MLB: Kansas City Royals at Detroit Tigers

It was never going to be easy for Ervin Santana. The draft pick compensation attached to his name and the stink of allowing 39 home runs just one year ago all but assured he wouldn’t receive the nine-digit payday for which he longed.

It was the longing for that novelty-sized check that helped land Ervin Santana here in limbo. The same limbo that he still calls home just three weeks away from the start of the season. His long time agent broke away from the Bean Stringfellow umbrella and it appeared the timeline shortened considerably. Deadlines and reported offers and Santana narrowing his choices down to two teams – it looked as though Santana wanted to get into camp in hurry.

But still he waits.

There is no need to draw the comparison between Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez or Matt Garza for the nth time. They’re comparable pitchers who will probably not end up on comparable deals. The draft pick compensation attached to Jimenez and Garza looms large, as the language in the latter’s contract suggests he is no slam dunk as far as physical state goes.

Santana is the double whammy. The draft pick chops his value in half and some teams balked at what they saw on his medical records. Which is strange because his track record is one of supreme health, picking 200 innings with regularity (except 2012, where he wasn’t good enough to last that long in too many starts).

But just because Santana hasn’t been hurt doesn’t mean he won’t be hurt. It doesn’t mean a good doctor can peer into his elbow and see more trouble than the player is ultimately worth.

There is no question his representation misread the market for their pitcher, as Buster Olney details in this EPSN Insider piece. Some GMs shied away based on asking price alone. Putting together a good season in terms of ERA and wins playing in front of a superlative defense in a pitcher’s park doesn’t pay like it used to.

So now it appears Santana will seek out a one-year pillow contract, turning down three years from the Twins if some reports are to be believed. What does Santana think will happen between now and the end of the coming season? If he can put together another 200 innings of keen run prevention, showcasing his new two-seam fastball in a more neutral environment, maybe teams more clubs will bite. Or maybe he’ll just be another year older when he runs the qualifying offer gauntlet.

Should Santana just have accepted the Royals QO all those months ago? Looks like it now, which seems as strong an indication that the QO tax is working as any other sign. But the writing is on the wall – Santana is going to land somewhere on the cheap. The “patience” of some frugal GM should pay off in the form of a decent pitcher working for nickels. We should all be so lucky.

The Brothers Casilla

Santiago Casilla is a pitcher for the San Francisco Giants. He’s a decent reliever the two-time champs used in middle relief in both their championship campagins.

Jose Casilla is a pitcher in the San Francisco Giants system. He’s still on his way to the big leagues, stalled somewhere below double-A. He might get to the show one day.

Yesterday, the Giants played an intra-squad game. One team of vets and one of prospects. Brother Santiago on the established team, Hermano Jose on the futures club.

Despite being eight years apart in age, as you can see they’re pretty much identical twins on the mound.

It’s uncanny. Do you want to know another word for “uncanny”? Weird.

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If we’re dumping context-free video of varying quality into roundup posts, here is a filthy changeup from Stephen Strasburg. It ain’t right.

Two sides of the same coin

Two different pitchers at the opposite ends of their career spectrum. One, a flame throwing giant nicknamed “Thor” makes a splash as a big time prospect, racing up the top prospect lists with a single-minded purpose and incredible physical gifts to match his determination.

The other, a 39-year old reclamation project who turned his career around who also uplifts with his inspirational story. An underdog who overcomes, rather than leverages, his physical tools. A professional athlete who looks beyond the white lines from time to time. The rare second act in an American life.

While Noah Syndergaard will wait before he can make his first impression at the big league level, R.A. Dickey looks to rebound after a fine yet disappointing season in Toronto. Two players, key players in the same trade, with careers that aren’t quite headed in the opposite direction but still manage to stand so starkly different when compared side-by-side. Read about Syndergaard here and Dickey here.

Two glimpses into the future

Speaking of the future, here are two different looks at the future of baseball. The first is an in-depth look at the Astros proprietary database called “Ground Control.” All baseball ops staff access the same information from video to scouting reports to statistical rankings. All created in-house, available on the smartphone of every member of their front office. The future.

The other is Byron Buxton, clubbing a home run to left-center field. This, too, is the future. The future fate of many baseballs should closely resemble this poor, unfortunate, horsehide. Treated poorly and deposited in some low rent district in Central Florida. Nobody deserves to go out that way.

Spring thaw

As a someone very wise once said (and repeated), never believe anything you see in April or September. There are plenty of reasons for this axiom to hold true, temperature not the least of them.