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2007 Bullpen Preview: Jorge Sosa

Mike SteffanosFriday, February 2, 2007
By Mike Steffanos

Jorge Sosa was signed as 17-year-old out of the Dominican Republic by the Colorado Rockies organization in 1995. He spent six unproductive years as an outfielder in the Rockies system before Seattle took him in the minor league draft and moved him to the mound in 2001. He had some immediate success that season, pitching primarily at the Low-A level. Milwaukee took him in the rule 5 draft that winter, but lost him on waivers to Tampa Bay in March 2002.

Sosa spent most of 2002 in the majors with the D-Rays in both starting and relief roles, and did fairly well for a 24-year-old who had only one minor league season as a pitcher. In 2003, once again both starting and relieving, he had his best year with the Devil Rays. The following season he regressed somewhat pitching mainly out of the bullpen. Just before the 2005 season, he was traded to Atlanta for infielder Nick Green. He enjoyed his finest major league season that year, starting 20 games and relieving in 24.

There was some talk that Sosa might be a candidate to close games for the Braves in 2006, but he was in the rotation at the beginning of the season. He struggled, and in mid-June was moved to the bullpen where he was also ineffective. At the trading deadline Sosa was dealt to St. Louis, where he pitched out of the bullpen to no better result. The Cardinals elected not to tender him a contract after the season and he became a free agent. The Mets signed Sosa to a $1.25 million in January.

Here are the career major league numbers for Jorge Sosa:

Jorge Sosa Major League Stats
Year - Team (Age) G GS Innings Hits/9 K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA AVG OBP SLG
2002 - Tampa Bay (24) 31 14 99.1 8.0 4.4 4.9 1.5 5.53 .236 .332 .416
2003 - Tampa Bay (25) 29 19 128.2 9.6 5.0 4.2 1.0 4.62 .278 .358 .426
2004 - Tampa Bay (26) 43 8 99.1 9.1 8.5 4.9 1.5 5.53 .259 .348 .453
2005 - Atlanta (27) 44 20 134.0 8.2 5.7 4.3 0.8 2.55 .241 .325 .374
2006 - Atlanta (28) 26 13 87.1 10.8 6.0 3.3 2.1 5.46 .298 .355 .537
2006 - St. Louis 19 0 30.2 9.7 5.0 2.4 2.9 5.28 .275 .320 .567
Major League Totals 192 74 579.1 9.1 5.8 4.2 1.4 4.61 .262 .342 .442

It's easy to write off Jorge Sosa's major league career as mediocre and inconsistent. For a pitcher acknowledged to have a power arm the strikeout numbers aren't very impressive. He throws a lot of fly balls, and many of those have found their way out of the park. His walk totals before last season have always been high, and a drop in his walk rate last year was matched by a big increase in homeruns, which begs the question as to whether he should have walked a few more of those guys.

For all that, however, when you take a moment to consider that the 29-year-old Sosa only has one minor league and 5 major league seasons under his belt as a pitcher, you can understand why he is still regarded as a pitcher with some potential. Still, at 29 his time is running out to live up to it.

Although Sosa's ability to both start and work out of the bullpen gives him a little versatility, I can't help but wonder if a more defined role wouldn't help him to find some of that consistency that has eluded him so far. He's primarily a fastball and slider pitcher, and seems a more natural fit for the bullpen. A lack of an effective changeup hinders him against left-handers:

Jorge Sosa L/R Splits
Year   Innings ERA Hits/9 K/9 BB/9 HR/9 AVG OBP SLG
2005 vs. RHB 68.2 1.70 7.9 6.8 3.1 0.5 .235 .299 .318
 vs. LHB 65.1 3.44 8.5 4.5 5.5 1.1 .247 .351 .430

2006 vs. RHB 74.0 5.35 9.2 5.7 2.1 2.1 .270 .309 .514
 vs. LHB 44.0 5.52 12.7 5.7 4.7 2.7 .326 .399 .589

Career vs. RHB             .236 .303 .390
 vs. LHB             .291 .382 .500

I've heard the opinion that Sosa has pitched better as a starter in his career, but I don't see his numbers as really overwhelming in that regard:

Jorge Sosa Starter/Reliever Splits
Year   Innings ERA Hits/9 K/9 BB/9 HR/9 AVG OBP SLG
2005 Starter 106.2 2.30 8.3 5.7 3.8 0.9 .241 .316 .387
 Reliever 27.1 2.62 7.9 5.6 6.3 0.3 .240 .358 .320

2006 Starter 70.0 5.53 11.4 5.8 2.6 2.2 .310 .353 .554
 Reliever 48.0 5.25 9.2 5.6 3.8 2.4 .265 .337 .530

Career Starter 402.2 4.54 9.2 5.5 3.9 1.4 .264 .338 .445
 Reliever 176.2 4.79 8.9 6.5 4.9 1.4 .258 .351 .436

While there seems to be a question whether Sosa will start or relieve with the Mets, I'm thinking the bullpen is more logical. With Dave Williams out for an indefinite period, Sosa might be a good fit to step into the long reliever role. At the price tag he is a reasonable gamble despite lackluster career numbers. As previously mentioned, he only had one minor league season as a pitcher, and could benefit from some coaching. Indeed, he had his best year under Leo Mazzone in Atlanta.

I confess that I was skeptical when I heard that the Mets picked up Jorge Sosa, but after doing the research for this article it makes a little more sense to me. I'm still not expecting a lot out of Sosa and indeed, I wouldn't bet the farm on him making the club. On the other hand, I wouldn't be totally shocked if he turned out to be a pleasant surprise. In the numbers game that Omar Minaya is playing with both the bullpen and rotation, this was a reasonable low-risk signing of a pitcher with some potential for success.

2007 Bullpen Previews:
Jon Adkins
Adam Bostick
Ambiorix Burgos
Marcos Carvajal
Pedro Feliciano
Aaron Heilman
Guillermo Mota
Clint Nageotte
Juan Padilla
Chan Ho Park
Duaner Sanchez
Steve Schmoll
Scott Schoeneweis
Aaron Sele
Joe Smith
Jorge Sosa (This Article)
Billy Wagner
Other Candidates
Four Other Names for You

2007 Pitching Previews: Summing It All Up

About Mike: I was the original writer on this web site, actually its only writer for the first 15 months of existence. Although I am grateful for the excellent contributions of my fellow writers here, I have no plans of stepping back into strictly an editorial role. I started this thing in the first place because I love to write and I love the Mets, and blogging here keeps me somewhat sane. If you haven't had enough already, more bio info can be found here.

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Comments (6)

It's not even S/T yet and already a pitcher is down with Williams out. I hope this is not a sign of things to come. We need a good share of good health for this pitching staff. It is not going to be a cake walk this year and we need all hands on deck.Hey spit on it drow some dirt on your hurt and get out there. Oh yeah another thing, this year no looking at third strikes.

drow some dirt on it? you know what I meant.( my old Brooklyn even sneeks into my speeling)

pitchers drop like flies, which is why I like how many options we have.

We don't grade for spelling here.

SPELLING-SPELLING-A B C , A B C...I am trying. You think my english is bad you should see my Greek and Hebrew, and you will never understand my score card. I have trouble understanding it the day after. I read someplace that the 5th spot in the rotation may be a contest between Sosa, Sele and now healing Williams.If your thinking Sosa is better in the pen, where is our options beyond Sele without using Pelfrey and Humber to early?

Thankfully, it's not my decision where Sosa is better. I think Jason Vargas and Alay Soler will both have shots. I wouldn't rule out Pelfrey or Humber, either.

1. The loss of Williams elevates the value/necessity of Schoenweis. I (being the cynic/skeptic) believe Williams was signed, and Bradford allowed to walk for one set of reasons, but then (possibly) Omar caught wind of Williams injury and signed Schoenweis BEFORE going public (with Williams injury).

2. i agree with mike s. Also we have history to model Omar's tendencies. For example last yr Omar gave a starter spot to bannister. I believe the yr prior it was Heilman. I think this yr it will be Pelfrey, humber, Soler or Vargas. Sele, inherits Lima's role (7th starter). ny opinion is that Omar reserves the 5th spot for the competitive growth of prospects first before using veterans such as Sele/Lima.

3. The only wrinkle I see is if Omar nabs Chan Ho or Mark Redman with a minor league incentive laden contract, and the 20-somethings flounder in Spring training.

I also dont know what Sosa brings to the table. I must admit I am not optimistic.

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