So you’re the general manager of the new Las Vegas Craps team and baseball commissioner Bud Selig comes to you with the offer of all offers.
He says, since the Craps are going to struggle this year offensively with a lineup comprised of over-the-hill veterans and unproven rookies, you get your pick of stealing either the Phillies or the Giants’ starting rotation.
“Sweet mother of all that is holy,” you say to Selig. “Those are the best starting rotations in the game!”
“Yes they are, Craps owner,” Selig says. “But you have to choose one right now.”
So which rotation would you rather have? Let’s take a look at the deets first.
Salary: $20 million in 2011; $20 million in 2012; $20 million in 2013; $20 million option in 2014.
Career Stats: 169-86, 1,714 Ks, 3.32 ERA, 58 complete games, 19 shutouts
Accolades: Two-time Cy Young winner, two-time wins champion, seven-time All-Star.
Salary: $11 million 2011; $21.5 million in 2012; $25 million from 2013-2015.
Career Stats: 102-61, 3.85 ERA, 1,085 Ks
Accolades: Cy Young winner, two-time All-Star, 7-2 postseason record, 2.13 postseason ERA.
Salary: $16 million in 2011; $16 million w/ $2 million buyout in 2012.
Career Stats: 150-83, 3.18 ERA, 1,666 Ks
Accolades: 2005 NLCS MVP, three-time All-Star, 5-1 postseason record, 3.39 postseason ERA.
Salary: $9.5 Million in 2011, Free agent in 2012.
Career Stats: 59-44, 3.53 ERA, 887 Ks
Accolades: 2007 All-Star, 2008 NLCS MVP, 2008 World Series MVP, 6-4 postseason record, 3.45 postseason ERA.
Salary: $8.5 million in 2011; $8.5 million in 2012.
Career Stats: 70-60, 4.32 ERA, 765 Ks
Accolades: World series champion in 2008.
San Francisco Giants
Salary: Signed a two-year, $23 million contract extension in 2010; arbitration eligible in 2012-2013.
Career Stats: 56-27, 3.04 ERA, 907 Ks.
Accolades: Two-time Cy Young winner, three-time All-Star, led majors in strikeouts in 2008, led NL in strikeouts in 2008, 2009, 2010, World Series champion 2010, 4-1 postseason record, 2.43 postseason ERA.
Salary: $6.25 million in 2011; 2012 free agent.
Career Stats: 57-62, 3.45 ERA, 906 Ks.
Accolades: 2009 All-Star, 2010 World Series champion, 2-0 postseason record, 0.00 postseason ERA in 21.1 innings.
Career Stats: 7-6, 2.90 ERA, 96 Ks.
Accolades: World Series Champion 2010, youngest left-hander ever to pitch eight shutout innings in a World Series game, 5th youngest pitcher ever to start a World Series, fourth youngest pitcher ever to win a World Series.
Salary: $4.8 million in 2011; Arbitration Eligible in 2012.
Career Stats: 34-39, 4.26 ERA, 634 Ks.
Accolades: Pitched a no-hitter in 2009, World Series champion in 2010, struck out 11 postseason batters in one game in 2010.
Salary: $18.5 million in 2011; $19 million in 2012; $20 million in 2013; $18 million in 2014 with club option $7 million buyout.
Career Stats: 142-120, 3.86 ERA, 1,651
Accolades: 2002 AL Cy Young winner, three-time All-Star, will be known for having the least-deserving contract in baseball history…oh, sorry. These were supposed to be positives.
Before we go on, let’s say that the Craps have an average-sized ballpark. It’s neither the Little League stadium the Phillies call home, nor the pitcher-friendly AT&T Park. It’s just average. (If you really need to know the dimensions before you make your decision, then leave now and go pour yourself a beer because you need one.)
Most prospective Crap owners would undoubtedly take the Phillies, and why not? They have four aces in Halladay, Lee, Oswalt and Hamels, as well as a fifth starter in Blanton who helped them win them a World Series in 2008. That group has won a combined 550 games, has struck out a combined 6,117 batters and owns a combined three Cy Young awards and two postseason MVP awards (one NLCS, one World Series).
If you’re looking for the best rotation in baseball, it resides in Philadelphia. No question, period, end of discussion.
But that isn’t the question now, is it? The question is which rotation would you rather have if you were starting a new organization tomorrow (or were the GM of this new organization, or what have you). And in that scenario, the Giants may be able to balance the scales in their favor.
The average age of the Phillies’ starters is 31. The average age for the Giants’ starters is 26.6. That’s a momentous difference to factor into your decision, especially when you consider everyone’s salaries, the fact that the Giants’ starters have already proven that they can win a World Series and given how Lincecum, Bumgarner and Sanchez still have eligibility left on their current deals (thus, are under team control for the time being).
Lincecum, Cain and Sanchez (the rockiest of the three, but still loaded with talent) have just reached their prime, while Bumgarner’s career has only begun. Zito is the trump card, but you could certainly do worse than having a former Cy Young winner as your fifth starter. Halladay and Lee don’t appear to be slowing down, but Oswalt showed some decline last year and who knows if the Phils will be able to keep Hamels and Blanton past this year because of how much money the top 3 are making.
Granted, Zito’s contract would hamstring a young organization like the Craps, but it’s nothing compared to what Halladay, Lee and Oswalt are making over the next four or five years. Eventually, the Phillies will have to make multiple decisions about what to do with their aging roster. They may win a World Series in the meantime (and they better given the expectations, which is another reason to consider the Giants’ starting five), but is it worth the future financial hell that the situation will undoubtedly create?
Maybe it is. For me, I’d take the Giants’ rotation if I were starting an organization tomorrow. I think Lincecum will eventually be talked about as one of the best ever, while Cain is a future Cy Young winner in my eyes and the sky’s the limit for Bumgarner. Again, this group has already won a World Series so they know what winning a championship demands and four out of the five starters are all under the age of 30. Nobody outside of Zito is making ridiculous money, which means I have financial flexibility when it comes to not only re-signing my starters in the future, but putting together a decent lineup as well. I want a bright future, which the Giants’ rotation provides. Lincecum and Cain (who becomes a free agent in 2012) will eventually need new deals, but only Lincecum will command Halladay/Oswalt/Lee-type money to retain.
That said, I wouldn’t bemoan anyone who would choose the Phillies’ starting five given how that’s the best collection of starters we’ll see in a longtime. And if you win one World Series as a GM, that buys you job security for years to come. Just be prepared for what happens next when you have to juggle all of those salaries while trying to fill holes at other positions (like right field for instance).
So I’ll throw the question out again: You’re the GM of the new Las Vegas Craps baseball team and you have the opportunity to steal either the Phillies or Giants’ starting rotation and not have to give anything up in return. Which rotation do you lift?
Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @TheScoresReport. You can also follow TSR editor Gerardo Orlando @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom, and you can follow TSR editor Anthony Stalter @AnthonyStalter.
Posted in: MLB
Tags: 2011 MLB Season Preview, Anthony Stalter, Barry Zito, Barry Zito contract, best starting rotation in MLB, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Giants starting rotation, Joe Blanton, Jonathan Sanchez, Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain, Phillies starting rotation, Phillies vs Giants, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Tim Lincecum