Need For Pitching Produces Acts of Desperation

A few days ago, I wrote about how the Dodgers had grossly overpaid to sign Dan Haren to a free agent contract. In the past day or two, several other general managers have thrown about team riches with reckless abandon on questionable pitchers.

The Pittsburgh Pirates and GM Neal Huntington have to be at the top of this list with not one, but two moves that make you scratch your forehead down through skin and bone and into brain matter. First, they signed Charlie Morton to a new three year deal at $7 M per year (with a $9.5 M club option for 2017). Morton pitched pretty well last season, when he

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was not on the disabled list. In 20 appearances, all starts, he won seven, lost four, and compiled a darn good 3.26 ERA. But he also missed half the season and most of 2012, pitching only 50 innings in nine games that year. He had a pretty good 2011, going 10-10, but with all that, his career number are 30-49, a .379 winning percentage, and a 4.70 ERA. $21 M?

In their second move, they agreed to pay Edinson Volquez the tidy sum of $5 M for the 2014 season. Volquez has been a reclamation project for five years, which includes Tommy John surgery in 2009 and a

2010 PED suspension of 50 games. Last year with San Diego, he was 9-10 but with an astronomical ERA of 6.01 and a WHIP of 1.67. He then finished the season as a member of the Dodgers, where he went 0-2 in six appearances. Volquez has been in the majors for all or part of nine years. In 2008 he was 17-6, and for the rest of his career he has won 36 against 46 loses with a 5.22 ERA. $5 M for him?

No one can argue with the great numbers put up last season by Bartolo Colon (18 wins, 2.65 ERA, 1.17 WHIP), but the facts are the facts: He is soon to turn 41, and every real baseball fan is well aware of the long list of washout, aging pitchers signed to big, multi-year contracts. Why should Colon be any different, especially given his history of serious injury, a 2012 PED suspension, and that five year period of 2006-2010 when he was out of baseball for part of the time and 14-21 when he was actually pitching? The Mets have now signed him to a two-year, $20 M deal.

And also consider yesterday’s Angels trade of Mark Trumbo, a 27-year-old first baseman-outfielder who has hit 95 home runs in his first three seasons. The Angels and GM Jerry Dipoto saw fit to dispatch him and a future named player in exchange for two potential starting pitchers, Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs, who lifetime have combined to win exactly 11 major league games.

I can hardly wait to see what in-and-out journeymen like Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana can get GMs to pony up for their questionable services.

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