The Giants are bringing back Guillermo Mota. Which is cool, because it gives me a chance to step away for a second from the constant rosterbation.
Guillermo Mota is 38 years old. During his career, heâ€™s played for seven different teams. In 2009, he was a Dodger. From 2002 to 2004, he spent time in a Dodgers uniform. There was a time when Mota was a truly dominant reliever; it didnâ€™t last long, and it was nearly ten years ago, but it happened nonetheless. And it happened when he was a Dodger: in 2003, he posted a 205 ERA+ in 105.0 innings of relief. If you go by Baseball-Reference, Mota has been worth 4.4 wins above replacement in his 13 major-league seasons. All of it â€” and then some â€” came from his tenure as a Dodger from â€™03 to â€™04. Mota has bounced around from team to team in these last thirteen years, but before he signed with the Giants in 2010, he was as much a Dodger as anything else, carrying with him that intangible Dodgers aura.
After signing with the Giants in 2010, Mota appeared in 56 games. He wasnâ€™t spectacular; he wasnâ€™t even average: 4.33 ERA/3.86 FIP/4.57 xFIP, 91 ERA+. On October 28, 2010, at age 36, Mota made his first World Series appearance, tossing one scoreless inning. A few days later, he won his first ring.
This year, the Giantsâ€™ bullpen allowed 26 home runs. Mota accounted for ten of them. Home runs aside, Mota was solid: he struck out nearly a batter an inning (8.63/9), setting a career high in K/9. His xFIP, 3.63, was the lowest heâ€™d posted since that dominant 2003 season, and it was one of the better marks on the team (lower than Brian Wilson, Javier Lopez, and Santiago Casilla). Twice this season â€” the Barry Zito foot injury, and the Madison Bumgarner disaster start â€” Mota went 4+ innings. He had never done that once before 2011. On August 3rd, Mota struck out six over two innings of relief, tying a career-high. It was the most strikeouts heâ€™d tallied in a single game since â€” you guessed it â€” 2003.
Years from now, when youâ€™re looking back at the first Giants team to win a championship in a decade, Guillermo Mota wonâ€™t be the first name to come to mind. Nor will he be the second. Or the third. Thereâ€™s a chance that you wonâ€™t even remember him. But if you do, youâ€™ll probably remember him with some modicum of fondness. Which is more than can be said for Jose Guillen. And if you go out and buy a Mota jersey, I wonâ€™t judge you.
ZiPS projects Mota for a 96 ERA+ over 60 innings, with a K/BB hovering around 2.00. Heâ€™ll be unspectacular. But heâ€™ll be a cheap, usable arm out of the â€˜pen.