Thoughts on Edwin Jackson, the AL East and Matt Hobgood

I have been reading that free agent pitcher Edwin Jackson wants a four-year contract and it’s no surprise that Scott Boras is shooting for the moon here.

This is a pitcher that has already played for six different teams and has a career ERA of 4.46. Jackson did have a solid 2011 season, going 12-9 with an ERA of 3.79 between the White Sox and Cardinals.

But he gives up a lot of hits and his WHIP of 1.437 last year (better than his career number of 1.476) would have ranked second among O’s starters, but not by much.

Jeremy Guthrie - 1.341
Edwin Jackson - 1.437
Zach Britton - 1.451
Jack Arrieta - 1.458

Sure, Jackson would be a nice addition and I am in favor of the Orioles going after him since pitching is their biggest need. I just have my doubts that he is worthy of a four-year deal from any club.

If the Orioles ever do gain ground on their American League East rivals, it is apparent it won’t be because those teams start to struggle and come back to the pack.

In his Jan. 1 power ranking of the current top 10 teams in baseball, ESPN’s Buster Olney ranks Tampa Bay as first, New York fourth and Boston sixth.

Olney points out that Tampa had the best starting pitcher ERA in the AL in 2011 and the Rays will add Matt Moore to a rotation that includes David Price, James Sheilds and Jeremy Hellickson in 2012.

In 174 1/3 innings last year between the minors and majors, Moore gave up just 113 hits, struck out 233 and pitched to an ERA of 1.91. Olney calls Moore a pitcher that “has the numbers and ability” of Stephen Strasburg without the hype. Yikes.

I don’t know how the Rays do it, but they produce amazing young pitching talent. Hellickson and Moore are tremendous and unllike many young pitchers (like those with the Orioles) may come to the majors and have instant success. That is pretty remarkable.

I’ll end up today debunking a rumor that never really had much traction to start with. But I had more than one person ask me about it, so I checked to see if there was any truth that the Orioles were showing interest in having 2009 first-round pick Matt Hobgood move from pitcher to position player and get to bat in 2012.

There is no truth to that. Hobgood remains a pitcher and that comes from a team official and the right-hander himself.

Since 2009, Hobgood is 4-15 with an ERA of 5.48 in 41 starts covering 158 innings in the O’s minors. He’s pretty much had shoulder problems from day one, but the Orioles aren’t yet abandoning hope for him on the mound, even though he was a somewhat prolific high school hitter.

In his attempt to improve his conditioning and rehab his shoulder, Hobgood has had an eventful and busy offseason and I will provide details on that in this blog later this week.

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