Today the Royals announced that they have released LHP Jimmy Gobble.
In 423.7 career innings pitched Gobble had an ERA of 5.23, a 22-23 record, and a WHIP of 1.487. Only once in his 6 year career did he post an ERA+ of significantly over 100 which is major league average. That one year was 2007 when he had an ERA+ of 156. Last year his ERA+ was a dreadful 48, while his career ERA+ was 90. Gobble with the Royals was a below average pitcher with a poor SO/BB ratio, and an inability to miss bats consistently.
Gobble, being a lefty and only 27 years old, will get at least a couple more opportunities to pitch in the majors, but it is a good sign that it won’t be with the Royals.
I am even more encouraged after reading these quotes on MLB.com by Trey Hillman and Dayton Moore
"“If we don’t have a left-handed specialist, that gives us the opportunity not to keyhole somebody just for that role,” Hillman said“I think in our bullpen, in signing (Juan) Cruz and Cruz’s ability to get left-handers out is very good and once we made that move it just gave us a chance to move in a different direction,” Moore said."
Having a bullpen built around guys who can get both LH and RH hitters out is a superior strategy to having a specialist on staff. One, you don’t waste a roster spot on a guy who is relegated to a ultra-specific role that may, or may not, come about in a given game. Two by not having a LH specialist in the pen, it limits opposing managers ability to act and react to that move. Three, and this may be the most important for the Royals, Hillman will not feel the need to bring the LH specialist in if the game situation warrants it. Of course this all hinges on a team having enough legitimate bullpen options that can effectively get both LH and RH hitters out.
Gobble being a lefty specialist was somewhat of a myth. For his career lefties hit .270/.323/.464 off of him while righties hit .283/.354/.472 off of him. His splits have improved over the years as the Royals tried to shoe-horn him into the role, but it was at a cost of his value as an overall pitcher. 2008 was his most pronounced split when RH hit .382/.517/.676 and LH hit .200/.246/.323 which culimnated the progression from 2006 to 2008 where he got better against lefties, but much worse against righties. It will be interesting to see what role he will fill with another organization.
On a different note, I am enjoying watching the Royals game against the Mariners tonight on Fox Sports and Mike Jacobs just absolutely crushed a ball that almost left the park entirely. This is the first time i have ever paid attention to Mike Jacobs, and he looks pretty good both at the plate and in the field. Greinke is getting knocked around pretty good, but he clearly is “tinkering” and I think the Greinke we see in season is going to be very different from the Greinke that is pitching in the Spring. Jacobs and Teahen have both hit spring HR #5 in tonight’s game. I don’t know if it is Kevin Seitzer being the hitting coach or if they are just in hot streaks right now, but John Buck and Mark Teahen look like completely different players at the plate this year.