Night and Day, the Evolution of Baek.
This time last year, Corco and I were pretty much in agreement that Cha Seung Baek should be the first guy to be removed from the 40-man roster. Our wish came true in December, only a bit later than we'd hoped, and after several guys -- to make room for Carl freakin' Everett. Okay, so someone else is buying Corco beer -- Just drink one sip in memory of that occasion for me, Corco, okay?
While some things never change, Cha Seung Baek has. The way he's masterfully handled Texas' lineup twice this season, even in the bandbox now known as Ameriquest, he's shown me that he can indeed pitch in the majors. Sample size, schmample size. He may indeed be getting lucky -- and his last outing was certainly less-than-stellar. But I've now completely changed my mind on him.
I'm totally fine giving him a spot in the rotation next year. Provided, of course, the M's front office (whoever that may be) goes out and gets, either via trade, via Japan, or via Free Agency, a top-of-the-rotation starter. Certainly Freddy, oops, I mean, Felix has the potential to become one. He's still only going to turn 21 next season, and I don't think he's ready to carry this team on his shoulders. He'll be a good one, and good for several years. But the M's need a horse to carry the rotation. I doubt Moyer will be back, but he never was the TOR horse he was made out to be anyway. The M's have desperately needed a TOR starter since RJ left.
Even with this, the M's still have several holes to fill in the rotation. Baek will be cheap, and he'll be acceptable. He won't be the TOR horse that we need, but I have absolutely no problem with him in the rotation. Sure guys like Feierabend and Lowe could turn into even better starters. I'm not sure that the organization sees Lowe returning to the rotaion. If so, both of those guys are young enough that they won't be hurt by starting the year in Tacoma. They've had a taste of the bigs now, and they both should be hungry to return. Or, they could be stashed in the 'pen, just like the M's have done with other budding starters.
Mr. Baek -- congratulations on all the hard work you've done to bring yourself back to a MLB-caliber pitcher. Instead of rooting for my prognostocating abilities (and cheering on Lorraine extra hard, knowing that you were warming up in the 'pen, ready to lose the game), I'm going to serve my penance by cheering you on and wishing you into the rotation.