-As MLBTradeRumors.com pointed out yesterday, Hong-Chih Kuo is likely to be a non-tender candidate after a rough year with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Phillies should be on this guy this offseason. Phillies fans should remember Kuo for his relief abilities against them in the 2008 and 2009 playoffs. In seven appearances between the two series, he allowed just four hits.
From 2008-2010, Kuo was one of the finest situational lefties in baseball. Over 170 innings during those three years, Kuo posted a minisucule 1.95 ERA, and in 2010 had a ridiculous 0.74 WHIP. In ’10, he fanned 73 batters in 60 innings (11.0 K/9) and walked just 18 (2.7 BB/9). Lefties were held to an unfathomable .095 average and .111 with 28 strikeouts in 69 plate appearances.
This past season was a different story for Kuo, who dealt with anxiety issues and also spent time on the disabled list with a back strain. His ERA ballooned from 1.20 in 2010 to 9.00 in 2011. It was a phenomenally bad turnaround; much the same as Brad Lidge, who was perfect in 2008 and then historically awful in 2009.
If he’s non-tendered by L.A., he’s a perfect buy-low candidate. It’s unlikely the Dodgers will offer him salary arbitration after he made $2.75 million in ’11, so look for him to show up on the open market. This is the sort of lefty reliever the Phillies need to make a play on. Perhaps a change of scenery will do Kuo good; although Philadelphia isn’t the greatest place in the world to attempt a comeback under the bright lights and the scrutiny of the fans, especially for a mentally-weakened relief pitcher. I still can’t help but think he’d make a perfect one-two lefty combination with Antonio Bastardo.
In all of his ugliness in ’11, he still fanned 36 batters in 27 innings, meaning his swing-and-miss stuff is still there somewhere.
Would the Phillies be wise to give this guy more than $1 million on a guaranteed deal to bolster the bullpen?
-Ryan Doumit is another name to keep an eye on. He was supposed to be one of the cornerstones of the Pirate franchise, but it never turned out the way both sides envisioned.
After back surgery kept him out four months this past season, Doumit did return to catch 60 games (77 overall) and hit. 303 with eight homers and 30 RBI. The Phillies will be in the market for a backup catcher, and while it’s unclear whether Doumit would accept such a job, the Phillies need to bolster their bench.
Doumit can also play the corner outfield positions and first base, making him a multidimensional player that is necessary with the likely absence of Ryan Howard early on in the season. He’s a lefty hitter, so he’d be a perfect bench bat – much more potent than Brian Schneider.
However, there are other teams looking for a starting catcher, so I’d say the chances aren’t great that Doumit end up with the Phillies. And the door hasn’t been closed for him to go back to Pittsburgh. But he’s certainly a name to keep an eye on.