done.

There was a problem though. Normally Miller would have to clear waivers since he was out of options. How would the Sox send him back to the minors without losing him? The thinking was that there were still many teams who would take a chance on Miller. Ah, the wily Red Sox had the year before hatched a plan and, to Miller’s credit, he agreed to it.

The Sox non-tendered Miller just after getting him in the 2010 trade from the Marlins. Miller and his agent then examined his options – some of which included teams that would give him a major league contract. In the end, after much deliberation (hat tip to Alex Speier for his excellent article on Miller back in 2011), Miller decided that he needed more development and agreed to a minor league deal with the Sox. In order to avoid losing Miller if he had to head back to the minors, the Sox and Miller came up with a plan. In their deal with the Miller, the Sox included a clause where a $3 million dollar option for 2012 automatically kicked in if he were claimed on waivers by another team. A poison pill clause … too painful to swallow for most teams.

So, in 2012 the Sox put Miller on waivers in order to send him back to the minors. Just as planned, he went unclaimed. Miller headed to single A Greenville. He only pitched 2 innings there before going to AAA Pawtucket. At Pawtucket it was a short 11 inning stay before he was recalled to take Aaron Cook’s spot on the roster. While at Pawtucket, he was nothing but erratic, walking 14 and striking out 23.

Miller managed though to stick with the Sox for the rest of the year, throwing 40 innings of 1.19 WHIP ball with a 3.35 ERA. His 2013 was going along pretty well before he hurt his foot. He appeared in 37 games, often in the early part of the season as a lefty situational guy. Of his first nine appearances, on four occasions he faced only one batter. As the season wore on, though, Farrell grew to trust him more and his role increased. Before he got hurt, his outings were more often of the four to six out variety. In his 30 innings of 2013, Miller had an ERA of 2.64 and WHIP of 1.37 with 48 Ks. While still not totally perfect, his walk rate of 5 per 9 is troubling, things are looking up for Miller and the Sox. Miller turns 30 this year. It’s been a long road, but I’m sure he’d rather have his route then the one traveled by Daniel Bard.

Okay, back to Badenhop.  He’s an above average relief pitcher (ERA+ over the last five years: 115, 104, 96, 128 and 114); he came up with the Marlins primarily as a starter in 2008, but since then moved to the pen. He’s thrown 62 to 72 innings each of the last five years. He is pretty darn dependable. His last two years have been remarkably similar.

IP H BB SO WHIP GB/FB ratio
2012 62.1 63 12 42 1.203 1.17
2013 62.1 62 12 42 1.187 1.16

Where the major league average is an 0.81 GB/FB ratio, we can expect the double play tandem of Bogaerts and Pedroia to get extra work when Badenhop pitches. Badenhop has Super 2 status (according to Baseball Prospectus and Cots Contracts, Badenhop has 5.116 years of service time) and is up for arbitration. We can assume he will get an increase from the $1.55 million he played for in 2013. This is another nice acquisition by Cherrington.

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