Showing posts with label Ervin Santana. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ervin Santana. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Former White Sox relievers among Yankees heroes in AL wild card game

David Robertson
Tuesday's American League wild card game was not decided by starting pitchers.

Both Luis Severino of the New York Yankees and Ervin Santana of the Minnesota Twins were terrible.

Severino lasted 29 pitches. He recorded only one out in the top of the first inning and left the mound with his team trailing 3-0 and runners on second and third. Santana wasn't much better for Minnesota, allowing four earned runs over only two innings.

Nope, this one was decided by the bullpens, and New York's relief corps came through with 8.2 innings of one-run ball in an 8-4 Yankees victory.

Didi Gregorius, Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge homered for New York, but two of the players who had the biggest say in the outcome of this game were two relievers the Yankees acquired from the White Sox in July -- David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle.

The two right-handers combined for 5.2 innings of scoreless ball and six strikeouts. Robertson entered in an unfamiliar role -- he came on in the third inning with the Yankees leading 4-3. The Twins had the bases loaded with one out. Robertson allowed only one of the inherited runners to score -- when Byron Buxton narrowly beat out a potential inning-ending double play ball.

The former Sox closer then held the Twins at bay until there were two outs in the sixth inning, during which time the Yankees built a 7-4 lead against the Minnesota bullpen.

Kahnle then came in and retired all seven of the Twins hitters he faced to get New York through eight innings with a lead. Aroldis Chapman struck out the side in the ninth, and the Yankees are in the ALDS to face the Cleveland Indians.

Robertson picked up the win, and the 3.1 innings pitched is a new career high for him. He has been a terrific midseason acquisition for the Yankees. In 30 regular-season games, he pitched 35 innings, struck out 51 batters and went 5-0 with a 1.03 ERA and 0.743 WHIP. He did not allow a run in 15 September innings, and carried over his lights-out pitching into the wild card game.

The July trade with the Sox has paid immediate dividends for the Yankees. If not for Robertson and Kahnle, perhaps their season would be over today.

We can only hope that the prospects the Sox got from New York in that trade -- outfielders Blake Rutherford and Tito Polo and pitcher Ian Clarkin -- can one day come through in the clutch in a future big game on the South Side of Chicago.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

AL wild card game: Everyone is picking the Yankees to beat the Twins

Ervin Santana
Postseason baseball begins Tuesday night with the AL wild card game pitting the New York Yankees (91-71) against the Minnesota Twins (85-77).

As far as I can tell, there isn't a person alive who thinks the Twins are going to win this game. Consider the following facts:
  • The Yankees come in red-hot, winners of 20 of their past 28 games, while the Twins were 14-14 in their past 28 games.
  • The Yankees' season run differential is +198, while Minnesota's was only +27.
  • New York won four out of six in the season series, including a three-game sweep in the Bronx in September.
  • Minnesota starting pitcher Ervin Santana had a fine season (16-8, 3.28 ERA), but he's 6-10 lifetime against the Yankees -- and 0-5 in six starts in the current Yankee Stadium. 
  • New York starting pitcher Luis Severino (14-6, 2.98) has had a breakout season, having struck out 230 in 193.1 innings this year. He's probably the third-best pitcher in the AL, behind only Cleveland's Corey Kluber and Boston's Chris Sale.
  • The Twins will be without their most dangerous hitter in third baseman Miguel Sano (28 homers, 77 RBIs), who has appeared in only three games since Aug. 19 because of a left shin injury.
  • The Yankees have a deep bullpen featuring no fewer than three relievers who can close in Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances and David Robertson.
  • The Twins traded their closer, Brandon Kintzler, to the Washington Nationals at the end of July, mistakenly believing they were out of the pennant race. Minnesota has 37-year-old journeyman Matt Belisle closing games, and its best reliever is .....  ummmmm, Taylor Rogers, I guess.
Everything points to New York winning this game and advancing to the ALDS to face the Cleveland Indians. So why even watch?

Well, it's baseball, and this is a one-game playoff, not a seven-game series. Could the Twins somehow sneak a win out of the Bronx tonight? I wouldn't bet on it, but it's possible. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Injury-riddled Braves sign pitcher Ervin Santana

It's been a bad week for the Atlanta Braves and their starting pitchers.

Kris Medlen, Atlanta's best pitcher and projected Opening Day starter, left a spring training start on Sunday while holding his right elbow. Preliminary tests showed ligament damage, and it's possible Medlen will be looking at his second Tommy John surgery in less than four years.

Then on Monday, Brandon Beachy could not finish his spring training outing because of continuing problems with his surgically repaired right elbow. Beachy has started just 18 games over the last two seasons and his suffered multiple setbacks in his recovery after surgery in 2012.

I haven't even mentioned Mike Minor yet. The left-hander won 13 games for Atlanta last season, but he's yet to pitch this spring because of a shoulder problem.

The Braves are staring down the possibility that 60 percent of their starting rotation will be on the disabled list when the season opens. Julio Teheran, a 14-game winner last year, and fifth starter Alex Wood are the last two men standing. Former White Sox pitcher Freddy Garcia is in camp as a nonroster invitee. Another former Sox, Gavin Floyd, is on Atlanta's roster, but he is not expected to pitch until May as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.

The situation is obviously getting a little worrisome in Atlanta, so the Braves acted Wednesday, signing Ervin Santana to a one-year contract worth $14.1 million. The right-hander, who went 9-10 with a 3.24 ERA in 32 starts with Kansas City last year, was the last major free-agent pitcher available.

It's no secret I'm not a fan of Santana. As recently as two years ago, his ERA was over 5. His 2013 performance with the Royals was a career year, and I wouldn't expect him to repeat that. It seems a lot of GMs felt the same way, and that's why the 31-year-old right-hander went unsigned halfway into March.

Also, the Braves have to give Kansas City a first-round draft pick -- in this case the No. 26 selection -- as compensations for signing Santana. Atlanta is paying a hefty price here, not just the $14.1 million but the draft pick as well.

You might go so far as to say the Braves are panicking in the wake of their recent injuries. I can understand their thinking, though. They won their division last year, and they obviously feel they are a contender again this season. But the house may crumble if they enter April with the corpse of Freddy Garcia as their No. 3 starter. That would be a scary proposition indeed.

Atlanta is counting on Santana to ride to its rescue. That's not a comfortable position to be in, but it's probably better than relying on Garcia or throwing some untested rookies into the fire.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Be a smart fan: Don't draw grand conclusions from spring results

I was looking at some of the baseball stories on the Chicago Tribune website this morning when I took note of a Cubs-related web poll. It read: Barney at SS over Baez, right move?
Starlin Castro



I clicked on the poll and voted "yes," because that is the right answer. Not surprisingly, only 24 percent of the poll's 607 respondents agreed with me. That means 76 percent of the people who answered this poll are full of beans, and here's why:

OK, the Cubs' regular shortstop, Starlin Castro, is out 7-10 days right now with a hamstring injury. It's not believed to be serious, and there's every reason to believe Castro will be at shortstop when the North Siders open the season March 31 in Pittsburgh. But, hypothetically, let's say Castro isn't ready. You know who the likely Cubs starter at shortstop would be under than scenario? Darwin Barney. And that's why manager Rick Renteria is going to give him some playing time at that spot while Castro is out.

I'm sorry, but this is an obvious move. It's not even a matter of debate.

However, it's being debated because the moron contingent in Chicago mistakenly believes highly regarded prospect Javier Baez is ready for the major leagues. Baez is 4 for 9 with a home run so far this spring. Those nine ABs are enough for the meathead division of the Cubs fan base to be sold on the idea that Baez should be the team's starting shortstop -- even over Castro, according to some.

Not to be a wet blanket, but that ain't happening. Baez has only played 54 games in his life above the Class-A level. He isn't ready for the bigs. And, yes, I know he hit a combined 37 home runs between High-A and Double-A ball last season.

But you know what else is true? Baez also made 44 errors in 123 games at shortstop last year. 44 errors! I'm going to go out on a limb here and say his defensive game could use a little more refinement before he's ready to play a middle infield spot in the major leagues every day.

Baez also struck out 147 times last year against that lower-level pitching. I haven't seen enough of the kid yet to comment on his swing, but that strikeout total suggests there is still some refinement needed in his offensive game, too.

Cubs brass no doubt knows this, and I believe they will wisely ignore the din and send Baez down to the minors for the start of the regular season.

All the talk in Cubs camp is about prospects right now, but Renteria has 162 major league games to manage this year. He has to have his players prepared for all possible scenarios. Unlike Baez, Barney is going to be on the 25-man roster when camp breaks, and Renteria knows he needs Barney to be ready to play shortstop in a pinch. It's a point that should be painfully obvious to anyone with a brain.

Nine good at-bats from Baez isn't going to change the Cubs' plan for this prized 21-year-old prospect, nor should it.

South Side fans not immune from stupidity, either.

A co-worker of mine suggested yesterday the White Sox sign free-agent pitcher Ervin Santana because "Felipe Paulino is struggling right now."

No lie. And I think he might have been serious.

First off, Santana is a bad fit for the Sox, but that's another argument and beside the point for this discussion.

Everyone needs to remember Paulino missed almost the entire 2013 season after arm surgery. The sum total of his year was 27.2 rehab innings in the minor leagues. He's barely pitched over the last 18 months, so nobody should be surprised he gave up four runs and eight hits over 1.2 innings in his first spring training start.

My reaction to those results: So what?

Here's what I care about: Paulino's fastball was sitting between 92 and 94 mph, right where it should be. He threw 31 of 47 pitches for strikes, a good ball-to-strike ratio, and he felt good physically after the outing.

That's all that counts right now. We'll worry about results later.

Some other instructive reading

Any fan worried about spring training numbers should read this piece from Jim Margalus over at South Side Sox.

Jim notes the 2013 Sox put up a robust .299/.358/.494 slash line during spring training. It was hardly a foreshadowing of the regular season, when the Sox posted a .249/.302/.378 line on their way to scoring the fewest runs in the American League.

The article shows several examples of individual players whose spring training numbers lied, but perhaps the most telling was infielder Jeff Keppinger's line.

In spring ball last year, Keppinger looked like the answer to the Sox' third base woes when he put up a solid .412/.483/.510 line in 58 plate appearances. Too bad his regular season totals were .253/.283/.317 in 451 plate appearances.

The moral of the story is this: Nothing that's happening now means much in the grand scheme of things. Don't fall in the trap of drawing grand conclusions from spring results.

Smart fans are the ones who stay away from this kind of nonsense.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Late, great (and not-so-great) additions, Part 1

With players having reported to spring training, teams are pretty much set as far as the major pieces of their rosters. Sure, there's jockeying for starting jobs, along with guys vying for spots on the back ends of benches and bullpens. But there's not really much left on the free agent market, even with the trend of some players signing later and later in the offseason.

This year you still could grab a starting shortstop (Stephen Drew), a middle-of-the-rotation pitcher (Ervin Santana) or a DH/first baseman (Kendrys Morales). That's only because those guys are clinging to the hope that a huge contract is on the horizon. For the most part, what's left are bench players (Kelly Shoppach, Laynce Nix, Andres Torres), organizational depth (Tyler Greene, Casey Kotchman), rehab projects (Jair Jurrjens, Johan Santana, Andrew Bailey), last-gasp attempts (Placido Polanco, Juan Pierre) or various arms to fill up a pitching staff (Jon Garland, Mike Gonzalez, Brett Myers).

The White Sox and Cubs don't look positioned to cull the cream of what's left, even if the price comes down. Even if they were, neither Chicago team has done well with last-minute additions.

By last-minute, I'm talking about a player signed after the start of February, but before Opening Day. That's when most of the good free agents are off the market, but before the season starts and the roster crunch some teams face creates a different kind of market.

We're just looking at the last 25 years, and not counting the post-strike year in 1995, when the work stoppage pushed free agency back and left everyone scrambling.

First here are the top five late-signing players for the White Sox, and later we'll look at the Cubs:

1. Kevin Tapani (Feb. 3, 1996)
Tapani signed late because while he was a solid innings-eater, he lacked overpowering stuff and owned a less-than-spectacular track record. At the age of 33, there were no takers for his services until the Sox offered him a one-year, $1.5 million contract.

The right-hander lived up to expectations, chewing up 225 innings with an average-ish ERA (4.59 -- average back in the swinging mid-90s) for a team that contended for a wild card before folding late. Like the Sox, Tapani also faded down the stretch, posting a 6.81 ERA in 71 1/3 innings from the start of August until the end of the season.

That didn't stop the Cubs from offering Tapani a five-year, $24 million contract the following offseason to be mostly mediocre, though he was very good in 1997 and almost won Game 1 of the 1998 NLDS against the Braves before Cubs manager Jim Riggleman left him in one batter too long.

As far as what the Sox got out of Tapani, though, they couldn't have really asked for more.

2. Danny Darwin (Feb. 7, 1997)
Darwin was the next-year edition of the Tapani signing. A very solid pitcher over most of his career, Darwin had trouble finding a job as a 41-year-old before the Sox gave him a one-year, $475,000 contract hoping he could help the back end of a suddenly needy rotation that had lost Alex Fernandez and Tapani to free agency and Jason Bere to injury.

While Darwin held up his end of the bargain (4.13 ERA in 113 1/3 IP), the Sox didn't. Other more highly touted (and much higher-paid) free agent pitchers Jaime Navarro and Doug Drabek were disasters, while the offense underwhelmed with a disappointing Albert Belle and Robin Ventura missing to injury.

Controversially, Darwin was packaged with Wilson Alvarez and Roberto Hernandez as part of the infamous "White Flag" trade. Other than that, this signing probably far exceeded what the Sox could have asked for.

3. Kenny Lofton (Feb. 1, 2002)
The Sox needed a center fielder while Lofton, just a few months shy of his 35th birthday, was coming off what would be the worst season of his very good career. That understandably scared off would-be suitors, so the Sox swooped in with a one-year, $1 million contract.

Lofton only disappointed people expecting him to recapture the glory days of his mid-20s. For the Sox he batted .259/.348/.418 and swiped 22 bases before being shipped off to the Giants for spare parts. Lofton went on to be a useful, and affordable, piece for contending teams through his 40th birthday. It's just that the 2002 Sox weren't a contending team.

4. Dewayne Wise (March 5, 2008)
This is where the list takes a turn for the worse. Is it a love affair that's still going on to this day? It's easy to be frustrated to see Wise on your team when he's been pressed into duties beyond his abilities. For a fourth outfielder, he still had his moments for the Sox.

5. Wil Cordero (March 23, 1998)
A domestic assault incident the previous year earned Cordero his release from the Red Sox. After a guilty plea in the offseason, the Sox were the only team to offer him a $1 million contract with a team option, only then because of his ties to then-manager Jerry Manuel from their days with the Expos, and his agreement to submit to tests and ongoing counseling.

If this story has any kind of a happy ending, it's that Cordero has seemingly put his history of violence behind him, at least by public indications. His talent was also rehabbed enough to last seven more seasons in the big leagues as a part-time player, though the rebuilding Sox never had much use for him. With Mike Caruso and Ray Durham ensconced in the middle infield, Cordero's inability to make good throws from third base, and lack of a bat big enough (.267/.314/.446 in 371 PAs) for first base or a corner outfield spot, the team said goodbye at the end of the year.

...to be continued when we look at late Cubs signings...

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Orioles grab from the bargain bucket again

In another late maneuver, the Orioles signed outfielder Nelson Cruz to a one-year, $8 million deal.

Nelson Cruz is taking a one-year deal
and will try again for a longer contract
next winter.
Baltimore had been quiet this offseason until signing pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez to a four-year deal last week. The Orioles decided to wait out the market on Jimenez and Cruz, who reportedly was looking for a contract in the neighborhood of five years and $75 million. Cruz declined the Rangers' qualifying offer of one year and $14 million earlier in the offseason.

It's obvious now Cruz's agent misread the market for his client's services coming off a PED suspension and lacking much in the way of defensive ability.

The Orioles weren't reluctant to snag Cruz at this price, even while having to forfeit a draft pick to do so. Having already given up their first-round pick in the upcoming draft to sign Jimenez, Baltimore only gave up its second-rounder for this deal.

This might not be the end for the Orioles. Having already invested in two bargain free agents, they might also look to fill another gap in their rotation with Ervin Santana, who also languishes on the free agent market.

With the addition of Cruz, Baltimore's lineup looks like:

RF Nick Markakis
3B Manny Machado
CF Adam Jones
1B Chris Davis
LF Cruz
SS J.J. Hardy
2B Ryan Flaherty
DH Nolan Reimold/Steve Pearce
C Matt Wieters

That group could be pretty potent, especially if Reimold gets his bat back on track, or the Orioles replace him or Flaherty.

The rotation looks a little more suspect, with Jimenez leading a group that currently includes Chris Tillman, Miguel Gonzalez, Wei-Yin Chen and Bud Norris. Baltimore is really crossing its fingers here, along with some key spots in the bullpen.

Still, give the Orioles credit for not submitting in what is annually a tough American League East. There's possibly a case that could be made that the Orioles are still no better than the third- or fourth-best team in that division. Every team there still has its flaws, and with a second wild card now in play, Baltimore is still good enough to be pursuing the postseason instead of joining the ridiculous race to the bottom some other organizations choose to run in the name of attaining marginally more valuable draft slots.

Don't get me wrong, draft picks are an important part of maintaining fiscal flexibility for teams in the face of exploding free agent contracts. The Orioles might be missing out on some cheap young talent by dipping into the free agent pool right now.

Still, if the point of keeping your picks is to reap millions of dollars in savings, it's hard to say Baltimore isn't also saving millions of dollars by vulture-picking players to bargain contracts now late in the offseason.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Does anyone want these five MLB free agents?

Ubaldo Jimenez
Does your favorite team still need a starting pitcher? Well, there are two free agents out there who might interest you. Both of them had ERAs of 3.30 or better last season -- in the American League, no less.

How about a middle-of-the-order hitter? There are two free agents available who can almost certainly give your team 20 home runs and about 75 or 80 RBIs.

Need defense? The starting shortstop from last year's World Series championship team is available, too.

The Super Bowl is over, and it's almost time for spring training to begin. However, pitchers Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana are without contracts. Also without a job are first baseman Kendrys Morales, outfielder Nelson Cruz and shortstop Stephen Drew.

All five players were given qualifying offers to return to their 2013 teams on a one-year, $14.1 million deal. All five declined and elected free agency. Here on Feb. 4, the waiting game continues for each player.

Why? Phil Rogers explained it in a recent column on MLB.com. Any team that signs one of these five guys would have to give up a first-round draft pick to that player's former team.

These days, teams are a little slower to part with those draft picks. Remember when the St. Louis Cardinals lost Albert Pujols in free agency? Don't cry for the Cardinals because they used the compensatory draft pick they received from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to select pitcher Michael Wacha, who was last seen helping the Cardinals to the 2013 NL pennant.

And don't cry for the Angels either. When they lost Mark Teixeira in free agency after the 2008 season, they received a compensatory draft pick from the New York Yankees and used it to select outfielder Mike Trout, who is probably the best young position player in the sport today.

So, if you're wondering why decent major league players like the five listed above are still looking for work, look no further than the rules about compensatory draft picks. GMs are now figuring the loss of a valuable draft pick into the "cost" of signing these free agents, and accordingly, they aren't willing to give as much money to guys like Ervin Santana. Clubs are going to wait until the last minute to sign these players, once the price comes down to bargain levels.

Eventually, these five players are going to get a contract with somebody. You won't need to cry for them either, because they won't go hungry. But they probably aren't going to get the money they believe they're worth, and they may not even get the $14.1 million they could have had by staying with their 2013 teams.

Most -- if not all -- of these players would already be signed if they weren't tied to draft pick compensation. But this is the gamble they took when they refused those qualifying offers, and here they sit on Feb. 4.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

'Bo knows ambassadorship'

Is "ambassadorship" even a word? I'm not sure it is, but former two-sport star Bo Jackson returned to the White Sox as a team ambassador on Wednesday.

Jackson will serve as a team representative in the community and make appearances on behalf of the organization. Other White Sox ambassadors include former players Frank Thomas, Carlton Fisk, Minnie Minoso, Ron Kittle, Bill Melton and Carlos May.

Jackson played for the Sox from 1991-93 and remains a resident of the Chicago area. His two most memorable moments came in 1993, when he hit a home run in his first at-bat after returning from hip-replacement surgery. Later that season, his three-run homer against the Seattle Mariners on Sept. 27 clinched the 1993 American League West championship for the Sox.

"Bo is an American sports legend, who always will hold a special place in hearts of White Sox fans," White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said in a statement. "His heroic return from what seemed to be a catastrophic career-ending injury helped us win a division title in 1993, and demonstrated to the sports world an unrivaled will and determination to be the best. It is great to again welcome Bo Jackson as a member of the White Sox."

Garza to sign with Brewers

Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports the Milwaukee Brewers have agreed to a four-year, $52 million deal with former Cubs right-hander Matt Garza.

Now that Masahiro Tanaka is off the market, we can expect some of the other free-agent starting pitchers to sign. The Brewers were not a player for Tanaka, so their pursuit of Garza likely was unrelated. Nevertheless, Milwaukee might have been compelled to move now on a deal for Garza, knowing the remaining free-agent pitchers might have more suitors now that Tanaka has signed with the New York Yankees.

Other notable remaining free-agent starters include Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana and Bronson Arroyo.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Clayton Kershaw to get record-setting deal; David Price also signs

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw is the new richest man in baseball -- at least for now.

According to reports, the left-hander agreed Wednesday to a seven-year, $215 million contract with the Dodgers.

Kershaw, the reigning Cy Young Award winner in the National League, becomes the first player with a $30 million average annual salary.

Previously, the most lucrative deal for a pitcher was the one the Detroit Tigers gave Justin Verlander, $180 million over seven years.

In other pitching news, 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner David Price avoided arbitration by agreeing to terms on a one-year, $14 million contract with the Tampa Bay Rays. The contract is the richest one in Tampa Bay franchise history. Price, who is eligible for free agency after the 2015 season, has been the subject of trade speculation. Since he did not sign a long-term deal with the Rays, I would expect that speculation to continue in the coming days and months.

After seeing the dollars these guys are commanding, it's comforting for me as a White Sox fan to know the team has its All-Star left-hander, Chris Sale, under control through 2019. Sale's five-year, $32.5 million deal with team options for 2018 and 2019 is a tremendous bargain in this marketplace.

I'll be interested to see what the Kershaw contract means for international free agent Masahiro Tanaka. No, Tanaka is not going to command $30 million a year, but the Dodgers have reportedly been major players in that sweepstakes. Are they still major players after committing such a large dollar figure to Kershaw? Or is it now a given that Tanaka is going to the New York Yankees, who are the team most in need of a top-flight starting pitcher?

After Tanaka signs, we should see the other dominoes start to fall among the free-agent starting pitchers. All the major free-agent position players have already signed. Meanwhile, you've still got three high-profile starting pitchers still on the market in Ubaldo Jimenez, Matt Garza and Ervin Santana. Look for those three players to be consolation prizes for the teams that lose out on Tanaka.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

AL Central might be happy to see more Jason Vargas

The Royals signed left-handed starter Jason Vargas to a four-year, $32 million contract last week, no doubt hoping he'll fill the gap in their rotation left by the likely exit of Ervin Santana, who just turned in a terrific season for Kansas City.

While Vargas, with his 4.30 career ERA, including 4.02 last year for the Angels, probably can't match what Santana just did for the Royals (3.24 ERA over 211 innings), he can maybe improve what Kansas City got from guys like Wade Davis (5.32) and Luis Mendoza (5.36) across nearly 40 mostly poor starts.

To do that, Vargas is going to have to prove he's not the creation of his home parks. Toiling mostly for the Angels and Mariners, who both have pitcher-friendly homes, Vargas has a career ERA of 3.46 when he's sleeping in his own bed. When he hits the road, however, he's been reached for a 5.17 ERA.

There's some talk about how Kauffman Stadium, where the Royals play, is a good fit for Vargas. While the K might keep some home run numbers down, overall it isn't a pitcher's haven like the ballparks in Los Angeles or Seattle.

If the Royals think Vargas might have an advantage in some of the AL Central parks, the proof hasn't been in the pudding:

ERAs vs. AL Central Teams
6.31 vs. White Sox
5.40 vs. Indians
5.28 vs. Twins
4.60 vs. Tigers

It looks worse in each of those teams' home parks. Vargas has been slammed by the Twins for a .386/.440/.603 batting line against (9.16 ERA). The Sox have whipped him for a .283/.333/.554 line (6.45 ERA). The Tigers have mauled him at a .311/.354/.556 rate (8.71 ERA). Only the Indians have been held in check at home by Vargas for a .235/.291/.353 line (1.93 ERA).

Granted, you can divide numbers up into portions so small that they're meaningless. Vargas has pitched no more than 22 1/3 innings in any of those ballparks, though the aggregate picture when all of those innings are combined isn't pretty. Nor is the 5.31 ERA Vargas has turned in over 20 1/3 innings as a visitor to Kauffman Stadium.

Still, the Indians, who last year hit left-handed pitching much better than right-handed pitching, are probably looking forward to getting more cracks at Vargas. White Sox DH Adam Dunn, who at times struggles against left-handers, isn't going to be sad to see more of a guy who he has hit .429/.636/1.286 against in his career. (No type-Os there. Dunn has crushed Vargas.)

That's not to say the past keeps on repeating itself. Maybe Vargas will prove to be resilient. Perhaps now that he's reached his 30s he will remain durable, and is becoming crafty as we're sometimes wont to describe left-handers without great stuff.

I'm not seeing enough evidence of that to warrant the largess of this contract. Even understanding that in today's free agent dollars, $8 million per year isn't all that much, and might be within Vargas' reach to be worth that money, I don't know why the Royals had to rush out to make sure the ink dried on this deal before the end of November.

Not when there are so many better options still available, including a few options that might be better and much cheaper.