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Free Agent Fit: Brandon McCarthy

November 10th, 2012

You're a handsome devil, what's your name?

Andrew kicked off our “Free Agent Fit” series Wednesday with a look at Anibal Sanchez, concluding that the Tigers right-hander will be an adequate alternative if the Angels are unable to come to terms with Zack Greinke:

Sanchez will never be the ace the Marlins hoped he would one day become, but he is a very reliable #2 or high-end #3 starter. What you’re getting in Sanchez is about a 4-win pitcher that will strike out a respectable 7.5 batters per 9 innings, record groundouts at a league average pace, and eat innings.

It’s not sexy but that’s ok because he’s just a Plan B. He’s not supposed to be sexy.

Instead of focusing on part that matters from baseball perspective – the whole 4-win, pretty good strikeout rate thing – Andrew’s post got me thinking about which potential Greinke Plan B would be a sexy alternative.

I may be in the minority here, but I think the Angels would be better off splitting the $150 million or so they plan on shilling out for Zack Greinke on two or three “lesser” pitchers whose cumulative value meets or surpasses that of Zack’s.

One of the pitchers I would love for the Halos to sign in order to accomplish this feat, and who immediately came to mind when I read “sexy Plan B”,  is Oakland A’s right-hander Brandon McCarthy.

I have had a massive “man-crush” on McCarthy for well over a year now. He is essentially the baseball player that I envisioned myself becoming when — as a teenager — I had aspirations of playing professionally. Leaving aside the fact that he is seven inches taller, right-handed and doesn’t have a fastball that tops out in the mid-70s, I still see myself in McCarthy and really admire the way he carries himself on and off the field.

Baseball players aren’t traditionally known for being the most intelligent of human specimens. Natural ability, also known as strength and athleticism, tend to triumph over conscious thought on the baseball diamond more often than not. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, but it’s always nice to see someone who attempts to use his mind to make up for what may be a lack of natural athletic ability.

Now, at 6’7” and with a fastball in the low 90s, it may be a bit of a stretch to say that McCarthy lacks natural athleticism. But his ability to harness that athleticism by completely re-inventing himself with the help of sabermetrics when things went downhill is something you don’t see every day at the big-league level (see: Kazmir, Scott).

Since returning from a major shoulder injury two years ago and re-inventing himself mechanically as a taller version of Roy Halladay, McCarthy has been just about as good as his apee. The 29-year-old has thrown 100 fewer innings than Halladay over the past two seasons because of injuries, but when he has pitched his numbers have been right up there with the Doc.

 

2011-2012

 

McCarthy may not strike out as many batters or complete as many games as Halladay, but very few pitchers do. When McCarthy is healthy, he is Roy Halladay-lite, at a fraction of the price.

***

Another reason to go with McCarthy, and another reason I admire him, is that he is one of the few ball players that appears to have something resembling a personality off the field. There is a very, very good chance (read: 100%) that Torii Hunter will sign elsewhere this winter, leaving a very large void in the Angels clubhouse in terms of a vocal, positive presence that the fan-base can rally behind.

Signing McCarthy would help the Angels fill that void, albeit in a very different manner than Torii did. When not on the mound, McCarthy rubs elbows online (e-elbows?) with the likes of Bill James, Joe Posnanski, Ken Tremendous and a variety of other baseball people on Twitter. His posts are witty, intelligent and often insightful, and the repartee he has with his wife is really unlike anything else out there.

I promise you I’m not advocating the Angels sign McCarthy just because he has a funny Twitter account. McCarthy and his wife are also very active and vocal outside of the Interwebs, and would add life to a clubhouse and community that has pretty much relied on Torii Hunter the past five years. Also, imagining Dipoto and McCarthy sitting down to discuss the finer points of FIP or how he can best utilize the run environment at Angel Stadium to his advantage is just the best. It also doesn’t hurt that Brandon is good at baseball.

I realize there is a very good chance that he re-signs with Oakland this winter with the way both sides have responded in the aftermath of his freak brain injury, but there is always a chance things will change when you’re dealing with baseball teams and money (see: Bay, Jason), so never say never. I think McCarthy can be had for something around two years and $20 million, which would likely leave $12-$15 million or so on the table to sign another pitcher like Hiroki Kuroda or Shaun Marcum.

Comments

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  • DAder says on: November 10, 2012 at 8:56 pm

     

    Nate, maybe this is just me, but this is, to me, is eerily reminiscent of 1979 when Buzzie Bavasi took one of his first steps which led ultimately to his MLB Darwin Award. As GM of the Angels he was basking in the glory of the team making the playoffs for the first time, with Don “Groove” Baylor winning the AL MVP Award. Nolan Ryan was becoming a free agent after being with California since 1972, going 138-121,3.07 overall ERA, 270IP/yr, 300+Ks 5 times, 20 wins twice, 19 wins twice, 4 no hitters and you can look at the rest of his stats in the link. In 1979 Ryan only went 16-14. Bavasi sealed his place in the Angels Hall of Shame by deciding that Ryan “was really only worth two 8-7 pitchers. I think my plumber could do that.” Granted, Greinke may not be a Nolan Ryan. There may never be another Nolan Ryan. However, if you look at what they’ve done at similar stages of their careers, Zack doesn’t suck. Considering how good Zack was when he settled in at Anaheim and got just a little run support, and that they could have Kendrys, Trout, Pujols, and Weaver at full speed for all of’13 I’d try real hard to lock him up for a while. To paraphrase my college Frosh/JV 2nd baseman and former GM of the Milwaukee Brewers, Dean Taylor, “Always remember, the dead fish you hold in your hands is always better than the dead fish the Butcher is hiding behind his back.”

    As long as you can keep the fish from slipping through your fingers.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/r/ryanno01-
    pitch.shtml#pitching_standard::none

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/g/greinza01-pitch.shtml#pitching_standard::none

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dean_Taylor_(baseball)

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