Thursday, February 11, 2010

K. Farnsworth, Damon

The Kansas City Royals' official website published an article today that suggested that Kyle Farnsworth could get a chance to join the starting rotation.  While this is far from a done deal, more of an idea that's been floated really, this is an intriguing proposal.  If it plays out that way in spring training, I would expect to give Farnsworth a rather favorable forecast as a starter in the performance categories like ERA and WHIP.

In our previously published forecast, we had viewed him exclusively as a reliever, pitching just over 35 games with an ERA in the high 3's and close to a strikeout per inning.  The low games projection is more of a reflection of his age (he turns thirty-four in April) than anything else mixed with consideration that he's coming off an injury shortened season in which he pitched only 37.1 innings.  If somehow he were confirmed as a fairly solid member of the rotation heading into Opening Day, something that still seems to be a longshot at this point, we probably wouldn't go higher than about 25-26 starts projected for a pitcher who hasn't been a regular member of a starting rotation since his debut season with the Cubs way back in 1999.

From an effectiveness standpoint, however, he is probably good enough to be an above average starter.  Naturally, his strikeout rate would fall working out of the rotation but if he could clear an average of 5 innings a start, I'd expect something around a rate of three quarters of a strikeout per inning and only the occasional home run given up.  I'll be watching this development with great interest because he could join the ranks of the sleepers if he can get even 120-130 innings this season.  More than anything, it's the durability that has me doubting it rather than the skill.

By the way, Johnny Damon continues to get attention as one of the more well-known free agents who remains unsigned as spring training fast approaches.  His agent is Scott Boras and I'm not sure if either Boras or Damon himself overestimated his potential value on the market.  It's possible that the bar was set too high for too long, even as an initial talking point, and in so doing accidentally excluded the Yankees, who then went out and pursued other options and removed themselves from the discussions.  We had only 98 games projected for Damon in our latest published forecasts but if he can find a team that absolutely needs him as a regular in the lineup, I'd be inclined to bump that up to maybe 125-130 games, accounting for the continued decline that makes even all these recent 140-149 game seasons less likely.  In the right situation and with good luck on top of it, if Damon somehow managed to get the 550 at bats he had last year, I still believe he's capable of hitting .275 with 15+ home runs 15+ stolen bases but he's unlikely to return to even 2008 form at this point.  I suspect clubs know it too and that's why he hasn't got a deal yet.