Ahem. Ok, so maybe that was a little dramatic. But, I think a lot of Brewers fans have been going a little stir-crazy over the team making only very minor moves this off-season and many are concerned about the team's pitching. So today's reported signing of Tom Gorzelanny brought more attention that he probably deserves. The deal is pretty widely-reported, but isn't official until he completes a physical and is officially announced by the team. It's reported to be a 2-year deal worth approximately $6 million. It's a deal on-par with Jason Grilli's, but far less costly than one given to Mike Adams or certainly, the truly goofy deals for Brandon League or Jeremy Affeldt.
At first blush, it's easy to conclude Gorzelanny fills that LOOGY spot in the bullpen the team was missing. But until last season, Gorzelanny had been largely a starter. (In 2006, 2007 and 2008, he exclusively started). In 2012, he made only 1 start--as a spot fill-in. In my view, if the team is set on using the "young guys" to fill out the rotation, there's nothing to indicate Gorzelanny would be a starter. He provides a lot to the Brewers, however, because he can be the one LHP in the 'pen but will be there to step into the rotation if someone falters or is injured. Additionally, his splits don't show any distinct advantage vs LHB, except in OBP. (In 2012, he allowed an OBP of .343 to RHB, but .289 to LHB; the oppSLG was nearly identical, as was oppBA). He should really be viewed as a reliever, not a LOOGY.
In 72 IP last year, he posted a 2.88 ERA and a 1.319 WHIP. His career HR/9 of 1.0 should work well in Miller Park but I'd prefer his 2012 K/9 of 7.8 (his career K/9 is only 7.0) be higher, especially for a guy in relief. His ERA+ of 138 showed he provided truly solid value. Grozelanny is only 30 and last year was the first year he was used exclusively in relief, so it's difficult for me to discern if his performance last year was maturation or succeeding in the right environment or a pure anomaly. In 2007, he threw 201 innings, had a 3.88 ERA, a 1.398 WHIP, 0.8 HR/9 and 6.0 K/9. That correlates fairly well with his 2012 work, particularly with keeping the ball on the ground and in play.
Given the way the market moved this off-season, Gorzelanny is a solid signing. He fills out a badly needed spot in the bullpen and provides a good back-up option for the rotation (or an actual option in the rotation if someone falters in the spring). He comes at a reasonable cost, without having to go the 3 years many other relievers have obtained and is far from a fringe guy.