Reds signed RHP Josh Fogg, who had been with the Rockies, to a one-year contract. Fogg, who went 10-9 with a 4.90 ERA for the Rockies last season and has a career ERA of 4.90, doesn't necessarily upgrade Cincinnati's rotation, though he does make for decent depth. He'll battle Matt Belisle, Jeremy Affeldt, Homer Bailey, Edinson Volquez and Johnny Cueto for three rotation spots behind Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo.
"Makes for decent depth." That's about the nicest thing you're going to find written about Josh Fogg as a MLB starting pitcher.
I had this hazy recall from late last season, when the Rockies were making their torrid run through the National League, that Josh Fogg had found a new out-pitch and had turned a corner of sorts. Turns out it was just one of those tricks of memory. It was probably just a fluke outing or two where I got pissed off because someone in my fantasy baseball league who was half-baked enough to put Fogg in his lineup was actually benefiting from a sterling performance by a craptastic pitcher. Ultimately Fogg was the same 5.00-ERA borderline-adequate starter masquerading as a reliable innings eater. The Reds attract that species like lightning bugs to the zapper: Kyle Lohse, Eric Milton, Ramon Ortiz, Paul Wilson, Cory Lidle, Jimmy Haynes, and on and on.
If you want to look on the bright side, Fogg has at least been . . . well, nevermind. There really isn't much bright side here. Josh Fogg was signed because the Reds weren't willing to give up the farm for Erik Bedard and Joe Blanton; at the same time, they also weren't willing to bank their '08 season on the young arms of Homer Bailey, Johnny Cueto, and Edinson Volquez. If a couple of those guys implode during spring training, they can at least plug Fogg into the back of the rotation and hope his Coors Field exit fetches a rerun of Jimmy Haynes catching lightning in a bottle back in 2002. At $1 million for one year in this market, the insurance policy is well worth the price. Hell, he allegedly turned down $5 million for one year from the Rockies, so consider it a steal if it makes you feel better about having a gasoline can for your #5 starter.
My hope is that Volquez blazes his way into the #3 spot this spring, and Bailey at least gets himself back on the elite prospect track with a string of solid starts on which to build. As for Cueto, I'd love to see him in a set-up role coming out of spring training. Save Earl Weaver, you won't find a bigger proponent of breaking in starting pitchers (especially those smallish in build like Cueto) with a bullpen role as you promote them up the ladder. It takes pressure off the young pitcher at time when his psyche is ultra-fragile, eases him into the new level, spares him from a heavy workload that could be too much for his young, still developing arm, and allows the team to benefit by having a fireballer in the pen to upgrade over a lousy veteran patch. We shall see how this all plays out, but the odds against all three making the team out of spring training are extremely low . . . especially with Dusty Baker as the new sheriff in town.