Scott Lucas and Joey Matschulat both have blog entries up, comparing this year's Jamey Wright infatuation with the 2005 Pedro Astacio experiment.
I hated the decision to go with Pedro Astacio in 2005. I'm a bit more agnostic on the Jamey Wright situation. But I also think that the two situations are a little more different than they might at first appear.
Part of what was so frustrating with Astacio in 2005 was that he was seemingly anointed the fifth starter from the time he was signed...while John Hart and Buck Showalter gave lip service to Astacio having to earn a rotation spot, he was given a major league contract and a spot on the 40 man roster from day one, and even though he logged all of 3 innings in "A" games that spring, and started the season on the d.l., it was clearly a fait accompli that Astacio was the #5 starter.
And what made it even more baffling was that Astacio was 35 years old, had hardly pitched the season before (and was awful in his very limited exposure then), and had been terrible the previous two seasons, as well. Astacio was a limited upside guy with an awful recent track record and a shaky injury history who was being handed a job because...well, just because.
Really, at the risk of eliciting more poop-throwing, the guy in camp this spring who is analogous to Astacio isn't Wright, it is Sammy Sosa.
Wright, on the other hand, was brought in as an insurance policy, a guy with great stuff whose extreme groundball nature made him a good fit for the Rangers, and who would provide some depth in AAA.
Wright didn't come to camp being handed a job...Wright showed up in camp and has pitched great, has harnessed some of the great "stuff" he's had his whole career, and with some mechanical adjustments, has given reason to believe that he might finally be getting it to click.
He showed some flashes last year with San Francisco, pitching very well for the first couple of months before falling apart and losing his spot in the rotation. This may very well be fool's gold, just some flashes from a guy who has been inconsistent his whole career.
At the same time, though, if he could match his career ERA+ of 93 while giving the Rangers 160-170 innings in the #5 spot in the rotation, that wouldn't be too bad. That would equate to an ERA in the 5.15-5.25 range, which would be pretty decent from a #5 starter. And Jon Lieber, for what it is worth, posted a 94 ERA+ for the Phillies last year...
I'm not pitching Jamey Wright for the #5 spot. Of the three finalists, I'd rank him third, behind Kam Loe and Bruce Chen.
But if Wright continues to pitch well, shows Mark Connor and Ron Washington reason to believe that he can provide some steady production from the back of the rotation, I'm not going to kill the organization if they opt to go with Wright, and stash Loe in AAA as insurance for the rest of the rotation, or a possible bullpen callup. As we're reminded time and again, it isn't as if the Rangers aren't going to need to bring up another starter from the minors at some point this season anyway.
I also tend to be a little more sanguine about giving rope to pitchers than positional players...I think they are more likely to have a late "click" and get their act together than hitters are to suddenly turn it around.
And maybe I'm just remembering Glendon Rusch, and how he had an impressive camp a few years ago, got released anyway, and went on to be a pretty decent starter for the Cubs for a couple of seasons.
Anyway, we still have to see this play out...but I'm not ready to declare, at this point, Jamey Wright making the rotation as a colossal mistake...