Phils Sign Erik Kratz, Eddie Bonine

The Phillies announced the signing of catcher Erik Kratz late yesterday.  Kratz, 30, from Telford, PA, was a 2002 draft pick of the Toronto BlueJays and spent the last two seasons in the Pirates organization at AAA Indianapolis.  Kratz made his major league debut last season for the Pirates, seeing action in 9 games. For Indianapolis last season Kratz hit .274/.380/.496 with 9HR and 41 RBI and threw out 21% of baserunners attempting to steal on him. In his minor league career, he has thrown out 31% of baserunners.  Kratz should be an upgrade over Paul Hoover who struggled last season for Lehigh Valley.

The Phils also signed Tigers pitcher Eddie Bonine, to a minor league deal yesterday.  The 29 year old righty was 4-1 with a 4.63 ERA in 47 games with the Tigers last season throwing 68 innings. He walked 22, struck out 26 and had a WHIP that stood at 1.55.  Mostly a starter (and an effective one)throughout his minor league career, last season was the first full season Bonine spent in the majors, almost all of it out of the ‘pen.

16 thoughts on “Phils Sign Erik Kratz, Eddie Bonine

  1. Mike, it is a bit flukish. But Kratz has spent 250 games in AAA, and his career batting line there is .258/.332/.466. The OBP will likely decline from last season, but that’s still a useful player.

  2. I agree – these are actually good and somewhat interesting signings. If Bonine can really throw a knuckleball well, he’s just the right age for his career to take off. In my view, every team should, at any one time, should have at least two knuckleball pitchers developing. I could write a long essay on knuckleball pitchers because it seems that teams never seem intent on developing or keeping these pitchers – I guess old fashion “baseball men” view the knuckleball as something of a trick pitch. But it isn’t. A good knuckleball pitcher can easily have a 10-20 year major league career and even a Hall of Fame career. They can throw a lot of innings and they can be extremely effective. True, you have to have a catcher who can catch that pitcher, but, if your regular catcher isn’t good at it or doesn’t want to do it, you simply allow your back-up catcher to be the personal catcher for the knuckleball pitcher.

    For those of you who looked at RA Dickey’s year last year as something of a fluke, I think you are wrong. Dickey has the best knuckleball I’ve seen since Neikro. His is thrown relatively hard (in the mid-70s as opposed to the high 50s or low 60s like Wakefield’s) and it moves like crazy. Now that he’s figured it out, you can expect he will easily pitch another 5-10 years, even though he’s now in his mid-30s.

    This is an extremely long way of saying that I love the Bonine signing – very astute.

  3. I agree, its unusual to find a guy this way that has a decent upside, albeit not conventional. Just out of curiosity, has there ever been a lefthanded knuckleballer in the big leagues before this guy? I can’t remember one in the past 20 yrs or so…

  4. My bad, he is a righty. Looked up the answer to my own question – there have been many but only two since the 80′s, latest being Kurt Ojala with the Marlins in the 90′s.

  5. “I agree, its unusual to find a guy this way that has a decent upside, albeit not conventional. Just out of curiosity, has there ever been a lefthanded knuckleballer in the big leagues before this guy? I can’t remember one in the past 20 yrs or so…”

    Wilbur Wood White Sox in the 70′s I believe… he was very good by the way

    Gene Bearden Indians 1948/49 Dabbled with it and led the Indians to the WC then lost his control of

  6. In 1960, Wood was signed out of Belmont, Massachusetts high school by the Red Sox. He pitched on-and-off for them for a few seasons before being traded to the Pirates in late September 1964. After two seasons with Pittsburgh, he was traded to the White Sox after the 1966 season. When he arrived, knuckleball master Hoyt Wilhelm advised him to use his knuckleball exclusively. Taking Wilhelm’s advice, Wood’s career took off, first as a reliever, and then as a starter. With the White Sox, Wood became well known as a durable workhorse, and one of the last pitchers to consistently throw well over 300 innings in a season.

    As a reliever In 1968, Wood set the major league record (since broken) of 88 games pitched in a season. He converted to starting pitcher in 1971, and continued to display unusual durability. During the years 1971-74, Wood averaged 45 games started and 347 innings pitched, winning a total of 90 games, while losing 69. He led the American League in games started in each year from 1972 through 1975, and he was the league leader in both wins and innings pitched in 1972 and 1973. Wood finished second in the 1972 voting for the Cy Young Award, losing a close vote to Gaylord Perry.

    In a 17-season career, Wood compiled a 164-156 record with a 3.24 ERA. He had 1411 strikeouts in 2684 innings pitched. He compiled 24 shutouts and 114 complete games in 297 games started. He pitched in 651 games. He was also the last pitcher in American League history to win and lose 20 or more games in the same season (24-20 in 1973).

    Wood’s resilience, which was attributed to the less stressful nature of the knuckleball delivery, led to some unusual feats of endurance. On May 28, 1973, while pitching for the White Sox against the Cleveland Indians, Wood pitched the remainder of a 21-inning carryover game that had been suspended two nights earlier, allowing only two hits in five innings to earn the victory. He then started the regularly scheduled game and pitched a four-hit complete game shutout, earning two wins in the same night. Later that season, on July 20, Wood started both ends of a doubleheader, making him the last pitcher to do so.[1] He lost both of those games.

    Wood was seriously injured in a game against the Detroit Tigers in Tiger Stadium, May 9, 1976, when Ron LeFlore, the Tigers’ center fielder, hit a vicious line drive back toward the mound. The ball struck Wood’s left knee forcibly, shattering his kneecap. He had surgery the next day, but the outlook was bleak. Many predicted that he would never pitch again, but after considerable rehabilitation, he did some pitching for two more seasons with the White Sox. However, he showed few signs of his former mastery. He retired in 1978, moving back to his native New England.

  7. Wilbur Forrester Wood, Jr. (born October 22, 1941 in Cambridge, Massachusetts) is a former knuckleball pitcher in Major League Baseball for the Boston Red Sox, Pittsburgh Pirates, and most notably the Chicago White Sox, where he got 163 of his 164 wins. He threw left-handed, and batted right-handed.

    All from Wiki I am not that smart

  8. I wonder how good Bonine’s knuckler is. Is it possible he could flip that 20 percent knuckle balls and throw it 80 percent of the time? Because it would be nice to have a knuckleballer on the staff for a change of pace. I would be great to see other teams go into week long slumps after facing one of our guys for a change.

  9. Oops. “It” would be great to see . . .

    “I” would be great were I throwing the kuckleball for lots of dollars. Sadly, not the case.

  10. It’s funny that everyone looked up Wilbur Wood. I did the very same thing this afternoon before reading the above entries, and not because he threw lefty. Wood’s career was ended by the line drive but pitching in what essentially was a three-man rotation for four years (he threw like 340 innings per year – yikes!!!!) really did wreck his arm. If things had gone just little differently for Wood and somebody had watched out for him just a little, his career probably would have resembled Neikro’s.

  11. The reason why nobody throws the knuckleball is that it is notoriously hard to control. Not to mention that there is a general lack of coaching for this in college, the minors, major league level. Dickey really started to focus on the knuckleball in 2006. That means, it took him 3 full years to perfect it, and by 2010, he was on his 4th team. Dickey has beaten the odds with his knuckleball.

  12. The Phils signed LHP Dan Meyer to a minor league deal. Meyer was awful in a handful of innings last year but he’s been successful before in the bullpen and was a former top 100 prospect. Worth a look in Spring Training certainly.

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