By Jason Wojciechowski on December 4, 2012 at 10:36 PM
I'm tired of shortstops. Let's talk about Dan Straily.
You know who Dan Straily is and what he does and what he's done. You read this blog? You've been here before? You read other A's news and blogs and whatnot? You read other baseball sites? Watch games? Yeah. You know who Dan Straily is.
But this is a blog, so.
Dan Straily strikes out a ton of people in the minor leagues and has pretty good walk rates and in 2012 put the ball in the air a lot, especially in the bigs (leading to homer problems), and had a 3.89 ERA that masked a nasty 6.43 FIP (homers, recall) and throws a fastball around 92 and a slider that became a calling card and a changeup.
Dan Straily is also likely not an Opening Day member of the A's rotation in 2013. I say this because there are currently four locks, barring injury: Brett Anderson, Bartolo Colon, Jarrod Parker, and Tom Milone. (Well, technically Colon will still be suspended on Opening Day, but he'll only miss five games, so he's practically in the rotation.) Without bringing back Brandon McCarthy or signing another free agent or making a trade, the fifth spot is between A.J. Griffin and Dan Straily, and while maybe this is just a spring training battle and we can't make any predictions with any degree of confidence, I'm happy handing the job to Griffin.
In any case, my point isn't who wins. What I want to do is test the depth of the A's rotation. Which teams have current rotations per MLB Depth Charts that Dan Straily would slot right into as an immediate and fairly obvious upgrade? This is always a fun question and we like to make claims about "X would start for Y teams" so let's get semi-rigorous about it. By which I mean let's actually list the teams but let's not use projections or anything like that. American League only, though, because I don't want to do this for like six hours.
Baltimore: Zach Britton's a lefty sinkerballer who's still quite young but who hasn't reached his promise. Still, it's not clear that Straily is the better bet right this second. I don't think there's an obvious choice.
Boston: Franklin Morales is really quite good.
New York: Ivan Nova had a terrible 2012 -- he struck out more batters and walked fewer, but gave up a large BABIP, more flyballs, and way too many homers. He's still only 26 in 2013, though, and had a good 2011. I don't know. I don't think Straily's an obvious upgrade, if he's one at all.
Tampa: Jeff Niemann got his leg broken and then came up with a rotator cuff injury. Poor guy. I'd probably take Straily over a proven mediocrity with shoulder issues.
Toronto: J.A. Happ is somehow 30 already and did miss bats last year, but he's had two mediocre-to-bad years in a row. I'd bet on Straily's upside.
Chicago: Jose Quintana is only going to be 24 despite having latched on in Chicago as a minor-league free agent. He was extremely adequate in 2012, dropping a league-average FIP with low-wattage stuff. He's never pitched in Triple-A. This is freaking impossible.
Cleveland: Carlos Carrasco had Tommy John surgery in September, 2011. He wasn't very good in 2011, though you can ask whether his elbow was shredded at the time. I'd rather Straily.
Detroit: Drew Smyly will be 24, is left-handed, has a prospect pedigree and a reputation for command, plus pitched rather well in 99 1/3 big-league innings last year. He's probably the better bet.
Kansas City: Luis Mendoza was basically league-average in 2012 as a groundballer. He's 29, so you get what you see. So what do you see? Straily has more upside, and Mendoza never had a year this good before. On the other hand, Mendoza never had a sinker before, so maybe the improvement is real. Whose 2012 was realer? I refuse to answer.
Minnesota: Nick Blackburn isn't even on the 40-man roster. I'll take Straily.
Houston: You forgot, didn't you? Newly acquired Alex White slots in at the #5 spot right now, but he hasn't shown any ability in the majors to avoid the walk. Nor has he made up with it by missing bats. He's still young and there's a reason he was a prospect, but Straily's a prospect now, too. I think Houston would take Straily.
Anaheim: Jerome Williams. OK.
Seattle: Blake Beavan is ... well, I said the phrase "proven mediocrity" above and I don't like to repeat myself, so let me note his hilarious stat-line: 10.5 percent strikeouts, 3.8 percent walks, 3.6 percent homers. All fly-balls, of course. Put Beavan on a three-center-fielder team and he'll put up a 2.75 ERA, watch. Oh, but I'm taking Straily.
Texas: Martin Perez is a super-legit prospect, one of the best around. On the other hand, he's just 22 and did not pitch well in either Triple-A or the bigs in 2012, so he might need a little more thyme. (YEAH I SAID IT.) Straily would probably fit in as the fifth guy in Texas.
Do you agree with every single word I said above? No. If you do, that's boring. Did I hopefully show anyway that the A's starting pitcher depth isn't like blow-you-away impressive as it is occasionally made out to be? That there might be a very good reason to bring back Brandon McCarthy or take a shot at Joe Saunders or ... gosh, I don't know. Who is the middle class of free-agent starting pitchers right now? Everyone either looks terrible (Jonathan Sanchez) or will cost a lot of money (Anibal Sanchez). Well, anyway, to the extent that someone in the A's class exists, to sign them? I think it wouldn't be the worst idea.