Oh Danys Boy

I can’t let Danys Baez join the Phillies without wishing him the best of luck with team No. 6.

Baez reportedly has agreed to a two-year deal, pending a physical next week. I’m a little surprised that he netted more than one year, but good for him.

A few notes about Baez from the 2009 season:

• He went 4-6 with a 4.02 ERA, 59 hits allowed, 22 walks and 40 strikeouts in 71 2/3 innings.
• He allowed one earned run or fewer in 50 of 59 appearances (and two earned runs seven times).
• He earned the win on May 22 in D.C., on the same night that he recorded his first major league hit in the 12th inning off Kip Wells and scored the go-ahead run.
• He tied a career high by winning four straight decisions April 26-May 27.
• He registered a 0.63 ERA in nine games from April 21-May 16.
• He held right-handed hitters to a .197 average and .565 OPS.
• He had a 1.73 ERA at home (and 7.20 on the road).
• He had a 2.92 ERA in 12 August games.
• He had a 1.64 ERA in seven games against the AL West.

The numbers don’t show that Baez is one of the nicest guys to put on a uniform - in any clubhouse, in any era. Take a random poll of sportswriters at Camden Yards (and it would have to be pretty random if you’re doing it), and Baez probably will make their list of top five favorites.

He’d make eye contact as we walked past his locker or stood nearby, and he’d always smile, say hello and ask how we were doing. That might not sound like a big deal, but it’s not real common in the majors, especially from a veteran.

You couldn’t help but root for the guy as he tried to return from ligament-reconstructive surgery in his right elbow. You want good things to happen to good people.

(Quick medical note: It isn’t referred to as ligament “replacement” surgery, because a tendon is used, not another ligament. You’re welcome.)

The Orioles allowed Baez to compete for a spot in the rotation in spring training, though that idea seemed doomed from...the start. He was invaluable as a middle reliever early in the season, posting a 3.00 ERA and holding opponents to a .143 average in April, but he also unintentionally handcuffed manager Dave Trembley because he couldn’t be used on back-to-back nights.

Baez wasn’t the only reliever who had to be treated with kid gloves. Trembley needs a more manageable bullpen in 2010, one that provides more options and flexibility, but that’s a separate topic.

Anyway, the Phillies might regret the contract, whatever its worth, but they’re getting a quality individual - and one who might be more effective as he’s farther removed from the Tommy John procedure.

I raise my glass to Danys Baez tonight. Long after the ball drops, I hope his ERA does the same.

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