If Saunders is coming in as a 1-year bridge guy, then the entire conversation changes. Pretty rare, as far as I recall, to get a guy like this to sign with you for a single season.
By "a guy like this" I mean a starting pitcher who:
- Throws 200 innings every year (194 x 5 the last five years)
- At a 100 ERA+
- In the American League
- Has been apparently getting a little better as time goes on, and was on a hot roll last we saw him
- In other words, doesn't have warts, isn't coming off surgery, yada yada
I don't like Saunders' .500 SLG against righties, especially with the fences coming in out there in LF. Still, he was really hot last fall ... a 58:19 control in the second half, a 2+ ERA in September, and great in the playoffs. Obviously Buck Showalter saw how hot (not lucky) he was and rode it, slamming him in there against Texas to everybody's amazement -- and having it pay off huge.
So there is the off chance -- 10%, let us say -- that Saunders has pulled a Jamie Moyer at age 31. As we recall, the M's grabbed Moyer at age 31, 32, right in the middle of Moyer's first "hot" season, and then Moyer pitched like a Hall of Famer for the next 15 years. Because the M's had body-surfed the very crest of Moyer's emergence, they had pole position and locked him up for the future.
I'd like to ask Zduriencik whether this type of thought is ever in his mind - hey, the upside scenario, he becomes Moyer, you're getting a lotto ticket into the bargain here.
Saunders will never actually pitch in the style Moyer did; Moyer had ballet-type balance and the best command in the league. Saunders would have to do it differently. But some guys get good in their 30's, is the point.
Anyway, two years would have meant committing 60 starts to Saunders - blaarrrggggh ::wipes bottom lip::. One year means committing zero to him. Okkayyyyyy.
That gives us three scenarios:
- LO - Saunders reeks, and you slam the kids in.
- MID - Saunders has a 100 ERA+, and he acts as a buffer so that you can integrate the glamor rookies on your terms.
- HI - Saunders does some kind of Jamie Moyer thing, and you reap the benefits.
So the STRATEGIC (not tactical) overview is that --- > you've got a grandmaster play by Zduriencik. We got no downside here. We win a pawn in all variations. Write down the move, screw the Bishop into the square with gusto, and hit the chess clock.
Compared to Jason Vargas, this #4 starter is pretty much a push to me. Vargas has been a little better, but Saunders did have that hot roll going at the end of 2012 which is a little intriguing. I call that a push. As compared to Kevin Millwood, he's pretty clearly a better roll of the dice than that was. (RIP Kevin and thanks man. You showed 'em how it was done, brother.)
A ONE year deal on a 100 ERA+ vet who was on a roll when last seen? No brainer. I'll take one of those every season until my funeral.