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2007 Free Agent Market: Starting Pitchers Part 3

2006 League Averages for Pitchers:
AL: 4.59 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 3.20 BB/9, 6.38 K/9, 1.14 HR/9
NL: 4.56 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 3.43 BB/9, 6.60 K/9, 1.12 HR/9

Mark Mulder - A lost season for Mulder, who had rotator cuff surgery in September.  He won't be ready for Opening Day.  You can blame his batting-practice like perfomance on the injury, though was K rate is identical to last year.  When you're this hittable things can get ugly in a hurry; just ask Bruce Chen.  He could bounce back somewhat next year in his age 29 season, but shoulder surgery is tough to return from. 

Tomo Ohka - The 30 year-old missed a chunk of the season with a rotator cuff injury.  Ohka is reliably a tick above average in the NL.  He's a solid fourth or fifth starter and should get something close to two years and $12MM.

Ramon Ortiz - Ortiz, 33, gives up a ton of hits but compensates with good control.  If you can get 200 innings of league average ball out of him for $3MM, that's not too bad.

Chan Ho Park - Park remains quite hittable, but at least he's harnessed his control in San Diego.  He earned a whopping $15MM in 2006 to finish off his awful contract.  Any starter who keeps his ERA under 5 and WHIP under 1.40 will hook on somewhere.


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None of these guys sound like a good buy really. Every year teams think they can overspend on a "bargain" pitcher (2006: Matt Morris, Esteban Loaiza, Paul Byrd; 2005: Matt Clement, Odalis Perez) and come off looking good. It hasn't happened very much.

My candidates this year for the team that needs pitching but doesn't want to break the bank so they'll try and go for the "cheaper" 2nd tier guys are Gil Meche, Vicente Padilla, and Ted Lilly. I think they're all poor gambles at the current rate. Meche is pitching in a pitcher's park, his ERA isn't stellar, his K/9 is solid but not great, and his WHIP is still way too high. Anyone feel good coughing up 3 years, $24 million for Meche? I'd rather try and go two years on Adam Eaton for less yearly-average money.

Vicente Padilla, long documented troubles with alcohol, bizarre behavior, injuries, inconsistency. He's pitched fine in Texas this season. Who is looking to get bilked to the tune of 3/$27? Anyone? Someone will, and I expect come July 2007 it'll look regrettable.

Ted Lilly - never pitched over 200 innings, a cadre of injuries, preposterous WHIP, I pity the team that takes the 3/$21 (or more) plunge on Lilly.

I'm interested to see who offers what to Mulder. Bet Billy Beane is laughing it up after that trade. But I think a lot of teams will be willing to offer a AJ Burnett deal to him... and then be dissapointed

No way Mulder gets Burnett money...maybe fairly close, but he's your average crafty lefty. Burnett got his money because he throws 97 MPH with great movement, and some decent secondary pitches. I think Zito is going to get the BIG deal this winter, and the rest of the pack will fall in place. Padilla should probably sign with a low key team. If he's as crazy as they say, how about the Padres...thats as laid back as it gets. I say Padilla gets 3 and 24.

People really misunderstand the A.J. Burnett deal. He had a good year, he can throw 100 mph and he's a groundball pitcher. That is the Holy Grail of pitching, the K/9 of over 8 and the G/F ratio above 2.50, both of which Burnett had. Burnett also had one of his best years in his free agent year. Mark Mulder has crapped out the last two and a half years. You may as well say someone is going to sign Kerry Wood to a big deal, which won't happen either.

What exactly did we "misunderstand" about the Burnett deal? Everybody knew it was a risk to throw the money at a guy with a history of injury and less-than-spectacular numbers. Yes, he had a big free agent year -- but so did Adrian Beltre.

Right now, Burnett is 4-5 with a 4.46 ERA, a 1.36 WHIP, and a lot of days on the DL. In other words, lots of injuries and mediocre-at-best stats. So how did we "misunderstand" such that giving him $55 million over 5 years was actually a good idea?

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