January 20, 2011
Yesterday, the Nationals finalized a contract with free agent relief pitcher RHP Todd Coffey, who was non-tendered earlier this off-season by the Milwaukee Brewers. The terms of the contract have yet to be announced. Coffey has spent his entire six year career in the National League Central, beginning in Cincinnati before spending the past two and a half seasons with Milwaukee. An enormous figure at 6-4 240LBs, he is probably best known for his full sprint from the bullpen to the pitchers mound when entering the game. Playing in these relatively small media markets has kept Coffey’s profile low but make no mistake, he is a solid, slightly above average right handed middle reliever who would be an asset in virtually any major league bullpen. Coffey possesses a 92-94mph fastball that he locates reasonably well and flashes a plus slider. While Coffey does have a bit of closing experience, he is expected to slot in nicely with Tyler Clippard and Henry Rodriguez in middle relief, giving way to Sean Burnett and Drew Storen to finish games out.
Todd Coffey’s numbers:
Career: 359.2 IP, 4.15 ERA, 1.446 WHIP, 2.7 BB/9, 6.6 K/9, 1.1 HR/9
2010: 62.1 IP, 4.76 ERA, 1.412 WHIP, 3.3 BB/9, 8.1 K/9, 1.2 HR/9
2009: 83.2 IP, 2.90 ERA, 1.159 WHIP, 2.3 BB/9, 7.0 K/9, 0.9 HR/9
Coffey is a solid addition to the Nationals already deep bullpen, and should act as a steady influence in this rather young group of relievers. The best case scenario for the Nationals is that Coffey gives the Nationals a poor man’s impression of Matt Capps from last season: provides us solid relief pitching through July then gets traded to a contender down the stretch for prospects. I probably like this move from the Nationals more than I should, but I think the key to a team overachieving often comes down to the relative success or failure of that seasons bullpen. Thus, I like collecting solid, proven relievers. This move shows a clear shift in the organizations thinking, as in past seasons the Nationals would have passed on spending money on a veteran with a track record, instead trying to catch lightning in a bottle from a rookie or minor league free agent. I fully endorse this move and think this is the type of overlooked signing that solid General Managers make to round out their club.
Overall Grade -> Solid B, almost B+