Remember Billy Bullock? You know, that guy with the power arm that was sent packing so the Twins could retain the services of lefty Scott Diamond? Remember the outrage over that deal? I certainly do, and yes, I was one of those outraged people. That’s not a stance that made me unique of course.
In fact, about the most positive spin you could find from those with the thickest “Twins colored glasses” could muster was that the trade was curious. The logic behind that stance was that Minnesota at least had guys similar to Bullock in the minors so he was somewhat expendable. It was a hollow argument of course, especially considering the team has even more guys like Scott Diamond in the pipeline than they do guys like Bullock. When the media – professional or otherwise – covering the team can only convey, at best, a potential indifference to a trade, then it was nothing short of a bad move at the time it was made.
So here we are, almost a month removed from the deal that went down on March 28th and so I thought it would be appropriate to see how each pitcher is faring in their new homes.
Atlanta sent Bullock to the Southern League (AA) where he is pitching in relief for the Mississippi Braves. Diamond, of course wound up in the rotation for the Rochester Red Wings. This isn’t meant to be a comparison between the two, just a check-up on each. Even if I were to attempt a comparison here, this is not an apples to apples thing. Bullock is a 23-year old right-handed reliever in Double-A. Diamond is a 24-year old left-handed starter in Triple-A. Looking for commonalities would be a fool’s errand. The only thing they really have in common is that they were part of the same trade last month.
Billy Bullock has made seven relief appearances thus far with his latest coming yesterday against the Montgomery Biscuits. That’s a great name for a minor league team by the way and their logo is just as awesome. If you don’t believe me, have a look for yourself:
Last night however, the Biscuits were not particularly kind to Billy. He did strike out 3 in the top of the 9th inning but he also gave up 2 hits and 1 earned run. It was only the second time in his 7 appearances that he didn’t issue a walk. On the young season he has a 12.15 ERA and 2.55 WHIP. He’s allowed 11 hits and 6 walks to go with 8 strikeouts in 6.2 innings of work. As the numbers suggest, Bullock has had his share of “clunkers.” These include April 7th when he gave up 3 H, 3 R and 2 BB in his one inning of work and also April 21st when he gave up 4 H, 4 R, and 1 BB in 0.2 innings.
So what about Scott Diamond?
He’s made three starts this season and overall his numbers aren’t great but they’re far from terrible. In 14.2 innings he has a 3.68 ERA and 1.43 WHIP. He’s given up 13 H and 8 BB while striking out 13. Outside of his 4.9 BB/9 this season, – which is well above his career mark of 3.0 BB/9 – he’s been about the same pitcher he’s been since the Braves signed him as a non-drafted free agent back in August of 2007.
Here’s the start by start breakdown:
As you can see, he hasn’t exactly been dominant or even mildly exciting in any of his starts so far this year. The overall ERA is fine, but he’s still giving up almost 1 hit per inning and far too many walks. The spike in strikeouts in his last start was a nice change of pace but outside of that, he’s been about the same for three starts in a row.
Of course, one month does not a season make, so small sample size certainly applies here. We also have to figure in the relative upside and potential of each player. Along those lines, I may have been a little hasty in my assessment of Diamond when I reacted to the trade last month. If he can get his BB/9 into the mid-2s and hold his SO/9 in the 7s at the major league level then he could become the left-handed version of Scott Baker (statistically at least) and there is certainly value in that. Still that’s a lot of “ifs” and a lot to expect from Diamond when and if he gets a chance to pitch in a major league rotation.
There are plenty of questions and “ifs” surrounding Billy Bullock, but he remains the player with the better arm, more upside and a better chance to have a lasting impact on a major league roster.