Sunday, 16 September 2012

The Case of Carlito

Picture courtesy of james_in_to

Lost in the fluff of birthdays in the ballpark was the mess Alex Anthopoulos has made of the Carlos Villanueva situation. And man, is it a messy mess.

It’s not just that Carlos Villanueva has been a capable starter, I’d go as far as to say that he has been the most consistent starting pitcher in the 2012 rotation. 

Morrow had an oblique strain, Drabek had TJ, Hutchison had TJ and Romero has whatever the hell is wrong with him. Villanueva has a 3.48 ERA in 13 starts. He has struck out 8.8 batters per nine innings.This, to my mind, is plenty good enough to be a consideration. 

Villanueva is not only a very good pitcher, he’s a very smart pitcher. He pitches like he knows how to go after hitters, like he thinks about how to approach at bats. He doesn’t get flustered or panic, which is more than I can say for the vast majority of those who started games in 2012. 

 AA’s argument is that he doesn’t believe that Villanueva doesn’t have the physicality to withstand a full time starting job. “I don’t want to use a term that’s derogatory to the player,” he said. “I don’t want to doubt him. But I have to also be objective and realistic too.” 

“Would he pitch 200 innings? Would he make 34 starts? How would he perform over that period of time? We don’t have anything to base that off,” the GM said. 

Well, how about basing it off the fact that after Villanueva wore out last season after starting, he worked in the off season to make sure his body was ready for the vigours of starting? How about Villanueva staying healthy this year when, like last year, he was called upon to start?

Where are those 32 start/200 innings pitchers? Do they actually exist? Are they named something besides Justin Verlander?  Point me to the guy in the current rotation who is what was just described.  Romero’s been the healthiest, but the rest of his game has been so hellish I think it just about cancels out the number of innings he eats.  Is Morrow out because he hurt his oblique? 

 I just don’t think that it is fair on Anthopoulos’ part because there is no expectation that Villanueva will be the ace of the staff or have to carry the rotation.  That will be Morrow, Romero and whatever free agent or trade they make in the offseason.

I completely agree that the rotation needs to be improved, but I don’t see why Villanueva can’t be a part of it.

What the motivation behind these comments being made public isn't clear, other than maybe Villanueva’s agent is being difficult.  It just seems like a slap in the face to someone who has been a consistent anchor in a rotation that has otherwise been a disaster in 2012.

Before all of this mess, I didn’t really see a problem trying to get a 2-3 year deal at 6-8 million dollars for Villanueva as the 4th or 5th man in the rotation. This team has a lot of holes to fill, especially in the starting rotation department. And it seems now that there is another spot in flux.


  1. Totally agree - CV has been very solid and consistent and it's frustrating to hear AA's comments and everyone on Sportsnet (minus Greg Zaun) refer to his every outing as a continuing audition. Why keep insulting a guy who does whatever is asked of him and does it well? I hope to see Carlos favoured to secure a spot in the rotation next spring.

  2. I agree AA botched this communications job. I presume he was trying to be careful to manage expectations with the fans for the likely scenario that CV is not back next year (I'm guessing some GM will be willing to pay quite a bit more than AA).

    But AA could have done that without being critical of the player, which is how it came off in the end.

  3. The questions about Carlos remind me of the doubts about (wait for it!) Pedro Martinez. Quoting Wikipedia, "Although Pedro's brother Ramón Martínez, then a star pitcher for the Dodgers, declared that his brother was an even better pitcher than he, the younger Martínez was thought by manager Tommy Lasorda too small to be an effective starting pitcher at the Major League level; Lasorda used Pedro Martínez almost exclusively as a relief pitcher. Lasorda was not the first to question Martínez's stature and durability; in the minor leagues, the then-135-pound pitcher was threatened with a $500 fine if he was caught running." Fortunately, Ramon encouraged Pedro to run, build himself up and increase his strength. And the rest is history.