Trevor Bauer hasn't thrown a pitch in the majors yet, but it already seems like he needs an origin story, like he was bit by a radioactive spider, or he was developed by WWII-era scientists to help defeat the Red Skull. He warms up by throwing from zip code to zip code. He's a mechanics junkie, keen on sharing his delivery with the world. He is slightly murderous:
"It scares me -- he's going to kill somebody (with his pre-inning warm-up routine),'' Arizona catcher Miguel Montero said. "I don't feel comfortable back there. He has his reasons for doing it, but I don't think it's the right thing to do. He's throwing it right at you. I would prefer I wouldn't have to catch it.''
He doesn't just want to murder catchers, either. He also makes attempts on the lives of beat writers.
He has nine strikeouts in 10 innings this spring, and he hasn't allowed a home run. Last year, he struck out 43 batters in 25 innings across two levels. It's tough to find the right words for him without getting too hyperbolic, so we'll ratchet it down a bit. He's not the greatest pitcher of all-time yet. Right now, he is only the greatest living pitcher, and I would shave my head and live in his house and wait for a comet with him, but only if that's what he asks of me.
probably not going to make the Diamondbacks' rotation.
Diamondbacks option Trevor Bauer to Double-A Mobile— DKnobler (@DKnobler) March 23, 2012
Josh Collmenter is dealing with a little forearm tightness, so there's a chance Bauer sneaks in. But so far this spring, Kirk Gibson has been unambiguous. Collmenter is his fifth starter. Which will delay the arrival of Bauer. Which is horrible for people who like interesting baseball stories.
This is a good thing for the Diamondbacks, though, in at least two ways. The first is that Josh Collmenter is sort of good. Remember him? The pitcher who finished fifth in the Rookie of the Year voting with a 3.38 ERA (117 ERA+) and an outstandingly low walk rate? The conventional wisdom is that his success was completely attributable to his unique delivery, and that once the league gets used to him, his 87-m.p.h. fastball will be quite hittable.
But compare him to Chris Young, whose 85-m.p.h. fastball is still tough to hit because of the deception. Young's body is the only reason he isn't a rotation stalwart; he just can't stay on the field. But when he's there, he can survive with a Zitonian fastball. Deception isn't always something that fades away, and considering the success Collmenter had last year, he deserves the chance to be deceptive until he isn't.
The second reason is money. It's a horrible, unsexy argument for keeping a player in the minor leagues, but the Diamondbacks aren't exactly rolling in revenue. Chlorine is expensive. And breaking camp with Bauer could cost them millions and millions of dollars. Bauer modeled his delivery after Tim Lincecum; he's hoping to model his business strategy after him, too.
If the Giants had waited another month, Lincecum wouldn’t have accrued enough service time to earn "super-two" status. Instead, he’ll be at two years, 148 days after this season, which should make him eligible for arbitration.
With the new CBA, it'll be easier for pitchers to reach super-two status. Lincecum made $9 million in his first arbitration-eligible year, signing a two-year, $23 million deal. That was a lot of money for the Giants, and it forced them to avoid expensive offensive upgrades and rely on castoffs like Cody Ross and Pat Burrell, who … well, that's not the best example of a lack of money screwing things up. But bringing up Bauer now could cost the Diamondbacks a lot of money in 2014. The different between him and Collmenter might not be worth it over a three- or four-month span.
So Bauer will wait, and we'll wait with him, going to the smokeshop every month to put down some of our paper-route money for the latest issue. He'll be up, and he'll be good, and the Diamondbacks will have to figure out which of Collmenter or Joe Saunders is the better short- and long-term option. But for now, it's probably not a bad idea for Bauer to stay put. Even if it's a reprehensibly boring decision because it has nothing to do with Trevor Bauer doing Trevor Bauer things to major-league hitters.