I've started another feature of the blog, not dissimilar to a daily feature of the #1 leading Cable News Network program (phrase used ironically) The O'Reilly Factor with uber-sensitive guy Bill O'Reilly. Essentially, in "Talking Points Memo", I will discuss several topics which are not directly game-related, but topics which I feel are relevant in Royals discussion.
#1. Joakim Soria should gradually be moved to the starting rotation.
I used to advocate strongly for Soria's move, but now only moderately do so. I feel the organization should at least remain open about committing to moving him in the future. For one, I believe Soria should not be deemed a 'closer', which nowadays implies that he is essentially a 1-inning and sometimes 1+ inning pitcher. I believe we should deem him 'bullpen ace', only to be implemented in the highest leverage of situations and a pitcher who should receive multiple innings in the 'pen. I would be satisfied if Soria could eventually pitch 100+ innings in a season, even in the bullpen, where he would likely still dominate. If his arm does not fatigue, he could then be experimented in a starting rotation role, either piggybacking with other pitchers (the Jamey Wrights and Robinson Tejedas of the world - longmen capable of pitching multiple innings). If things go well, a #2/#3-caliber starter is still more valuable than a 70-inning closer, which is the role the Mexicutioner currently occupies. I think the advantages to shifting Joakim to the rotation far outweigh the disadvantages.
Reasons Soria should move to the rotation:
- He started in the Minor Leagues, and pitched a perfect game in the Mexican Leagues
- He has a slender build, but still possesses a height advantage as he is 6-foot-3.
- He possesses four plus-pitches, including an uber-nasty fastball, curveball, and change up.
- The Royals are always in need of more starting pitching
- A 3.5-4.2 ERA starter is more valuable than a closer. If Soria could exceed this, then great. If he can't, then shift him back to the bullpen ace role, with the capability of pitching multiple innings and in high-leverage situations
- An extremely team-friendly contract presents not an overwhelming amount of risk
Reasons Soria should not move to the rotation:
- If his arm fatigues or he injures himself pitching 100+ innings in the bullpen, it would severely effect our future win total
- The 'risk factor': he *could* injure himself permanently
- Despite being 6'3", he still has a slender build
- He only throws 91, which means his fastball will likely diminish by 1-2 mph. in the starting role. Does an 89 mph. fastball really translate to super successful starting pitchier more often than not in the starting role?
Don't you feel Soria, if the transition is successful, can provide more value in the starting five? Note that Dayton Moore has performed admirably at acquiring a quantity and quality in the bullpen. I am confident that a pitcher such as Juan Cruz or even Ron Mahay could fulfill the 9th inning role. I understand there is a nostalgic, "feel good" factor about having the Mexicutioner enter games to shut down the opposition for one inning, and he is certainly a fan favorite in that role. However, I maintain the position that closers and saves are overrated, and starting pitchers with ERAs of 4-4.2 are slightly underrated. In fact, I might be underrating Soria by stating he would only post ERAs of 4-4.2. At the very least, in the bullpen role, let's stretch him out, a bit. As a former starter, I think he could handle it. Any thoughts?