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flyer85
01-08-2007, 01:19 PM
The signing of Marquis was ludicrous, especially with all the young arms the Cubs have. I wish the Reds would jettison Lohse and Milton and acquire Guzman and another from the Cubs. Of course I know it won't happen.

Thoughts from Neyer


You know what's frustrating? When fans convince themselves -- and try to convince me -- that some free agent is worth [insert huge number here] million dollars ... after he's been signed. Did anybody in San Francisco really think, a month ago, that Barry Zito was worth $18 million per season? I doubt it. Well, nobody except Barry Zito; baseball players, just like me and you, tend to have an inflated and fantastical sense of their own worth. Anyway, since Zito signed with the Giants, you should see the e-mail I've been getting.

Zito won a Cy Young Award!

The Giants needed to send a message to the fans!

Compared with Gil Meche, Zito's a bargain!

You get the idea. But I'm really, really not here today to mock the Giants for believing Scott Boras. It has happened to many teams before, and it'll happen to many more. Boras is smarter than nearly every general manager, so usually he's going to make one of them look ridiculous. This time, it was Brian Sabean's turn, but in a sense, getting beaten by Boras -- and blowing a few million bucks -- is just the cost of doing business these days. No, what I'd like to do today is explore this notion that the skyrocketing cost of good and adequate pitchers is a natural product of their scarcity. Is it true that there simply aren't enough decent starting pitchers to go around, so if you want to compete, you have to crazy-spend?

I don't think so. Yes, every team would like to have five dependable starting pitchers. Or at worst, four. And it's probably true that there aren't 150 good starters running around, or even 120. But then, there never have been. Historically, even good teams generally have to scrape about for a fifth starter, and in fact few teams have a fifth starter for more than a few weeks at a time. And of course, because of off days, you don't always need a fifth starter anyway. Yet every team wants a name in those first four slots (and in the fifth if it can get one).

Look at the Cubs. They've just committed $21 million over the next three seasons to a pitcher whose ERA last season ranked 38th among 38 in the National League and who wasn't good enough to crack the Cardinals' postseason roster. Ah, but Jason Marquis does have one thing going for him: He's an established major leaguer. Apparently, because Marquis has earned millions of dollars before, he somehow deserves to make millions more. And this rule generally applies only to pitchers. When a hitter hits like Marquis has pitched, GMs will give up on him quickly (unless he's fast, in which case another rule applies, the one that says general managers, in the primordial, reptilian parts of their brains, prefer sprinters to baseball players because it's important to be able to outrun predators, or something).

A shortage of pitchers, though? The Cubs alone had, in 2006, five pitchers younger than 25 who started at least one game for the big club. All five have identifiable talents. Granted, none of them actually pitched well in the majors, but then rookie pitchers rarely do pitch well. When Greg Maddux was a rookie, he went 6-14 with a 5.61 ERA. No, none of the Cubs' youngsters arrived with Maddux's minor league credentials, nor will any of them win 300 games. But among this quintet -- Sean Marshall, Carlos Marmol, Angel Guzman, Juan Mateo and Jae Kuk Ryu -- is at least one good major league starter. Perhaps two or three.

And how much room do the Cubs have now? They've got room for one. To rotation holdovers Carlos Zambrano and Rich Hill, the Cubs have added Marquis and Ted Lilly, leaving just one slot. And I'd be willing to bet a couple of bucks that the second-best of the five young pitchers will be just as good as Marquis. The Cubs won't just release the losers in the competition, of course. Some or all of them eventually will pitch out of the bullpen. Which brings us to another point: Teams often are too quick to turn a young starter into a young reliever. Kid has two good pitches and he's struggling to refine that changeup? Hey, we'll just send him to the pen.

Which often is exactly the right move. But I'd love to see somebody make a serious effort to figure out how many good relief pitchers would have been adequate or better starting pitchers if given a real chance. I'll bet the number right now runs to at least a couple of dozen.

Interestingly enough, just a few miles from Wrigley Field, White Sox GM Kenny Williams seems to have figured all this out. He has been castigated in Chicago for trading Freddy Garcia and Brandon McCarthy for pitchers with no track records (or lousy track records) in the majors, but Williams apparently believes that if he collects enough young pitchers with potential, he'll wind up with a few cheap-but-good starters, and at the moment there's nothing more valuable. This strategy isn't foolproof. First, you have to sort through all that talent, and even if you're "right," the vagaries of luck can make you look wrong.

There are plenty of decent starters out there, though, if you know where to look and your judgment is sound. No, it's not easy. But it sure does beat letting Boras make a fool of you.

flyer85
01-08-2007, 01:32 PM
BTW, I think the same could be said of the Reds and spending their little millions on a bunch of over-the-hill and not very productive relief pitchers rather than going with the young guys(Coffey, Bray, Majik, Belisle, Standridge, Shearn, and the AA guys)

RedsManRick
01-08-2007, 01:43 PM
I agree in general Flyer (and have made the same point). The one advantage of having it spread out is that our guys are much more trade-able and carry a lot less risk. Just about any team in need of a pitching in July could trade for Cormier or Stanton -- good luck moving Marquis.

westofyou
01-08-2007, 01:51 PM
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/04/AR2007010401503.html

Starting Pitchers Might Be Out of Club's Range

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 5, 2007;



At last month's winter meetings, as mind-blowing deals were being brokered in all corners of the baseball world, officials from the Washington Nationals -- determined to stick to a plan of not spending on free agents until they believe the club can truly be competitive -- sat back and wondered if the market would ever come back to them. A month after those meetings, it might not.

The Nationals have kept in touch with the agents for some of the 21 starting pitchers remaining on the market, including Tomo Ohka and Ryan Franklin. But in a market in which only two starters -- Wade Miller and Kerry Wood, both of the Chicago Cubs -- have signed for less than $4 million annually, it appears that the asking prices still haven't fallen in the Nationals' range.

"It's a situation where they have a limited payroll to work with, and I'm not sure their limitations are going to allow it to happen," said Mike McCann, the agent for Franklin, who went 6-7 with a 4.54 ERA for Philadelphia and Cincinnati last season. "I think it would be a good fit, both for Washington and for Ryan, but I understand their position. We'll continue to talk, but I'm just not sure" a deal can be reached.

The $126 million left-hander Barry Zito received from the San Francisco Giants was the pitching blockbuster of this offseason. But more important to the remaining free agents are such deals as the $4 million the Boston Red Sox are about to give Joel Piņeiro, who wasn't tendered a contract by Seattle after posting a 6.36 ERA.

General Manager Jim Bowden declined to comment yesterday on any of the Nationals' possible targets. But one team official said this week, after scanning a list of the starters who are off the market -- contracts totaling nearly $600 million industry-wide -- that not one of the contracts came close to fitting into Washington's plan.

Chip R
01-08-2007, 01:55 PM
General Manager Jim Bowden declined to comment yesterday on any of the Nationals' possible targets. But one team official said this week, after scanning a list of the starters who are off the market -- contracts totaling nearly $600 million industry-wide -- that not one of the contracts came close to fitting into Washington's plan.

Poor JimBo. He can't seem to land with a team who is willing to open up their wallets.

Jpup
01-08-2007, 01:55 PM
It sounds good, but I wish Neyer would have showed some kind of evidence to back up his theory. He had me until he said that Ken Williams had this all figured out. :laugh:

mth123
01-09-2007, 05:31 AM
BTW, I think the same could be said of the Reds and spending their little millions on a bunch of over-the-hill and not very productive relief pitchers rather than going with the young guys(Coffey, Bray, Majik, Belisle, Standridge, Shearn, and the AA guys)

Yes. This is exactly what I've been griping about and exactly what I wanted the Reds to do this winter. Neyer is right on. I'd take Marmol, Ryu or Guzman in Lohse spot in a heartbeat.

Cubs need Freel to lead-off and play CF. Go get one (and Wuertz) Wayne.

GAC
01-09-2007, 06:46 AM
BTW, I think the same could be said of the Reds and spending their little millions on a bunch of over-the-hill and not very productive relief pitchers rather than going with the young guys(Coffey, Bray, Majik, Belisle, Standridge, Shearn, and the AA guys)

But where are those guys now out of the loop?

vaticanplum
01-09-2007, 07:41 PM
Good lord I hate Rob Neyer.

westofyou
01-09-2007, 07:47 PM
Good lord I hate Rob Neyer.

If you're ever in town I'll show where he lives and you can TP his house.

vaticanplum
01-09-2007, 08:23 PM
If you're ever in town I'll show where he lives and you can TP his house.

:beerme:

Falls City Beer
01-09-2007, 08:24 PM
Good lord I hate Rob Neyer.

Me too. I think he's a highly flawed thinker.