A look back at our Pitching situation heading into 2014
Do we really need to spend big (or trade a boatload of assets) for a mediocre improvement?
If we're going to add a legitimate ACE, that's one thing, but for AA to target a middle of the rotation SP this offseason, I seriously wonder if it is necessary.
We have a lot more depth in our SP options heading into 2014 than we had going into 2013. While we lack the top of the rotation type, we've got plenty of average or better Major-league starters.
We know what we're likely to get out of Dickey and Buehrle. Around 200 innings, a tick over .500 win percentage, and the ability to keep our team in games on a nightly basis. If the defense improves/stays healthier, we might see one or both of them post 15 wins this year.
Morrow and Johnson have ace upside. injuries have definitely thrown a wrench in our plans for these two, but going into last season we all figured these guys could be the type of #2 starters that could shut the opposition down on any given night. Are we certain that they can't return to form? If even one of them returned to their pre-2013 form, we're looking at a very nasty pitcher. Obviously there are no guarantees with either pitcher, but I'm willing to bet that in a full healthy season they'd perform even better than Dickey/Buehrle.
I think a $14 million dollar gamble on Johnson is justified (if the medical staff think he's healthy) because of the cost of other FAs. To spend say $75 million over 5 years on a guy like Ervin Santana seems like a horrible plan.
If our pitching depth chart looks like this now, I think there is only a need for a SP if they are a bonafide ace (Kershaw, Baumgarner, Sale, Hernandez, or Scherzer).
I'd probably target Samardzija or Lynn through trade, but they'd likely cost more than we'd like to give up.
For reference sake, let's look at the guys we've got, and a range of what they might give us in 2014. From a low-end expectation to an ideal world possibility:
Dickey (solid innings-eating #4 to a legitimate #2).. he did win the NL Cy young just 13 months ago.
Buehrle (solid #5 to a strong and consistent #3)
Morrow (major injury-risk #4 to a legitimate shutdown #2)
Happ (Swingman to a decent #5 starter)
Rogers (Swingman to a fair #4 with an innings cap)
Redmond (AAA fodder to a stopgap #5)
Romero (AAA burnout to a #2 wildcard if he gets his head on straight)
Apparently Dustin McGowan wants a chance to start again.
McGowan (Lockdown bullpen arm to a #2 starter with a major innings limit)
Hutchison (on the cust SP in AAA to a serviceable #3 young gun)
Drabek (AAA injury replacement to a solid #4 in 2014)
Stroman (Late inning BP callup to a possible #2 SP by season's end)
Nolin (Situational Lefty/swingman to a possible #4 lefty)
Sanchez (Developing prospect to a late season shutduwn starter)
Johnson might be worth resigning to add another potential #2 starter on a short term contract.
In a world based solely on potential impact arms for 2014, this would be my starting rotation:
With Happ, Rogers and Redmond ready to step in due to injury
Romero, Drabek, Stroman, Nolin, in AAA.
Given that Morrow, Hutch and McGowan will all be on inning restrictions, it'd be KEY to get some solid production out of a guy like Stroman late in the season.
All this said, I'd be thrilled if AA were able to acquire a #1 pitcher, but if the offseason goes for sh*ts, and we end up going into Spring Training with the horses we've already got in the stable, I think were already in better shape than last season.
McGowan is probably never going back into the rotation and seems to found his niche, like Cecil, in the pen.
Johnson does not deserve $14 mil -- sometimes its principle, he was crap, he should earn his salary back to that level with maybe a $3-$5 mil deal (and $5 mil is generous for a guy who was one of the worst pitchers in baseball this year). If he can be had for $3 mil or so I'd take a chance on him.
The only ace that will be on the market will be David Price. He will cost you 3-4 of your top prospects (for the JAys likely 4).
They won't go the free agent route and try for GArza, Santana, etc because they will be "too expensive".
The only legit trades I see is Cincy (Cueto, Bailey, etc), Cubs (Samardjzia), Brewers (Gallardo). Good pitchers. If the Jays offense can stay consistent, stay healthy and the other pitchers can stay healthy, then it might be fine.
I could see
Gallardo/Samardjzia/Bailey/Cueto (who'd be #1 then)
Johnson ($3-$4 mil deal. Give him two months. If he sucks, bring in Hutch, Stroman or whomever).
That seems like a good enough plan, Sanyo. I can get behind that.
Although I think someone will see Johnson's season as a product of his injuries, and he'll probably still get 10M from some schmuck. I know AA is a draft pick whore, so if he did send Johnson a QO, i wouldn't be completely shocked. I doubt it's worth it, but if Johnson does play to his potential, $14 mill is a steal.
I don't think it's enough to get excited about when you have 5 mediocre starters and based on last season thats what everyone was with the exception of Buerhrle who people still seem the least confident in heading into next season.
If anything we are set up to see a bounce back year from Morrow and Johnson if re-signed which is promising if we can get the best out of them. I can easily see us playing meaningful baseball all season if our pitching can do its thing. Our 11 game winning streak was built pretty heavily on pitching, including some of the only good games Johnson threw for us.
The last thing I want to see is another #3 come in to compete for a job next year. It just wont help us win
I just can't see JJ signing with the Jays unless it's a QO. If you're JJ, there's zero upside to rebuilding value at the homerdome. I guess we'll find out within a day whether AA rolls the dice or not.
just like every team in baseball we have a bunch of 3-5 potential and beyond starters and could use starters with 1-3 in rotation potential
we're really only missing a great starter or two to be a playoff team...if u really want to fill every hole ya u get and new 2B and C...but we NEED better starters
We need a catcher before ANYTHING else IMO... I can even live with our pitching staff (with the inclusions of guys like Hutch and maybe Stroman) but what can't happen is have JP Arencibia catch another 140 or so ballgames for the Jays. Not unless we're going to TRY for last place again.
I want upgrades across the board too, but Im going to be foaming at the mouth if we don't have a new starting catcher come spring training.
Johnson seems like one of the types that wont be signed until the end of the off season, once all the better options are locked up. I dont expect to hear much about him going forward. I still have a hard time thinking he's gonna get more than ~7, but im just a guy living in a basement!