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Pirates Close to Signing Octavio Dotel

As you've probably heard now for about the thirtieth day in a row, the Pirates are close to signing Octavio Dotel. I've discussed him before, but with the reports that a deal is near completion having reached a fever pitch, it's seems like a good time to do it again.

Dotel is 36 and won't last forever, and he'll probably always be an adventure as a closer because of his extreme flyball tendencies. He's also been injury-prone in the past. In spite of all that, though, I think he's a good bet--his strikeout rate is stratospheric, he's been both healthy and effective for two straight seasons, and he'll benefit from a move to an easier league and ballpark.

One thing to watch out for is that lefties punish him--they had a 1.000 OPS against him last year and an .851 OPS against the past three years combined. So the short porch in right at PNC probably won't help him. But this is probably not something to get too overly worried about, because he'll only play half his games at home, and lefties will get a limited number of opportunities to pelt him, especially if he pitches the late innings, when opposing managers will have already used some of their better pinch hitters. (It might be smart for the Pirates to be a bit flexible about the way he's used as a closer, though--if it's a one run game and the opposition has three righties coming up in the bottom of the eighth, I'd probably use Dotel then and let someone else pitch the ninth.)

The important things here, though, are Dotel's strikeouts, which suggest he's a good bet to continue to thrive. A 36-year-old can fall off the table at any time, obviously, and reliever performance from season to season is extremely volatile even for players in the primes of their careers. But for $3 million or so, I think Dotel looks like a steal.