FanPost

Friday Rockpile: Cagey Veterans or Cheap Scrap Heap Option?

Doug Pensinger

Editor's Note: The following post is a part of the 2013 Purple Row Writer Search -- our quest to find some great new contributors to Purple Row.

This week we learned the Rockies signed free agent pitchers Chris Volstad and Miguel Batista to a Spring roster invite. We also heard that the Rockies are looking at Carl Pavano (as of yesterday he has been removed from consideration due to rupturing his spleen shoveling his driveway), Derek Lowe, and Brandon Webb. The baseball minds at 20th and Blake appear to have found their secret pitching formula - washed up or soon-to-be retired pitchers looking for that one last shot in the Big Leagues (there is a Kevin Costner moment in here somewhere).

Rockies past history has shown this to be a somewhat useless strategy with the likes of Rolando Arrojo (2000), Jeff Fassero (2004), Shawn Estes (2004), Elmer Dessens (2007), Josh Fogg (2007), Mark Redman (2007), Livan Hernandez (2008), Kevin Millwood (2011), and Jamie Moyer (2012) all filling that aged veteran role. None of these cagey veterans lasted much past half the season. If you remove Fogg and Estes then you get an average of ten starts with three to five wins. A fan has to wonder why bother? And the front office is sure to respond that you could always find another dragon slayer (Fogg!) or Estes in the mix.

Away

Home

Age

W

L

W

L

GS

Fogg

30

10

10

11

9

61

Arrojo

31

2

5

3

4

19

Estes

31

7

7

8

2

34

Hernandez

33

2

1

1

2

8

Redman

34

1

3

2

2

12

Dessens

36

0

1

1

0

5

Millwood

36

3

1

1

2

9

Fassero

41

2

2

1

3

12

Moyer

49

0

4

2

1

10

Totals

27

34

30

25

170

If you look past the obvious uselessness of having a veteran hurler on the team as being a roster anchor my guess is that managers and pitching coaches like having someone on the staff to mentor the younger pitchers. So with this in mind, how does Volstad, Batista, and possibly Pavano, Lowe, or Webb fit the template of cagey veteran? Below are the career stats for these five. There are some promising stats as well as some warning signs. For the current two pitchers that are already signed I don't see a diamond in the rough. Volstad has gotten thumped pretty hard for his three starts and Batista is probably serviceable but I don't expect to see him as a mainstay of the rotation. He is probably perfect for long middle relief and an occasional start and at 41 I don't expect Batista to accept a AAA assignment.

Away

Home

Coors

Age

W

L

W

L

GS

W

L

GS

ERA

IP

OPS

Volstad

26

18

21

17

30

123

1

3

3

9.39

15.1

1.175

Batista

41

45

69

57

46

248

2

1

7

6.20

53.2

0.838

Pavano

36

54

62

54

45

284

1

1

3

4.05

20.0

0.853

Lowe

39

73

92

102

65

377

4

5

11

5.55

61.2

0.835

Webb

30

42

35

45

27

198

5

5

14

4.00

87.2

0.732

Between Lowe and Webb my guess is the Rockies have the greatest chance of landing a pitcher who hasn't seen a big league mound since 2009 which is Webb. While Lowe struggled in Atlanta last year, I think he will get a better deal somewhere else. I don't think he has reached rock bottom to sign with the Rockies yet.

Beyond the records and Coors Field experience what else do these pitchers have in their arsenal to consider any long term service in 2013? Below are the batted ball tendencies (groundball, flyball, line drive) and their historical pitch type averages (fastball, slider, cutter, curve, and change). If you look at Moyer below it is hard to believe that he had a shot with a historic flyball rate of 40 percent. Of these former pitchers, Estes had a groundball percentage of 50.6. Throw in his success (15-9 record) and perhaps he is the template for that cagey veteran. Interesting to note that pitchers who tend to last always seem to have a fastball. Also it has been suggested that having a good change up helps at Coors.

GB%

FB%

LD%

FB%

SL%

CT%

CB%

CH%

Fogg

42.8

36.7

20.6

49.3

14.9

6.5

8.6

20.6

Arrojo

47.1

35.4

17.5

61.8

21.9

11.8

4.5

Estes

50.6

28.7

20.7

66.7

0.4

20.0

12.7

Hernandez

41.7

36.3

22.0

59.4

21.3

11.4

8.0

Redman

42.2

37.1

20.6

61.6

3.9

1.8

5.4

27.2

Dessens

47.7

33.1

19.2

65.1

21.5

4.0

8.8

Millwood

42.6

35.3

22.1

65.0

18.0

2.9

9.7

3.5

Fassero

48.7

29.5

21.8

58.1

24.5

1.6

4.2

9.1

Moyer

39.7

40.4

19.9

45.4

2.6

14.2

9.7

28.1

Average

44.8

34.7

20.5

59.2

14.3

5.4

9.4

13.6

Volstad

50.2

30.8

19.0

61.6

12.1

13.7

12.6

Batista

49.1

31.5

19.3

57.3

7.6

22.4

4.2

3.7

Pavano

46.6

33.3

20.1

62.0

18.6

18.3

Lowe

62.3

20.6

17.0

67.5

15.8

2.2

3.2

11.2

Webb

64.2

18.1

17.7

74.1

0.3

0.1

12.8

11.9

So with these additional numbers does anything change in your mind? Volstad's groundball numbers show promise but having been rocked at Coors before I just don't see the translation. Batista continues to look promising especially with the cutter. If you look at Fogg's numbers on fangraphs, late in his career he developed a cutter. I am intrigued and hope Batista gets a chance. Pavano's flyball numbers disqualify his chances while both Lowe and Webb are tailored for Coors like Colorado is for mountains. For comparison sake Aaron Cook's groundball percentage was 57.5 percent!

So with 2013 Spring Training around the corner, the pitching carousel begins. We can assume that De La Rosa, Chacin, and Francis will probably get the nod to start the season. After that Nicasio, Chatwood, Friedrich, and Pomeranz will fight for the last remaining two spots which leaves a long inning relief role to one of these four cagey veterans. My vote is Batista. Of course Webb would be a great scrap heap addition (and surprise).

OFF TOPIC

Eat. Drink. Be Merry. But the above FanPost does not necessarily reflect the attitudes, opinions, or views of Purple Row's staff (unless, of course, it's written by the staff [and even then, it still might not]).

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