Al Reyes, take a piece of paper and write that down, punch a hole in it, tie a string around it, and hang it above your door frame like a mistletoe. Come March, April, May take that down and look at it, I imagine it'll mean something to you. His injury and recovery trail has been well documented, but I strongly suggest for the casual Ray fan to just dismiss this as a `useless' signing.
Flashback if you will to 2004. Reyes breaks into the Cardinals bullpen late in the season, pitches 12 innings, finishes with a 0.75 earned run average. Okay, now 2005, 62 innings, a 2.15 ERA, that's just flat out scorching, agree? Okay now take you're Bayer or Aspirin and let's flash back to June 6th, 2004...the Cardinals sign Al Reyes. Five days beforehand he had been released by Chuck Lamar (that loveable nincompoop) after posting an ERA of 2.35 in 23 innings at Durham. Basically those 74 innings of what turns out to be barely over 2 ERA relief, all could've been in green and gray.
Boston hates the guy, Bill Simmons once called him `Al `Burn in Hell' Reyes', why? Well part of that could be in his 7 innings against Boston in his career he's posted a 0.00 ERA. Granted that's 7 innings, so why else? Because it was his fateful pitch that broke Nomar Garciaparra's wrist that faithful day. It was then that the Nomar and New England love fest began to simmer down and sour like a month's old clam chowder. Needless to say the guy doesn't have many friends in Boston, or Baltimore (6 innings, 1.42 ERA) for that matter.
Right handed batters simply do not hit Reyes much at all, a .216 rate, the good news? Lefties don't either, a .215 rate. Casual fans scream for proven relief pitching, Al Reyes screams back; the echoes we hear are the workings of `Comeback Player of the Year' award commercials with Gary Thorne presenting the candidates.
Middle relief? Set-up duties? Reyes, like Lupe Fiasco, has gotcha. How about closing you say? Six career opportunities with 9 innings of work resulted in a 1.86 ERA, and a 0 in the blown saves department. I dare say that he would be highly coveted on the open market if he would've been healthy last year, heck I daresay he would've been a top three or four reliever on this market easy.
You know what the funniest thing about our bullpen being in `shambles' and the casual fans calling for vets and such? If Chuck Lamar doesn't (family site so I'll edit this into a nicer, gentle word) snowball up so many times over the years, we have what amounts to a very capable bullpen. The Chuckles Castoff All Stars bullpen consists of...let's say Todd Jones, Jim Mecir, Roberto Hernandez, Chad Gaudin, Mark Guthrie (funny thing about that is Guthrie was actually a Ray for some of 2005, never pitching in a game for the organization that year however), Todd Williams, and Reyes.
Is that a great pen? No, it is serviceable? Goodness yes. Obviously it would've been on the old side, and is the opposite of what we have now in terms of birth years (1980's you say, `turns on hearing aid') regardless, let's hope Reyes show's us what we've been missing come 2007.