Some Interesting Free Agents

Last month, over at The halo Is Lit, I wrote (with a lot of help from Angel Aviator) about 4 career minor league pitchers who had great seasons in 2008 in Triple-A.  Baseball America has released the list of minor league free agents and 3 of the 4 are on it:

Jason Childers - Age 33
Signed as an amateur free agent by the Milwaukee Brewers in 1997.  Made his major league debut with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2006 at the age of 31 after having an impressive spring training.  The perceived problem with Childers is he doesn't throw hard, as his fastball tops out at 90 mph, and he pitches to contact relying on late movement to get outs.  However, his career minor league stats show he does a good job getting the strikeouts and has good command of the strike zone.  Childers has a .89 K/IP rate and strikes out almost 3 batters for every walk.  In 2005 at Triple-A Richmond, Childers led all Braves minor-leaguers with 16 saves and had a team-low 2.09 ERA in 38 outings and yet didn't get a chance with the big league club.  In a 2006 article from the St. Petersburg Times, Childers stated, "I think they're scared of my velocity.  If I got called up and struggled, maybe they'll feel like they'll look bad."  This was prophetic.  He struggled in his first 5 appearances that year with the Rays and was sent down at the end of April.  Never getting the chance to return.

MLB 5 0 1 7.2 12 6 4 5 4.61
AAA-2008 50 4 2 59 34 8 13 61 1.22
ML Career 423 47 48 851.1 763 280 283 791 2.96

Justin Lehr - Age 30
Rated the 68th best high school prospect in the country by Baseball America before the 1995 season, Lehr was a standout catcher and pitcher at West Covina High School.  Drafted 3 times, 1995 by Detroit in the 15th round and in 1998 by the Angels in the 10th round as a catcher, and in 1999 in the 8th round by Oakland after converting to pitching at USC.  Made his major league debut in June of 2004.  The California native has pitched in 4 different organizations in his 10 year career, splitting his time as both a reliever and starter (110 starts). 

MLB 66 4 3 83 91 49 39 51 5.31
AAA-2008 16 6 2 64.1 51 15 11 41 2.10
ML Career 305 61 41 952 1040 423 292 707 4.00

Scott Strickland - Age 32
Drafted by the Montreal Expos in the 10th round of the 1997 draft and made his major league debut in August of 1999.  After having been considered at one time to become the Mets' closer, Strickland's career had been sidelined by injuries.

MLB 236 12 21 240 201 89 111 243 3.34
AAA-2008 52 4 0 66.1 50 26 27 72 3.53
ML Career 260 24 16 459.1 405 171 142 491 3.35

What's the risk of looking at guys like this?  Obviously, I'm not a scout and the organizations know infinitey more than I do, but I don't know what the risk would be?

Another interesting name is Morgan Ensberg.  He's absolutely sucked the last couple years, but he did hit 36 home runs in 2005.  I made the comment last off-season about Jorge Cantu being available and how it seems to me a player doesn't forget a skill once he acquires it (like hitting) and suggested the Angels look into signing him since he'd be cheap.  Cantu had a good year last year for Florida, maybe Ensberg could be 2009's Cantu.  He's only 32 years old.  Again, what's the risk?

Anyway, any thoughts?

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