Tom Haudricourt crammed a lot of information into his recent blog post about the Brewers’ pursuit for pitching. Among topics discussed were Mark Mulder (they’ll talk contract once Mulder can throw off a mound), Ben Sheets (sending scouts to his throwing session), and Doug Davis (both sides are interested). There was one quote from Doug Melvin that did catch my eye, though, and it was a doozy that might fire up the guys at Fire Doug Melvin:
“Our new thing is that we’re not just looking for innings. We’re looking for quality innings. We like our offense and our bullpen. We just need quality innings from our starters.”
Admittedly, I don’t have the experience that Doug Melvin has. I’m just a guy who likes watching and writing about my favorite baseball team. But to me, saying that your “new thing” is “looking for quality innings” is like saying your “new thing” is looking for people who can hit or catch the ball. Isn’t this something that you should have been looking for all along?
We all know that Melvin has always had a fascination with innings eaters. When Jeff Suppan was signed, one of the things that Melvin was most attracted to was his ability to throw a lot of innings. It was also a factor in the Braden Looper signing last year — the fact that Looper was so cheap and could throw so many innings was seen as a bonus. Seeing his pitching staffs over the past few years get torpedoed by injury problems probably only made him want a rotation of innings eaters even more.
Of course, last season we saw what putting together a rotation of innings eaters without regard to the quality of those innings gets you. Braden Looper ate a lot of innings, but gave up a lot of home runs while doing it. Mike Burns ate innings as an injury replacement, but did it while pitching below replacement level. When Suppan and Dave Bush weren’t injured, they ate innings while pitching like they were. While the Brewers did have injuries in their rotation last season, things were so bad when everyone was healthy that it was pretty clear that something needed to be done this offseason to upgrade the rotation.
So far, we’ve seen that. Randy Wolf will pitch just as many innings as Looper did last year — if not more, due to less short outings — and likely do so without walking a couple guys before giving up a home run. If the Brewers sign someone like Doug Davis or Jarrod Washburn to a one year deal, they’ll likely represent an improvement over some of Manny Parra’s rough outings last season. While it’s nice for Melvin to acknowledge the change in philosophy, it’s a little disturbing to hear what the previous philosophy was.