With the well-documented struggles of Indians starters pitching deep into games, the Tribe have gone through their fair share of relievers this season.
In an effort to build bullpen depth, the Indians made another move on Saturday.
Nick Maronde, formerly of the Angels, was acquired by the Indians for future considerations (conflicting reports say either a player to be named later or cash). Immediately after acquiring Maronde, the Indians optioned him to Triple-A Columbus.
Needing to clear a spot on the 40-man roster, the Indians moved a familiar face to the 60-day DL.
As a result, it’s certainly fair to wonder if this is the end of line for Jason Giambi. Giambi isn’t injured, but he’s allowed the Indians to put him on the DL to clear spots on the active roster and 40-man roster. It appears as though he’s sacrificed himself (and his 40-man roster spot) to help the team — quite a noble move.
If this is indeed the end of road for the 43-year old Giambi, he finishes his career with a terrific .277/.399/.517 line in 20 big league seasons, with 440 home runs and 1,441 RBI. He’ll always be remembered by Indians fans for his walk-off magic and by us at Wahoo’s on First for his #VeteranPresents. Obviously, it’s no sure thing that Giambi is finished playing, but it certainly appears that way.
If his career is over, I’d just like to wish him the best of luck in the future, and thank him for what he’s done in Cleveland. He’s been a leader to the Indians, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Tribe bring him back in some sort of role at some point in the future.
But back to the main point. The left-handed Maronde was recently designated for assignment by the Angels — who have made multiple moves recently to add bullpen depth, and no longer seemed to have a need for Maronde.
Maronde doesn’t have a lot of major league experience, and has only pitched 17 2/3 innings across 33 big league appearances. Over that time, he’s posted a 7.13 ERA (4.90 FIP) with 19 strikeouts — but with 18 walks as well.
He has terrific strikeout ability, and has struck out 227 batters in 220 1/3 minor league innings. While his career 9.2 BB/9 rate with the Angels could use improvement, he’s been much better at limiting walks in the minor leagues (4.3 BB/9).
Before last season, Maronde’s highest walk ratio was 2.9 BB/9, which he posted in his first professional action all the way back in 2011 with the Orem Owlz, a Rookie League affiliate in the Angels’ farm system.
But he walked 5.9 hitters per nine innings in 2013 with the Angels’ Double-A Affiliate in Arkansas, and his control suddenly isn’t what is used to be. (However, he still demonstrated a killer ability to miss bats, with a strikeout rate of 10.1 K/9 with Arkansas last season).
Maronde has the pedigree of being a high draft choice (he was a 3rd-round pick of the Angels in 2011), and he was ranked as the 19th-best high school prospect in the 2008 draft, according to Baseball America. (He was ultimately drafted in the 43rd round by the A’s, and elected to attend the University of Florida instead.)
In addition, Maronde’s past minor league numbers are impressive. His normally solid control hasn’t been the same the past two seasons, but there’s no doubting his talent. When his control is at its best, Maronde is downright lethal. It’s easier said than done for him to improve his control, though he’s shown the ability to limit bats in the past, so it’s not out of the question for him to improve in that department. If he can, the potential reward could be big.
While it certainly isn’t the biggest move a Cleveland team has made in the last 36 hours, it’s an intriguing move nonetheless.
For the time being, Maronde will work at Triple-A Columbus. But with the shortage of innings that the Indians have gotten from the rotation, the Tribe have carried extra relievers at multiple points this season — and they’ll more than likely continue to do so moving forward.
If he can make the necessary improvements and regain some of his control, there could certainly be a spot in the bullpen available for him in Cleveland.