As we get into the trade season, I just wanna see how many of us feel this way...
Seven pitchers that can win title after title:
That is five starting pitchers and two door slammers--the seven most important pitchers on the team. Below will be a sort of petition, or ballot, to show how we feel about this core.
Granted we don't know if Vizcaino will turn into the top flight pitcher we hope for, and for that reason we don't know about Teheran either. We also can't be sure that Beachy will keep being so Beachy, we don't even know if JJ will continue to pitch like his first two and a half healthy seasons. These are the guys that haven't hit a ceiling yet, who show all signs of acehood and allstar careers.
Let me post some love:
Hanson - dominated the Arizona Fall League before a rookie season with a sub 3 ERA in which he blanked the Yankees and Red Sox back to back--the first rookie to do that ever. He got past his sophomore year with 3.33 era and 200 innings. Now he's pitching a 2.52 era with more strikeouts than IP. His fastball and hard slider are legit, and in just his third year in the majors, he's becoming recognized as one of the league's elite aces.
Jurrjens - the guy comes in ready to be the young rookie and ends up the ace of the staff in his rookie year. He earned 13 wins and pitched 188 innings, and in his sophomore year he dropped the ERA to 2.60 and started garnering Cy Young attention. After an injury plagued season in '10, he's come out this year continuing the trend he started in '08 and '09. His ERA is the lowest in baseball, 1.89, and his streak of 6 inning starts of 2 run ball or less became one of the best of all time. He has cut down on the walks and his WHIP has become as elite as his ERA. He gets easily overlooked, but the numbers from his healthy seasons don't lie. Glavine won a Cy Young right out from under Smoltz and Maddux, and this is the dynamic I'm looking for from Hanson, JJ, and Teheran.
Teheran we know as the best pitching prospect in baseball. His rapping on the minor league ceiling reminds us of Hanson during his rookie year. I love you Lowe, wish we could pocket you for the playoffs, but Teheran is ready and the rest of our staff is the future (+Hudson for a couple years whose got "Brave" on his heart).
Beachy - My hero climbed from the obscurity of "non drafted free agent" to become the best pitcher in the minor leagues last year. He skyrocked through the system, wet his feet in the majors against the Phillies down the stretch, dominated spring training, and has been as shocking of a surprise as perhaps Johnny Venters. He strikes out more guys than innings, his Whip is an elite 1.06, and his ERA is sitting at an impressive 3.23. We have no idea how good this guy is, and a guy who keeps raising his ceiling can't be traded before his trajectory planes off.
Vizcaino - When we acquired him from the Yankees he was their no. 1 pitching prospect. Through his first season with us, we watched him like Teheran. In fact, to most of us they were interchangeable as fireballers with wicked stuff and endless potential. The only thing that's changed is that Teheran pitched a full season and got past some injury doubts and Vizcaino got injured last season. He's lighting it up this year though, and most people you ask still consider him a potential ace.
That's five guys, two that will need big contracts in the next year or two, two rookies, and a prospect a year or so behind. I see no reason we can't pay for that rotation at least until JJ or Hanson conclude their next contracts. If we take Lowe off the books, that is especially true. Hudson is a steal through the next two years of his contract, and if all five of these guys pan out, I'd expect him to gracefully retire before looking for an extension. We can talk about an extension if he's hot and one of these guys aren't in a couple years.
If one of those guys flukes out, it's no big deal, but these are the guys with ace or allstar potential. So far all of the four in the bigs have been ROY candidates, Beachy included, and the two 25 year olds are climbing cy young mountain. We can expect the same from Teheran. Vizcaino is still a bit of an unknown, but his potential is clearly acelike. Delgado and Minor haven't shown what these guys have, and neither have the stuff Vizcaino does. Both seem like major league staples with ceilings as high as even an opening day starter, but they are unlikely to be aces and far less proven than even Beachy. We should consider how incredible Minor and Delgado look as cornerstones to a package trade package, +/- Lowe.
The ceiling of this rotation as a whole is no less than a young version of the Phillies this year--Hanson and JJ are already trading blows with Hamels, Halladay and Lee on the leader boards, and we expect Teheran to do the same. Vizcaino could also be such an ace, and it's hard to say Beachy couldn't either. As far as I can tell, all of these guys have ace potential, so let's call the ceiling the best rotation in baseball history. A more reasonable hope is for Teheran and Hanson to be top 10 starters in the league, JJ to be in the top 10 no. 2 starters, and Beachy/Vizcaino (if he makes it healthy) to be in the top 10 no. 3 starters. For the years we have them, I'd expect them to all fluctuate in that zone.
On to the bullpen, Kimbrel and Venters should be untouchable. I am sure they could bring back a haul right now, but if we can just fight the urge to trade them, we could have the best 8/9 punch in baseball for a long time.
Venters came on the scene out of nowhere, shocked us in spring training with his stuff, then found himself a leader in a majority of meaningful categories in his first year out of the major league pen. In his second year, he might be the best reliever in baseball. The combination of his strikeout and groundball ratios are the best weapons imaginable for a swingman who can come in to get the strikeouts or double plays needed to save (hold) the game. Also, I think we all just love this guy. Trade him at your own risk Frank Wren.
Good luck getting away with a trade of Kimbrel too, the guy just tied the rookie record for most saves before the allstar break. He is shattering strikeout records, his ERA has been ice, and he just keeps getting better. He is already one of the best closers in baseball, and he's still got years of team control.
These seven guys should simply be untouchable, if they continue their trajectories, we could win divisions with just Heyward, McCann, and Freeman on the diamond. Don't F it up!! We have too many other top notch pitching prospects to feel the need to trade these guys.