Full Name: Joseph Thomas Borowski
Born: 5-4-71 (Bayonne, New Jersey)
Height: 6'2" Weight: 225 lbs
High School: Marist High School (New Jersey)
Throws: Right Bats: Right
Service Time: 6.123
Options Remaining: None
Joe was an outstanding athlete in high school: he was selected All-State in both baseball and football his junior and senior years. He was selected in the 32nd Round of the 1989 Draft by the Chicago White Sox, and signed the following year. His first professional experience was not a pleasant one. He made 12 appearances (11 starts) for Chicago's GCL team, and posted a 5.58 ERA in 61.1 IP. The next spring, he was dealt to Baltimore for Pete Rose, Jr., and was promoted to the Sally League, where he was placed in the bullpen, pitching much better. By the end of 1993, he made it to AA Bowie, but his ratios indicate that although he was striking out batters, he was walking them in droves as well.
Borowski spent most of the next few seasons in Bowie and Rochester (AAA), where he pitched well. He got a cup of coffee with Baltimore during the 1995 season. That winter, he was dealt to Atlanta for Kent Mercker (who found his way to Cleveland next season), and got some opportunities with the Braves out the bullpen in 1996 and 1997. In September of 1997, he was claimed on waivers by the New York Yankees, and pitched a couple innings for the Yankees before the season ended. He spent most of 1998 in Columbus, where he again had problems with control (39 walks in 73.2 innings). He did pitch 9.2 innings for the Yankees that season, so I assume he has a ring from that team.
Things continued to go downhill for Joe. He was claimed on waivers by the Milwaukee Brewers after the 1998 season, and he again spent 1999 in AAA, this time in Louisville. He was awful with the Bats, giving up 94 hits and walking 44 in 89 innings. He became a minor-league free agent at the end of the season, and was 28 years old. By looking at his numbers, you'd be hard-pressed to envision him becoming any kind of major-league pitcher. And it appears that the major-league clubs thought so, for he pitched in Newark (Atlantic League) and Monterrey (Mexican League) in 2000. The Cubs gave him a shot the next season, and he pitched for the Iowa Cubs in 2001, starting for the first time since 1993.
2002 was Joe's big break. He appeared in 73 games for the Cubs, and was very effective in a setup role. The following season, he became Chicago's closer, saving 33 games for the club. Unfortunately, a shoulder injury sidelined Joe starting in June of 2004, and after returning in 2005 was injured again (wrist). The Cubs eventually released him, and he finished the season in Tampa Bay. The Devil Rays non-tendered him that December.
The strip-mined Florida Marlins signed Borowski to be their closer, and he was pretty good, posting a 2.822 WXRL for the Marlins, which was of course better than any of the Indians' 2006 relievers. Cleveland signed him after the season, and promised him that at the very least, he'd be pitching the eighth inning. His 2007 salary of $4M is more than 10 times what he made with the Marlins in 2006.
9-89: Drafted by the Chicago White Sox (32nd Round)
Started 1990 with GCL (R-)
3-31-91: Traded to Baltimore Orioles for IF Pete Rose, Jr.
Started 1991 in Kane City (A-)
Started 1992 in Frederick (A+)
1993 - Promoted to Bowie (AA)
1995 - Promoted to Rochester (AAA)
7-9-95: Recalled by Baltimore (MLB Debut)
7-95: Optioned to Rochester (AAA)
12-17-95: Traded with Rachaad Stewart to the Atlanta Braves for LHP Kent Mercker
Started 1996 in Richmond (AAA)
7-23-96: Recalled by Atlanta
1997: Optioned to Richmond (AAA)
9-15-97: Claimed on Waivers by New York Yankees; Recalled by New York
Started 1998 in Columbus (AAA)
8-2-98: Recalled by New York
8-24-98: Placed on 15-Day Disabled List (neck strain)
12-5-98: Claimed on Waivers by Milwaukee Brewers
Started 1999 in Louisville (AAA)
10-15-99: Became Minor-league Free Agent
11-9-99: Signed a minor-league contract with the Cincinnati Reds
3-21-00: Released by Cincinnati
5-1-00: Signed with Newark (Atlantic)
7-1-00: Signed with Monterrey (Mexican)
12-11-00: Signed a minor-league contract with the Chicago Cubs
Started 2001 in Iowa (AAA)
8-11-01: Recalled by Chicago
8-15-01: Outrighted to Iowa (AAA)
Started 2002 with Chicago (NL)
6-6-04: Placed on Disabled List (shoulder)
Started 2005 on Disabled List (wrist)
6-29-05: Designated for Assignment
7-11-05: Signed a major-league contract with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays
12-21-05: Non-Tendered by Tampa Bay
12-29-05: Signed a one-year contract with the Florida Marlins
11-06: Filed for Free Agency
12-6-06: Signed a one-year contract with the Cleveland Indians
(1) Fastball (90-92 mph)
Borowski's slider is his out pitch, which he'll use against both righties and lefties. He's extremely effective against left-handed hitters. He fields his position well, and actually has a decent pickoff move, something recent Cleveland closers haven't had.
Joe isn't overpowering, and while he was effective as the Marlins' closer, his walk totals were high compared to his days with the Cubs. Joe is also a flyball pitcher, which won't hurt him that much in Jacobs Field, but it might in other parks.
Borowski will share late-inning duties with Keith Foulke, another reliever with injury issues. Between the two, the Indians hope to get roughly 110-120 innings of high-leverage relief.