The San Francisco Giants' highest paid player in 2010 was Barry Zito. Their second-highest was Aaron Rowand. The third was Edgar Renteria, and the fifth was Mark DeRosa. My point--if it turns out that I actually have one--is that you can spend a lot of money on players, have said players have poor/terrible/disastrous seasons, and still have a fair amount of success...or even a lot of success.
While spending boatloads of money on a player just to see him bomb out for the summer is certainly deleterious; it's can be overcome. One poor investment is rarely the reason for a season's demise, and in the case of the Giants, even four can be overcome.
These are the type of things you need to mention before discussing the 2010 season for Jake Peavy.
Stat line: 17
starts, 107 IP, 7-6, 4.63 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 98 H, 13 HR, 93 K (7.82
K/9), 34 BB (2.86 BB/9), .289 BABIP, 4.01 FIP, 1.8 fWAR, 1.4 bWAR
What did we expect?: This trade, and the expectation for its returns, was trumped up in the minds of many a White Sox fan, and there were many reasons to talk oneself into Jake being the second-coming of Blackjack, or hell, even just Esteban Loaiza, because to think otherwise might make one very sad.
-The Sox tried to trade for him twice
-Cheap, young, promising, and left-handed Clayton Richard and promising at the time Aaron Poreda were shipped out for this cause
-The trade occurred while the Sox were at least nominally in a division race, and Peavy was injured, so one would at least hope that Jake was good enough to justify getting significantly worse in 2009 for the sake of how good he'd be in 2010
-He immediately became the highest-paid player on the team
-Those last three starts in '09 were pretty killer...even if they were pretty low leverage
My prediction for Peavy was filled with the requisite battle between optimism and hand-wringing, but this sentence stood out upon re-reading:
"The conditions of the Cell will probably push his ERA
over 3.40, and I wouldn't be shocked if he gave up 30 HR making the
transition from Petco to U.S. Cellular."
3.40 ERA, 30 HR...from the ace...these were my expectations...optimistic ones...perhaps we were always screwed.
The result: I was in U.S. Cellular for Peavy's first start of the season. It was cold, rainy, and Peavy inexplicably couldn't get out of innings against the Indians. Back-breaking RBI singles to Shin Soo-Choo were one thing, but not having an out-pitch to dispose of Matt LaPorta with was perplexing.
Perplexing is the best word to describe Jake's first two months. He was pretty reliably bad, but it was never for the same reasons. His strikeouts were underwhelming to start the season, but that wasn't nearly as big of problem as his Russ Ortiz-like control. In May, Jake started getting the ball over the plate....but way too over the plate (7 HR in 40 IP). He complained in the press that he wasn't getting the life he was used to on his fastball--which was amusing because Freddy was doing fine without one at the time--but not being able to locate his slider seemed like just as big of a problem.
Just as confusing were the random dominant outings buried within the muck, or the outing where he'd be a disaster for an inning then snap into a groove. It all spoke to a talented pitcher out of sorts, which made the 5 straight quality starts he reeled off in June seem like a natural diffusion of all the pent-up energy Peavy is always releasing on the mound...mostly through F-bombs. It was a relief.
The incredible excitement of seeing what Peavy might actually be capable of was so intriguing, so exhilarating, that the temptation to ignore the reports of shoulder pain that kept popping up after every encouraging start was very strong for most viewers, and clearly way too strong for Jake, who eventually won out his debate with an extremely concerned Ozzie Guillen to keep throwing.
On the first start of the second half the season, Jake tore his latissimus dorsi muscle off the bone...and that really settled matters....on the plus side, Ozzie was right again.
100 innings is a small sample size, but not an irrelevant one by any means. The problem is that Peavy's 2010 lacks any kind of coherent thesis. He struggled with his control...at times. He struggled to get K's...at times. He threw gopher balls...at times. And for a stretch everything seemed right...but that was only for a time. Eventually inconsistency becomes a trait in itself, but the combination of Peavy's adjustment to the AL, the U.S. Cellular bandbox, playing hurt, and just seeming about as comfortable as a dog with its ear being blown into, makes the inclination to throw out Jake's 2010 as a wash is pretty strong.
Why not do it? It's not like he's going to be the same in 2011 recovering from injury. He's getting paid $16 million next season, and no one's sure what the Sox have.
Love him or leave him?: As much as the great unknown that is Peavy is the starter the Sox might want to trade the most, players just don't get anymore unmovable than pitchers over 30 owed $33 million over the next 2 years coming off of major, somewhat unprecedented arm surgery. It would be an odd mixture of available funds and stupidity for any team to take Jake off the ChiSox' hands. I mean, how many roofies can you slip to Brian Cashman?
Sox fans will have to be content to just root like hell for Jake's triumphant comeback, and really that will probably be the most fun.
Jim Margalus has a fantastic piece on Warren Newson up. Read it.