M's add Silva to rotation
Splitting his fingers on the mound is one way Carlos Silva plans to repay a Mariners team that has made him the richest pitcher in franchise...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Splitting his fingers on the mound is one way Carlos Silva plans to repay a Mariners team that has made him the richest pitcher in franchise history.
Silva began deploying a split-finger fastball against left-handed hitters midway through last season. All of the sudden, the southpaw bats that tormented him the first half couldn't get very good wood on the ball.
It's small things like those that help explain why the Mariners would give a four-year, $48 million contract to a league-average sinker-ball pitcher who wins about as many games as he loses. Another reason would be the fact that the price of even mediocre pitchers is soaring and the Mariners desperately need more arms to give their lackluster rotation a fighting chance.
"There was a lot of things I was doing, especially with the left-handers," Silva said Thursday, after a news conference in which his new deal was announced. "I was more aggressive against them. I'm a sinker-ball pitcher and my coach was telling me I was using the sinker ball too much. They were sitting on my pitch outside."
Instead, the 28-year-old began busting the hitters inside with a four-seam fastball. That would help set them up for the new splitter, which began in but then floated away from lefty hitters.
"That was a big key for me, especially in the second half of the season," Silva said.
Don't take his word for it. The statistics he posted in the second half against left-handers speak almost as loudly as all those millions in his new contract.
Left-handed hitters posted a hefty .382 on-base percentage against Silva before the All-Star break last season. But they managed just a lowly .289 on-base mark off him after that.
Being able to retire lefty hitters is crucial to any pitcher trying to find an advantage to pitching at Safeco Field. For all of the advantages Silva could have here — like fly balls not carrying well — the reality is that Safeco seems to also favor left-handed batters who can pull the ball.
The Mariners are banking quite a bit of money on Silva being able to post above-average numbers. He went 13-14 with a 4.19 earned-run average for the Minnesota Twins last season, pitching in a home ballpark that does not favor pitchers, but does allow a lot of balls to be hit into play.
Silva's new deal includes a $5 million signing bonus as part of the $48 million overall package. There's also a mutual option for a fifth year at $12 million, with a $2 million buyout clause also included in the $48 million guaranteed money.
"It's a big add for us in a spot where we had to add some power into our rotation," Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi said. "I don't think he's a good fit just for [our] club. I think he's a good fit for any club. Guys who come in and throw strikes and are consistent at that, and have done it in the American League ... fit anywhere.
"We definitely have two different leagues right now and it was important for us to use that in our evaluations."
That latter part helps explain why Bavasi was so willing to throw Silva the kind of dollars he'd been prepared to spend on Japanese free-agent Hiroki Kuroda. The Los Angeles Dodgers signed Kuroda for three years, $35.3 million Saturday, causing the Mariners to increase their efforts to land Silva.
Bavasi spoke often, once the news conference was over, about the fact that Silva — unlike Kuroda — has already proven himself in the AL. Silva presently slots anywhere from No. 2 to No. 4 in the rotation, but that could change once the Mariners bring in another pitcher.
Although Bavasi spoke of his club now being able to compete with the Los Angeles Angels for the AL West, it's clear he would like to upgrade the front end of the rotation. Talks continue with the Baltimore Orioles for pitcher Erik Bedard, while the Mariners say they're still in on Minnesota Twins starter Johan Santana.
Silva and Santana were best friends in Minnesota. So much so that when Silva got married on Dec. 1 in his native Venezuela, Santana was in the wedding party.
While the two have spoken about Silva's decision to come to Seattle, don't look for that to have much impact on what still is a longshot bid to bring the Twins ace here.
"He'll make his own decision on that," Silva said. "I have nothing to do with it."
Silva's new wife, Maria, a St. Paul, Minn., native who met him while he was with the Twins, flew in from Minnesota with the pitcher on Wednesday and attended the news conference. The pair are off to Venezuela this morning, where they are giving away Christmas gifts to impoverished children in Silva's hometown as part of an annual fundraiser they operate.
That trip, he said humbly, will help lend some context to the mind-boggling money he just earned for his pitching ability.
"I know it's a good morning for me and for my family," he said. "But it's not only about the money."
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
UPDATE - 8:27 PM
Catcher Gregg Zaun retires after 16 seasons
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.
"Iron Man 3" kicks off a summer blockbuster season that will see hundreds of speeding, squealing, exploding, airborne, rolling and smoking vehicles in...
Post a comment