Dayton Moore confirmed what we already knew earlier this week: the starting rotation is the last remaining offseason priority. The Royals will march out Luke Hochevar, Vin Mazzaro, Kyle Davies and Sean O’Sullivan, but that fifth starter hasn’t been determined yet. Rumors have linked Kansas City to Kevin Millwood, Jeff Francis and Carl Pavano in the offseason, and while they seem to have moved on from their previous interest in Millwood, Francis could still be an option. Pavano is likely to resign with the Twins.
There’s another pitching reclamation project out there that the Royals could look into. He has a career ERA+ of 109, he has solid control, and in a location like Kauffman Stadium, his increasing vulnerability to the longball could be hidden (slightly).
The title of the post spoils the surprise, but the Royals could and should take a run at Freddy Garcia.
|1999||24||Seattle Mariners” href=”http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/SEA/1999.shtml?utm_source=direct&utm_medium=Share&utm_campaign=ShareTool”>SEA||17||8||4.07||33||201.1||124||1.465||9.2||0.8||4.0||7.6||1.89|
|2004||29||Chicago White Sox” href=”http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/CHW/2004.shtml?utm_source=direct&utm_medium=Share&utm_campaign=ShareTool”>CHW||9||4||4.46||16||103.0||106||1.243||8.4||1.2||2.8||8.9||3.19|
|2007||32||Philadelphia Phillies” href=”http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/PHI/2007.shtml?utm_source=direct&utm_medium=Share&utm_campaign=ShareTool”>PHI||1||5||5.90||11||58.0||78||1.603||11.5||1.9||2.9||7.8||2.63|
|2008||33||Detroit Tigers” href=”http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/DET/2008.shtml?utm_source=direct&utm_medium=Share&utm_campaign=ShareTool”>DET||1||1||4.20||3||15.0||109||1.133||6.6||1.8||3.6||7.2||2.00|
|162 Game Avg.||15||10||4.13||34||217||109||1.299||8.8||1.1||2.8||6.5||2.28|
|SEA (6 yrs)||76||50||3.89||169||1096.1||115||1.299||8.5||1.0||3.2||6.7||2.11|
|CHW (5 yrs)||55||31||4.33||119||760.1||106||1.280||9.2||1.2||2.3||6.0||2.58|
|PHI (1 yr)||1||5||5.90||11||58.0||78||1.603||11.5||1.9||2.9||7.8||2.63|
|DET (1 yr)||1||1||4.20||3||15.0||109||1.133||6.6||1.8||3.6||7.2||2.00|
|AL (11 yrs)||132||82||4.07||291||1871.2||111||1.290||8.8||1.1||2.8||6.4||2.26|
|NL (1 yr)||1||5||5.90||11||58.0||78||1.603||11.5||1.9||2.9||7.8||2.63|
With all due respect to Mrs. Garcia, there’s nothing sexy about Freddy Garcia. You know exactly what you’re going to get with him, provided he stays healthy.
That’s a sizeable IF, because Garcia has battled rotator cuff, labrum, bicep and other arm injuries and he’ll celebrate his 36th birthday this summer. He’s not a pitcher that doesn’t carry some risk. He could be a complete waste of a 60 day DL spot by the end of April.
Or, he could be a guy who goes out and makes 30 starts at a league average ERA and above-average walkrate.
Really, for this stage of their rebuilding, he’s the perfect kind of pitcher for the Royals. He’s experienced*, he throws strikes, and he’s performed very near league average or better for every season of his career other than a brief and disastrous 2007. Garcia made $2.5 million over a two year contract with the White Sox, so he should also be fairly cheap – the second season cost Chicago a mere $1 million.
*Usually, I shy away from the experienced label, but in Garcia’s case, he, like Millwood, has had a long career where he’s had to get by through his control and not quite overwhelming stuff. I think a pitcher of that mold would be a nice influence on Luke Hochevar and Kyle Davies. I really haven’t seen enough of O’Sullivan, despite his second half last year, and Mazzaro to comment on how they may be effected, but Hochevar and Davies could use a veteran who goes out and shows them good things happen if you just pound the zone, good stuff or not.
He’s had his arm troubles, yes, but as recently (okay it’s not terribly recent) as 2006 he surpassed 200 innings, and somebody’s gonna have to take the mound every fifth day. I like the idea of Robinson Tejeda being that guy, but I also like the idea of him in the bullpen with the other talented arms we could have in 2011 -if he keeps building on the improved control of 2010, he could be part of the lone strength of this team.
I don’t buy the talk of Danny Duffy or Aaron Crow in the rotation, and while I think he’s got the best shot of any minor league starter to do it, Everett Teaford isn’t ready yet – maybe by May we’ll have an idea if he is in line for a look at the big league level, but until then, I want to see more Triple A starts.
The baseline I keep starting with in these profiles of free agent starters is a base salary of $1 million, and in Garcia’s case, he’s the most likely to sign for that amount. Heck, he made the same amount last season. Francis was a first round pick this decade and Millwood has been healthy, so they can command a bigger contract. Pavano would only sign here for a third year which is not a good idea for this club.
Garcia fits for Kansas City both in cost and in potential performance. It’s not far out to suggest that if he were to sign with the Royals, he could finish as their best starter in 2011 (which is kind of sad). As I alluded to before, there’s not a lot of flash with Garcia. According to TexasLeaguers.com, his most prevalent pitch was the changeup, which clocks in at 79.5 mph on average. He also uses a slider heavily (30%) and only throws his fastball about 19.5% of the time (which is probably good since its average velocity was 85.7 mph in 2010). The fastball is more of a show pitch. He’ll throw it to prove it exists, but it’s not an out pitch. He’s usually good about keeping the ball in the bottom half of the zone, and doesn’t mind throwing on the inside corner. He’ll give up homers, but he’s also spent six of his last seven (injury-shortened) seasons in Chicago or Philadelphia, neither of which are great at keeping the ball in the park.
With the signing of Brad Penny, the Tigers are out of the running, so Garcia’s list of potential interested parties could be thinning out. If he intends to pitch in 2011, he might have to slum it for a year in KC. If he does well, he, like the other options out there, could be a trade target for other teams in the playoff hunt, especially if injuries jump up and bite them. Trading a cheap veteran starter at the deadline is like trading a pudding snack at lunch – there’s nothing to it, so the Royals could get paid back for their investment (and would only pay 2/3 of the contract most likely – even better!)
After throwing 157 innings, Garcia has shown the market that he can still eat up innings, and this year, the Royals need a guy like that. He’ll be cheap, effective and has the upside to be the best starter on the team and/or teach the kind of lessons that he’s learned over 12 seasons and almost 2000 innings to our young crew of starters. I’ll take that deal.