• Lottery Tickets

    Five spots in next year's rotation. One guy locked in.

    It's hard to look at the daunting uncertainty in Minnesota's rotation as a good thing, but there are some fringe benefits to the situation. One is that it may be easier for Terry Ryan to lure in pitchers who are left without a seat and forced to sign minor-league contracts when the music stops on this offseason's free agent class.

    There could be quite a few of those guys standing around in January and February. While every pitcher would like a guaranteed big-league deal, there may not be enough to go around for this deep group, especially considering the risk involved with some of the bottom-of-the-barrel names below.

    These are just a few examples of pitchers that could miss out on big-league deals due to miserable 2012 campaigns. There's virtually no risk involved with a minor-league contract, and many of these pitchers would carry considerable reward.

    Roberto Hernandez - RHP
    2012 Stats: 14.1 IP, 0-3, 7.53 ERA, 2/3 K/BB, 1.40 WHIP

    It's been a tough year for the pitcher formerly known as Fausto Carmona. In the aftermath of his false identity scandal, he spent the first half of the season in the Dominican Republic waiting on a U.S. visa, then served a three-week suspension upon his return to the States in July. When he finally rejoined the Indians, he pitched horribly for three starts and then missed all of September with an ankle injury. Ouch.

    Hernandez has plenty of baggage and has certainly been more bad than good in his big-league career, but he was effective as recently as 2010, when he put up a 3.77 ERA in 210 innings, and at 32 he's hardly ancient. His career ground ball rate of 58.5 percent is elite.

    Chien-Ming Wang - RHP
    2012 Stats: 32.1 IP, 2-3, 6.68 ERA, 15/15 K/BB, 2.01 WHIP

    The Nationals signed Wang to a one-year, $4 million deal last offseason a sizable sum considering that he'd pitched only 104 innings in the prior three years thanks to shoulder problems.

    The good news is that Wang's shoulder stayed intact this year. The bad news is well, everything else. He suffered a hamstring injury in spring training, then after returning in May he missed time due a hip injury, and between those drawn-out ailments he struggled mightily in both the majors and minors.

    He hasn't been able to stay healthy since 2007, but it's worth noting that he won 19 games in back-to-back years for the Yankees and at 32 there's still a chance he could rediscover that heavy sinker.

    Jonathan Sanchez - LHP
    2012 Stats: 64.2 IP, 1-9, 8.07 ERA, 45/53 K/BB, 2.09 WHIP

    After acquiring him from the Giants during the offseason for Melky Cabrera, the Royals watched Sanchez absolutely implode, posting a 7.76 ERA over 12 starts while yielding a .937 OPS and handing out more walks than strikeouts. They unloaded him on the Rockies midway through the summer and he was even worse during three starts for Colorado before being shut down for the year.

    It was one of the worst campaigns we've seen from a pitcher in some time, but Sanchez had been an effective starter in San Francisco for three years prior to his trade to Kansas City, overcoming his shaky control with a gaudy strikeout rate to post a 3.75 ERA from 2009 to 2011. He'll turn only 30 this offseason. Does any of that previous ability still reside within him?

    Bartolo Colon - RHP
    2012 Stats: 152.1 IP, 10-9, 3.43 ERA, 91/23 K/BB, 1.21 WHIP

    Colon is a different type of case from the guys above in that the anticipated lack of interest in him this winter has nothing to do with his performance over the past season. He was actually very good for the A's up until he was suspended for 50 games in August after testing positive for Testosterone.

    Following his travesty of a Cy Young in 2005, Colon failed to reach even 100 innings in four consecutive years and was then out of the game in 2010. He came back last year with the Yankees at age 38 and was shockingly good, and this year with the A's he was even better. Of course, now we might know why. Tough to see the Twins giving him a chance, but who knows, maybe he can keep the magic working even without the juice.
    This article was originally published in blog: Lottery Tickets started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 28 Comments
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by Rick Blaine View Post
      I understand your thinking-- not really in favor of it. Dumpster diving has never proven that successful.
      It's possible to find useful players on minor-league contracts. The Twins had success finding relief arms through that avenue last offseason. The Orioles found a starter who as I type this is currently shutting down the Yankees in Game 3 of an ALDS series. It's all about making good evaluations and getting a little lucky.

      The article is called "Lottery Tickets" for a reason. No one is suggesting that you give any of these guys a major league deal or guaranteed rotation spot. There's little downside to bringing them to spring training - and maybe even sending them to Rochester to start the season - and seeing what they have.
    1. deanlambrecht's Avatar
      deanlambrecht -
      Also available as of today, Jesse Litsch (Blue Jays), who profiles as a Twin from a cost/past-performance perspective: http://www.baseball-reference.com/pl...ww.typepad.com

      I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      for a baseball junkie to come up with these for options is disheartening. Not quite as bad though as mortgaging the future fore an oft injured pitcher that will take a good chunk of your payroll
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by old nurse View Post
      for a baseball junkie to come up with these for options is disheartening.
      Minor. League. Contracts.
    1. Twins Twerp's Avatar
      Twins Twerp -
      I want Terry Ryan to take this aproach...Sign ALL of them to minor league deals if you can. EVERY SINGLE ONE. If one makes it then it is all worth it. Add Carl Pavano, Marquis, Scott Baker, Blackburn (already stuck with him anyway), Kevin Slowey, and any other reject who may have the stuff in there somewhere. Our pitching staff would suck if we played in the Independent League. The Fargo Red Hawks have a better staff than the Twinks
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by Rick Blaine View Post
      I understand your thinking-- not really in favor of it. Dumpster diving has never proven that successful.
      It's possible to find useful players on minor-league contracts. The Twins had success finding relief arms through that avenue last offseason. The Orioles found a starter who as I type this is currently shutting down the Yankees in Game 3 of an ALDS series. It's all about making good evaluations and getting a little lucky.

      The article is called "Lottery Tickets" for a reason. No one is suggesting that you give any of these guys a major league deal or guaranteed rotation spot. There's little downside to bringing them to spring training - and maybe even sending them to Rochester to start the season - and seeing what they have.
      The entire Orioles team is more or less dumpster diving and buying low. They have done a fantastic job of such this year.
    1. Rick Blaine's Avatar
      Rick Blaine -
      True-- but the Orioles dine at gormet dumpsters!
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by old nurse View Post
      for a baseball junkie to come up with these for options is disheartening.
      Minor. League. Contracts.
      The disheartning part is that I would have expected a gem to be uncovered by you guys. Maybe I will have to wait until you guys talk about the Rule 5 draft..

      The Twins can't have too many minor league contracts, there would be those complaining that the older playerr is blocking a prospect.
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