It looks like the A's will probably have at least one opening in 2007 for the position of "starting pitcher". The job posting makes it clear that a college degree is not required, and recent history suggests that the employer will not let a background check get in the way of finding the right man for the job. It is really about who should be getting the ball every 5th to 12th day. The candidates appear to be:
- Kirk Saarloos, a sinkerballer who can be expected to do best with the most frequent and regular work, but who hasn't particularly pitched to this theory in his tenure with the A's, sometimes being brilliant on 12 days rest and getting lit up on Thursday on his regular turn. Where should Saarloos be? The rotation? Long relief? Short relief? Being inconsistent for somebody else?
- Brad Halsey, a lefty who might be the only lefty candidate for next year's rotation, if Harden, Haren, Blanton, and Loaiza are the quartet others are auditioning to join, and assuming Kennedy stays in the bullpen. Halsey has been more effective as a reliever in his time with the A's, and certainly did not excel in the Diamondbacks' rotation, though much of his failure came later in the season in his first year logging "every 5th day" work at the big league level.
- Chad Gaudin, owner of the best stuff, the worst control, the youngest arm, and the emptyest track record. Gaudin has the kind of stuff you don't mind seeing thrown to enemy hitters, but he is also a "two-pitch pitcher".
- Joe Kennedy, who had one excellent season as a starter, a few lousy ones, has performed well out of the bullpen but also had arm problems in his first season as a short-reliever.
- Justin Duchscherer. The pros and cons have been debated before; I'm just throwing him into the mix for inclusion in the discussion.
- Jason Windsor, this month's flavor of "grass is greener". It's easy to say Windsor, because the guy has a good arm, good AAA-numbers, a good reputation, and has never lost a major league game. Realistically, though, if a rookie is thrown into the rotation, one must expect the Haren-like "two steps forward, one step back," the Blanton-like inconsistency, or the Harden-like issues of command and physical resiliency that we have seen in recent campaigns.