Wednesday, November 19, 2008

We NEED a pitcher, not a belly-itcher

As per a request in the comments of our shortstop rundown in the last post, we figured we'd share our views on the Jays' forays into the starting pitching market this off season. (We're nothing if not responsive to our readers.)

Obviously, this whole thing is going to be complicated by the fact that we don't really know what the Jays will have in terms of a pitching staff or a starting rotation in the coming two years. What sort of pitcher will Casey Janssen be next year? When does Dustin McGowan return to the lineup? Will Jesse Litsch come to camp in shape and ready to be a number two pitcher? Can David Purcey throw strikes?

Regardless, there's going to be a significant gap in the rotation left by A.J. Burnett (and let's just stop kidding ourselves that he's going to leave money on the table to come back). The Jays are also likely to be squeezed on how much they can offer to free agent pitchers, so they'll be looking for bargains on name-brand pitchers. (Not quite the same as the Ohka-Zambrano-Thomson spree from a couple of years back.)

So who can help fill the void? See our humble suggestions below.

1) Ben Sheets - Yes, we know that he is made of sugar, and that his strike out rate has declined while his walks have gone up. We know that he hasn't pitched more than 200 innings since 2005, and that he has excelled pitching in the NL Central. We know that there is a reason why teams will be scared away from him...but that's exactly why we think he might be a fit for Toronto.

He might be the sort of pitcher that could be had on a shorter deal, which would allow some payroll flexibility and which wouldn't create impediments for the Cecils or the Mills coming up through the system. And if his health returns (he did manage 198.1 innings last season), he might be the best number two pitcher in the division.

2) Derek Lowe - Our guess is that he'll have plenty of suitors, including the Yankees and Red Sox. But given Toronto's outstanding infield defense, we think that the sinkerballing Lowe would be an ideal fit with the Jays, serving up ground balls on Rogers Centre turf. He's been a durable and reliable starter since coming back out of the BoSox bullpen in 2002, and had one of his best seasons last year (3.24 ERA, 1.13 WHIP).

3) Jon Garland - Speaking of ground balls, Jonny Sinkers lives and dies by his infield defense, which went into the toilet for him in Anaheim last season. (The Almighty Halladay would have had a rough ride last season if he was being backed up by Chone Figgins at third, Erick Aybar at short and Howie Kendrick second.) His numbers in his first year in the greater Los Angeles area were far less than stellar (4.90 ERA, 1.51 WHIP), but he was a Cy Young candidate as recently as 2005, and is not yet 30 years old. Once the top names are gone, Garland could be a good fit at the right price for Toronto.

4) Brad Penny - He's big. He's fat. He has good first halves. He gets into bar fights. He's one of the Brad Arnsberg Marlins diaspora. He'll likely command less than the $9 million that the Dodgers would have had to pay him. And if you're looking for next year's Cliff Lee (the mediocre pitcher who suddenly becomes a world-beater), we think that Penny is as likely a candidate as any.

5) Oliver Perez -And if Penny isn't going to be next year's Cliff Lee, how about Perez? Our sense of Perez has changed a bit over the past few years, where we we no longer expect him to be an elite pitcher, but that he can have flashes of brilliance. Think of him as a left-handed A.J., only with junk instead of stuff. (Does praise get any fainter than that?) Perez walked entirely too many batters last season, and it is probably not reasonable to expect him to post less than a 1.30 WHIP.

6) The Old Skool MTL Crew - Petey Martinez and Randy Johnson. They're old, and they certainly ain't what they once were. But, you know, in a pinch, we wouldn't mind plugging them in as a fifth stater...provided they aren't the only answer. Besides, think of how many Dick Griffin columns would write themselves if these former Expos came on board!

We realize that we're probably completely wrong about all of this, but when you don't really have much of a budget to work with, how do you do things right?

In any case, feel free to chastise us for our simple-mindedness in the comments. We live for your criticism.


abigail breslin said...

we will need an ace too, according to that reporter from New Jersey who still insists the Jays are looking at trading Doc.

And of that list I would take Sheets but his health is you know what, so I would have to go with Penny. But it would be awesome to have PJ and/or Randy in there.

Torgen said...

That reporter from New Jersey is constantly claiming that the Jays are shopping around Doc. Also, I think Randy would be better than a fifth starter, even in the AL.

Johnny G said...

That report says they will explore the trade market. Thats basically the same thing as listening to offers or seeing what you could get.

It is a very far cry away from actively shopping or looking to trade Doc.

If I was a GM I would always be looking to see what I could get for any player on my team.

Willie Upshaw said...

Brad Penny hasn't been the same since he brought the heat at the All Star Game a few years back.

eyebleaf said...

I'd take Penny, and a chance on Garland.

I'd also love to see Pedro in a Jays uniform.

Vote for Pedro.

Joanna said...

I want Pedro just because he is a hot head...I just hope he can pitch...

Tao, why are you not in the Score sports federation? Is it because they suck?

Tao of Stieb said...

No. It's because Tim Micallef beat us up and stole our soul patch as a child.

We've never forgiven him.

Torgen said...

Garland's O-xO in 2005 was 26. He was actually better in 2006 but got fewer plays, and much worse in 2007 even with 2005-esque luck. Leave him.

The Ack said...

You can add Jon Garland's name to the list of players I am keenly uninterested in. And yes, keenly uninterested makes perfect sense.

Big Fat Brad Penny, if he can actually pitch in '09, is another story though. And, of course.....Pedro Time.

The Ack said...

Oh, and fuck you, Tony Graziano from the Newark Star-Ledger. Just because you keep saying the Jays are shopping Doc, doesn't make it true.

This Graziano cat is the kind of guy who, 2 years from now (if) Halladay is no longer a Jay, will proclaim he "scooped" it. Just fuck off.

gil fisher said...

I'm on board for Sheets. He's like Doc light, with the sinker and all. I also like the Pedro/Unit suggestion - but it'd have to be both of them for me to get especially nostalgic. Where's Ken Hill?

Jim Briggs said...

How many Cecils and Millses are there in the system? Are there dozens? Handfuls? If so, the Jays' pitching future is no problem at all!

You're better than that, Tao; just say "players like Cecils and Mills!"

Unless, of course, they are run-of-the-Millses. Then you can use the plural.

Jim Briggs said...

Also, it would be OK with me if Ben Sheets came to pitch for the Jays but continued to wear an old-school Brewers uniform.

Tao of Stieb said...

On Flashback Fridays, Sheets could wear the old school Brewers powder blues.


That's change we can believe in.

The Ack said...

^^ I'm the Ack, and I approve of this message.

Ian H. said...


Anonymous said...

I think targeting Penny and Randy would be ideal.

Randy for a more secure middle of the rotation guy. Penny as a guy who hopefully can give you at least 3 or months of average pitching until McGowan is back, or, best case scenario, a full season or two of average to above average production.

Sheets is no less injury prone then either of these guys but is more talented. He will cost more. The Jays have Cecil and Mills coming up (as stated), they only really need to bridge the gap between now and whenever they're ready.

R Johnson - 2 years, $20,000,000 guarenteed money, incentives for more if he pitches well.

B Penny - 2 years, $12/13/14 million guarenteed, some more if he pitches well.

Then you sign Milton Bradley and the team is ready to be competitve.

Torgen said...

I'm not sure Johnson will want a 2 year deal, and I'd be hesitant to give one to Penny. If we want a couple of months of average pitching, Purcey's tRA+ was 97 for his stint. Interestingly, Richmond's was 140, probably because of his great K/BB ratio, and the unsustainability of a .345 BABIP against a 17% LD rate.