I think there is a big difference in strategic purpose to signing Jair Jurrjens and signing Joe Sauders. If you sign Jurrjens and not Saunders, you basically are saying you are counting on someone -- not necessarily Jurjjens -- to have a better year than last year in order to hold down a rotation spot, and may the best man win. Could be Jurjjens, could be Britton, could be Arrieta, could be Matusz, could be Hunter, or eventually could be Wada. You are not signing Jurjjens on the assumption that he will win a spot, you are merely giving him the opportunity. If you sign Saunders, you are assuming that he is getting a rotation spot, and you are banking on him to be essentially the smae pitcher he always has been. And you are saying to all the young guys, if you want a rotation spot, you are going to hope that one of Hammel, Chen, Gonzalez, Tillman or Saunders gets hurt or has a very disappointing season, because if they pitch exactly the same as they did last year, there is no spot for you.
I'm OK with the Jurjjens signing, but I don't really view him as a guy who was very good in 2008-11 and just had a bad year in 2012. The fact that the Braves were willing to trade Jurjjens, Prado and Delgado for Jones -- before Jones had his big year last season -- tells me that the Braves knew he was damaged goods. Let's not forget that in 2011, Jurjjens had a 1.51 ERA in April/May, but then slipped to 4.07 for the next three months, and then didn't pitch in September. The Braves knew things weren't right with Jurrjens, and that was proven out in 2012. So I'm not too sanguine that this is a matter of letting Rick Peterson tweak Jurjjens' mechanics. Is it worth $1.5 mm to see if Jurjjens can be resurrected? Yeah, maybe. But I'd say the odds that this experiment will succeed are in the 25% range, if that. That's the reason that a guy like Jurjjens is available at such a low price.
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