The A's best pitcher is also, unfortunately, an oft-injured one. You are forgiven as an A's fan if, when you heard of the news of McCarthy's newest shoulder-related DL stint on Sunday, you said to yourself "Again?!?!" Indeed, it's quite a blow for both the team and McCarthy, as Colon was also retro DLed the day before and Tyson Ross started in his place. Surely, no one thought at the beginning of the year that the rotation would be AJ Griffin, Tyson Ross, Tom Milone, Jarrod Parker, and Travis Blackley on June 26th.
While Milone and Parker are near-locks for the rotation next year, that leaves 3 more spots to fill from AAA or free agency. McCarthy is, of course, going to be a free agent at the end of the year. So, should the A's offer him a contract for 2013? Find me after the jump for two perspectives.
The case for re-signing:
Brandon McCarthy was the AL leader in FIP last year. Despite making only 25 starts, he pitched 170 innings of 4.7 WAR baseball. Despite a low K/9, he allowed only 1.35 BB/9 and a very low 0.58 HR/9. So, despite his relative inability to miss bats, he's a good-to-great pitcher. Not only is he well-suited to playing at the Coliseum, he can go on the road and also pitch effectively in more hitter-friendly ballparks. At $1M last year, he was a steal for the A's for his production; this year, even with a hefty raise to $4.27M and two trips to the DL, he has still out-performed his contract to the tune of 1.7 WAR. Of course, however, A's fans wish him well and he can still match his start total of last year (provided he is not DLed a 3rd time). Indeed, with his injury history, this actually increases the likelihood that the A's can afford him. A 3 year/$24M contract seems like something that would be doable: it would probably outbid most teams, provide McCarthy and his wife some measure of stability, be relative affordable, and provide the A's with 25 starts or so of above-average starting pitching.
Finally, he's an all-around good dude. A fan favorite for his Twitter feed and pitching prowess, he doesn't just tweet inane things. He's intelligent, funny, and straightforward when necessary. This is the kind of guy, who, if there was ever a player to keep for fans' sake, fits the bill.
The case for letting him walk:
That low K-rate isn't just a statistical anomaly of an otherwise good pitcher. It's a significant detraction going forward. Indeed, his whole performance last year is mostly an anomaly, as his BB/9 and HR/9 were vastly superior than anything he has posted in his career prior. What's more, his BB/9 has actually increased this year to 2.19 and his K-rate decreased to 6.00. Pitchers like that aren't pitchers that teams typically think of extending. That McCarthy is adept at pitching in the Coliseum because of his sinker is irrelevant; there are TONS of pitchers, who, if given 14 starts at the Coliseum, could put up excellent numbers there and suppress HRs and get groundballs. He is not unique and his replacement could easily be found in AAA right now or off the pitching scrapheap. Bartolo Colon or someone of that ilk is bound to be available (stem cell injections not included).
While McCarthy is a good dude and all, handing out any kind of contract is about projecting his ability to start games going forward. Sure, he's a fan favorite and the contract could be incentive-laden, but if he's being paid money to start games, he better start them. His ability to start more than 25 games at any point in the future is in serious question right now. What's more, he's not a young face-of-the-franchise type of a player. If he were signed to such a contract, it would expire just before the time a putative San Jose stadium would open.
Where do you fall on this one? Vote in the poll below and explain your reasoning.
Join me tonight for the gamethread around 6:30. Travis Blackley is coming off of the best start of his career to face Jason Vargas. After out-dueling Clayton Kershaw, Vargas and the Mariners should be a piece of cake. Will there be more than 3 runs scored in this game? You'll have to watch to find out!