It's nice having the biggest hole on the roster filled. Let's check out more bullpen guys. Today? Texas Rangers reliever Mike Adams.
Who is he?
Jon Michael Adams is a 34 year old right-hander who spent the last year and a half pitching for the Texas Rangers after 3+ years with the San Diego Padres. As you might imagine, Adams' best career numbers came while playing in the cavernous Petco Park; he was 9-5 with a 1.66 ERA in 217 innings with the Padres. His overall career numbers (and nerd stats) are excellent too, with a 2.28 ERA, 2.96 FIP, and 3.38 xFIP.
Why should we care?
Adams' career numbers are awesome, and his 2012 numbers were somewhat skewed by the launchpad known as The Ballpark in Arlington. He allowed a 4.50 ERA at home last year compared to a 2.05 ERA on the road; however, his home ERA was inflated by a full run (!) when he allowed three solo home runs to the Oakland Athletics in just 2/3 of an inning on September 27th. Meanwhile, his xFIP on the road was 4.34 due to a minuscule home run rate. If he were to leave Texas for a more neutral park -- Comerica Park, for example -- I'd expect him to have an ERA in the 3.00-3.50 range.
Why should we stay away?
It's hard to accuse Adams of regressing when his 2012 ERA was just 3.27, but regress he did. His WHIP was 1.395 and his strikeout rate dropped from roughly a batter per inning in 2011 to just 7.74 hitters per 9 innings in 2012. His BABIP was an astronomical (for him) .327, a full 50 points higher than anything he has done since 2006.
The real red flag here is his shoulder. Adams was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome in September and had surgery soon after. For the unaware, thoracic outlet syndrome is a condition in which the nerves and/or blood vessels that run through the shoulder and down into the arm are pinched and become irritated. Normally, this is due to an elevated rib, which is why athletes have surgery to remove their first rib. Other guys to have this done include Chris Carpenter, Jeremy Bonderman, and at least a half dozen others I'm neglecting. While the long-term effects of this surgery are unclear (/steps off soapbox), Adams should be ready to go by Spring Training, but there is always potential for further problems.
Will he end up in Detroit?
Not likely. It seems like the Tigers are waiting until early in 2013 to find someone who slips through the cracks who will provide a solid bullpen upgrade. Meanwhile, Adams is one of the best players on the market and will likely see a larger contract than the likes of Ryan Madson or Joakim Soria. My guess is that he ends up in Boston.