Monday, February 12, 2007

Kris Benson: Out For The Year

Yes, that's right folks, Kris Benson is gone for the year with a partially torn rotator cuff according to Ken Rosenthal from Fox Sports. Benson, who went 11-12 with a 4.82 ERA last year, appears to have torn his shoulder dring offseason workouts.

This is a pretty harsh blow to the Orioles for next year. Benson was the innings eater, if nothing else he put up and average of about 6 innings a game last year and with a young volatile rotation you really want a guy like that going out every fifth day. Despite his "warm body" role, Benson had a better year than his numbers would tell you. Anyone who watched the Orioles last year can tell you that the Birds' pathetic bullpen cost Benson at least 5 or 6 games over the course of the year. The only bright side to this: It happened so early that the Orioles have a lot of time to figure out what they are going to do.

So what DO they do? If they want to fill it with a comparable vet the early name being thrown around is Steve Trachsel, who last year with the Mets put a respectable year and has the mark of being a workhorse, only 5 times in his career he has pitched less than 160 innings a season. but do you want to being this guy in with any hope that he will be a real UPGRADE in the rotation? Probably not.

Next up, youth. The Orioles have some guys bouncing around on the ML bubble that must be chomping at the bit, if they weren't already. Namely
Hayden Penn, Garret (I still want to call him Gregg) Olson and the newest acquisition Jeremy Guthrie. Penn is probably the most ready that is to say he really has nothing left to prove at the AAA level but he has everything to prove at the ML level. His cup of coffee at the big show last year left a lot to be desired as he was pummelled about the face and neck by the teams he faced. Olson's name wasn't really thought of this year until reports came out of the Warehouse that there are members of the org that really think that this kid had a chance to make the rotation regardless of injuries. But having not pitched above AA ball you would like to see him get more seasoning. Guthrie, the waiver wire pick up from Cleveland, has big league experience and was a good security pick-up for just such and occasion. But like Penn he has had more struggle than success in the MLB.

What the Orioles do is going to depend on what they are looking to replace. If you are more concerned about having that solid, veteran, innings eater in the middle of the rotation to spell the pen and take some pressure off the kids then you really have to look into a guy like Trachsel. If you want to gamble and possibly go for someone with a huge upside then you let the kids go all Highlander during ST, fighting it out until the best man wins.

My condolences to Kris. He was an asset to the team last year and a bigger piece to this team than many gave him credit for. But weep not for him, He gets to stay at home with Anna all year, not exactly a bad way to recover if I do say so myself. Get well soon Kris, and we'll see you in '08. In the meantime - 2007 just got a whole lot more interesting.

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