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Scrap Heap Gold

Thar's gold in them there scrap heap mountains of NRI's and waiver claims. You can't find em with strip mining the hills but with careful pan mining, throwing out the sandstone while looking for the nuggets. Almost always the nuggets will be small but sometimes they weigh in quite heavy ala the Alvarez or Saito nugget.

I'm not going to do this for all major league teams,and it is possible this is a trend that every team has but it seems to me the Dodgers have more luck then the average team in finding nuggets instead of fools gold.

While the debate rages on if Russ or Ramon Ortiz can help the Dodgers in 2010, I decided to look back over the past decade to see how many pitchers we collected on waivers or signed as NRI's that produced an ERA+ greater then 100. If you only looked at their most recent past you would have felt we were wasting our time. Anyone who has followed the Dodgers should recall Jose Lima, might recall Wilson Alveraz, but I doubt they would remember all of these pitchers who we picked up off the scrap heap.

Luckily the Dodgers did not just go by the numbers and brought these pitchers in to see what they had, and when given a chance they produced at levels much higher then their prior season. It is not something you plan on but it is not something you should discount so easily. Some of these pitchers once had skills, some never had skills. We will never know why Giovanni Carrera was lights out in Dodger Blue but the fact remains, he was.

Talk has centered on the small sample size of spring training. Just about all the names below made the team based on the small sample size of spring training. The coaches/scouts looked at their stuff disregarded the prior numbers, and decided the stuff was good enough to put them on the roster. Luckily for us they did.

Dodger blog sites seem be a site for ageism bias and if you are over 30 you are suspect. I'll be the first to raise my hand that I'd rather see a prospect pitching then a washed up veteran but sometimes we seem a little to anxious to end a man's career. As the list below shows, veterans have a place in baseball, even ones who appear to be washed up. Pitchers ebb and flow, and we never know as fans just exactly why sometimes they click and sometimes they don't. We can use the numbers to make informed guesses on expectations but what we don't know are what the scouts/coaches are seeing.

I was very arrogant back in 2005 when it came to Scott Erickson and was disgusted with Depodesta for giving him a shot. I was right, but really I was wrong. Scott Erickson could have been one of these guys, but this time he wasn't. We can use the numbers to help up project the future but only the most arrogant can really believe the numbers will always tell the tale. Simply to many variables go into the success of a player, year in and year out to say with certainty that so and so is going to fail if we give him a chance. Eric Milton only got a few starts before his back went out but he certainly deserved the chance that very few wanted to give him last year.

Player Year Prior ERA+ ERA+
Mike Fetters 2000 77 126
Giovanni Carrera 2001 -17 121
Hideo Nomo 2002 101 111
Wilson Alvarez 2003 81 141
Tom Martin 2003 -103 113
Jose Lima 2004 100 101
Giovanni Carrera 2004 43 147
Duaner Sanchez 2004 -157 118
Takashi Saito 2006 Japan 154
Aaron Sele 2006 65 100
Joe Beimel 2006 85 135
Rudy Seanez 2007 67 115
Chan Ho Park 2008 81 119
Reynaldo Belisario 2009 DNP 149
Jeff Weaver 2009 DNP 108
Vicente Padilla 2009 94 120


Beimel pitched 11 innings in 2005 and one inning in 2004 but 2003 was the last time he really pitched in the majors and that was when he posted the 85 ERA+

Jeff Weaver did not pitch in 2008 and had an ERA+ of 59 in 2007.

I'm using Padilla's 2009 with Texas as his prior

I"m fudging with Nomo and Lima but no one expected what we got out of them even though they had been league average the year before. Add in the playoff game from Lima and I'd say we got much more then we bargained for.