Apologies if this kind of thing has been posted elsewhere, but when I got the notification on my phone today that Dustin McGowan was named the fifth starter, I had a couple thoughts go through my head.
First, I assume that this means that McGowan will be the fourth starter, and not the fifth, as the Jays have already stated that Brandon Morrow will start the Jays' fifth game of the year, their home opener. I just got home from work though, and have quite literally the blurb from my phone to go off of.
Second --and this also ties in to Morrow-- the big issue with McGowan was the fact that he had gotten sick and lost a few pounds at the start of spring, causing him to be a touch late in getting stretched out, to the point that the club was worried about his ability to throw, say, 90 pitches in his first start.
I don't really think that's a huge issue though. McGowan will have another spring start to stretch out a bit before the season starts, but the Jays will also have a bit of an easy schedule for the first month. Not easy from a competition standpoint, per se-- they face the Rays, Yankees, and Red Sox off the top of my head for at least 10 of their first 20 games, and I think the Orioles are scattered in there somewhere as well-- but rather, they simply have fewer games to play. The Jays open their season this coming Monday (!), but then don't play a single Monday game until May. That's four offdays in their first month of games.
However they want to use those extra days off is their prerogative. It looks like the Jays will be carrying 8 relievers to start the year, thanks to options and whatnot, so the Jays should have plenty in the tank as far as the bullpen is concerned. Jeffress, Redmond, Rogers and McGowan are all out of options, if I remember correctly, and all four can certainly qualify as swingmen or long relief if needed (they were trying to stretch Jeffress out for a while at the start of the spring). JA Happ's DL-ing should actually open enough spots for all of those guys to make it, rather than only three of them, at least until Happ comes back, which would be April 8th at the earliest if his DL stint is backdated to yesterday. With all of those guys in the bullpen, they can go ahead and watch McGowan's progress and let him continue at his own pace, with the pillows of Rogers, Redmond and Happ there, just in case McGowan throws too many pitches early in a game.
If McGowan loses his spot to Happ upon Happ's return from the DL, then so be it, we don't have to worry about anything. If not though, McGowan will have plenty of time to stretch out by then, and the Jays have lots of time to keep him fresh with all the offdays. If McGowan is staying in the rotation, he can be piggybacked, whether it's with Todd Redmond, Esmil Rogers, or the returning Happ. Beyond that, an extra offday here and there will allow Dickey and Buerhle to pitch on regular rest in the event of someone (i.e. Morrow or McGowan) needing to be skipped or moved back a day.
My suggestion is to stick Dickey behind Morrow in the continuum (1 after 5) and Buerhle behind McGowan. This way, if either McGowan or Morrow need an extra day to recover, the two rubberest arms are the ones moving up a day.
If you haven't yet heard, the Atlanta Braves have emerged from various woodworks to sign Ervin Santana, pulling the rug from under our collective footsies. And I mean, all things considered, I'd have probably signed in Atlanta too in his situation, so I don't think I'm pointing any more of my scorn towards Santana than I typically would. It's a business, afterall, and that business is made up of many individual independent contractors such as Santana.
It's not the $14MM vs. $14.1MM that's the issue here, because Santana probably has a better shot at success in Atlanta than he does in Toronto. AA, via Gregor Chisolm, all but confirms that Santana wanted to pitch in the NL, which really makes total sense, given Santana's desire for a 1-year deal. Atlanta is one of two good teams in the NL East, which makes the competition a whole lot weaker. The idea is to get something closer to that 5-year, $100MM contract that he was looking for, just a year later, and there's a much better chance at him getting that when he's artificially inflating his numbers against a team like Miami. I still don't see him getting that kind of contract, even with another 3-WAR season, but he becomes a lot more likely to get 4/$60 or something, probably beating Ubaldo and Garza and all those guys in the end. And of course, he might just lay another steaming turd this year, but I think that's a lot less likely in the NL, rather than when he's facing the Rays, Orioles, Yankee's outfield, and Jays.
As for the Jays... yep. Good offseason. I assume Santana would be a Jay if it weren't for the injuries to Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy, so this would maybe have been a totally different post if those injuries showed up, say, a few days from now instead of a few days ago. Having said that, it would have been something completely different if AA had taken his shit and wiped a month ago, so the Braves' situation should be totally irrelevant given that we're halfway through the fucking preseason.
All things considered, it's pretty clear that AA is pretty good at building up a farm system, whether it's through trade or through the draft, and he does a pretty good job of trading for under-appreciated guys who have fallen out of favor with their organizations or management or whatever. Everything else could probably use some work.
Haha. Enrique Rojas is telling us that he'll sign in Toronto by 4:00 ET if nobody better comes along. Baltimore should really be jumping on this right now.
We're the mystery team! Free agent! Improvement! Successful offseason!
I don't mind this. I would have obviously liked Ubaldo more, but it's tough to argue with a 1-year deal.
I wonder what this means for JA Happ. He was apparently shut down for a few days with back issues, and this probably has nothing to do with that, but if Happ is suddenly shut down for longer than that, this might be a knee-jerk to that. I'm kind of expecting Happ to be DL'ed to start the season, which will allow for a little while to let the out-of-options guys settle in to place the way Cecil and Jeffress did last year.
Santana's always been a bit homer-prone, which is a pretty major wrinkle in the Skydome, but I think I read something about a two-seamer that's been getting him more groundballs or something? I dunno. He's projected, by and large, to be right around league average, and should provide somewhere in the vicinity of 200 innings, which, judging by last year, would be a fucking godsend, even at a 4.00-ish fip.
Given the state of the offense of this team, I think just having guys that aren't Todd Redmond or Chien-Ming Wang go out there and throw, even if they aren't dominant, should work out pretty nicely. It's not that Dickey or Buehrle or Santana are especially awesome, but they should be able to keep the game within reach and let Edwin mash enough to keep things close. Imagine a situation where the Jays get 600 innings out of three starters?!?
Santana is Dominican, by the way.
11:00 ET Update:
A couple of things I didn't mention:
Despite Jon Heyman saying that it's down to the Jays, O's and Rockies, I think the Mariners make the most sense for Santana. There are all the reasons provided, but beyond that, Seattle has traditionally been a pretty good pitchers park, though it was fairly neutral this past season. I feel like I read something about them bringing the fences in a bit at some point last offseason, but that's forever ago and who cares? The main thing that we can take away here is that pitching in Seattle is going to be a lot better for Santana's numbers than pitching in, say, Toronto, Baltimore or Colorado would be, especially when you sort that park factors link by HR's.
Any team that signs Santana is obviously taking a bit of a risk, by forfeiting a draft pick. As mentioned already, this would be a 2nd rounder in Toronto's case, and a third rounder in both Baltimore and Seattle's case. Giving up a pick for one year of Santana seems sort of reckless, but there is upside to it. If Santana performs well enough this year to earn a qualifying offer and rejects it, the team that signs him for 2013 will be in effect turning that 2nd or 3rd rounder in to a late first rounder in next year's draft. Obviously, if Santana accepts a qualifying offer next year, or just plain sucks enough to not warrant his team offering him one, then yeah, you blew it. Baltimore and Seattle really should be all over this, with the hope of turning a third rounder now in to a first rounder later, as there is significantly less value lost in potentially losing that with a 3rd rounder than with a 2nd.
I assume we'll know who that mystery team is before I'm finished writing this, but whatever. Ervin Santana is going to sign a 1-year deal worth $14MM with a yet-to-be-named AL team. I take this to mean that the deal is done and not announced yet, but I suppose the way that it's worded, it could be that he's just down to a team or two before finally making up his mind. Given that there's a $14MM value there, I'd assume a deal is done though and that there will be a further announcement shortly.
Santana said the other day that he's just going to forget about looking for 3, 4, or 5 years and just focus on a 1-year deal that will allow him to sign a big contract next year, when there's a better market for his services. It's not that there was a poor market this year, it's just that he was looking for 5 years and $100MM at the start of the offseason. Sure, you can ask for that and hope that someone gives the maximum payout possible for your services, but you probably shouldn't hold out for that kind of deal after Ubaldo signs for half of that.
Santana makes sense for quite a few teams, especially on a 1-year deal. Seattle is going to miss both Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker for at least the first bit of the season, plus they've already surrendered a draft pick after signing Robinson Cano. I believe that their first-rounder was protected, so this would mean that they're giving up a third rounder if they sign Santana. A 1-year deal works here, given that they're probably going for it, missing some pitching help, and another year of development would be good for their ridiculously good minor league pitching depth.
Santana also makes sense for Texas, given their location on the win curve, as well as Derek Holland's injury status. We also can't be sure about Matt Harrison, who missed all of last year to injury.
Of course, the Jays make sense. Brandon Morrow can't be relied upon to throw 200 innings at this point, JA Happ is hurting and might not be very good, and the 5th spot in the rotation is going to be made up of a battle between several question marks. Santana could lead to some stability, could allow the Jays to further stabilize the rotation behind Dickey and Buerhle, and, as mentioned countless times before, would only cost them their third draft pick, which is a second rounder. Santana could, of course, be flipped at the deadline if things go south as well, effectively trading a 2nd round draft pick for something of use.
The Orioles make sense, given the way their offseason has shaped up. They signed Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz, so they've already tossed two draft picks in the fire. They would forfeit their 3rd rounder for Santana, meanwhile going for it while they still have Chris Davis and Matt Weiters under contract for one more year, before both hit free agency and likely leave Baltimore forever.