The All-Bargain Free Agent Rotation

A week ago, I assembled a pretty decent squad of free agent position players for about $40MM in 2007.  This week I’ll take a crack at putting together the All-Bargain Rotation, no easy task given the market inflation. Given the nature of free agency, this is going to be a staff of veterans past their prime.

SP1 – Andy Pettitte.  The 34 year-old southpaw has righted the ship since July.  He’s still got good command and gets his Ks.  He also keeps the ball on the ground reasonably well.  Would $16MM over two years do the trick?  And is he interested in any team besides Houston?

SP2 – Randy Wolf.  Wolf has to expect a pay cut from this year’s $9 million salary.  He should be fully recovered from Tommy John surgery by next spring, and there’s a decent chance he returns to his form from a few years ago.  I’d hope to snag him for 2/$12MM, but it could take 3/$21MM.

SP3 – Greg Maddux.  I’ve hopefully got my power lefties in tow, so now it’s time to round the rotation out with some groundballing righthanded vets.  I like Mad Dog for my #3.  Even at 41, he can provide 200-210 innings with an ERA in the low 4s and a good groundball/flyball ratio.  Perhaps not the best fit with my defensively challenged infield, but I can only do so much. 

SP4 – Woody Williams.  Kind of like Greg Maddux but without the grounders.  I don’t mind adding another 40 year-old to my ancient rotation.  Woody is still better than league average.  Tomo Ohka would work in this slot as well if he’d come at a better price.

SP5 – Jeff Weaver/Bruce Chen/Jason Johnson.  I like the idea of taking three retreads and letting them duke it out for the fifth starter spot.  The runner-up can be a long reliever and sixth starter.  Though he’s been consistently awful until this month, I somehow refuse to believe Weaver is toast.  He threw 444 innings of very solid ball for the Dodgers from ’04-05.  Chen has never had much margin for error, but he was doing something right in 2005.  Before this year, Johnson had proven a mid-4 ERA innings muncher with excellent groundball tendencies.  Maybe he can be salvaged.

Here’s the rotation, with projected salary:

Pettitte – $8MM
Wolf – $7MM
Maddux – $5MM
Williams – $4MM
Weaver/Chen/Johnson – $4MM

There’s my motley crew, at around $30MM for the group.  It’s obviously a high-risk rotation, though that risk is spread out among everyone.  For the most part the 1-4 pitchers should at least keep my team in the game. 

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