First of all, despite solid pitching depth for the A's going into 2013, I find myself thinking how nice it would be to have McCarthy still around... Yeah, sure we may have ended up paying him a half a million a start, but I think there can't be any debate that Anderson, McCarthy, Parker sounds a lot better heading into a playoff series than Anderson, Parker, Milone. What is more, looking at our rotation over the course of a full season, Anderson and Parker at the top of our rotation as well as Colon and Straily at the end are not exactly locks to be the kind of workhorses we need them to be.
Of course, mentally slotting McCarthy into the No. 2 spot doesn't necessarily mean he would be found there even half the time, so it is natural to start looking at what else could be done to shore up the quality and reliability of our pitching depth. I, for one, think we would benefit from one more pitcher of the Milone/Griffin mold, i.e. a pitcher type that will not wow you but more likely than not can be relied on for 180 innings of average to above-average work. Is Blackley that guy? Or a combination of him, Gray, Werner? Possibly, but probably not. Instead we may want to hold tight and target the trading deadline. That would allow us to give our existing rotation a shot at proving themselves and then only react if needed to help push the team over the top. This however could prove to be quite the gamble as the new playoff format encourages teams to believe in their own playoff chances and thus makes it more difficult to pry away their pitching talent.
Enter Rick Porcello. 180 innings of average to above-average work? Check. Cost-controlled for multiple years? Check. Positive career arc and improving outlook? Check. Also, however: Everybody aware of his value? Check, but: Tigers' bargaining position compromised due to glaring need and huge expectations to win now? Check!
So here's the question: Would you even want him crowding out our other rotation options? If so, at what cost? No, I mean honestly, I have no idea what it would take to get a guy like that (and I have the feeling others are grappling with that question, too: link). What, then, would a reasonable deal look like? Straight up for Cook? If that's not enough, would adding someone like Darwin Perez move the needle? Would you still do that trade? Somebody help me here!