I've gotten myself into a debate with our friendly rivals over at AZ Snakepit that revolves around several assertions I made the other day, but one that I'm trying to drive home is that quantity of talent matters when overlooking minor league systems and trying to divine the future, moreso than individual profiles. You can have a potential ace in Low A who's the best pitching prospect in baseball, and that is more or less meaningless. However, if your team has two or three top of the rotation starters, plus several mid-range starters plus a few more bottom of the rotation types plus some outstanding bullpen arms, you can say with more certainty that your MLB team will have quality pitching five years down the road. It's the situation the two teams find their minor league systems in at this point, and it's why I'm very comfortable projecting that it's more likely we'll be able to be successful than they will be in the 2013-2015 seasons. Can Arizona change that outlook? Absolutely, there's lots of time. I'm just looking at what is, for what it is.
I bring this "quantity matters" part of the more extensive debate over there up again because the same principal applies to the top of a system's pitching as it does at the bottom. If your team has two or three potential aces, two or three potential mid-rotation arms and a few bottom guys you are far more likely to be successful than the teams that stop counting at five. Who cares if they and their money get stashed away in AAA, or, heaven forbid, you have to release one and swallow a million bucks at the end of Spring Training. Of course, only Boston and New York can probably afford to regularly build a team this way via free agency, so the rest of us have to kind of hope we don't get stuck with a stinker that we have to wait to trade off for relief help in early May (as the Rox did with Byung Hyun Kim last season) but even that scenario isn't as damaging as going into a season with just five guys and then have just one disaster like having your top prospect get shelled with a 12.01 ERA, your ace have his elbow blow up or having your mid-rotation guy decide to retire and join a monastery.
So, enter Josh Towers. From a depth perspective, there's absolutely nothing to not like about this move. It's not a lot of money, so he's not robbing from trying to extend Holliday or Tulo later, you're not going to get a better quality pitcher to sign for that price, and he's not going to steal time from Jimenez and Morales if they perform like they are capable. Sure, he might get shelled at Coors and it comes to naught, but if he doesn't, then score one for us, we've found a useful pitcher.
Right now, in terms of potential, our rotation plus looks like this:
Possible 1's: Jimenez, Morales - Don't think this means I'm counting on either reaching that height this year, this is just saying that potential's there.
Possible 2's: Francis, Cook
Possible 3's: Hirsh, Reynolds later in the season
Possible 4's: Wells, Towers
Possible 5's: Redman plus all of the above except for Cook and Francis, probably (these are pitchers, you know) as well as any number of other guys we have on the farm.
This is a decent group of nine to be going into the season with, particularly considering the budget we've used to bring them in.
Speaking of bench depth, malakian mentioned yesterday that the Rockies had acquired outfielder Josh Burrus, former first round pick of the Braves, and a guy who was taken just a few slots ahead of Jayson Nix. Burrus' 2006 was bogged down by his recovery from rotator cuff surgery, who knows what bogged down his 2007, but he was never the prospect the Braves thought he'd be before that, so this seems like a minor league depth move more than anything.
Micah Bowie is also mentioned by BA as having signed a minor league contract, he pitched 57 plus innings with the Nationals last year, compiling a 3.25 ERA at RFK, but a 5.76 figure away from his home park. I've got a funny feeling that there isn't as much upside here, and if we see Bowie often in Coors Field next season, it probably means some really bad stuff has gone down.