There is an aura of violence when Jason Motte pitches. It isn’t as though he’s a violent man or comes with a rap sheet full of crazed offenses, it is the max effort delivery of a former catcher turned fireballing closer.
Jason Motte doesn’t bother with much in the way of offspeed pitches, preferring to throw a variety of fastballs around the same speed: crazy fast. Not only does Motte throw crazy hard, he throws effectively, too. Motte has been one of the better closers in baseball over the last two years.
For the next two years, he doesn’t have to worry about money as the Cardinals signed Jason Motte to a two-year contract worth $12M, buying out his final two years of arbitration. The deal includes a one million dollar signing bonus, $4MM for 2013 and $7MM for 2014, according to Derek Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
There is zero risk for the Cardinals here as Motte wasn’t going anywhere. This deal simply avoids any messy arbitration exchanges and all assorted unpleasantness associated with the process. Motte gets to his hit free agency at the end of the 2014 season as expected – he does so with a few extra bangles in his pocket.
Some risk does exist for Motte, as he does throw pretty much balls out all the time. From his Brooks Baseball player card, it is pretty obvious that going in to face Motte means facing fastballs and not much else.
Can a pitcher really survive throwing one pitch only? Motte does switch it up between four seam, two seam sinkers and a nasty cutter, to his credit. His fastball is simply overpowering right now, with elite velocity and movement.
Batters whiff on Motte’s fastball on 27% of their swings, the tenth best mark among relievers since the start of the 2011 season. Hitters simply struggle to put his heat in play. When they do, the result is often weakly hit, as Motte holds batters to .164 Well Hit Average against his fastball. For reference, Craig Kimbrel‘s WHA against his fastball is .163 (via ESPN Stats & Info).
Will Jason Motte make a good free agent buy in two years time? That is less certain. Motte’s fastball features one of the highest average velocities among relievers in baseball, but can he keep it up while throwing 70 innings a year? If he loses a tick off his best weapon, will he still miss as many bats and coax as many infield popups?
The Cardinals smartly put that decision off for two years. The Cards can take a good hard look at Motte over the next two seasons and decided, at that time, if they want to pay a premium to keep him in the fold or let somebody else fork over top dollar for all Motte’s saves, knowing they likely got his best work at a healthy discount.
Motte can go into free agency with an armload of valuable saves, an awesome beard and at least one World Series ring. Those attributes are generally well regarded on the open market, are they not?
And the rest
Poor Mike Napoli. Turns out he has a degenerative condition in his hips known as avascular necrosis. His new team insists it is no big deal, moments after they took tens of millions of dollars off the table. [NESN]
Your boy Benny Fresh of MLBTR has a full rundown of Red Sox GM Ben Cherington’s comments and what it means for the BoSox going forward. [MLBTR]
Speaking of hips, Roy Halladay isn’t exactly hip but he sure is awesome.
Roy Halladay threw 30 pitches from mound today in CLW w pitching coach Rich Dubee watching. All went well as he ramped up offseason program
— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyCSN) January 23, 2013
The Tampa Bay Rays announced several of the most-Raysian minor league signings imaginable. [The Process Report]
Free Dom Brown [Sports on Earth]
Do catchers get more calls? [Fangraphs of Sullvania]