(Or, you know, not: Fien was claimed by the Toronto Blue Jays three days after the Red Sox claimed him.)
When the Red Sox claimed righty Casey Fien off waivers on Monday and added him to their 40-man roster, the first number that seemed to jump out was the 7.94 ERA he compiled in his first stint in the major leagues -- an ERA compiled in just 11 1/3 innings of work.
The rest of his numbers look terrific.
Fien made nine appearances with the Detroit Tigers last season, including three outings in mop-up duty in which he gave up at least two earned runs. He struck out nine and walked six. He didn't pitch much at all in high-leverage situations.
Still, though: He only pitched 11 1/3 innings. There's no way to make any type of decision on a player based on 11 1/3 innings.
(The same goes for Michael Bowden, the former top prospect who seems thrown by the wayside because he had a bad relief appearance in New York and a bad start against Toronto three days later. If he was a prospect before last season, a handful of rough outings in less-than-ideal situations doesn't change anything.)
Check out Fien's minor-league numbers:
Single-A (103 1/3 IP): 2.95 ERA, 1.080 WHIP, 6.33 K/BB ratio
Double-A (45 2/3 IP): 2.96 ERA, 1.095 WHIP, 3.5 K/BB ratio
Triple-A (73 IP): 3.21 ERA, 1.151 WHIP, 4.37 K/BB ratio
Any guesses how many Red Sox relievers had a K/BB ratio of better than 3.5 last season? Good guess: None of them.
For the sake of comparison, in the final full season Daniel Bard pitched in the minor leagues, he compiled a K/BB ratio of 3.57 in almost 80 innings split between Single-A and Double-A. That's well under the 4.40 ratio Fien compiled in almost a full season at Triple-A Toledo last season.
The righty has impressed everywhere he's pitched. He looked particularly good last season against righthanded pitching, naturally, limiting opposing hitters to a .212 batting average and compiling a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 9.2.
Baseball America did not rank Fien among its top 10 prospects -- not surprising given that middle relievers don't tend to have much upside and thus not much value in the prospect universe. For the Red Sox, though, a middle reliever with command could be a tremendous asset. Fien likely will start the season at Triple-A Pawtucket but will be in the mix for a promotion and a real crack at the major leagues should a job open up in the bullpen at Fenway Park.