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The Plight of Aaron Rakers

With the Grimsley news, I got to thinking about how if his comeback is successful (and again, best of luck to him), there'll be another guy as a roadblock for some other guy.

The 2005 season thus far has been an undeniable success for the Baltimore Orioles. We're in first place on June 18, the pitching is a lot better than we had any right to expect (Chen & Pen), Brian Roberts is an MVP candidate (so is Tejada) - things are just going right. Just going damned right.

I have but one thing that's really on my mind that I want to see happen. I want to see Aaron Rakers in the major league bullpen. Chris Ray is the more physically gifted pitcher. Steve Reed probably isn't going anywhere. And those are the two guys in any danger of being bumped for Rakers. But man, I think I've become Aaron Rakers' No. 1 fan over the last two seasons.

The thing is, Rakers has been passed over time and again. He doesn't have a great fastball, and he lives on his splitter. But there is not a single level of minor league baseball since 1999 that Rakers has not dominated. The only time he's ever even struggled was his 2003 call-up to Ottawa, when he put up a 5.13 ERA over 21 games. He made up for it the next year with a 2.75 ERA and 80 strikeouts in 78 2/3 innings.

Rakers' minor league totals coming into 2005 were 2.54/1.09 with 395 strikeouts over 354 2/3 innings. He strikes out a smidge over 10 per nine. He's never had a real shot. His entire major league career amounts to three games down the stretch last season.

Rakers is a certifiable Ken Phelps All-Star at this point, because he's 28 years old. His label is his fastball. They say you can find quality relief pitching pretty easily if you just look hard enough. Well, Rakers is running his way head-first into being someone's cheap, effective pickup down the line if the O's don't smarten up about this guy and at least give him a shot. What more can he do to earn it?

I have a battle cry, and if you wish to join my cause, then you are more than welcome. Free Aaron Rakers!