Jul
23

Scouting The Trade Market: Shawn Camp

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The Yankees have been rolling with four specialists in their seven-man bullpen for a few weeks now, but it wasn’t until this past weekend that we got a real good look at how problematic that can be. Cody Eppley twice allowed walk-off hits to left-handed batters — granted, one was a switch-hitter — when he should be limited to righties only. Once David Phelps was out of Sunday’s game, Joe Girardi was left with a bunch of short relief matchup guys and the Yankees paid the price.

Trading for bullpen help is always sketchy but at this point it seems unavoidable. Joba Chamberlain seems to be very close to return but it’s impossible to count on him until he’s actually back on the big league mound and pitching effectively given the severity of his injuries. Heck, even if Joba comes back and adds that necessary non-OOGY, there’s still room in the bullpen for improvement. Since the Cubs are poised to trade everything not nailed down before next Tuesday’s trade deadline, let’s look at veteran reliever Shawn Camp.

The Pros

  • The 36-year-old right-hander is in the middle of what is arguably the best season of his career, pitching to a 2.79 ERA and 3.33 FIP in 48.1 innings. Camp’s 6.70 K/9 (18.3 K%) is his best strikeout rate in four years, his 2.05 BB/9 (5.6 BB%) his best walk rate ever. He also gets a healthy amount of ground balls (48.0%).
  • A true three-pitch reliever, Camp sits in the upper-80s with his sinker and backs it up with a low-80s changeup (for lefties) and an upper-70s slider (for righties). He doesn’t have a platoon split, holding left-handed batters to a .278 wOBA and right-handers to a .266 wOBA this season.
  • Camp has never been on the DL and spent 2006-2011 with the then-Devil Rays and Blue Jays, so he’s familiar with the AL East. He’s on a one-year deal making just $550k (!) this season, so we’re talking pure rental here.

The Cons

  • From 2009-2011, left-handed batters posted a .353 wOBA against Camp while righties were limited to a .302 wOBA. That lack of a platoon split really only applies to this season.
  • Camp’s strikeout rate has been trending downward as the season has progressed. He struck out 23 of the first 107 batters he faced this season (21.5%) and just 13 of the last 90 (14.4%). Strikeouts aren’t really his thing anyway, but still.
  • The Cubs have not been easy on him. Camp is second in baseball with 47 relief appearances and ninth with 48.1 relief innings. Last season he only threw 67.1 innings across 67 appearances and he’s on pace to zoom right by that. Chicago knows what they have here, a veteran guy pitching well on a one-year deal, so they’re getting their money’s worth.

There’s definitely a “lightning in a bottle” element here, but Camp has been a pretty solid middle reliever — in the AL East! — over the last three or four years anyway. That’s all the Yankees need him to be, a solid non-matchup guy in the middle innings. His success against lefties this season could very well have something to do with his slider, which has consistently been his best pitch. Camp has gone to the slider against left-handers far more than ever before in 2012 — 37% this year vs. 19% since the start of the PitchFX era. That success against batters of the opposite hand may be a fluke, but at least there’s some tangible evidence suggesting it could be legitimate improvement.

Either way, the Yankees need a reliever and Cubs have one to offer, so there’s a fit. Chicago’s new Theo Epstein-led regime has been emphatic about getting young pitching back in any trade, something the Yankees have plenty to offer. They’re not getting a top prospect for a rental middle reliever and probably won’t get a Grade-B prospect either. Brett Myers was just dealt for two fringe prospects and a player to be named later while the Astros ate his salary. A one-for-one swap for Camp could involve a non-top 30 prospect — Caleb Cotham? Zach Nuding? Shaeffer Hall? — and maybe nothing else. He’s worth a look and carries minimal risk.

Categories : Trade Deadline

59 Comments»

  1. YankeesJunkie says:

    Joba will be a huge boost to the pen when he comes backs in a couple weeks which will be a huge upgrade for the pen. Also, if the Yankees choose to use Phelps in a 1-3 innings Aceves role he could be that fifth reliever leaving only Rapada and Logan as specialist.

    • Elvin says:

      Thats a good idea. I personally believe the Yankees need outfield help more than they need bullpen help because Joba is close to coming back.

      • G says:

        True, but if the cost is this ridiculously low, there’s no reason not to do this in addition to acquiring an outfielder.

    • steve g says:

      unfortunately girardi seems to view phelps only as a short reliever (see yesterdays game)

    • Jacob says:

      Yes but the thing with joba is he is coming off surgery and has been out for a year, he couldbe absolutely terrible and it is not realistic to expect him to completely dominate. I think he will be fine but it won’t be a surprise if he does not

  2. MannyGeee says:

    I like the Shawn Camp idea. as much as we love the “dualing side-arms” of Eppley & Rapada, it would be nice to not have to deal with the matchup drama.

  3. “Since the Cubs are poised to trade everything not nailed down before next Tuesday’s trade deadline”

    How about some Alfonso Soriano? I have no idea what his current contract is like, but UZR (even though it’s flawed) grades him out at 10.7 and he’s hitting pretty well. 110 wRC+, .268/.320/.448 18HRs 54 RBI, .342wOBA and .200ISO. His walk rate this season is right online with his career (5.9%) though he still strikes out a ton (22.8% this season, 20.7% career.) I think he should at least warrant a tire kick.

  4. Robinson Tilapia says:

    Mike, do you think what we saw with Phelps last night was, OOGERY notwithstanding, a sign that PHELPS is being considered in this role?

    I’d be fine with a guy like this for a non-prospect, especially one with a recent pattern of success in the AL East.

  5. Jersey Joe says:

    Like you said, he is a pure rental and despite his low price tag, I would not give more than Ramon Ortiz at this point. With Joba back soon there is no reason to improve the pen. In fact, I like the recent strategy the Yankees have been using by picking up scraps who were either DFA’d or signed to minor league deals like Rapada, Eppley, Wade, and even Wise (technically he did come in for relief).

  6. Yankee in CT says:

    This is a perfect idea. Hope Csshman is reading this.

  7. Kosmo says:

    Camp is having a good season and has pitched exceptionally well in RISP situations. Here´s a short list of other relievers who could be sought after:
    Brad Ziegler
    Luke Gregerson
    Betancourt
    Belisle
    Balfour only if Oakland tanks in the next 2 weeks
    Liriano would be an invaluable backup plan if Pettitte is slow in returning and Garcia doesn´t cut it. He could also pitch out of the bullpen.

    • Jacob says:

      Give me Ziegler now, is he actually available?

      • Kosmo says:

        I´m just thinking of possibilities. Ziegler is 32 and Arizona doesn´t look like a contending team this year. For example they could take a bullpen prospect like Whitley or someone else.

        • Jacob says:

          Oh god you are going to have me dreaming of zieger in pinstripes forever now, that guy is so awesome I swear non OOGY uhhh so beautiful

          ARIZONA GETS:

          MANNY B.
          NUNEZ
          ALMONTE
          TYLER AUSTIN
          MONGOMERY
          PHELPS?

          YANKS GET:

          J.UPTON
          ZIEGLER

          Just spitballing here not sure what type of prospects they want but I know they wanted a MIF and I figured maybe and OF and everyone always wants a pitcher. Feel free to tell me if this package sucks

  8. Brian S. says:

    We should see what they want for Bryan LaHair. He has a 155 wRC+ against right handers this season (he’s unusable against lefties though), hits way better on the road, and can play RF/1B as well as DH. Then we could steal Cody Ross from Boston this offseason and use a LaHair/Ross platoon in RF next season.

    • jjyank says:

      I don’t feel like looking into it in depth right now (my work computer is slow as hell), but I’m down with that if it means they use the money saved by letting Swisher walk to re-sign Cano.

    • Jacob says:

      He has tailled off like crazy as of late and I want no part of Ross

  9. the other Steve S. says:

    You guys are fixing a problem that the management of the team doesn’t think IS a problem. I personally choked whet Girardi came out for Phelps. Hey Joe, what’s the plan if this game goes 14 innings? Swisher pitching? Phelps is a starter for God’s sake. I think he can face down a lefty or two.

  10. Ted Nelson says:

    That you really, really want them to trade for a reliever doesn’t make it “unavoidable.”

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