For the first time I explored the area of 'superior' stats. I pushed past ERA to FIP and WAR. While it is still a scary place, I have had an epiphany that I'd like to share. Being an advocate for pursuing Wagner or trading for Soria, or Bell, there are two players that stand out the most.
Kiko Calero had a huge season last year. A larger season than I first thought. His 1.4 WAR was same as Rafael Betancourt and only .1 WAR away from Huston Street, Trevor Hoffman, and Francisco Cordero. Better yet, before his shoulder problems he had another 1.4 WAR season in 2006. His low salary and potential should make him a high candidate. Bill James also expects good things: 3.38 ERA 9.42 K/9, 3.4 FIP
Another guy who many here want the Rays to take a flier on is Joaquin Benoit. From 2005-2007, Benoit posted three consecutive seasons of 1.4 WAR or greater (1.6, 1.4, 2.0). Definitely worth a flier if he's healthy.
If the Rays have a little more money to spend, Rafael Soriano and Billy Wagner make the most sense to target. Bill James expects big things (2.18 ERA, 10.89 K/9, 2.65 FIP) from Wagner and Soriano picked the right time to put up a season equivalent to Mariano Rivera and better than Jonathan Papelbon (Soriano and Rivera 2.0 WAR and Papelbon 1.9 WAR). Soriano put up a career best FIP of 2.54 which was better than AL ROY Andrew Bailey and 9th best overall.
But the best trade candidate is not Soria or Bell, but Michael Wuertz, another favorite of many here. With Joey Devine returning from injury and the bullpen depth they have (along with Wuertz being in arbitration) he's a prime candidate to be moved in the right deal. If the Rays can find a way to get their hands on him, I'm sure they will. Pretty much pick any statistical category and he's among the top of the leaderboard. If you want FIP, he's 4th, if you want K/9 he's 4th (tied with Nathan), 8th in WHIP, and 3rd in WAR. Bottom line is, he's pretty amazing. It wouldn't surprise me if the Rays felt he was the best option to target to fit their philosophy of a closer-by-committee bullpen. And if not, he's the best set-up man available.
So on my perusal of FanGraphs, I learned a lot of things. Michael Wuertz and Kiko Calero, to me, represent the best options (based on ability, potential price, etc) for the Rays. I still wouldn't mind Wagner in the right deal (but if he's offered arbitration, I can see how that takes away his appeal).
So this is where my journey led me. Do you agree? Of all the bullpen options out there, would these be your top FA and trade targets?