The Mariners 2012 Rotation

I’ve been thinking about who exactly should be in Mariners the 2012 starting rotation since the trading deadline, and I’m still not sure who exactly is going to end up in the 5th spot. Here’s how I see unfolding:

  1. Felix
  2. Pineda
  3. Beaven
  4. Vargas
  5. ????
Felix is a given. Lets face it: He isn’t going anywhere, and that’s a very good thing. The same goes for Pineda. There will be calls for Pineda to be traded to bring in a big bat, but I think offense can be brought in without trading away one of the game’s best young pitchers.

After the top 2, things get a little more unsettled. Blake Beavan is a logical choice. 4.60 FIP and 0.3 WAR aren’t overwhelming, but he has shown that he can get major league hitter out. His career trajectory actually mimics Doug Fister’s quite closely, and thus i expect him to take a big step next season and emerge as a 2-3 WAR pitcher in 2012.

Seeing Vargas on that list is likely going to elicit a pretty negative response, but that’s ok. While he’s been pretty poor in the 2nd half of the season, he was really good in the first half. His 1.7 WAR  isn’t exciting, but 1.5 of that was accumulated by the end of June. He has the potential to be a middle of the rotation starter, at least for the first half of the season.

After that things get a little dicey. Before the trade deadline, I’d have written that Anthony Vasquez should be the 5th starter, now, I really hope he’s not. What’s changed in that time? I, like all of you, finally got to see him pitch. He really is nothing special, and has spent most of his time throwing batting practice caliber pitches and getting shelled for his efforts.

Charlie Furbush is another candidate. He’s been the epitome of inconstant in his time in the Mariners rotation. He’s really yo-yo’d back and forth between being good and being really bad. Overall, he’s been no better than replacement level, and still has a 0.0 WAR. It’s the kind of inconstancy that you really don’t want in your rotation, as it leads to some major bullpen difficulties. Plus, with his mechanics, Furbush really needs to be moved into the bullpen before he ends up with another Tommy John surgery.

James Paxton is an option, but he’s yet to pitch in AAA and likely wont be ready until mid-season. He’s my pick to take over for Vargas once he starts his yearly 2nd half slide. I just can’t see the Mariners rushing him up to Seattle before he has a chance to settle in at AAA. Plus, by waiting until mid June allows the team to avoid the super-2 arbitration problem.

Danny Hultzen is another option. It’s hard to imagine him skipping the minor leagues altogether, but there’s always a chance. We really need to see him in the Arizona Fall league before even deciding where he’ll start 2012. There’s a chance he could still start in AA. Personally, I think we see Hultzen in 2012, but not right away.

After that, there is little else ready down in the minors. There’s always a chance that Luke French could land the final spot, or maybe someone like Fabio Castro, but neither inspires any sort of confidence. Same goes for Chris Seddon. Seriously, there’s just not much help down in Tacoma.

A free agent is a possibility, but with limited budget room and an offense that needs major improvements, that doesn’t seem like a wise use of the available budget. So unless Zuriencik pulls off something surprising like a Figgins for Zito trade like I proposed back in July, or an equally intriguing Figgins for Zambrano trade with the Cubs, I wouldn’t expect much help from outside the organization.

So that this point, how would you see the 2012 rotation looking?

I’d like to apologize to my absence around here lately. My work over at 12th Man Rising has taken much more of my time than I anticipated. I do hope to I’ll be able to write more here at SoDo Mojo soon. 

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