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2013 Phillies Player Preview: Michael Stutes a.k.a. Fungible Right-Handed Reliever

What does Michael Stutes look like after a half a bottle of Bordeaux? Well, he's not coyote ugly, but he sure isn't Craig Kimbrel, either. Kids, the word of the day is "fungible."

Don't fall in love.  He's kind of meh.
Don't fall in love. He's kind of meh.
Hunter Martin

Mike Stutes isn't that good. I wish he was, but he just isn't. By virtue of signing up late, I was blessed with previewing John Merberry, Jr., Kyle Kendreck, and Mike Stutes. Seriously. Blog Lordiness has its way of harshing out on you if you don't jump when assigned stuff. I "won" those three, and I enjoyed Kendrick the most. Furrealz. You snooze, you lose, right? FFS.

It should tell you something that I waited till last to do the Stutes preview. I am sure he is a warm human being that loves puppies, pledges allegiance to the flag, and loves his mother. Still, he is the epitome of a fungible right-handed relief arm. And he's coming off a surgery to clear out "fraying" in his shoulder. I expect he will not be with the Phillies at the end of the year, and that he will be surpassed by players with better arms and better stuff. Justin DeFratus, I am calling you out. If you can't thump Stutes, you deserve to toil in Allentown and visit Erv's after home games. Ditto for you, Aumont. There is no reason you can't thump Stutes. Except if you walk more dudes than Stutes.

Here's the deal with Michael Stutes. He walks too many people. And his BABIP in 2011 was unreasonably low. His BABIP is going to revert to a more-normal level and his walk rate is going to kill him. Did I mention the walk thing? His FIP suggests that he is not that good, but maybe that's just walks again, right? He's not necessarily a time bomb, but he's not really that effective, either. Here's what Stutes is (prior to his major surgery to clean out fraying that ended his 2012 campaign):

2011 Stats: BABIP: .256, BB/9: 4.06 (look! walks!), FIP: 4.07

2012 Stats: Broken.

2013 Projections: BABIP: worse than .256, BB/9: about the same, FIP: 4.36, 3.84, 4.52 (depending on which projection outfit you believe in).

On the bright side, he is cheaper than another fungible arm like Chad Durbin. (Why did the Phillies need Chad Durbin? Why does a fish need a bicycle?) Stutes strikes out about 8 batters per nine innings, and his wOBA against RHB in 2011 was .289 resulting in no small part from fewer walks against RHB. His RHB FIP in 2011 was 3.14 versus 5.28 versus lefties. Of course, right-handed specialists are a dime a dozen. Stutes is cost-controlled, and his long, beautiful locks attract a certain type of fan prone to the consumption of E.L. Jamesian fanfic as opposed to Bill Jamesian baseball analysis. Regrettably, the latter does not appear to be a sufficient justification to fall in love with him if your concern is, you know, winning games and stuff. I just have a hard time wondering why he might make the team when it appears that there are other equally cost-controlled options with more, you know, talent and stuff, who are waiting in the wings.

By all means, let Stutes do his Stutesiness stuff for a while, but by all means do not hesitate to send him to Allentown when someone obviously better is beating down the door. He sweats nicely and he is a nice physical specimen, but he really isn't that good. Don't let him hog up a roster spot just because he got lucky in 2011, Rubes.