The Yankees get the headlines when they struggle to fill out a rotation (Garcia? Colon? Millwood?), but don't think that every other team isn't having the same issue. Within the division, Toronto is losing starter Brandon Morrow to the DL (forearm) and now must rely on the likes of Kyle Drabek, Jesse Litsch, and Jo-Jo Reyes to anchor the back half of the rotation. Jose Bautista is going to have to hit about 80 home runs this year to support that rotation.
The season is a little over a week away, and the Yankees are still trying to determine a 5th starter, which goes to show that no matter how much a team is willing to spend, there is never enough pitching to go around. The leading candidate is Bartolo Colon, and if he secures the job, I would be surprised is he lasted two months.
Meanwhile, 28-year-old Jake Fox is tearing up the Grapefruit League with 8 home runs so far, putting Baltimore manager Buck Showalter in a difficult position. As has always been the problem with Fox, he's a hitter without a position. He has played the corners, the outfield, and catcher, but is overly skilled in none of them, and the Orioles are set at DH with Vladimir Guerrero unable to field anymore as he demonstrated in last year's playoffs. Injuries happen, though, and if Baltimore suffers one early, Fox should figure to step up and do some damage offensively.
Happy Birthday Harold Baines! Can you imagine if Harold set up a Twitter account? I don't think it would be quite like Ozzie Guillen's. Some possible tweets from Harold:
"Took a walk. Thinking about taking a nap."
"Napped. Feel good now. Might say a word or two in passing."
All joking aside, Happy Birthday Harold from all of us at TCO! I'm taking a wild guess that he won't respond.
The Rangers may have lost Cliff Lee, but at least they're smartly thinking outside the box and letting the talented arm of Neftali Feliz audition as a starter. The idea of building a pitching staff from the back to the front is asinine, and it's nice to see Texas buck the trend. The five most talented arms should log the most innings, thereby maximizing their value - it's simple logic that fails to be applied in many MLB clubhouses. Naturally, there are other factors like age and longevity to be considered, but when a young arm is major league ready, it doesn't make sense to use it for just 60 innings when it can safely be use for 120 or 150 innings.
The argument that guys like Feliz who started in the bullpen shouldn't make the transition to a starter because they'd have to log too many innings is also crazy. Don't follow up one mistake (putting a live arm in the bullpen) with a career of mistakes by leaving the player in the 'pen. No one HAS to log too many innings. Start him off slow. Stagger or skip the occasional start. Monitor pitch counts while strengthening his arm at the same time. Whatever it takes, manage Feliz properly and don't overuse him.
Even with these precautions, Texas can get twice as many innings out of one of their best pitchers without taxing his arm or threatening his long term career. How could that ever be a bad choice?
If Feliz can't handle 120 innings or so, then he wasn't built to be a major league pitcher anyway. Pitchers pitch. Paying a player NOT to play so he won't get hurt is illogical. It's akin to sitting a basketball in foul trouble for the entire game so that he doesn't foul out - he effectively already fouled out by choosing not to play him.
Tom Verducci of SI.com explains the Neftali Feliz theory in one of the better articles I've read in a while. You can find it here.