Monday, October 10, 2005

 

Half-Baked Pitching Staff Ideas


While DePo's away in Europe, there ain't much goin' on here. Might as well throw some ideas around. Here are some thoughts on the pitching staff.

The 2005 season's silver lining may have been the bullpen, as the younglings gained valuable experience while Gagne, Alvarez, and others mended. Here is next year's pitching staff, for now.

Starters - Penny, Lowe, Perez, Houlton? Jackson? Billingsley mid-year??
Closer - Gagne
Setup - Sanchez, Brazoban, Broxton
LOOGY - Kuo
ROOGY - Schmoll
Swingman - Dessens (mutual option 06)
Others - Osoria, Wunsch?

Assuming that Gagne returns back to his old dominant self, the bullpen certainly looks deep, while the rotation seems shaky at the back end. (My guess is that Weaver rejects arb and gets his 4 or 5 year deal elsewhere.) It seems as if the #5 spot is Houlton's to lose, but can the young Billingsley or even Jackson be counted upon to hold the other free spot? Can Perez stay healthy the whole year? The rotation could use one more pitcher with a major league track record.

Unfortunately, there are slim pickings in the free agent market outside of Weaver and Burnett. There probably exists some organizational desire to avoid a long-term contract, as that would block the blue chip prospects on their way in 2007 or so. (Not to mention $$$.) If free agency is a seller's market, then the trade route would probably be cost-prohibitive also, and DePodesta surely doesn't want to give up prospects for a marginal starter. And I'll be damned if another scrap heap special makes the team after the failed Erickson experiment.

So here is my outlandish idea that just could work... Would it be a bad thing to convert Sanchez back to a starting pitcher? (He was a starter in the minors before 2002.) I don't remember the source, but there were murmurs during the last winter that Sanchez and his "rubber arm" might be given a look as a starter in spring training. Now that he has seemingly mastered the changeup, wouldn't his 3 pitch repertoire be more valuable starting games instead of setting up for Gagne?

(A similar idea would be to send Broxton back down to work again as a starter, but that would hurt the major league club in the immediate future and undo the major gain in his velocity. That's a no-go for me. )

The farfetched notion of giving Sanchez a shot at starting is obviously out the window if Gagne does not revert back to form OR someone fails to step up as a setup man. But it can't hurt as an experiment during spring training, right? If Sanchez can hold his own, I would prefer him at the back of the rotation than Jackson or Houlton, and probably most of the second-tier free agents, too.

So by starting Sanchez, you could save a few bucks on the pitching staff that you can instead use to bolster the lineup. According to Hardball Dollars, the current 2006 payroll is about $65 million with the arbitration eligible players figured in, minus Bradley. DePodesta can probably acquire two premier talents without going over budget, which is hopefully around 2005's $88 million.

Outlandish? Yes. Impossible? No.

I'll follow up with some thoughts on the lineup sometime later. Hopefully they won't be nearly as whimsical...
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I just found this, a quick mention on former executive Bob Graziano getting what appears to be a decent gig.

Comments:
whats up guys this is Ross,

I've been thinking, two guys i'd absolutely love to have next year as either NRI or given a very small contract would be Kevin Brown and Darren Driefort. IF we could get them extremely cheap and I think we should be able too, they would be excellent pick ups.
 
My guess is DePodesta tries to go after Washburn as a free agent.
 
i don't know about wash. i'm not saying he's terrible, but he'll get at least a 3 year offer from some team, and i can't picture LA signing him through 08 and having 4 SPs signed through 07 or 08 when the blue chip prospects are supposed to hit the show in about 07. you can't play the younglings when playing time is locked up by the big money vets.

depo might give a short contract for a vet inning-eater hoping for next year's millwood or byrd. for example, steve "the human rain delay" trachsel might be cheaply available once the mets decline his option.

ross - i hope you're kidding about dreifort and brown, unless you're talking about frankensteining one healthy pitcher from the two.
 
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