Only The Names Have Changed


Before this past season the rotation was plagued with question marks. The potential to be awful was certainly there but also there was a chance – a slim one, mind you – that the unit as a whole could have been league average to even slightly above. If things broke just right. Of course you know that didn’t happen thanks in part to regressions, injuries and a few pitchers that just weren’t any good. Here are the some of the questions people were asking back in March:

The bottom two questions never got answered thanks to injuries but the answers to the first three were no, no and no. But you know all this and really don’t care to be reminded of the 2012 rotation’s historical mediocrity. I don’t blame you, but moving forward, we see not a lot has changed.

The 2013 rotation, barring a trade, is basically set and the question marks that existed before 2012 are still there.

  • Can Ervin Santana discover his pre-2012 form?
  • Can Jeremy Guthrie carry over a great second half into 2013?
  • Can Bruce Chen be a league average starting pitcher?
  • Can Luis Mendoza prove that his 2012 season was legit?

Eerie, isn’t it.

I haven’t really declared one way or another my opinions on the Santana and Guthrie deals. That’s because I keep flip flopping on whether I like them or not. There are reasons to like and dislike both of these moves. Santana and Guthrie will be paid  a combined 37 million dollars over the next three seasons and I just can’t help but wondering if that money should have gone to a more elite starting pitcher.

September 7, 2012; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Ervin Santana (54) pitches in the first inning against the Detroit Tigers at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

Once again Dayton Moore jumped in with both feet before the market had a chance to set itself. Craig Brown is spot on when he discusses why this is “ultimately a flawed strategy“. Criticize Craig’s negativity if you must but he predicted that Sanchez would be train wreck when a lot of people (myself included) were cautiously optimistic.

The flip side, of course, is that you can throw all the money you want at free agents but you can’t make them pick it up. If Moore waits too long then he could miss out altogether and we’d be forced to watch a rotation that contained both Hochevar and Chris Volstad. I don’t know about you but I had nightmares about such a scenario.

Again, there are reasons to like and dislike the two deals. Santana and Guthrie have decent track records so it wouldn’t come as a great shock if both put up 200 inning, 110 ERA+ seasons. If that happens I expect the Royals to flirt with contention. Of course that’s contingent on the offense remembering how to hit, which I believe they will.

As for the last two questions above, I’m more optimistic that Chen will approach league average than Mendoza, and I base that solely on their respective SO/BB numbers. I like what Mendoza accomplished when he re-entered the rotation (122.1 IP, 3.83 ERA) but I’m not sure he can do that over the course of a full season. As of right now though, I have no problem with him occupying the rotation’s fourth or fifth spot.