Introducing: B.J. Ryan
The Cubs have signed LHP B.J. Ryan to a one-year deal for the league minimum salary.
B.J.'s last job was with the Toronto Blue Jays. He's actually signed to a pretty large contract with that team, which is why the Cubs were able to get him at the minimum.
With the Jays, Ryan was slated as the team's closer to start the season. Prior to 2007, Ryan had been lights out, and made perfect sense for the closer's role: low batting average against, not a lot of walks, and a TON of strikeouts.
Unfortunately, Ryan lost it in 2007. After posting a 1.37 ERA in 72.1 innings pitched in 2006 (DAMN!), he would end the '07 season with only four innings pitched to his name. The guy had blown out his elbow, and needed Tommy John surgery.
It seems Ryan came back at something like 80% in 2008; the strikeouts were there, but not quite as frequent, and the walks were a bit more prevalent. Still, Ryan managed to save 32 games for the Jays.
2009 has not been so kind to Ryan. He's been really hittable thus far, and on top of that, has walked a bunch of opposing batters. It's pretty safe to say he's unfit for closing duties at the major league level.
In 9.1 innings pitched against lefties, Ryan has nine strikeouts. The hits and walks are mostly disturbing (he has a WHIP of 1.71), but the ability to miss bats is somewhere to start.
Ryan will likely be sent down to Iowa to work out his mechanics and get back up to speed for the big show. If he can figure his stuff out quickly, we may see Sean Marshall return to the rotation in place of Kevin Hart while Demp is out.
Basically, this is a low-risk, high reward move for the Cubs. Ryan could be a very helpful piece, or he could have no impact whatsoever. Let's hope this one works out a la Jim Edmonds in 2008.