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Signed C Tim Laker and RHP Ben Howard to minor-league contracts; Invited them to Spring Training

Heeeeeee's Baaaaack! I don't think Josh Bard is going anywhere now that the Rockies traded for Yorvit Torrealba, so Laker now becomes the vaunted third catcher on the depth chart (unless they bring back Dusty Wathan). Tim hit .226/.305/.385 for the Durham Bulls in 2004, so alas, no comparisons with Crash Davis.

Howard is the more interesting player of the duo. He  struck out 87 in 83.2 IP as an Albuquerque Isotope, and his 4.63 ERA isn't that bad if you consider the league and the park effects:

R: 1.32
H: 1.19
2B: 0.80
HR: 1.60
BB: 0.98
SO: 0.89

Anything over 1.00 favors the hitter, and anything below 1.00 favors the pitcher. For reference, here's how Buffalo played over the past three seasons:

R: 0.97
H: 1.00
2B: 1.07
HR: 0.98
BB: 1.00
SO: 1.06

(Source: Baseball Think Factory)

Howard will be 27 this January, and has some major-league experience; he's thrown 83.0 innings in the majors, most recently with the Marlins in 2004.