Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE

Shoring up the Rotation

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Joel summed up the rotation pretty well last week, and while any report about the M’s pitching should have us excited about the future, perhaps we shouldn’t be so content with the present.

Here’s what the rotation is likely to look like come April (with no roster changes):

1

Hernandez

2

???

3

Vargas

4

Iwakuma

5

Ramirez

 

Obviously if we don’t get another pitcher this off season, everyone bumps up and Blake Beavan takes over the #5 spot. Or, as Joel mentioned, perhaps Tom Wilhelmsen could be asked to bring out the hammer for five or six innings at a time. While we’re waiting for any one of the “Big Three” to be ready, I don’t think we necessarily need to throw away a spot in the order hoping for Beavan to figure it out, or for Wilhelmsen to translate closer success into starter success. There’s a laundry list of free-agent pitchers out there that could help bolster the rotation for a few years. And, contrary to popular opinion, we might just need some stability on staff.

We’re all hoping that each of Taijuan Walker, James Paxton and Danny Hultzen becomes valuable parts of the pitching staff. But Joel articulated the harsh reality of prospects not too long ago. Perhaps we should taper our expectations to 1-out-of-the-Big-Three, and muster up a backup plan.

First stop: Fangraphs’ free agent leaderboards!

I’m quite fond of Zack Greinke, and Peavy is intriguing; but cost and injury risk, respectively, turn me away. Brandon McCarthy gets your wheels turning upstairs, and teams are likely to shy away due to his off-season brain surgery. But I don’t want high risk. We’re avoiding high-risk, right?

The guys I’m looking at are Edwin Jackson and Dan Haren. Did you know Jackson is just 29 years old? Jackson has never put up less than 160 innings, and we know just what we’re getting.

Year Innings FIP xFIP
2010 209.1 3.86 3.71
2011 199.2 3.55 3.73
2012 189.2 3.85 3.79

 

Talk about consistency, especially in the xFIPs. Last year he didn’t like any long-term offers and went to the Nats for a one-year, $11M allowance. Then he went ahead and put up a very Edwin Jackson-like season. Edwin Jackson is not Felix Hernandez, but Edwin Jackson is not Blake Beavan. We know exactly who Edwin Jackson is. He’s right up there in that chart. Maybe the M’s could get him for three years and less than $30M? I’d do it.

Dan Haren is, if you can believe it, actually older than Jake Peavy. However, Haren has a recent track record of actually pitching. Peavy hadn’t broken 200 innings before this season in three years. Haren’s K/BB rates have never dipped below 3.00, and recently clocked in at 3.74 (2012). One thing that irks me a little is that the Angels declined his $15.5M option earlier this month, instead paying him $3.5M to hit free agency. Home teams tend to know their players well, and Buster Olney reported something about hip problems. The speculation is that he will have to settle for a one or two-year deal. That deal is not likely to be for $15.5M per year, or even close to it. The Angels essentially valued him at $12M for 2013 (15.5 – 3.5). His injury concerns don’t sound too risky, and Haren could be available for, maybe, two years at $24M? I’d do it.

Yes, I realize we need bats, too. But pretending that the rotation is fine and that all three parts of the three-headed monster will become major league talents is naïve. Getting a solid #2 starter now while it’s available on the market would be a savvy move.

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Tags: Dan Haren Edwin Jackson Seattle Mariners

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