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McCarthy Wants to Stay in Oakland

July 6, 2012

If I am a starting pitcher, Oakland is a great place to pitch. The marine layer turns home runs into fly balls that settle into the gloves of outfielders well short of the fence. Balls that in any other stadium end up as souvenirs, end up in the gloves of infielders for foul outs. Perhaps there is nowhere in baseball as forgiving as the Coliseum. Yet despite this, seldom do you hear the words about people who want to pitch in Oakland. The paltry fans, the chill, the stadium, there are many detractors to playing Oakland even if it boosts your stats. That is why it was nice to hear A’s starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy express an interest in staying with the A’s.

Yesterday, in an interview with Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, McCarthy said,

“[an extension is] something I’m not at all opposed to. I like it here. The fans have been great with me and with [my wife] Amanda, I like the guys on the team, and I’d like to be around guys like Tommy Milone and Jarrod Parker and be part of something here.”

Obviously, I would love to see McCarthy, who presently is on the disabled list, stay in Oakland. He is my favorite of the players on the A’s and he has pitched brilliantly since joining the club when healthy. He seems to have unlocked what it is that is needed for him to be successful and now also avoid more serious injury. But therein lies the rub, McCarthy is an injury risk. He is constantly missing starts, he is constantly entering and exiting the disabled list, and he can’t be relied upon for 200 innings. But that is where I wonder, does it matter?

If McCarthy can pitch quality innings, and this year he has with a 2.54 ERA and 3.38 FIP in 78 innings of 6.0 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 and 0.6 HR/9 baseball good for 1.6 WAR. Last season despite similar woes with injuries, McCarthy threw 170 2/3 innings, this year he is on pace for fewer than that, but if he can pitch 150 quality innings is he someone you sign even long-ish term (three years or so)? I think it is a move the A’s should make. The A’s can’t afford a pitcher of McCarthy’s caliber, few teams will give him a three-year deal given his inability to consistently stay on the mound, but if he can give you 150 great innings and can have the rest of his contract be based upon incentives (even perhaps a series of options maybe?) he is someone worth holding on to.

The A’s need to be creative in building their rosters as they cannot play in the free agent market like other clubs. McCarthy’s blemishes can be just what the A’s need to keep an ace level pitcher in the Bay Area. It is this same flaw that I think keeps McCarthy around should the A’s be trade deadline sellers. It’d be great though to see the team do something good for fan politics and frankly good for the health of the team and keep McCarthy around. He is a good pitcher and I’d like to see him stay.

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