Kevin Slowey? Really?

A message popped up on my Twitter feed yesterday. The message (from mlbtraderumors.com) told me that the Toronto Blue Jays are interested in acquiring Kevin Slowey from the Minnesota Twins.

One look at that and I had to ask myself:

Really?

Kevin Slowey?

Why?

On the surface I can see people getting excited about it:

– Slowey is young (he’ll turn 27 in May)

– He has a career record of 39 – 21

– Over the past two seasons he has a record of 23 – 9

– He doesn’t walk many batters (career BB/9 of 1.5)

But as any knowledgeable baseball fan knows, there is more to a pitcher than wins and losses. Much, much more.

Wins and losses are heavily team influenced. Pitching for the last place Mariners, Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez had only three more wins (13) than the erratic and idiotic A.J. Burnett had (10) for the Yankees.

Considering that the Twins won 348 games over the past four years, including back-to-back AL Central titles, Slowey should have a good record. That’s not a selling feature, it’s more of a necessity.

When you remove his W-L record from the equation, the rest of his stats are middling: 4.41 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 6.9 K/9. Average.

Toronto shouldn’t be focused on acquiring an average pitcher.

On top of that, here are three more reasons why Slowey is a bad fit:

1. Because you have to get rid of somebody to get him

The most logical candidate might be Jo-Jo Reyes who came over with Yunel Escobar last year and is out of options. But Minnesota would likely want more. And who else would Toronto give up? One of the options for the closer’s role? A solid middle relief option like Janssen or Camp? Not worth it.

2. Because he’d take a starting spot away from somebody

In all likelihood, the top three are set – Romero, Morrow, Cecil. The battle for the final two spots is intense, and crowded, with Marc Rzepczynski, Jessie Litsch, Kyle Drabek, and maybe even Reyes, Brad Mills, Zach Stewart, and Scott Richmond having a shot.

Adding Slowey does nothing but complicate that battle. When doing a straight statistical comparison, I’m not sure I’d even want Slowey:

Career Stats

Kevin Slowey: 39 – 21, 4.41 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 6.9 K/9, turns 27 in May

Jessie Litsch: 21 – 24, 4.10 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 4.5 K/9, just turned 26

Marc Rzepczynski: 6 – 8, 4.32 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 8.4 K/9, turns 26 in August

(Drabek only has three career starts)

Again – the only thing that really sets Slowey above the other two is his W-L record, which is essentially meaningless.

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I’d prefer the K potential of Rzep and the plush red beard of Litsch any day.

3. Slowey struggles against the AL East

When looking at Slowey’s career splits two things become obvious. One is that he pads his record against Cleveland, Kansas City, and Detroit, and two is that he struggles mightily against the AL East. Since Toronto plays in the AL East, that could be a problem.

vs. NYY: 1 – 1, 4.76 ERA, 1.24 WHIP

vs. BOS : 1 – 2, 4.86 ERA, 1.38 WHIP

vs. BAL: 1 – 2, 4.80 ERA, 1.27 WHIP

vs. TB: 0 – 1, 6.75 ERA, 1.42 WHIP

While both Litsch and Rzep have poor numbers against the Yankees both have fared very well against the rest of the division, especially Litsch against Boston (4-2 record, 3.83 ERA, 1.33 WHIP) and Rzep against Tampa (0-0 record, 2.00 ERA, 1.28 WHIP).

It’s a big step-up in competition going from the Royals and the Indians to the Yankees and Red Sox. I’d rather have somebody in the rotation who knows what it takes.

One thought on “Kevin Slowey? Really?”

  1. Slowey doesn’t look like anything more than a slight upgrade over Rzep or Litsch, and would put a wrench in the plans for Drabek. From everything I’ve read about Anthopoulos and Farrell’s plans, it seems that they want to give Drabek the chance to start, at some point this season, and the other 2 will battle it out for the other spot (whether it be 4th or 5th in the rotation).

    I read the MLB Trade Rumors post as well, and they mention that Slowey had the lowest ground ball rate of any starting pitcher last year, which doesn’t translate well in the homer-friendly Rogers Centre. Even from your stat comparison, I’m not sure where AA would be interested in Slowey over the Jays present options with such little variation between him, Rzep and Litsch.

    Let’s hope this is another rumor that dies out, rather than comes true.

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