Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Pitcher's Market, Part II

Let's continue our look at the free agent starters still available as we head into the new year...

Oliver Perez - Age: 27 - 2008 salary: $6.5 million
Scott Boras would like you to believe Perez is one of the five best left-handed pitchers in all of baseball, but like most of what Boras says, that's crap. Perez was around average last season, only managing a 4.22 ERA and 1.40 WHIP in 194 innings. But he's young, one of the youngest of all free agent starters this offseason, and he has shown flashes of greatness dating back to his debut with the Padres in 2000. The Mets want Perez back, but the price they're willing to pay is not yet known. Boras will try to push for five years, but again, this isn't the kind of winter where teams not named the Yankees are able to dish out that kind of contract length for far from sure-things. I can't see Perez leaving the NL, but if an AL team came calling with something close to what Boras is demanding, they might have to jump on it. I suspect the Mets might be better off with Jon Garland anyway.

Andy Pettitte - Age: 36 - 2008 salary: $16 million
It's been a great career for Pettitte. He was an integral part of every Yankees' team that made it to a World Series during these past two decades. He went to Houston, close to his Louisiana home, and helped them get to a World Series. Even though he was implicated in baseball's various steroid scandals, he was one of few stars to admit HGH use, and escaped that particular scandal because everyone made Roger Clemens out to be the real villain. Pettitte's had two solid seasons back with the Yankees, and they have a $10 million offer out for Pettitte to return as their 2009 fifth starter. They now seem more willing to go with Phil Hughes following the Teixeira signing, but there's still a chance it happens. Should the offer be pulled, it's safe to say Pettitte will consider joining rotation-mate Mike Mussina in retirement. The Astros probably don't have the money Pettitte would want at this point.

Ben Sheets - Age: 30 - 2008 salary: $12.125 million
Has anyone been more frustrating to fantasy owners over the years than Ben Sheets? He always appears so tantalizing, because everyone knows his stuff is still at its 2004 level, when a 25-year-old Sheets struck out 264 batters with a 2.70 ERA and a microscopic 0.98 WHIP in 237 innings. In 2008, Sheets came within two innings of throwing 200 for the first time since that magical '04 season, but an elbow injury crept up at the worst possible time. He tried to gut through it, but was abysmal in a nationally-televised start against the Cubs during the last weekend of the season. That injury likely cost Sheets millions this winter. The Yankees had been linked to Sheets during the winter meetings, but recent rumblings have the Rangers preparing to make a run. Jon Daniels says there's been no offer, but there has been contact between the two parties. It's predictable for the Rangers to go after a pitcher like Sheets, and but if Sheets wants to live up to his potential he sure as hell won't do it playing in Arlington. If the Red Sox are feeling more ambitious than just going after Brad Penny, I don't see why it would hurt to make a play for Sheets. They could give him two years at around $14-$15 million annually and see what happens. Again, it's a tough winter for a guy like Sheets to be a free agent. If anyone gives him more than two guaranteed years, I'll be surprised.

More tomorrow.

No comments: