Duchscherer makes sense if not handed a job
Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun has reported tonight that 33 year-old Justin Duchscherer has signed with the O’s for 1 year with $700k guaranteed at signing, $1.1M when/if he makes the roster, and up to $4.5M if he makes 30 starts.
This is a signing with possible upside. Duchscherer is a two-time All-Star that had an outstanding 2008 season. Over 22 starts and 141 innings, Duchscherer went 10-8 with a 2.54 era. In those 141 ip, he allowed just 107 hits, 34 walks, with 95 k’s. He held hitters to a .590 OPS, and had a Grounder to Flyball ratio of 0.75.
I get the adage that you can never have enough pitching, but am not convinced this is the right signing. Duchscherer stated to Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com just last week that he is not interested in relieving, “I just don’t feel like, with the injuries I’ve had, that would be beneficial for my career. For me it’s black and white. I want to start, that’s the whole mind-set I have.”
Presumably that means with this signing, that the O’s have told him he will have a spot handed to him in the O’s rotation. How can you do that? Why would you do that? This is a guy that has spent the last two years dealing with reported bouts of depression, as well as hip and elbow injuries. This is a guy that has pitched a total of 28 Major League innings over the past two seasons.
I believe with the contract he has received, that he will be first in line to crack the O’s rotation this Spring. I guess I fail to see why it makes more sense to position him over Tillman? Tillman, 23 in April, has made 39 starts and pitched 217 Major League innings at the AAA level these past two years. Based on the success he has had, I think he should be handed the ball every 5th day as the O’s 5th starter. At a minimum, I hope to hear that Tillman will go to Spring Training still having a chance to make the roster.
Going back to never having enough pitching, the Orioles also have Britton (the organizations top prospect) waiting in the wings, and according to Showalter – a player that will also have the ability to go to Spring Training and compete to make the team. So in my mind, you had 6 possible starters already. With VandenHurk, and Berken it is my opinion you had two other options for spot starters. Obviously the O’s were not comfortable with that depth. If Duchscherer is willing to compete for a spot, and willing to pitch out of the ‘pen, I can get behind his signing.
If he is handed a spot in the rotation; it is a signing I find harder to support. Even if I do not personally like what it means for Tillman, I have to admit that it is yet another move that has improved the overall depth of this team.