Chad Gaudin signed a minor-league deal with the Phillies. This will be 30-year-old's tenth team.
That's hard to do. True, he came up with the Rays when he was 20, but it's still impressive. Between 2008 and 2010, Gaudin switched teams five times. It's not like he's supposed to be a bad teammate -- Tim Lincecum apparently enjoyed his company immensely, and the Yankees and A's both re-acquired him when needs came up. He's just one of those fungible players, caught in the fungible-player vortex, and he's constantly using a broken bottle to fight off roster gremlins. Unsuccessfully, apparently.
Last year at this time, you would not have been surprised to know Gaudin was a year away from yet another minor-league contract. Minor-league deal coming in, minor-league deal going out. That's how the Gaudins of the world work. But in the middle of the season, everything was much, much different. On July 19, he pitched seven innings against the Diamondbacks, striking out eight without allowing a walk. His strikeout-to-walk ratio was almost 3-to-1, and his ERA was 2.15. He looked like an asset to hold on to, not someone about to be launched from the minor-league-deal trebuchet again.
Questions we had about five months ago: How much would it take to re-sign Gaudin? What does he need to do to make the rotation in 2014? If the Giants really have three open slots, doesn't it make sense to fill one of them with a small, short-term deal?
This is all ignoring the ickiness, of course. We're still not sure what happened. We weren't there. Sounds icky, though. Really, really icky and repugnant.
As a baseball story, though, Gaudin was a good one. He hopped around so much because he had untapped talent. He was a charter member of the should-be-better bullpen, a pitcher with more stuff than results. Finally, as he entered his 30s, it started to come together. That happens to players every year. This time it was happening to the Giants. He was probably going to be a part
On August 23, the Giants put Matt Cain on the disabled list. Yusmeiro Petit was added to the roster. Chad Gaudin's carpal tunnel worsened. Meanwhile, on a small farm in Kansas, a boy was growing up.
There was absolutely no reason to think Petit would wrest the Guillermo Mota Memorial Spot away from Gaudin. Petit had a career 5.54 ERA in the majors, and he was allowing a bunch of runs in Fresno when he was called up. He had a stellar 9-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, but he seemed like he had advanced Nolascoitis, giving up more runs than his strikeout/walk numbers would suggest he should.
When Petit came up, Gaudin had been, quite recently, outstanding. For the Giants, no less. He was a spot starter for the ages, total found money. He was a bright spot in a dark pitching season. Petit was just some guy.
One month later, Petit was the bright spot. Gaudin was the some guy. A lot of it had to do with this game:
Upon further review: Did everything have to do with that game? As in, if Petit gives up a solo homer to Paul Goldschmidt in the fourth, is it still an easy decision to keep the right-hander on a guaranteed deal the following year? Over Gaudin, who was as impressive, but for a bit longer?
Dunno. I'd like to think that single game isn't that obfuscating. Gaudin never had exemplary command, so it was kinda fishy when he was walking two batters per nine innings and succeeding with the Giants as a starter. Petit was always a fascinating pitcher -- a guy with All-Star peripherals and replacement-level ERAs. Check out that partial season with Fresno:
Some of that is so danged good. Some of that is so danged bad. He managed to strikeout 13 without a walk against the Rainers, and he still gave up four runs. That's … hard to do. That's Petit. That's why the Giants have him.
But I'm also extraordinarily comfortable with the decision to keep him instead of pursuing Gaudin. It's what I would have done, and I wouldn't have spent too much time researching the matter.
The transition of power from Gaudin to Petit went smoothly. A little too smoothly. It's weird to think about how quickly one dropped out of the Giants' plans, and how quickly the other ascended. But Gaudin is on the Phillies now, and Petit is still around, ready to provide depth and inning-eating services. That's probably a good thing.