Our team is better right now than it was at the end of the year last year, because of the three new starting pitchers we have, Kenshin Kawakami, Derek Lowe, and Javier Vazquez. But they represent nearly the sum total of our activity this offseason. Understandably, fans -- especially me -- have been calling for an offensive upgrade in left field, especially with Adam Dunn still waiting to be signed.
But am I taking my eye off the ball? You can never have enough pitching, as they say, and TINSTAAPP -- there is no such thing as a pitching prospect. In other words, Tommy Hanson looks great, but there are no guarantees.
So, here's what we've got: Derek Lowe, Jair Jurrjens, Javier Vazquez, Kenshin Kawakami, and Jorge Campillo seem to be the front 5. Jo-Jo Reyes and Charlie Morton are knocking, though neither has been able to put it all together at the major league level. James Parr saw some September action too, though he doesn't appear to be an answer. It's not at all clear that Glavine will be healthy enough to give us anything, let alone productive if he were healthy. Hudson isn't expected until near the end of the year, and since he's recovering from Tommy John, we have no idea what he'll be able to give us. Of course, Buddy Carlyle and Jeff Bennett are available for a spot start.
The top 5 are pretty solid, and Lowe and Vazquez in particular are known for durability. But I'm worried about Jurrjens, just a year after pitching by far the most innings in his young career, and Kawakami was a bit of an injury risk in Japan. Campillo also had injuries when he was with the Mariners. Pitchers being what they are, it's a virtual certainty that at least 1, if not 2 or 3, of our top 5 guys will miss significant time this year. (Last year, of course, 4 of the top 5 did: Smoltz, Glavine, Hudson, Hampton.)
So do we have enough guys below them? Parr, Reyes, Morton, Carlyle, Bennett, Glavine, and Hudson will undoubtedly see a fair number of innings between them, and I don't have a great deal of confidence in any of them, even the recovering Hudson -- Hudson had surgery last August, and it typically takes Tommy John patients 18 months to return to full strength. Do you feel confident in our pitching staff? Is it really time to focus once and for all on hitters?
Or could we use another arm?