Carlos Villanueva Is The Answer

While sorting through the opinions of all the bloggers and 'experts' some patterns became clear. The first is, nobody is ever satisfied. Coming in to the off-season everybody was talking about us needing 2 quality starters. We got them, and now the universal consensus is that we need another one.
This time, I tend to agree though.

Still, we're already rocking a big payroll. A reclaimation project probably isn't a much safer bet than the starters we have coming back from injury. Minor league signings probably aren't much better than what we can get from the upper minors. If we sign another middle of the rotation guy we've effectively blocked Drabek, Hutchinson, and all other young arms, out of the rotation going forward. So, what other options are there for the back end of the rotation.

As you might have guessed from the title, I think Carlos might be the answer. A #5 starter that can post a 3.50 ERA for half the season is exactly what we need. That gives extra time for our young pitchers, and those returning from injury to fill that void. I think it should be more than enough time before Villanueva starts to burn out.

Also, by the middle of the season typically nagging injuries have started to creep up, and at least one bullpen arm is on the DL. It's a perfect time to get an above-average reliever that can be a swing man.

Now, the price and length is what's really the tipping point. Carlos wants to be paid like a starter, and given the chance to start. Last season, he pitched 125.1 innings. It's fairly common for pitchers to increase their inning count by 25% season-over-season. That would put CV at about 157 innings. At 6 innings per start, Carlos could either pitch to the end of August as a starter, or - as I suspect would be best - start into the middle of the summer and then convert to a reliever.

In either case, getting 157 innings from a starter (for the record, Bill James projects CV to get 146, which is pretty close) can't be considered a bad thing. So, even with some time spent in the pen, there's no reason to deny Carlos starter money out of hand.

In subsequent years, he could be stretched out to be a real, full-time starter, or not. Lyon was considered an overpay for a reliever, but you can only feel *so* bad for having an effective reliever who is slightly overpaid. I think a smilar contract, 3/15, could work for both sides. It locks up a great long man, who could work out as a steal as a starter, or at the worst probably provide market value without blocking any of our young arms.

James also projects CV's ERA and FIP to drop. An FIP like he projects (4.31) over 146 innings would be worth over 1.5 WAR, or about a salary of 8million. That gives us some definate wiggle room for regression while still getting good value.
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