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:
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:
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.
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.