The best way to start this entry might be to ask a simple question: What didn’t the York Revolution do on Wednesday?
The Revs traded one of the best hitting catchers in the league. And he was dealt to rival Lancaster.
They acquired a backup catcher and relief pitcher.
They released four relief pitchers.
And, oh yes, we almost forgot, they signed a former major league reliever.
Please don’t underestimate York manager Andy Etchebarren. Apparently when he says he will fix his bullpen, he means it. We just didn’t expect all the moves to come at once.
So where do we begin?
Oh yeah, the trade.
York traded catcher Salomon Manriquez to the Lancaster Barnstormers Wednesday in exchange for reliever John Muller and backup catcher Adam Witter.
A trade involving a York Revolution catcher had been a possibility since John Pachot notified the York Revolution coaching staff he wanted to return to the Atlantic League after a short stint in the Mexican League. Pachot’s arrival meant York had the best catching tandem in a league where quality backstops are in short supply.
The Revs had one of the best hitting catchers in Manriquez, who signed with York following an open tryout at Sovereign Bank Stadium.
Etchebarren coveted Pachot’s defense, tabbing him as the league’s best backstop when it came to everything but hitting. And even at the plate Pachot is solid. He’s a contact hitter, which will allow Etch to put the hit-and-run in place at the bottom of the order if needed.
But keeping the two All-Star catchers proved to be a luxury the Revs felt they could no longer afford, not when their bullpen continued to struggle. Two-time defending league champion Somerset Patriots remains the front-runner in the Atlantic League Freedom Division, and no team has been able to challenge their hold on first-place yet this season.
“Ideally you always want to deal with teams outside your division,” Revs director of player procurement Michael Kirk said. “But you play everyone the same number of times, so it’s not as big of a deal as it would be if we played our division rivals more than any other teams in the league.
“The reason we made the deal is we were trading our strength (catching) for their strength (bullpen).”
A move had been expected ever since the Revs blew their sixth save opportunity of the season during their last homestand. York converted just four of their first 10 save opportunities.
Manriquez leaves York after batting .327 (33-for-101) in 26 games with a .370 on-base percentage. He leaves the Revolution owning the seventh-best average in the league. But York had five hitters ranked in the league’s top 15 for batting. They needed a reliever more than they needed a hitter.
Muller, 25, went 1-1 with a 1.45 ERA in 15 appearances with the Barnstormers. The middle reliever has walked seven and struck out 23 in 18 2/3 innings. Opponents are batting .164 against Muller.
Witter batted .250 in 17 games with the Barnstormers. He had three homers and 11 RBIs. He recorded a .358 on-base percentage, but he’s expect to serve as a backup to Pachot.
In an unrelated move, the Revs also signed free agent left-handed reliever Justin Hampson pending his ability to pass a physical. The lefty made his major league debut with the Rockies in 2006, and he also pitched in the big leagues with the Padres in 2007 and 2008. He has appeared in 79 big league games with a 5-4 record and a 3.38 ERA. But he experienced a shoulder injury last season, appearing in just four games at Triple-A. He underwent shoulder capsule surgery and will attempt a comeback in independent baseball.
“He’s an answer when it comes to finding a lefty-lefty matchup,” Kirk said.
To make room for Witter and Muller, the Revs released pitchers Dewon Day, Nate Starner, James Morrison and Jayson Ruhlman. The Revs now have 25 players under contract.
Day (0-1, 4.50 ERA) is the surprise out of the bunch because Etchebarren praised him after a relief appearance May 18. But Day hasn’t appeared in a game since. Day has already pitched for two teams in the league this season.
Starner, a Biglerville and Shippensburg University graduate, struggled during his first season in independent baseball. He went 1-1 with a 6.59 ERA. The left-hander allowed 21 hits in 13-plus innings. And he had surrendered at least one run in each of his last three appearances.
Ruhlman posted a 8.52 ERA during the month of May. Morrison posted a 5.06 ERA in May.