Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Angels Avoid Arbitration With Jerome Williams

          The Los Angeles Angels have avoided arbitration with RHP Jerome Williams on Tuesday by agreeing upon a one year deal worth around $2 million. The 31 year old pitcher is expected to come out of the bullpen as a long relief man for the Angels, a role he played for most of the 2012 season. Williams was originally drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the first round of the 1999 draft. He cracked the bigs in 2003 appearing in 21 games, all starts, pitching to a 7-5 record with a 3.30 ERA. Williams remained with the Giants until mid 2005 pitching to a combined 17-14 record in over 275 innings before being traded to the Chicago Cubs midway in the season. Williams remained solid throughout the remainder of the season, but struggled in 2006 before being waived by the Cubs and picked up by the Oakland Athletics, where he was released just three months later. His career quickly took a turn for the worse. Williams battled with weight issues and struggled to stay in proper shape. He pitched one more poor season with the Washington Nationals in 2007 being released later that season. Williams then signed  minor league contracts with both the Los Angeles Dodgers (2008) and the Athletics (2009) but was not able to appear in the majors for either of those stints. He then turned to independent league baseball, where he pitched for the Long Beach Armada of the Golden Baseball League and then pitched in Puerto Rico and Taiwan before signing a minor league contract with the Angels in June of 2011. Williams' contact was then purchased by the Angels on August 16th and he was able to win his first major league game since 2005 on August 21st of 2011. Since then Williams has bounced back and forth between the starting rotation and the bullpen. He was slated to be a possible fifth starter for the Angels in 2013, but after the acquisitions of Joe Blanton, Jason Vargas and Tommy Hanson, Williams appears to be destined for the bullpen as a long relief man, a role Williams claimed to be okay with during an interview following the announcement.

          I wish Williams the best of luck in 2013. While he'll probably be a permanent fixture in the Angels bullpen, I can see him making three or four starts either in an "emergency starter" situation or as a result of an injury. Of course the Angels will have young Garret Richards in Salt Lake who will pry be the club's first option as a spot starter. All I can hope from Williams is that he keeps his mind in the game and will be ready to be called upon at any given time. As a long reliever you can easily go four or five days without an appearance, and given the Angels have four work horses in their rotation, the wait could even be longer. That is why mental preparation is so key in baseball or any other sport, as long as you have the mind set of "I might pitch tonight" you should be fine and ready to pitch once you finally do get the call. I have a feeling Williams is not ready to give up now. The guys has been through a lot, from loosing his mother to breast cancer in 2001, to battling back from his weight issues, which were mentioned earlier, I definitely see him as a guy that will keep that mentality and be able to pitch well in any situation that he is put into. Obviously time will tell how he will fair but for now, all we can do is sit back and speculate.

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