Should we just forget the search for a fifth starter?

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A lot of time has been spent trying to figure out who should be the fifth starter in New York, but if it were up to FanGraph’s Marc Hulet, we wouldn’t even be making the effort:

Teams spend millions of
dollars and thousands of hours crunching data to build a successful
five-man rotation, but it’s all in vain. The truth of the matter is that
these mythical creatures don’t actually exist. If we look back to the 2009 season, only two teams had five starters
on their pitching staffs that made 24 or more starts: the Chicago Cubs
and the Colorado Rockies.

Hulet has a better idea: rather than pick one guy to be the fifth man in the rotation, make it a committee affair, filling that fifth slot with a veteran long reliever who could make 8-10 starts, a young pitching prospect who can make 8-10 starts and split the season between the minors and the big club and fill the remainder of the starts with minor league veterans and organizational soldiers.

I like the thinking — don’t anoint anyone “fifth starter” and, rather, use that slot as a proving ground of sorts — but it just seems impractical for anyone but a rebuilding team.  The first time the young prospect gets a go and has a nice outing everyone will be clamoring for him to keep the job. The first time the swingman gets shelled everyone will wonder why a career long relief guy is starting games.

Hulet’s idea is a nice way to optimize resources and give multiple guys looks, but it overlooks the fact that managers get cameras and tape recorders shoved in their faces every single night and are expected to explain themselves. That’s stressful and distracting even if the skipper has the backing of the front office. Upshot: neat idea, but I think it’s ultimately unworkable.

Rakuten Golden Eagles sign Jabari Blash

Jabari Blash
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Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.

The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.

The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.