Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Guthrie & Uehara &... Pray For Rain?

The Toronto Blue Jays have sadly claimed Brian Burres (and that's after stealing Adam Loewen away from the O's! Oh, and also Brandon Fahey - no hard feelings there.). Baltimore nonetheless has a great deal of pitching depth from which to construct a staff, even if it isn't necessarily of the highest quality.

I figure Jeremy Guthrie and Kijo Uehara have locks on rotation spots, while George Sherrill, Jim Johnson, Chris Ray, and Dennis Sarfate are almost definitely going to be in the pen. Assuming a 12-man pitching staff, that leaves 6 spots available for the following:

Mark Hendrickson (ML deal)
Danyz Baez (ML deal)
Jamie Walker (ML deal)

David Pauley (out of options)
Hayden Penn (out of options)
Rich Hill (out of options)
Brian Bass (out of options)
Alfredo Simon (out of options)

Radhames Liz (has an option)
Chris Waters (has an option)
Troy Patton (has an option)
Matt Albers (has an option)
Wilfrido Perez (has an option)
Alberto Castillo (has an option)
Kam Mickolio (has an option)
Bob McCrory (has an option)
Jim Hoey (has an option)
Jim Miller (has an option)

Brad Hennessey (minor league deal)
John Parrish (minor league deal)

Hendrickson is going to find a spot somewhere, but I'm not so sure about Walker and Baez. They are guaranteed money, but the Jay Gibbons decision last year indicates that the team realizes that it's a sunk cost.

Penn's hasn't had success at the major league level yet, but I think he'll be given an extended shot. Likewise Hill and Pauley, since they were acquired knowing that they didn't have any options left. That leaves 0-2 spots left, depending on whether Walker and/or Baez are cut. I imagine Bass and Hennessey (and maybe Parrish; it depends on whether or not he still has that really creepy mustache) have the upper hand since they could be claimed by other teams if the O's try to send them down to the minors. Plus Parrish can become a free agent again if he's not in the majors on April 3rd (it's in his contract).

Unless Walker/Baez look great in Spring Training (scouting-wise, not stat-wise), I try really hard to get someone to take them and (when that proves impossible) let them go.

Hendrickson, Penn, Pauley, Hill, (one of Bass/Hennessey, leaning towards the latter), and Liz would be my choices. Those six guys would all move in and out of the rotation, with the guys who need the most work going to the pen. Then you start the hot hand and let the guy with the 7.03 ERA work out his kinks as the mop-up man (unless it's Bass/Hennessey, who you get rid). If by some miracle everyone's pitching well then the higher upside guys (Liz, Penn, Hill) start more to get extra work. Injuries will happen, and that's when Waters, Albers (once he's fully healed), and Patton can fill in. After that you can bring up the relievers (Mickolio, Hoey, etc.), put them in the pen, and move someone to the rotation if need be.

So that makes:
Starters: Guthrie, Uehara, Hill, Liz, Penn
Relievers: Sherrill, Johnson, Ray, Sarfate, Hendrickson, Pauley, Hennessey

It's not the way one usually puts together a pitching staff, but considering the O's chances of contending next year (around 1% right now) and the number of arms they need to take a look at, it makes some sense. You find out who's going to help the team in 2010 and beyond while protecting some young arms from overwork.

Worst case scenario is that Penn and Hill both flame out completely; Pauley barely hangs on as the mop-up guy; Hendrickson gets lit up as a starter; Liz can't throw strikes and does a poor Dennis Sarfate impersonation out of the pen; Albers and Patton are hurt; Waters is Brian Burres Part II; and all the relievers from the minors pitch to 5.50 ERA's. What does that get you? The 2008 Baltimore Orioles pitching staff. Quantity doesn't always beat quality (especially in Major League Baseball) but it's definitely a nice change of pace from the past (where the O's had neither).


Matt Kremnitzer said...

Great post man. I think the Orioles will give Baez a chance to see if he's any better after the injury, but I think Walker could be in trouble -- which would be fine with me. He was dreadful last year.

I like what the Orioles are doing. There's nothing to really risk by giving guys like Pauley and Hill a chance to see what they can do or if they can improve. I'm curious to see what Waters can do in Spring Training; maybe he can earn a spot in the starting rotation.

Do you know if Albers is going to be healthy going into the spring? I thought he was close to being ready...

FrostKing said...

My understanding is that Albers probably would be ready by Opening Day, but since he still has an option I think it would be prudent to be extra cautious and start him in AAA.

I have no idea how Walker gave up 12 home runs (7 to lefties) in 38 innings.

His OPS against was .981; he turns every hitter into Lance Berkman. Dreadful might be a bit kind.