Searching for Vogelsong's replacement

Rich Pilling

In which we continue waiting for Boof.

Barry Zito was injured in 2011, you know. You'll read a lot of talk about how the Giants haven't had a hurt pitcher since Trevor Wilson went on the DL with a pulled dimple, but it wasn't that long ago that Zito missed significant time with a foot injury. Of course, his replacement stuck in the rotation, made the All-Star team, and won two games in the NLCS, so everything most certainly worked out for the best, but Zito was injured once upon a time.

Maybe everything will work out that well again!

Probably not. Still, the Giants have to find a replacement for Ryan Vogelsong, who broke his hand on Shane Victorino's sternum. Which is what I tell myself because, good lord, what was that swing, man?

A list of potential replacements, with the pros and cons:

Chad Gaudin
Pro: He's already here. Knows where the break-room fridge is. And he has tons of starting experience, with 75 career starts. He's pretty much the same pitcher regardless of his role.

Con: Bruce Bochy seemed reticent to call Gaudin the frontrunner, mostly because he likes Gaudin's rubber arm in the bullpen. He threw 3.1 innings and 72 pitches in Toronto, and I'm guessing he's the only reliever Bochy would do that with. Plus, I'm still curious about his potential to emerge as a late-inning option.

Michael Kickham
Pro: He's an upper-level pitching prospect, at least as far as the Giants are concerned. This could be a secret audition, too, as the Giants might need to fill three rotation openings next year, and an in-house option taking one of the spots would allow them to spend more on the other guys.

Also, he's on kind of a roll:

Rk Date Opp IP H ER BB SO HR
5 2013-04-28 Reno Aces 5.1 11 6 0 7 1
6 2013-05-03 Colorado Springs Sky Sox 7.1 4 0 1 8 0
7 2013-05-08 Nashville Sounds 6.2 6 3 0 7 0
8 2013-05-13 Memphis Redbirds 5.1 6 2 3 2 0
9 2013-05-18 New Orleans Zephyrs 6.1 4 0 2 8 0

Does that list start with the game after he was torched for six runs and 11 hits? Yes. Yes, it does. But he's been striking Triple-A hitters out lately, and that counts for something.

Con: He would be a little wild and unrefined, most likely. Usually when the minor-league pitchers with a BB/9 rate around 4.0 come up, they have a touch of the Jonathan Sanchezes. Kickham is also not on the 40-man roster.

Chris Heston
Pro: Heston is on the 40-man roster, and he had a 2.24 ERA in Double-A last year. He's supposed to be polished, with command of all of his pitches.

Con: PCL hitters have been polishing the pitches to a nice, shiny finish, too, sending them right back up the box all season. He didn't allow an earned run in his last start, but in his other eight starts, he allowed three runs in six of them, five in one, and seven in another. His control and command haven't been as sharp as they were last year.

Shane Loux
Pro: Probably has a uniform already

Con: Quite literally the most boring option. None of these guys are especially great options, but at least some of them are interesting. LOUX is probably an acronym on some sort of French sabermetric site that means "replacement player."

Justin Fitzgerald
Pro: The kids are all talking about The Great Gatsby these days, and Fitzgerald might be a way to "leverage" that kind of "buzz." He also pitched his way out of Richmond with six solid starts, and he's most certainly not on the 40-man roster.

Con: He's 27, with one start above Double-A, and his minor-league record isn't that impressive apart from his fast start this year.

Yusmerio Petit
Pro: Also has a uniform already. Fascinating case study, as he's the only known enemy of strikeout-to-walk ratios found in the wild.

Con: Pretty bad! If you're looking for pitchers with a chance to be good, Petit has had several of those, and none of them have worked. He's also been shelled in Fresno.

Boof Bonser
Pro: I would get 5,391 e-mails and tweets, which would be delightful. And as a replacement for Ryan Vogelsong, there would be a delicious kind of symmetry behind it.

Con: He hasn't been good in Triple-A, and he's recovering from serious injuries. Plus, he's not on the 40-man roster.

Kurt Ainsworth
Pro: Hey, if we're talking about a replacement for Vogelsong on a day Jerome Williams has a scheduled start, let's think inside the box. He's still involved with baseball, you know. Kind of.


Making bats, breaking bats, same thing! I'm sure he has a few good years left in him.

Con: What a ridiculous suggestion! How dare you!

Okay, guilty. But never forget this simple fact: You can't invent a more ridiculous suggestion than Ryan Vogelsong in the first place. There will never be a fill-in like that again, and it's a shame that it's his injury that's making us look through the replacement options.

Give me Kickham if you're looking for an opinion. Gaudin is kind of a known quantity as a starter, and that known quantity isn't much better than what I'd expect from Kickham. I'm assuming Eric Surkamp can go on the 60-day DL to make room, though the Giants are always a little weird with those moves.

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