Who Will Be The Giants 5th Starter?
After signing Tim Hudson to a 2-year, $23MM deal earlier today, there's one spot remaining in the San Francisco Giants 2014 starting rotation and according to a tweet by ESPN's Buster Olney, it appears that either Bronson Arroyo or Ryan Vogelsong will fill this spot, depending on which deal fits better.
Well, which veteran fits better into San Fran's plans for 2014 and beyond? Let's examine.
Ryan Vogelsong (4-6, 5.73 ERA in 2013)
At first glance, you might wonder why the Giants would consider bringing back a 36-year old starter who would have posted the worst ERA of any National League starter had he thrown 58 1/3 more innings last season. While it's impossible to say that Vogelsong would not have improved had he not gotten injured, it still puts into perspective just how bad he was in 2013.
However, if we erase last season from our memory banks and look at the two years prior, Vogelsong looks like a much better option, as he went 27-16 with a 3.05 ERA over that span. Too bad this won't work in Vogelsong's favor in terms of his new contract this offseason, as teams tend to look at how successful (or unsuccessful in Vogelsong's case) a player has been of late. With that being said, if he is willing to sign an inexpensive incentive-laden one-year deal and rediscover the magic from 2011-2012, he could join Tim Hudson as possible steals for the Giants this offseason.
A closer look at Vogelsong's peripherals suggest that he should be able to put together a better season in 2014. For one, opposing batters hit .299 against Vogelsong in 2013, much higher than the .243 mark they put up against him in 2011-12 and much higher than the MLB average, which sat at .253 last season. Vogelsong also posted the lowest K/9 rate in his career in 2013, and unless he was able put together two consecutive fluke seasons in 2011-12, it isn't all that crazy to expect him to once again revive his career and image once 2014 is all said and done.
Bronson Arroyo (14-12, 3.79 ERA in 2013)
While Bronson Arroyo, also 36 years old, might receive a lot more money up-front than Ryan Vogelsong this offseason, it is not as if Arroyo is not deserving of this payday. Compared to Ryan Vogelsong's string of recent success, Arroyo has been one of the more dependable starters in baseball over the last eight seasons. His 265 starts over that span lead MLB and he has tossed at least 200 innings in eight of the last nine seasons (in the only season he didn't he threw 199) and for those of you who haven't jumped on the Brian Kenny bandwagon yet and still believe in wins as a viable counting stat, Arroyo has also won at least 10 ballgames in eight of the last ten seasons.
Arroyo has also finished in the top three of BB/9 in the National League over the last two seasons (3rd in 2013 and 2nd in 2012.) However, while it might be good that Arroyo isn't afraid to throw the ball over the plate and go after guys, his 88 MPH fastball doesn't exactly pack a punch and he often runs into some trouble with the long ball because of this. He led the National League in home runs allowed in 2013 with 32, and that's not the stat you want to lead the league in.
Looking ahead, Arroyo's track record of problems with the long ball should not follow him if he were to sign with the Giants and move from hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark to pitcher-friendly AT&T Park. Not to mention the Giants are in desperate need of reliable innings, and of the two Bronson Arroyo might be the better bet to give that to them even if it costs them more in the long-run.
While the services of Bronson Arroyo might be more expensive for the Giants to obtain, it might be worth it for them to get a guy who they know will be on the mound for them every fifth day. On the other hand, the Giants would look pretty smart striking gold twice in the same offseason if both Vogelsong and Tim Hudson have strong 2014 campaigns. Ultimately, it's going to depend how willing the Giants are to open up their pocketbooks, and with how the team's offseason is going thus far, they might be very willing to do so.