According to Steve Henson, Joe Saunders is returning to the Diamondbacks.
In my last post, discussing the lack of a 5th starter in Arizona, I mentioned that it was highly unlikely that one of the “kids” was breaking camp as the 5th guy.
Apparently, Kevin Towers agreed with me.
Saunders was a solid part of the rotation last year, pitching 212 innings for the Dbacks in 2011 (and he pitched 203 between Arizona and the Angles in 2010). His 33 games started was good for 4th in the NL last year.
He has a career ERA of 4.16, but had his 2nd best ERA last year at 3.69 (his best coming in his 2008 All-Star season for the LAA). Some of his other numbers (K/9, BB/9, WHIP, etc…) aren’t as pretty, but he’s very durable and dependable and both Bill James and RotoChamp (via fangraphs) project him to have a year comparable to his previous years (though, not as good as last year). And, frankly, 200 innings of 4.1 ERA baseball isn’t something to take for granted.
Jon Heyman has reported that the deal is for $6MM, which is $2.7M less than he was possibly going to get if he had been tendered a contract and had gone through arbitration. It also means that he’s more likely to be paid for a season that more closely resembles his career average than last year’s somewhat anomalous good season.
If he performs to his career standard, he’s being paid appropriately, and if he repeats last year, he’s a bit of a bargain. Saving money is a recipe for success in a small market team, so as a fan, its hard not to like that.
Unless you’re a Dbacks rookie. You were probably much more excited for spring training when that job was available.
Certainly, no one was trying to drive him out of town at the end of last season, the value of a veteran pitcher in a room of young guys can’t be overlooked, and it seems that he’s coming back at what appears to be a relative bargain.
So… I’m cool with it. I’m sure Kevin Towers is glad about that.
(Also, no post yesterday, partially because I had to work about a bazillion hours and partially because I was busy guest-hosting at The Pulse in preparation for Tune In Tuesday. Fortunately, the boys in Arizona waited until today to decide to do something important.)