What was Kenny Williams thinking? John Danks is a decent enough pitcher and at 26 a contract extension until he was 31 isn’t the craziest thing Kenny had ever done. However, with his signing bonus and other factors worked in, Baseball Prospectus has Danks making $15.75M this year and 2013-2016 making $14.25M, at least as a base. I’m not sure what kicks in on top of that. Even so, of for this year if you look at the link provided, Danks accounts for 13.83% of the White Sox payroll. That seems like a really big investment for the third best starter in the rotation. Look, I don’t fault Danks at all. I’m pretty much am always on the side of the player when it comes to contract negotiations. If someone is willing to pay a large sum of money for your talents, by all means, take it. I just wish it wasn’t my team doing the paying sometimes. It isn’t so much that I care about Jerry Reinsdorf’s pocket book, but how financial decisions impact the make-up of the team on the field. I won’t accuse the White Sox of being cheap, either. They have the 9th highest payroll in MLB for 2013. They are the second team in a two team market, so if they want to operate under some kind of budget, I get it. It just seems like the resources used to lock up Danks, even if he was healthy, could have been better spent.
Basically, he isn’t much of a strikeout pitcher, (K% 18.7%) which isn’t damning, and more positively, has a good walk ratio of 6.3%. (numbers from 2011, I figure he was pitching in 2012 when he shouldn’t have.) However, he only pitched 170 innings in 2011 and 53 innings in 2012 before he was shut down. My question is, coming off this injury, which very well may take the better part of the 2013 season, how many innings can reasonably be expected during 2013 and 2014? That’s two years out of a five year extension that isn’t looking like a good investment. Adding to the storm clouds are his rather unimpressive ERA’s over the course of his career and lack of quality starts, only 16 in 2011.
Now, it has gotten even worse. John Danks is not having a good spring and every report from Arizona is that he won’t be on the opening day roster. There is the very real possibility that he never regains the arm strength he once had. I don’t think this will happen, but it has occurred to other pitchers with shoulder injuries. I sincerely hope this isn’t the case. What has been a truism since I’ve been a fan of the Sox is that in any successful season, they got off to a good start. There were a few .500 Aprils, and 2010 was the rare surge in the middle of the year, but otherwise if the Sox found themselves in a hole by June, well it was pretty much over. Now, there biggest investment of the last year is out indefinitely, putting further pressure on who was to be the fifth starter and the guy who was at best going to be in the bullpen. If Tyler Flowers has the most pressure on the offensive side, John Danks, especially his shoulder, had the most pressure on the pitching side.