A New Season is Upon Us! + Rotation Projections

March 16, 2010 at 11:36 pm 2 comments

It’s been.. well about 4 months since I gave up on my little trade targets series. But now it’s mid March, half of every team’s pitchers are fighting shoulder soreness that will more than likely result in rotator cuff surgery or tommy john, every player over 35 has back soreness, and your fantasy team as well as all your preseason projections look idiotic by now.

Yes, dear readers, baseball is back. And everyone’s favorite team, the Minnesota Twins, are already looking a wee bit screwed. But are they really?

Joe Nathan isn’t going to pitch with a torn UCL. Only in Minnesota would the media try to present the injury in such a way that, just by sheer grit and determination, fans can hope Joe will pitch through the injury. His LIGAMENT is torn. So there goes your number 1 relief option.

Nick Blackburn’s knees are acting up. He had problems with both of those knees in the minors, so we may not have heard the last of this. But we still gave him a 4 year contract with hardly any upside to it or cost savings.

Justin Morneau’s back is sore. I’m not saying this is a serious thing, but that back did cause him to OPS .712 after the All Star break. If Morneau is okay, I say it’s high time he finally have himself a 40 homer season. If he posts another streaky season where he’s Mark Texiera in one half and Hank Blalock in the other, I think that will finally establish Morneau as that being what he is; too streaky to be an elite first baseman. Or he could put it all together. That would be just marvelous.


Kevin Slowey has screws in his wrist. His PITCHING wrist. In quotes, even he doesn’t sound overly optimistic. Although he always seemed like the self deprecating sort to me. Time was, I was in love with Kevin Slowey; he just always seemed to outperform everyone’s expectations, and his K/BB ratios were always awesome. I really hope he turns out okay.

Joe Mauer still isn’t signed!! What is the damn hold up!? I’m starting to think that Bill Smith is resigned to not signing Mauer and is patching up the looming public relations implosion with all of his little contract extensions and smart investments in Hudson, Hardy, and Thome. It does strike me as a little fishy that this offseason has been so.. what’s the word.. blogger friendly? Is it all a ploy?!

Moving on..

The White Sox have been billed as having quite the rotation. But is this a result of them having a truly great staff, or just having pieces that fit perfectly into place. Their number one is a number one, their number two a legit number two, and so on. Here’s what I mean.


Is change coming for the Sox rotation? Or will their ballpark act as a fillibuster?

Jake Peavy is an ace. He is a legitimate #1. FIP should be at or below 3.50

John Danks is a prototypical #2. He has good stuff and puts up good numbers, and can dominate, but isn’t quite what you would want from a number 1 due to an excess of home runs. And isn’t that what every #2 is supposed to be? Good except for one weakness? With James Shields and Ted Lilly it’s the home runs. With Dan Haren it’s the second half swoon. With Jon Lester it’s the fact that people think Josh Beckett is somehow better. As for numbers, I’d say a FIP under 4 with strong strikeout numbers should suffice.


Gavin Floyd is a typical #3. He’ll put up an ERA around 4 and have some weaknesses but in a good year he’ll put up the stats of a decent #2. A FIP around 4 should be acceptable.

Mark Buehrle is a good #4. He’s a crafty soft tosser who can win a big game but doesn’t have the stuff to dominate. A FIP under 4.50 will work just fine in this role.

Freddy Garcia is a good option as a number 5. He can hold down the position, has had success before, and has some upside based on previous success. And if he can’t get the job done, then the fifth starter role will go to prospect Daniel Hudson. Any FIP under 5 you get from the fifth starter position, you take.

This is an ideal rotation. The Twins, by contrast, have a number 2 (Baker), a number 3 (Pavano), a 4 (Blackburn) and two wildcards in Slowey (Could be a good #2, or a bad #4) and Liriano (#1 or #7). Duensing also strikes me as a good number 4 at best.

Projected out over the season, having Peavy and Danks pitch 210 innings, Floyd and Buerhle 200, and Garcia 150, with Peavy producing a 3.50 ERA, Danks a 3.75, Floyd a 4.00, Buerhle a 4.25 and Garcia a 4.50, the cumulative ERA for the staff is 3.97 over 970 innings.

Let’s say Baker pitches 210 innings. Assuming he’s healthy, I think he can manage that. His FIP in his major league career has generally hovered around 3.80 (Last year his horrid start brought his FIP to 4.08). Let’s say he anchors the staff and puts up an ERA of 3.75 with good K numbers (He is such a number 2). He’s Danks.


Blackburn is our defacto number 2 this year. Let’s say he goes 210 innings, improving just slightly on last years output. His FIP the past two years has trended from 4.40 his rookie season to 4.37 last year. I know Blackburn has some intangible qualities you can’t measure, particularly his big game performances, and I’ll say he puts up an ERA of 4.30. He’s Buehrle.

Pavano is our number 3. He actually is sort of a prototypical #3. Last year his FIP was exactly 4.00. I know my criteria for rotation assembly is rather arbitrary, but Pavano fits it perfectly. Let’s say he goes 200 innings, and due to age regression he puts up an ERA of 4.15. I think that’s fair. He’s Floyd.

Now the wild cards. I’m going to project them, somehow. Slowey had a FIP of 3.91 in his first full season. Last year, with the wrist bothering him, it rose to 4.26. He’s going to give up hits, wrist or not, it’s just a matter of how good his control will be. And I think, with his home runs being an issue, he has to put up an ERA around 4.40. It could be better, it could be worse, but I think if he played this season 100 times, his average ERA would be around there. I’ll say he goes 180 innings. He’s a wee bit better than Garcia.


After wrist surgery, Slowey is part pitcher.. part machine!!!

Then sir Francisco. We’ve all heard how he’s ‘tearing it up’ in winter ball. This spring, he’s gone 7 innings in three appearances, with a 12 to 1 K/BB ratio. Is he back to being the phenom with the sub 2 ERA? No, of course not. Anyone would be stupid to predict that. But is he the idiot with Rick Ankiel’s control from last year? Ah, maybe not. Maybe he’s more like the Liriano from summer 2008, who had a FIP around 3.75 during that time. Let’s say he goes 190 innings with a 3.75 ERA. We got two Danks here.


The Twins staff ERA then comes to 4.04 over 990 innings. Wait a minute, that’s not even bad! The only optimistic projection was Liriano, and the rest were rather neutral to pessimistic, particularly with Slowey. I was generous with Buerhle and Garcia. So what one can deduce from all this mathematical frippery is that the advantage that Chicago supposedly enjoys in their rotation is rather negligible. Just because the Twins staff doesn’t have a true ‘ace’ and is composed rather haphazardly, doesn’t mean they can’t compete with a traditionally constructed Sox staff. But Liriano rebounding is a big if, and will have a big impact.

And in my next post I’ll show you why the Twins advantage in their lineup is far less negligible.

P.S I apologize to commenter JimDixon for being heavy handed in my response to him. I still think he needs to get a life, but I should have used more tact. My b.


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Looking at Free Agents and Trade Targets – Second Basemen Sports Media Stretching Itself a Little Thin

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Xander  |  March 16, 2010 at 11:49 pm

    Hey, just came across your blog thanks to Word Press’ tag surfer. Keep up the good work and check out my blog if you’re interested.


  • […] Middle ground? 903 runs. That, quite frankly, is a shit ton. Marcel pegs the White Sox at 4.84. Over a 162 game season, that nets them 784. Not terrible. Let’s give them the 17 run boost we gave the Twins. Still over 100 runs behind. And as I have established in a previous post, the two teams rotations actually shape up fairly evenly. […]


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