Ok, slight exaggeration, perhaps he's not quite forgotten, but he's certainly the least hyped of the moves we've made this offseason:
Try to forget this kind of intensity!
Clay Condrey certainly isn't the most exciting name to see on our roster, but let's not forget that even with our bullpen's late-season resurgence, it's still been our Achilles heel for the past couple of years. Condrey's arm gives us a solidly reliable option that might just be the boost we need to return our 'pen to its rightful dominance.
First, let's take obvious upside: Clay Condrey is better than Bobby Keppel.
Don't get mad Bobby. Or should I call you Bob? (Thanks for the picture Betsy...)
Keppel just wasn't good. Despite lighting it up during his stint in Rochester and being met with some early success when he first came up (including not allowing a run in his first 10 innings over 4 games), Keppel had a sinker that just eventually didn't sink -- perhaps we could call it a stinker? If your survival as a pitcher comes from killing worms instead of missing bats, you had better be sure that you keep that ball constantly biting downward, but as soon as his pitches started to flatten out, he certainly didn't have the velocity or the guile to fool anyone in the majors. He became the de facto mop-up guy, and I'm sure when Gardy had to trot him out there in that topsy-turvy Game 163, the fans weren't the only ones praying fervently for him not to blow it.
So, essentially, Condrey not being Bobby Keppel is a plus.
And being buddies with Chris Coste is another plus, right Seth?
Any of the Phillies fans I know would go say that Condrey was a better pitcher out of their bullpen than Brad Lidge. But of course, when your ERA is a full 4.00 points lower than your closer, something's a little screwy. Of course, Lidge really can't pitch his way out of a paper bag with a hole in it, so saying that Condrey is better isn't much of a surprise.
How about if I took it a step further and said that Condrey can be, for all intents-and-purposes, better than Jon Rauch?
Not just because his stare of death scares Rauch's neck tattoos.
Yes, the Jon Rauch that became somewhat of our essential 7th inning, key situation guy. Rauch's WHIP and ERA were both higher than Condrey last year.
I don't want to anoint Condrey as the savior of our bullpen necessarily. And to be fair to Rauch, our tattooed giant's career numbers are certainly better than Condrey's. If you want to play devil's advocate, you could call Condrey's great season last year somewhat of an anomaly in a thoroughly mediocre 4-and-some years in the bigs. But mediocre would be a decided step up from what we saw mop up for us last year. And the Twins have a definite history of taking mediocre bullpen pitchers and turning them into diamonds in the rough.
If the members of the bullpen can play their parts, Condrey is the missing link we were waiting for. With Nathan, Mijares, Rauch, and Guerrier to be our crucial late inning pieces, that leaves Crain, Condrey, and a pitcher TBD (Duensing?) to be our low-leverage guys -- and all of those names certainly instill much more confidence than names like Keppel, Bass, Ayala, Henn, Cali, Humber, etc., etc.
So here's to hoping we've found our next diamond in the rough...