Monday, January 31, 2011

Orioles Sign Justin Duchscherer

The Orioles have signed RHP Justin Duchscherer to a one-year contract providing the team with some starting pitching depth as their young arms continue to develop.

(Great. Now I have to learn how to spell his name...)

I've always liked Duchscherer. He struck out his fair share and never walked a lot of guys. He gets his fair share of ground balls and doesn't give up a lot of home runs. Basically, he has been a guy who is not spectacular at any one thing but does a lot of things pretty well.

At least he was. Elbow, hip and back injuries, as well as a bout with depression has prevented him from pitching significant innings since 2008. Really, he hasn't had a fully healthy season since 2005.

But he's a depth signing that is low risk and comes with some potential upside. The base salary is reportedly just $700,000 and goes up to $1.1 million if he makes the Opening Day roster. If he's healthy, Duchscherer will only make $4.5 million.

Pitching is volatile. Signing Duchscherer adds a (potential) quality arm at a low price and will hopefully allow the team to not rush Zach Britton to Baltimore due to injury or ineffectiveness in the rotation. It's a good move.

On the flip side, where does this leave Chris Tillman and Jake Arrieta? Barring injury, one of them is going to end up back in Norfolk. Is that the right thing for their development? I'm undecided. Arrieta has 28 AAA starts under his belt. Tillman has 39. What else do they have to prove at that level? I suppose it will come down to which pitcher looks better this spring. Which needs more polishing to their game in Norfolk?

All of this could be a moot point come April. After all, it's rare that you start the season with too many healthy starters.

Anyway, a good low cost move by the Orioles. If he's healthy (granted, a big if), Duchscherer could be quite a steal.


SeanP said...

If I had to choose which pitcher to send down to AAA, I would go with Arrieta. He walked over 4 per 9 at AAA and the ML level last year.

DempseysArmy said...

I agree. Arrieta came on late but I saw more 'swing and miss" stuff from Tillman over the course of the season...think he's closer to turning a corner.

I'm afraid Spring Training will tell the tale though...

SeanP said...

Out of curiosity, how do you feel about Spring Training position battles?

DempseysArmy said...

I have a post about that I'll put up in the next week or so...