What if I told you we have a pitcher under club control for the next four seasons who is striking out more than 7.5 batters per nine innings, walking about 2.0, and hasn’t allowed a home run yet this season?
Now what if I told you that pitcher was David Huff, who just got optioned back to Columbus to make room on the Big League roster for the newly added Ubaldo Jimenez?
Now, what if I told you that Carlos Carrasco has been suspended for six games for doing something silly, opening up a spot in the rotation? On top of that, since the beginning of July, Carrasco has a 9.13 ERA. Woof. But he’s sticking on the roster for the time being, suspension and all, while David Huff dances down I-71 to ply his trade in the minors.
Finally, what if I told you only a stupid organization would have kept David Huff on the 25-man roster in light of all this?
Since Huff’s six-strikeout, five inning performance against the Red Sox on Tuesday night, his 2011 ERA sits at a ridiculous 0.51. Obviously, this is the product of a small sample size and some good luck: only three starts and 17.2 innings, to be precise. Even still, if you’re prone to believing in either redemption or the “hot-hand”, David Huff is the sort of pitcher you’d like to have in your rotation to make a stretch run.
Here’s the glitch, though. Had the club sent Carlos Carrasco down to Columbus and kept David Huff on the 25-man roster, we would have lost our final “option year” on Carrasco, meaning that next season, he’d have to be exposed to waivers to be sent to the minors. (This also wouldn’t be an option for avoiding his suspension; he’d still have to serve it eventually.)
If, on the other hand, we can make it to August 13th (the next day we’ll need a fifth starter), we can send Carrasco down to Columbus and call up Huff, and we won’t lose Carrasco’s option year. This gets a bit technical, but you only use an option year on a player if he spends more than 20 days in the minors in a given season. If the Indians can wait until the 13th to send down Carrasco and call up Huff, they can leave Carrasco in Columbus until September 1st (when MLB rosters can expand to 40 players) and save his last option year.
I know this seems like a small issue, but keep in mind that option years are particularly valuable on a team with as many viable starters as we’ll have for the next several years. If we exposed Carrasco to waivers next year, he’d almost certainly be snatched away by another club. By sending David Huff down for 10 days, the team can assure its choice of its five best pitchers for an entire year in 2012. And all it cost was one more start out of Carrasco.*
*All of this rosterbation probably could have been avoided if Colorado hadn’t started Ubaldo Jimenez on Saturday after they ALREADY HAD A TRADE IN PLACE. This was not remotely acceptable behavior in my opinion. In jest, I’ve suggested that the Indians call up Drew Pomeranz to the Majors to start his arbitration clock to pay the Rockies back for their malfeasance. He has not been, so far as I know, “named” yet, so he is still OUR player to do with as we like. Also, don’t mess with me. I’m devious.
So while I understand that David Huff isn’t happy about the decision, there’s no reason for us to lament it. The front office is doing the smart thing here to protect the club’s best interests going forward. In fact, to do otherwise would be a mistake.