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filling out the rotation

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sorry for the late post; it was a busy night at our house, and i’m still a bit groggy.

this was the exchange i found most interesting from yesterday’s chat with mo at the p-d:

Assume Carp and Waino healthy to start 2009, do you see a need to try and go outside the organization to add to the major league starting rotation in the offseason?
Looking at our '09 rotation of Carp, Waino, Wellemeyer, and Pineiro it would make sense to add another arm. I do like what we have seen from Boggs but I do not want to rush him if we do not have to.

what he said for boggs apparently also applies to garcia, mortensen, todd, et al ---- ie, mo does not want to rush them. that's a rational perspective. they can all use a little more work in the minors, and most of them (garcia especially) are at an age where you don’t want to put too many innings on their arms. but i hope that "adding another arm" doesn’t mean signing some mediocrity to a pricey 3- or 4-year deal. if they do that, then i’m gonna wonder why the team has stockpiled all these young arms. the cards (rightly) refused to trade them away at the deadline . . . . but if you’re gonna hang onto them, then you gotta create opportunitites for them, right? by mid-2009 at least one (and maybe more) of their triple A arms is going to be at least as good as any #4-type veteran they might pick up on the f.a. market ---- and a whole lot cheaper. so if they do go outside the organization for rotation help, i hope it’ll be a one-year commitment, as opposed to a bunch of years and $35m for jon garland or kyle lohse or braden looper.

while we’re talking about lohse and looper, by the way, have you noticed that their 2008 pitching lines are now almost identical?

inn h bb so hr avg obp slg era
looper 155.1 165 36 75 21 .273 .321 .438 3.94
lohse 162.0 170 39 90 15 .270 .313 .420 3.94

those are pretty trustworthy slash lines for looper; last year opponents posted nearly identical figures against him (.269 / .321 / .432). they also homered against him at about the same rate. why, then, was looper’s era exactly 1.00 higher last year than this year? ye olde strand rate: he’s left 75 percent of his baserunners out there this year, vs 67 percent in 2007. if he were repeating last year’s strand rate, looper’s current era would be 4.81; that’s been the only real change in his performance. an average strand rate would be about 70 percent, so looper’s "true" era level is probably about 4.45.

it might not be prudent to count on 180 innings of 4.45 performance from any of the kids in 2009, but by 2010 and beyond the cards should be able to get that level of performance internally, and for the league minimum --- which is why it makes no sense to lock in looper or any similar pitcher beyond 2009. who might be available on a one-year deal? tim dierkes has a list of potential free agents, and as you might expect any pitcher worth having is unlikely to be available on a cheap one-year contract. . . . . . so that brings us right back to where we started: why would the team look outside the organization for a starting pitcher? if the new acquisition is going to require a multi-year commitment, that would seem to run at cross-purposes to the build-from-within strategy, and the decision to stockpile prospects rather than trade them. . . . .

this blog entry from the dallas morning news succinctly makes the case against relying too heavily on free agency to build your rotation:

The truth is that there really aren't any shortcuts. You draft [pitching], you sign it out of the Caribbean, you develop it, you grow it, and then you milk it for all it's worth while it's young and under your control. And then if after spending all of those years getting to know everything there is to know about the guy, if you want to keep him, you sign him to stay home before he he hits the free agent market.

enjoy the off day.