Yesterday, you had outlined your plan as to how you acquired a solid starting lineup when your entire organization had died in a freak plane crash in the Andes Mountains shortly after the 2007 season's conclusion and you were allotted $50 million by the Commissioner's Office for hush money.
The 2008 free agent class of starting pitchers was a weak one in every one's opinion. The selection included the likes of Carlos Silva, Kenny Rogers, Jeff Weaver, Josh Fogg and whatever is left of Tom Glavine's arm. These are not exactly your cream-of-the-crop, front-of-the-rotation arms. This why so many quality arms were traded during the offseason (Santana, Garza, Haren, Bedard) at a king's ransom. There was jacksquat on the open market. Unlike your competitors who had a vast surplus of minor league arms and bats to offer in trade, you have nothing. You must resort to scouring the leftovers in hopes of building a serviceable rotation - an act that felt like scraping the top of old Domino's pizza boxes in the efforts to make a semblance of a slice.
What's more is that after allocating $21.4 million on your starting eight in the field, you must divvy the remaining cash ($28.6 million) wisely enough to purchase not only the five starting pitchers but six (or seven) relievers and four (or five) bench players. Now it is time to analyze the starting five you secured.
1 | RHSP | Kyle Lohse | 9 WSAB | $4.25 M
Kyle Lohse led the charge by throwing 200 innings with a solid 119/49 K/BB ratio and 3.89 FIP. You did consider making a play for Carlos Silva but realized that his asking price wasn't going to configure into your budget. Lohse wanted similar money at first but when the months passed without offers from other teams, his agent panicked and began calling around looking for employment. He graciously accepted your very reasonable offer and outperformed your expectations.
2 | LHSP | Randy Wolf | 4 WSAB | $4.75 M
The Lohse acquisition was followed by the left-handed veteran Randy Wolf. Wolf, creeping into his 30's, would spend substantial time on the disabled list from 2004-2007 making him a somewhat unreliable signing but in the time that he was healthy, he tossed 376.1 innings and boasted a healthy 288/72 K/BB ratio. A low-risk, one-year deal was offered and Wolf responded by throwing 190 innings with 162 strikeouts. His 4.17 FIP suggests that he performed a bit better than his 4.30 ERA.
3 | RHSP | Jorge Campillo | 6 WSAB | $400K
After Wolf, your pitching coach noted that the third best starter in the bunch might be minor league free agent acquisition, Jorge Campillo. The Seattle Mariners had originally signed Campillo away from the Mexico City Tigres. "He's not a thrower as much as he changes speeds, has command," then Seattle general manager Bill Bavasi said. "He's probably average-fast, maybe a little bit below, but he can get above when he needs to." In several short stints with the Mariners, his fastball was barely cresting 85-mph when he had to have reconstructive surgery on his elbow and miss significant playing time. The Mariners gave up on him after 2007 so you jumped on the chance to see if he was healed. During spring training, he attacked the strike zone enough with his assortment of pitches that you took him north. There, he pitched 159 innings with a 107/38 K/BB ratio and a decent 4.00 FIP.
4 | LHSP | Jorge De La Rosa | 3 WSAB | $1.025 M
You nab journeyman left-hander Jorge De La Rosa for a $1.025 contract despite not being sure where to put him: in the rotation or the bullpen. But that flexibility is why you decided on him in the first place. His fastball tops 90-mph on average so you think he could be a decent left-handed arm in the bullpen if you cut him loose, but your coaching staff suggests that he is capable of handling more innings. He gives you 130 good innings, racking up 128 strikeouts and a 4.06 FIP as your team's #4 man.
5 | RHSP | RA Dickey | 1 WSAB | $450K
This was suppose to be slotted for Mark Prior. You offered him $2 million plus incentives but no dice. Prior and his agent countered with $4 million...guaranteed. It was well known that Prior had wanted to play in warm weather and despised both the size of your team's city and the cold weather in the spring. Fine, Mark, you say. Enjoy San Diego. You moved on to the less discriminating pitchers and decide on Robert Allen Dickey. The one time first round draft choice had a floundering career with the Texas Rangers before he decided to pick up the ball with his fingernails and float the ball in the direction of the plate rather than throwing it. His 13-6 season with Milwaukee's AAA affiliate looked promising. He struck out 119 in 169 innings and only walked 60, an indication that he has command over the hardest pitch to harness. Though his introduction as a full-time knuckleballer was far from great (5.25 FIP, 58/51 K/BB) he did throw 112 innings working both as a #5 man and a long man out of the bullpen.
What did $10.87 million buy you for a starting rotation? One that compiled 3.54 Runs Allowed (RA) cumulatively average in 791 innings of work. Not completely terrible. You have $17.73 million left to acquire six/seven relievers and four/five bench players.