The J-Train Rolls to its Next Stop in…Colorado?!
In an indication of why J.P. Ricciardi couldn’t manage to trade Josh Towers for anyone with a pulse, Josh Towers has signed on with the Rockies for 1.8 million dollars. That’s about half what the Jays would have had to offer him, and only 400,000 of it is guaranteed (the full amount coming if he makes the starting roster).
I don’t care how often his 2006 season still gives you bad dreams, when Carlos Silva gets 12 mil a season that’s a pretty good deal for a mediocre arm. No wonder nobody was really interested in claiming him off waivers or swapping him at the winter meetings.
But get this: Included in Towers’ contract is another further 1.3 million dollars in incentives that start kicking in after 35 games, not innings. So if Towers becomes a lights-out starter, makes every start and goes on to pitch 200 innings, he misses out on his bonus. The Rockies are offering him a cash incentive worth almost as much as his starting salary for him to not win a starting role and work out of the pen instead.
(Insert your own: “hmmm…paying Josh Towers not to start games for your team sounds like a pretty good idea” joke here…)
That part of what is otherwise a bargain doesn’t make sense to me. Although he seems to like the role, Towers has been bad his entire career when working from the stretch (100 points of OPS) with runners on base. His numbers in the bullpen (career ERA of 7.18) are not good at all. The Jays avoided making him a “swing man” for years and then let him gather dust when he was forced out there last year (due to the emergence of Jesse Litsch) because he’s not suited for it. For a team to sign Towers it only makes sense for some NL club to use him as a fringe 5th-6th starter and his numbers in that role haven’t and shouldn’t be terrible.
But as a reliever in Coors Field? It sounds like a scene from a Bugs Bunny cartoon. Josh sounded in dreamland at the thought of playing in San Diego’s “huge ballpark” with the “West Coast weather at night.” This is the other side of the spectrum and possibly the only less suitable place than the Homerdome and the AL East for his style of pitching. The humidor may have made it a little ridiculous, but that park still gives up a ridiculous number of hits and among the most HR of any park which will make it tough for Towers to win a rotation spot unless he is lights out in spring training or someone goes down. But hey, there’s no cash in starting, anyway. Flaming out after a couple of starts and being demoted to mop-up man is where the money is for Josh now!