Monday, March 30, 2009

Forget Who Will Make the Rotation...Who Should?

I think I've (unsuccessfully) taken a few guesses about who would be in the final rotation. But who actually should be in the Opening Day rotation? Glad you asked...

Raise your hand if you honestly believe the Orioles can win this season? Yeah , me neither. So unlike most teams, this is not just a matter of picking pitchers who give the team the best chance to win. It goes deeper than that.

It should be three levels of criteria:

1) Pitchers who give you team the best chance to win.
2) Pitchers with upside who may or may not be ready for the majors but are out of minor league options.
3) Pitcher who can be used as cannon fodder, eating some innings for a couple months while better options can be found without resorting to rushing young arms to the majors.

The team has basically exhausted the first piece of criteria with Jeremy Guthrie and Koji Uehara. These two can reasonable be expected to go out and compete on a regular basis.

Now there are five pitchers remaining for the three spots left in the rotation: Hayden Penn, Brian Bass, Mark Hendrickson, Adam Eaton and Alfredo Simon.

Hayden Penn is covered with the second rule. He is only 24 but due to some mismanagement under previous regimes, he is out of minor league options. Penn was due to be called up a couple times over the last two seasons but untimely illness or injury spoiled those opportunities. Penn would be claimed if they tried to get him through waivers and quite frankly he hasn't pitched any worse than anybody else this spring. Stick him in as the number 5 pitcher and see if he can work it out. When Rich Hill comes back, move him to the bullpen. This guy still has value, it would be a shame to let him go before we've really given him a shot.

Now come the sacrificial lambs. The biggest mistake Andy MacPhail made this offseason was not offering Daniel Cabrera arbitration. He would've given the team more than 170 innings and probably would have been better than any of the guys we have in camp.

So in lieu of Cabrera, Adam Eaton and Mark Hendrickson fit the bill. These guys have the best shot at remaining effective enough in the rotation that they will last 2 months or more on the front lines. If they can hang in there, Rich Hill may return and be effective, Brad Bergesen and\or David Hernandez may tear up AAA and earn a promotion...these guys are there to buy the club some time until better options are ready. I think they can do it, at least as well as Garrett Olson and Radhames Liz did last season.

Brian Bass is a Brian Burress type, best when utilized as a swingman out of the bullpen and that's a best case scenario.

Quick quiz: When was the last time Alfredo Simon posted an ERA less than 6.00 at any level of professional baseball? That was in AA in 2005 when he posted a 5.03 ERA. I've refrained from bashing the guy since I've said repeatedly that the rotation's theme for 2009 should be "We take anybody." But this guy doesn't belong on anyone's radar for a major league job, not even the Orioles. He hasn't even had fluky Luis Hernandez success on any level. Cut him.

So the starting rotation for the Baltimore Orioles on April 6th should be:


Anything else at this point wouldn't make a lot of sense.

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