We all know who went the other way in the Gio Gonzalez trade; A significant portion of our starter depth, especially at or near the majors. Both Tommy Milone and Brad Peacock got a few starts in September last year, and both fared relatively well (albeit against somewhat weakened or dis-interested opponents).
Prior to the Gonzalez signing, one would have thought that the MLB 2012 rotation was mostly set, with Ross Detwiler taking the 5th spot over Milone and Peacock by virtue of his (lack of) options status. That would have left both these younger starters in AAA waiting for their opportunity. With them now in Oakland’s organization … who is going to start for Syracuse in 2012? Who represents our starter depth in case someone gets hurt?
At the end of the 2011 season, if one had to guess Syracuse’s 2012 rotation you would have probably guessed it to be Milone, Peacock, Brad Meyers, Craig Stammen and Yuniesky Maya. This would essentially be the same rotation Syracuse ended their regular season with (replacing spot starter JD Martin with Milone, who by that point had departed for the majors). Now consider this same group:
- Milone: traded to Oakland
- Peacock: traded to Oakland
- Meyers: picked up by New York in the rule 5 draft
- Martin: signed a minor league FA deal with Miami
Only Stammen and Maya now remain, and frankly I’m not sure who else the team is going to get to start in Syracuse in 2012. Here’s a list of every one who made starts in 2011 at Syracuse: Red means they’re no longer with the organization, Blue means they were making re-hab starts or were starts by guys who are out of options for 2012 and aren’t appearing in Syracuse:
So, by category of starts:
- 69 were made by players no longer with Washington (including Rule-5 draftee Meyers, who may very well be returned but for now is a New York Yankee)
- 20 were made by Detwiler and other MLBers on re-hab assignments.
- the remaining 51 games made by guys who may or may not feature in 2012.
That’s 63% of your AAA starts made by guys who won’t be making any 2012 AAA starts for this organization.
Well, you may say, perhaps we should just be expecting all those AA pitchers from 2011 to be rising up. Except that our AA rotation was filled with reclamation projects and minor league free agents in 2011. Here’s a comparable look at those who made AA starts for the franchise in 2011 (again, with red and blue indicating the same as above):
AA Start Summary:
- 67 were made by players no longer with Washington (including all minor league Free Agents for the time being, even though some may re-sign eventually)
- 4 were re-hab assignments by current MLBers.
- the remaining 71 games made by guys who may or may not feature in 2012. This includes a few starts by Arneson
That’s 50% of your AA starts made by guys no longer with the organization or re-hab starts. Arneson pitched well enough, but he’s no prospect; he’s 28 and starting his 6th minor league year. Roark and Tatusko both struggled in 2011 and seem destined for the bullpen. Davis was demoted, Bronson only called up for a spot AA start, and Rosenbaum pitched well in 6 late season starts but needs more AA seasoning. So not a lot of help coming up from Harrisburg.
Luckily, the Nats have been adding minor league free agent signings left and right, guys who probably will feature. By my notes, here’s the arms we’ve added so far this off season:
- Matthew Buschmann, rhp: taken in the rule5 draft (AA phase) from San Diego, he was reasonably successful in 2011 in the AA Texas league before getting pounded in 20 appearances (15 starts) in AAA. By virtue of his rule-5 drafting, he’s pretty much guaranteed to be on the AAA roster in some capacity. He is a starter; will be be one of Syracuse’s starters?
- Joaquin Waldis, rhp, signed to a 1yr ML FA (former club: San Francisco) with an invite to Spring Training. He was a reliever all of 2011 and was most likely signed to provide some depth in the middle relief phase. Not a starter option.
- Jeff Fulchino, rhp, signed to a 1yr ML FA (Houston), invite to ST (split contract). Was relatively mediocre for Houston and San Diego last year, again signed for some reliever depth/spring training competition.
- Robert Gilliam, a rhp thrown into the Gonzalez trade, is a starter but only was at Oakland’s Class-A entry in the California League last year. He seems set to be in the AA rotation in 2012.
- Mike Ballard, a lhp starter given a 1yr ML FA (Baltimore), invite to ST. He was relatively effective for Baltimore’s AA affiliate in Bowie, but less so at AAA Norfolk, where he started the season. He is a full-time starter and seems a likely candidate for our AAA rotation.
Ok, It seems like we may have our answer. It looks like your AAA rotation will be Stammen, Maya, Arneson, Buschmann and Ballard. Here’s a quick rundown on these 5 guy’s AAA numbers for 2011:
|Name||Age as of 4/1/12||W||L||ERA||whip||G||GS||CG||SHO||SV||ip||H||R||ER||HR||hb||bb||so|
Without sounding too judgmental … that’s not a lot of AAA depth in case something happens. Only 2 of these 5 are even on the 40-man, and those who are have either proven to be ineffective at the major league level (Maya) or seem destined to be used as middle relief/organization filler (Stammen). If Meyers gets returned, look for him to replace Arneson one for one (since Arnesen seems destined to be the minor league utility guy, as he was used last year).
I’d have to say; if someone goes down with injury, we’ll most likely look from within the MLB bullpen (in the form of Gorzelanny or Detwiler) for starts.