The Immortal Mitch T

Rotation Questions and Huff the Magic Lefty

I’m so low on David Huff right now. I’ll admit it’s cause I didn’t just buy the original hype on Huff, I overpaid for it. I needed it like a junkie needs crack. Flash back to last year around this time, y’know when the Indians actually thought about contending. David Huff was the best pitching prospect in the Indians’ system actually pitching (sorry Adam Miller). Huff was going to be the midseason call-up, the rookie on a white horse to help boost the Tribe into the playoffs. He was going to be the 2009 version of Asdrubal. The Tribe would win the Central, and probably get swept by the Yankees in the first round (Twins, Tiggers, Indians… it wouldn’t matter).

David Huff led the Indians with 11 wins (ugh) as a rookie

It obviously didn’t happen that way, and Huff was called up in May out of necessity and got knocked around his first three starts with a line like 10.97 ERA, 0-1, 10.2 IP, WHIP over 2.

But Huff the Magic Lefty kept plugging away, and hung around long enough to earn a few of those pesky little “wins,” and finally posted a fantastic September, with an ERA of 2.00, 3-1, 27 IP and a WHIP just over 1. Even to jaded observer, that’s quite the improvement. With the departures of Cliff Lee and Carl Pavano, Huff was left standing as the team’s leader in wins.

Blogger’s Rant: I HATE the “wins” statistic, when it comes to pitching. It tells you next to nothing about how well the player performed, other than which team won. It’s such a team-dependent stat it isn’t even funny. I know I’m new to this blog, but I’ve wasted so much breath on this subject that I’m just gonna resurrect Fire Joe Morgan from the grave and borrow their reasons.

1. The only stat that matters. The only way to pick a Cy Young winner. The thing Billy Beane can’t get in the playoffs, no matter how many fancy computers he hires to play baseball for him.
2. A simply awful pitching statistic that should be swallowed up by the earth itself, personified, given ears, and forced to listen to a tape loop of Bermanisms for all of eternity. The reason being – and again, you know this, intuitively, even if you have never quite expressed it to yourself – if Carl Pavano gives up nineteen runs in five innings but the Yankees score 20 runs, and they hold on to win, and Pavano gets the win, is Pavano a good pitcher? No he is not. (This scenario is assuming he ever comes back and actually pitches, btw.) If Francisco Liriano throws 9 innings of no-hit ball, but gives up a run on four consecutive errors by Terry Tiffey and gets a loss, is Francisco Liriano a bad pitcher? No he is not. Wins stink to high heaven as a way to value pitchers because they are in very large part dependent on the actions of the other guys on the team.

Of course, according to Joe Morgan, “Wins and losses are how you measure pitchers” (Baseball For Dummies, p. 289).

Wins just suck. Don’t use them, don’t perpetuate the stereotype that they matter. Just ignore them, and maybe they’ll go away./rant

But one month is just that, and certainly not enough to judge a player’s abilities. A season really is too short as well.

So where does that leave the Indians with Huff the Magic Lefty?

Well, he’s obviously in their plans. One rocky rookie season is not going to change that. The Indians are still very high on David Huff.

But the question is, did he earn a place in next year’s rotation?

And with that Tribe fans, I will scream to the heavens a loud and boisterous “NO!”

Let’s look at the Indians rotation “locks:”

  • Jake Westbrook
  • Fausto Carmona

Wow, that was short. Justin Masterson is most likely going to get a spot in the rotation, since the Tribe seems intent on ruining him.  So there’s three spots down.

Next we have this jumbled mess of rotational “canidates” that I lovingly like to call, the Lefty Troika from Hell.

  • Huff
  • Laffey Taffy
  • Jeremy Sowers

Oh and we can add new acquisition Mitch Talbot to this wonderful predicament. I’ve heard him described as a right-handed Zach Jackson. Sweet. Carlos Carrasco and Hector Rondon will also get starts this year but will almost assuredly not start the season with the Tribe.

Who ever will the Indians pick?

(By the way, did you know if you Google “mitch t” the second thing that comes up in the autosearch is Mitch Talbot? Food for thought.)

Here’s my rotation, and why:

  1. Jake (lock if healthy)
  2. Fausto (lock due to contract and out of options)
  3. Masterson
  4. Laffey (Still not sold on him ever being a good ML starter, but hey, he’s better than what we got)
  5. Sowers (out of options and put together a solid second half)

I don’t want to get into the Sowers debate. The Indians will give him one more shot in either the rotation or long relief. I’d rather give Sowers the starting chance over Mitch T. I believe Masterson’s future is in the pen, but hey, why the hell not?.

Huff should be in the rotation, and that rotation should be of the Columbus Clippers. He doesn’t need to get battered around at the ML level right now. Plus he has options.

Here’s what I think will happen though. Some combination of:

  • Westbrook
  • Fausto
  • Masterson
  • Huff
  • Sowers

With Laffey Taffy coming out of the pen. The Indians are still very high on Huff  and would like to increase his ML workload, yada yada yada. I get it. But it just seems silly to acquire a guy like Talbot (who is out of options) when you already have guys like Sowers who are out of options, and then give the spot to a guy WITH options who wasn’t all that great last year. I don’t know, in a year where the team is going nowhere I just don’t see why you wouldn’t want to try out the guys who are on their last shots.

But a lot can happen in Spring Training. So we shall see. Somebody’s gonna have to step up.

Tags: David Huff Fausto Carmona Jake Westbrook Jeremy Sowers Aaron Laffey Justin Masterson Mitch Talbot

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