Tuesday, July 20, 2010

From a Loss - Options

So, what do you take from that game exactly?

Bad starting pitching. Bad relief pitching. Bad clutch hitting. Bad defense. An ugly crowd. A loss to a bad team that was starting a bad pitcher. And it all happened the day after we thought the season had turned around. So where does one start?

In cases like these, I think it's important to prioritize, don't you? Otherwise we're likely going to lose our focus. So which of the above should we start with? I'm going to go with the fact that 60% of the starting rotation has been terrible for at least a month. To be sure, that's overshadowing other issues, but like I said: priorities.

Is terrible too strong a word? Let's see:
  • Since June 1st, Scott Baker has posted a 6.08 ERA, plus, he might be hurt. Terrible might be too strong in that case, but certainly "scary" is in play.
  • Since June 13th, Kevin Slowey has posted an 8.78 ERA as a starting pitcher. He's also given up five or more runs in all but one of his starts. That's pretty close to terrible.
  • And since June 1st, Nick Blackburn has posted a 9.87 ERA, and hasn't lasted more than 4 innings in five of his nine starts.
These aren’t terrible pitchers - they're just pitching terribly. I have no doubt that they'll turn it around eventually. But it isn't clear that it's going to happen this season, and it isn't clear it is going to happen in the major leagues.

So can someone PLEASE tell me why I keep hearing sportswriters tell me that the Twins need an ace pitcher, no matter how much he costs next year? Or that this it isn’t worth the (never-defined) cost to pick up a Ted Lilly, Brett Myers, Ben Sheets or even Jarrod Washburn? Was Yohan Pino too high a price to pay last year for Carl Pavano?

This is silliness. I understand that, way back on April 1st, one might have concluded that it made sense to target an ace pitcher. But for the better part of a month, 60% of the rotation has been throwing (up) an 8ish ERA. That’s a pretty good recipe for losing about 60% of your games, which this team has.

Acquiring one or even two average arms would be a significant upgrade, just like adding an adequate Brian Duensing would be an immediate upgrade. To focus on a couple of premium names smells more of laziness than anything based in reality.