It’s possible Bartolo Colon will reach a day when he can’t get anybody out, although being Bartolo Colon means you can always get people out. It’s possible R.A. Dickey has nothing left, although knuckleballers always have a little something left. It’s possible these two pitchers — aggregate age: 85 — will add nothing to the Atlanta Braves in 2017.
But you know what? In the grand scheme, it won’t much matter. As noted yesterday, pitchers of this ilk are hired to keep seats warm, and that’s what the Braves are paying them to do. It’s believed the Braves will pay Colon and Dickey $20.5 million next season, which sounds like a lot but really isn’t. Because these are essentially one-year deals. (The club holds on option on Dickey for 2018; it can buy him out for $500,000.)
Twenty million for two starting pitchers — that’s $10 million per man — is next to nothing. Arizona signed Zack Greinke last winter for $206.5 million over six seasons; Boston signed David Price for $217 million over seven. The beauty of what the Braves just did is that they’ve landed two proven innings-eaters who won’t block any of the team’s prized young arms except Matt Wisler or Aaron Blair, and from the way those two pitched last season they need to be blocked.
We should probably learn to take John Coppolella at his word. He said he wanted to sign two free-agent pitchers. He has. He said he didn’t want to surrender any prospects. He hasn’t. Once more, with feeling: The Braves have a plan and are executing that plan.
I’m tickled about Bartolo Colon. How can you not be tickled about Bartolo Colon? He’s pleasingly plump. He’s older than dirt. He’s loved by his teammates. He’s loved by fans. The best single moment of last season was his home run off James Shields in San Diego. (See, Colon had never hit one before.) If he hits even a double in SunTrust Park, we’ll all be beside ourselves. But that would be an ancillary benefit. He’s not coming here to hit.
He’s coming here to do what he just did with the Mets — offer veteran cover and nous for a rotation otherwise filled with young pitchers. (Although here he’ll have Dickey for company.) Know who worked the most innings for those Mets? Not Thor (Syndergaard) or the Dark Knight (Harvey), not Matz or DeGrom. It was Bartolo Colon.
Colon doesn’t throw very hard. Dickey throws even less hard. They figure to stand as counterweights to Julio Teheran, who can throw hard, and Mike Foltynewicz, who throws really hard. Even without knowing who the No. 5 man will be, this has the makings of a pretty fair rotation. It won’t be a long-standing thing on the order of Glavine/Maddux/Smoltz plus Avery/Neagle/Millwood, but it should serve its purpose
Not to say I’m smart or anything — we all know better — but Colon signing with the Braves is yet another indication that this organization has begun to exert a pull. He had offers to pitch elsewhere. He picked the Braves. This is no longer the Last Chance Saloon. This becoming a real destination.
And if you’ll grant me one more indulgence: Go back and read my projected lineup — as rendered in July 2016 — for the 2018 Braves. Note that the rotation included Bartolo Colon. If Coppolella would ever get around to trading for Mike Trout, my work here just might be done.