Could Revs’ signing strategy backfire?

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There has been a lot of recent debate centered around the problems that stem from bringing back the same players year after year in the Atlantic League.

Lancaster was burned by this signing method last season. A year after winning the 2006 Atlantic League Championship, the Barnstormers finished 57-69 and were never a serious threat in the South Division.

But there’s another player acquisition strategy that might prove just as troubling for the York Revolution this year: targeting former major league pitchers. Call me crazy, but here’s my argument:

For starters, Revolution officials and anyone involved in the league will tell you that the league’s success is defined by how many players use their opportunity in the Atlantic League to make it back to affiliated organizations. While this is true, when players do make it back to affiliated teams, it waters down the talent in the Atlantic League and leaves teams hurting for extended periods of time.

We saw this with York twice last year. Ryan Baerlocher and Adam Thomas both had their contracts purchased by affiliated clubs on May 30, 2007 and the Revs took weeks to recover. Later in the season when York’s playoffs hopes were dangling by a thread, Franklin Nunez and Jeff Farnsworth were both signed to affiliated deals — moves that squashed any hope of catching Somerset.

This could be a problem for York again this year. The club has already signed five pitchers with major league experience (Corey Thurman, Aaron Myette, Dave Veres, Wayne Franklin (pictured above) and Pete Munro), and while many of them have a number of red flags attached, three of those pitchers should have a decent shot at earning affiliated deals. Munro (32), Thurman (29) and Myette (30) are all young enough and have the track records to make it back to affiliated ball. Even 41-year-old Dave Veres could earn the same shot with his connections if he pitches well.

So while we all enjoy watching former major leaguers and hearing their tales of playing in The Show, signing them in bulk could prove troublesome for York this year. Adam Gladstone, the Revs’ director of baseball operations, will certainly be put to the test if more than one of these players are signed away at the same time. Last year, he wasn’t able to find suitable replacements quickly. Maybe that will be different this season now that he only has to worry about acquiring players for one team.

But don’t be tricked into believing this equation: former major league pitchers = success. It could prove to be quite the opposite.

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