We covered starting pitching a while ago in the Position Analysis series, but with all that has happened since, it’s important to revisit the position. Many people may disagree with me here, but the Padres are in a rare position to compete next season while having the farm system so stocked, competing for many years is a very real possibility. For the 2012 season, the Padres may be missing just a few pieces. An outfielder would be nice, but they certainly could use another starting pitcher. Assuming the team does not find a diamond in the rough during Spring Training, let’s look at the available pitchers already on the 40-man roster and see if we can hammer out the rotation as it stands now.
Jose De Paula
Now, let’s remove any bullpen pitchers and players we are fairly certain won’t make the 25-man roster by the start of the season. That leaves us with:
It’s likely Bass will get more time in the bullpen making the Padres starting rotation Cory Luebke, Dustin Mosely, Clayton Richard, Tin Stauffer, and Edinson Volquez. I won’t go into who’s a number one or who’s a number five, because for the sake of this conversation, it doesn’t matter. While Tim Stauffer has proven he can pitch solid games and earn himself the oh so coveted quality start stat (one of the worst stats ever created), he lacks the dominating make-up to be an ace on the staff. Luebke and Mosley are still so new, it’s tough to decide how big a contribution they will make to the team. Clayton Richard is still developing, but has not yet shown the type of stuff that makes you excited every time he steps on the mound. As for Volquez, he’s the wild card. He can be electric, or he can be terrible. We’ll soon see.
The point is, this starting five is far from intimidating. That doesn’t mean they won’t be successful in 2012, but on paper, it doesn’t strike you as a top-notch staff. The Padres have plenty of starting pitching depth just on the fringes of being Major League ready. Could they use a free agent starter while they wait for one of their prospects to develop? Perhaps, but who?
You, the reader, thought the Padres should make a run at Roy Oswalt according to the poll we put up here. In fact, 66% of you thought it would be a good idea to bring in Oswalt on a one-year deal if the club could get him for $9 million or less. So let’s start there.
As recently as 2010, Oswalt was still putting up sub-2 ERA’s. Between the Astros and the Phillies in 2010, Oswalt had a 2.72 ERA with 193 strike outs in 211.2 innings pitched. In 2011, he still had a respectable year with an ERA at 3.69. He struck out 93 batters in 139 innings. Oswalt has struggled with injuries, so teams have to understand signing him may mean only a partial season. His numbers don’t seem to suffer due to the injuries, but a large one-year deal for an injury-prone player may be a concern. In the poll we opened the other day we suggested a $9 million a year contract. That may be possible, but keep in mind Oswalt pulled in the largest payday of his career last season at $16 million. Now that his five-year deal is up, look for his salary to reduce drastically. Teams may offer him around $10 million, but I’d be shocked to see a team give him more. He’s a possibility.
Edwin Jackson, who we’ve covered here before, is still available. He will come with a hefty price tag though. He is another pitcher who will be looking for somewhere around $10 million, but he would be a nice fit in San Diego. Jackson is one of those interesting players where teams are more interested in his potential than his past numbers. His career ERA of 4.46 is not impressive. His K/9 ratio of just 6.7 is not impressive. His walk rate of 3.7 per 9 innings is not impressive. However, his pitches are impressive. If he can reign in some of his control issues and get ahead of hitters, he could be very successful. He’d be worth a shot if his price tag wasn’t so high. He may not be the type to accept a one-year contract either unlike Roy Oswalt who has already told people he’d be willing to accept a one-year deal.
So where does that leave us? The Padres could make a run at one of these free agents, make a trade, or even pursue someone else on the free agent market all together. However, they may be better off going with the staff they now have in place and spending their money elsewhere. They could search for a new shortstop and second baseman for the 2012 season or pocket the additional money in hopes of signing a proven talent for those positions after next season. A pricey free agent pitcher may not be the solution for the 2012 Padres.