This week, the Angels will have to decide whether or not to tender contracts to all of their arbitration eligible players. For three players, Kevin Jepsen, Alberto Callaspo and Kendrys Morales, the decision to tender a contract will be a no-brainer. But the fourth and final candidate, Jerome Williams, presents quite the quandary.
It really shouldn't be that complicated should it? But I assure you, it is. So bewildering, in fact, that I've been debating it in my own head for weeks. Yeah, I know, I should probably think about more important things like my family, the unrest in the MIddle East, the forthcoming Mayan apocalypse or pudding. But no, I spend my waking hours torturing myself with an internal debate over a guy who may or may not be the swingman for the Angel pitching staff. So, I've got that going for me, which is nice.
Anyway, allow me to share with you both sides of my
impending psychotic break well-reasoned arguments for and against the Angels non-tendering Jerome Williams:
Pro-Jerome Garrett: Allow me to begin, won't you?
Anti-Jerome Garrett: Go right on ahead, but only because you are so dashingly handsome.
Pro: You're too kind. Let me just layout the basic reasoning to keep Jerome: the Angels have no starting pitching depth. As of right now, Williams is not only in the rotation, he is the fourth starter. Obviously the Angels will try and make that note the case, but given the lack of options in free agency, would they not be wise to keep Jerome around as an insurance policy?
Anti: That is a very valid concern. I'd expect nothing less from such an accomplished blogger as yourself. However, that concern is based merely on a fear of the unknown. You are falling victim to the scare tactics of the rumor mongers in the media. There is a zero percent chance that the Angels will go into the season with Jerome Williams as a planned part of their rotation. Whether or not they keep Zack Greinke, they are going to add two more starters and turn Williams into nothing more than a mop-up man, and not a particularly good one who will cost the Angels in the neighborhood of $2 million, which is a bit pricey as far as mop-up men go.
Pro: Yes, but you can't ever assume stability in a rotation. Don't you remember how badly things turned out when the Angels went into 2011 thinking they could count on Kazmir and Pineiro with Tyler Chatwood and Matt Palmer as the fallback plan? That's how we got into this whole Williams mess to begin with.
Anti: I thought we agreed to suppress that memory?
Pro: We did, but memories can't stay buried forever. Like that time we suddenly remembered that we were really a secret agent and needed to stop an evil plot on Mars-
Anti: That was Total Recall.
Pro: Oh, right... Where was I? Oh, yeah. Someone could get hurt or Garrett Richards could be ineffective. Let's not forget that Wilson is coming off elbow surgery and Weaver dealt with back and shoulder problems last season. Maybe the Angels will only need Jerome for two or three starts, but they might need him for 20 starts too. You just don't know.
Anti: This is true, but would it really be so bad if someone other than WIlliams was the guy making those starts? Are we so certain that Williams is that much better than Barry Enright, Brad Mills, Billy Buckner, Jo-Jo Reyes or Nick Maronde? Is that marginal upgrade worth $2 million and a burnt roster spot?
Pro: Let's look at the facts, shall we? Williams had a 4.83 ERA as a starter, but he did so with a 4.10 FIP and 3.98 xFIP. He really wasn't as bad as that ERA suggests. Williams definitely isn't great, but as an emergency starter, you can do a lot worse. Heck, you can do much worse at fifth or fourth starter if he pitches closer to his peripherals which he did in 2011.
Anti: You're talking about a pretty small sample size there though. Frankly, I thought you were better than that. Actually, I know you are better than that because I am you. Assuming anything about Williams' performance is a fool's errand. This is a guy who disappeared from organized baseball from three years. If anything, we could look at his success in 2011 and early success in 2012 as him catching the league by surprise since they had no experience against him. To me, that just isn't worth it.
Pro: Worth what? $2 million is chump change in MLB nowadays. It's worth even less if they replace Williams with someone who is worse but makes only a few hundred thousand less. With Vernon Wells around I don't know how anyone in this franchise can be to concerned with burning $2 million. I think that is well worth spending in order to have a little peace of mind by having a sixth starter that the team knows and trusts waiting the wings if he is needed. The Angels know that Williams will go out there, work his butt off, throw a bunch of strikes and compete. What more can you ask for in that role?
Anti: You can ask to not have that role, you dolt!
Pro: Why are you yelling at me? I'm you, remember. I'm starting to think we might have a self-loathing problem.
Anti: Right, sorry. But still, why would you even want to have a swingman on the roster? In case you didn't notice, the Angels need all the bullpen talent they can get. His roster spot and potential salary can go towards a guy who could end up being an important piece of the Angels barren middle relief corps or they could use the money to make a higher bid for Kyuji Fujikawa to increase the odds of landing him. If the Angels really need an emergency starter, they can always call a guy up. There is no sense reserving a spot on the 25-man roster for a pitcher who might only pitch once a week, which was often the case with Williams in the final two months of the season, by the way.
Pro: Did I miss the part where we decided Williams isn't a useful reliever? He had a 4.08 ERA in that role as well as a 4.24 FIP. Both of those numbers were inflated by the times he was left out there to soak up innings during blowouts. All in all, he was the same pitcher he was as a starter except he walked even fewer guys, only 1.55 BB/9 as a reliever. Last time I checked, the Angels need some relievers who aren't constantly walking guys. They also need someone who can come in for multiple innings and induce a ton of groundballs. I get that it is disappointing to not have him be a potential high leverage reliever, but think about the utility he provides with his ability to throw multiple innings and save the rest of the bullpen from getting overworked.
Anti: You make some great points. You are as convincing as you are devilishly charming. However, you've only convinced me of the need for such a pitcher but not that Williams is best suited for the job. As you (and technically me) yourself (and technically myself) stated, Williams doesn't have much in the way of upside. Well, that's just no fun at all. Why not cut him loose and bring in someone who could turn into a real asset. Would it be so bad to roll the dice on Roberto Hernandez, Rich Harden, Carlos Zambrano or Scott Feldman? If the guy clicks, the Angels have a great reliever or a quality rotation option. If he doesn't, the Angels have... Jerome Williams really. They might cost a bit more, but like you said, $2 million is chump change nowadays.
Pro: Blast! Foisted on my own petard!!!
Anti: Haha! I win... and lose. Wait... does that make this a draw?
Pro: Does it really matter? All I know is I had fun in this debate.
Anti: As did I. I have but one regret. We probably should've done this whole debate format thing a few weeks before the election, not after. It probably would've played a lot better then.
Pro: Probably not. We are still debating Jerome Williams after all.
Anti: Good point. Very well then, let's call it a day and go back to our usual routine.
Pro: You mean screwing around on Twitter and searching for pictures of Kate Upton instead of working?
Anti: Bingo! Mental self-high-five!!!
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You win. Or maybe you lose; I'm not sure. Williams would be a great guy to keep for a sixth starter/mop up guy. He doesn't walk a lot of batters, and that's a big part of what killed our bullpen last year. As you mentioned, his FIP was lower than his ERA, but his xFIP was significantly lower, and I take much more stock in that for relievers than for a starter like Jered Weaver, who has outperformed his FIP and xFIP consistently, year after year. He doesn't walk a lot of batters and his ground ball rate is better than 50%, and that's a big deal for a reliever, especially one making around $2 million.