Former #Brewers LHP Mitch Stetter has rejoined organization on minor-league deal and reported to extended spring camp.
— Tom (@Haudricourt) April 11, 2012
Fan favorite Mitch Stetter was released earlier this spring by the Texas Rangers and began the ’12 season on the sidelines, away from professional baseball. That all changed on Wednesday morning. Stetter signed a minor-league deal with the Brewers and will report to Arizona to begin a throwing program.
The Brewers needed another left-handed reliever in the upper tiers of the minor leagues. Manny Parra continues to shake off the rust from an injury-plagued year in 2011, and some concern does exist that he will not ultimately find success in the big league bullpen. In my opinion, it is far too soon to write off a left-hander who can throw 91-93 MPH with his fastball and has two offspeed pitches with which he can throw for strikes. The organization should always cultivate depth, though. Not to mention the Brewers bullpen could legitimately hold two left-handers.
Throughout the offseason, that left-handed depth in the bullpen was Zach Braddock. He performed poorly in spring training, however, and hints that his personal issues remain an issue cropped up again in camp and have only been exacerbated by the fact that he has not yet taken the mound for Triple-A Nashville.
Braddock was previously diagnosed with bipolar disorder and struggled with sleep disorders last season. At this point, the Brewers cannot rely upon him for big league depth until he takes care of himself, and if that means significant time away from baseball, so be it. Baseball is not bigger than the people who make up the game we all love. Braddock needs to ensure that his mental and physical health are top-notch before attempting to return to the big leagues and pitch under a microscope again.
Thus, the Brewers are left without a legitimate replacement if Parra gets injured or proves ineffective on the mound. Juan Perez enjoyed success this spring before suffering a collapsed lung, but he is still a 33-year-old minor league journeyman who posted a 5.70 ERA in Triple-A last season. Perez has struggled with his command throughout his career. Who knows what he will ultimately bring to the table this year.
Enter Mitch Stetter.
Stetter missed the vast majority of the 2011 season with a hip injury. He eventually underwent surgery to repair the issue, but was released by the Texas Rangers after giving up six runs in only 3.1 innings. The command problems that dogged him in the past likely played a part in his release, as well, though one has to imagine that he never had a chance to get in the groove on the mound and feel comfortable in only 3.1 innings, especially after missing almost the entire 2011 season.
Both Juan Perez and Mitch Stetter handcuff left-handed hitters and post big strikeout rates when they are right. The organization is hoping to catch lightning in a bottle with one of the two lefties and perhaps have them see some time at the big league level this year.
You can be certain of one thing. Mitch Stetter will get quite the welcome at Miller Park if he works his way back to The Show. Brewers fans love the sidewinder.