Yesterday, the Orioles made the first of a few expected moves to shore up the bullpen, or at least try to. That move was to sign reliever Jeremy Accardo to a one-year, $1.08 million deal.
Accardo turned 29 last week, but he hasn't pitched many MLB innings since 2007, which also happened to be his most effective season. Accardo, who had been with the Blue Jays since 2006, threw 67.1 innings in 2007 and posted a 2.14 ERA while striking out 7.62 batters per nine innings and walking 3.21 batters per nine. He wasn't bad the previous season either for both the Giants (before being traded) and Blue Jays, throwing 69.0 innings and posting a 7.04 K/9 and a 2.61 BB/9. His 5.35 ERA didn't reflect a strong performance, but he did pitch better than it suggests.
Unfortunately, Accardo missed much of the 2008 season because of an arm injury and only pitched 12.1 innings. He has spent time in Triple-A in both seasons since, though he did throw 24.2 innings with the Blue Jays in 2009, compiling a 2.55 ERA. Still, even in that small amount of time, his strikeouts decreased and his walks increased.
Even though Accardo is under 30 and has shown that he can be effective in the past, there's not a whole lot to suggest that Accardo can turn things around. According to PitchFx data, Accardo's velocity on his fastball has dropped in every season since 2007 -- from 94.6 then to 92.6 in 2010. Because of his 2008 injury and not throwing many innings since, those numbers don't include a whole lot of pitches, but they're worth noting.
If Accardo can regain some of that velocity and cut down on his walks, he may end up being worth the low-risk contract the O's offered. Still, it's probable that this deal is the best Accardo was offered and that no other team wanted to pay him as much. Accardo hasn't posted a WAR above zero since 2007, so there's obviously no guarantee that the O's will receive any return on their one-year investment.
With that being said, a few deals like this one would make much more sense than overpaying for a somewhat overrated reliever like Kevin Gregg. The O's have been down that road enough times, right?