Jason Schmidt Rumors
One very important aspect in a starting pitcher is the ability to go deep into games. Teams can avoid resorting to inferior middle relievers if the starter can consistently pitch seven innings.
Only two starters this year - Brandon Webb and Roy Halladay - are averaging seven innings per start. Neither of those guys will be available this winter. Let's take a look at some starters who are available and can save bullpens.
Jason Schmidt, in addition to being one of the NL's best this year, has averaged 6.83 innings per start. The 33 year-old is destined for one of the offseason's biggest contracts; perhaps similar to the deal Pedro Martinez signed.
Roy Oswalt's name has been popping up in trade rumors. Oswalt has averaged 6.78 innings per start this year; he'll turn 29 soon. Oswalt has been worked hard, throwing almost 270 innings last year and 256 the year before. We see how that type of workload has affected Mark Buehrle. Oswalt's strikeout rate has slipped to a career low 6.2 per nine innings in 2006.
Dontrelle Willis could be made available by Florida. He's 15th in baseball with 6.61 innings per start. The 24 year-old has been abused by Joe Girardi; he leads baseball in starts with 110-121 pitches (14). In case you're curious, Carlos Zambrano leads in starts with 122-132 pitches (5).
Groundball specialist Jake Westbrook has also been mentioned in trade rumors, with the Diamondbacks surfacing as a possible suitor. Westbrook turns 29 in September and has increased his innings per start to 6.55 this season. Westbrook is underrated; he'll make just $5.6MM next year and is a model of consistency and durability.
It's tough to get anything out of Boston these days; Theo Epstein has plugged all of his leaks. Let's see what we can piece together though.
"Friends of the Rocket insist he's sorry that he chose the Astros over the Red Sox." McAdams mentions that Clemens would love a trade to Boston if it could be done without infuriating the Houston fanbase. Also, a source of mine tells me that the Mets have inquired about Clemens.
Then there's the possible three-way trade with the Rockies and Padres. The Padres would get Mike Lowell, the Red Sox would get Ryan Shealy and a starter, and who knows what the Rockies would get.
Don't get that rumor confused with the other three-team scenario from Gordon Edes of the Boston Globe. In that case, the Red Sox get Julio Lugo and Scott Linebrink, the Padres get Mike Lowell, and the D-Rays get prospects.
Plus, Jayson Stark mentioned last night that the Red Sox are "making a late run at Alfonso Soriano." He doesn't have much more than that, but it can't be dismissed. Stark has also connected Boston to Jason Schmidt and Brad Lidge.
Jon Heyman busts out a big one early Monday morning: the Mets are in "serious talks" for Jason Schmidt or Roy Oswalt. The key to any deal would be Lastings Milledge.
Heyman mentions that Brian Bannister would be needed to pry Oswalt away but not Schmidt. He also says Aaron Heilman could be used to "enhance" a deal.
It seems now that Oswalt really is in play, which is strange given the Astros' lack of depth behind Roger Clemens. Speaking of which, why not put the Rocket on the block instead?
Jayson Stark's got a good one for us this evening over in his Stark Market. Stark indicates that the Giants are now listening to offers for Jason Schmidt on the heels of their recent losing streak. Apparently the Mets, Red Sox, and Rangers have inquired.
Schmidt will be a free agent after this season, and he's said he would like to play for the Mariners. The 33 year-old grew up in Kelso, Washington.
If the Giants really do change gears and pack it in for 2006, Moises Alou and Ray Durham could be a couple of other names that could interest teams as the deadline clock ticks away.
Of couple of ESPN columnists seem to have independently arrived at the same trade rumor in their blogs in recent days. Buster Olney's source is a "talent evaluator" while Jayson Stark got word from "an executive who has heard this talk."
According to Olney and Stark, the White Sox would trade Brandon McCarthy and Brian Anderson to the Giants for Jason Schmidt. The Sox would then acquire a center fielder in a separate trade.
Schmidt, 33, has been the NL's second best pitcher this year behind Brandon Webb. This is his contract year and he's making $10.5 million. Anderson and McCarthy were ranked #1 and #3 among White Sox prospects entering the 2005 season. McCarthy has had superb control at the big league level, with his one flaw being too many home runs allowed. U.S. Cellular inflates home runs by about 35%, while AT&T Park deflates them by around 10%. It's been a rough 81 games for Anderson with the Sox, but the 24 year-old remains in high regard.
Freddy Garcia, Javier Vazquez, and Jon Garland haven't performed as well as the Sox would've liked; all three own ERAs near 5 entering the All-Star break. Chicago would stand to gain an estimated three wins by replacing one of them with Schmidt. Olney speculated that Kenny Williams could consider using one of his surplus starters to acquire a center fielder.
Names that have come up in center include Torii Hunter, Andruw Jones, or Aaron Rowand. None of the three seem feasible for various reasons. The Sox could also consider players like Luis Matos, Willy Taveras, Brady Clark, Juan Pierre, and Ken Griffey Jr. Clark would be a good fit if Doug Melvin makes him available. It certainly wouldn't hurt to add Clark's .380 OBP to the top of the lineup, and he plays capable defense. He's signed through 2007.
With the hot stove not all that hot at the moment, I thought I'd run down some guys who could be traded between now and July 31st in an attempt to peer into the future. Part 1 of the series will focus on some of the players in their contract year.
Barry Bonds is unlikely to be dealt, given that the Giants have pinned most of their offensive hopes on him. But if, for some reason, the team is out of contention in July and Bonds is looking more awful than usual in the field, a deal to the AL could be in the cards. Adding Bonds at DH could mean 4-5 extra wins in the second half alone, so I'd expect a big bounty even with his $18MM salary and impending free agency.
We're all pretty much assuming Jose Contreras will be dealt. Some say it'd be most prudent for the Sox to wait til spring training and take stock before sending him off to the Mets, Phillies, or wherever else. On the other hand, if there was ever a time to sell high, it's right now.
One name I haven't seen thrown about in trade rumors at all is Greg Maddux. I assume it's because he's over 40 and makes $9MM in 2006, but Mad Dog could be a big help to a contender at the deadline. I've projected a 3.84 ERA and 1.21 WHIP; he's got plenty left. Even if the Cubs had to eat a few mil, it'd make more sense to trade Maddux than Jerome Williams. If the health of Wood, Prior, and Miller works out in their favor the Cubs could have a surplus.
Jason Marquis is projected to post a 4.43 ERA in 200 innings. He'd be serviceable as rental for the season, and he's still on the right side of 30. I'm not sure which teams will be chomping at the bit to give him the three year, $21MM extension he'll require, but someone will.
Mark Mulder is also under 30, though he's shown some ugly trends over the past three seasons. It'll be interesting to see how Walt Jocketty views Mulder - perhaps Mulder will take the St. Louis discount to keep that top-notch defense behind him?
It seems that Andy Pettitte wouldn't be dealt by the Astros midseason pretty much no matter what. Even when the Astros have been counted out they've made the playoffs, so it'd be impossible to justify trading Pettitte to the fanbase.
I'm fairly certain the Cubs will sign Juan Pierre to a long-term deal. Especially if he hits .309 as projected and impresses the old hands with his bunting skills and work ethic. Politically, Jim Hendry almost has to keep Pierre around in case one of the three pitchers sent to Florida pans out.
Jason Schmidt could be a hot commodity, but, like Bonds, is a long shot to be dealt. I think the Giants would look for a young bat in return.
More impending free agents and trade candidates to come...