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Paul Byrd Rumors
June isn't typically a big month for free agency, but few teams seem willing to make their players available, so we could see clubs turn to the free agent market to add depth for the stretch run. Here are updates on a few of the players who could help contending teams the most:
- Pedro Martinez – We heard all about Pedro last week and now we have a list of teams that won't sign him. The Angels, Dodgers and Yankees aren't interested, the Nats and Brewers didn't see him throw, the Rangers think he's too pricey and the Rays only have interest in him as a starter. Could the Cubs or Cardinals offer him a deal?
- Ben Sheets – He's not far enough along to be talking contract, but the Rangers have maintained contact with him. The Dodgers, Tigers, Angels and, ironically, the Brewers are among the teams that could use another starter.
- Paul Byrd – There's been little reported interest in Byrd, but he says he's ready to go and waiting for calls. Last year he averaged six innings for 30 starts and kept his walk rate under two per nine, so he could be a solid pickup.
- Wily Mo Pena – Not the difference maker teams dream about adding, but he has pop and is still just 27. We haven't heard anything since the Mets released him the other day.
- Javier Valentin – Valentin, who was released along with Pena, played respectably in a part time role as a catcher in Cincinnati for the past five seasons, posting a .755 OPS in over 400 games.
According to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, Paul Byrd wants to pitch and believes he can succeed, but says teams haven't been interested in him so far. Since the draft has passed, the Red Sox will not receive a supplemental pick for Byrd, a Type B free agent. Byrd sounds confident in his ability:
"I still feel like I can really, really help somebody out," he said.
He had a 4.60 ERA last year for the Indians and Red Sox. Tom Glavine, another free agent veteran, hasn't attracted much reported interest either, as teams have called on minor leaguers such as Antonio Bastardo, Vin Mazzaro and Aaron Poreda.
A correction has been made to the original version of this post – Tim Dierkes
We are nearing Memorial Day, and many pitchers whose resumes would normally have landed them at least a minor-league deal by now remain unsigned.
- Pedro Martinez is still homeless. While the complication may be in part due to Pedro's salary demands, it is surprising that nobody has signed him. Yes, his ERA was an unsightly 5.61 in 2008, but his 2007 stint was far better-2.57 ERA in 28 innings. His 87 strikeouts against 44 walks in 109 innings also suggests a pitcher who can help a team on the back end of a rotation. Given that it is Pedro Martinez, there is upside well beyond that, of course.
- Odalis Perez remains strangely unsigned after his even stranger signing that wasn't with Washington this spring. Perez turns 32 on June 7, and had a perfectly average 2008, with a 4.34 ERA in 159 2/3 innings. Obviously, those numbers could help any number of teams.
- Paul Byrd did what he always does in 2008-posted an ERA in the mid 4s (4.60 to be exact), struck out around four per nine innings, and kept his team in the game. Yet Byrd has yet to sign with anyone, either.
The lack of movement on these pitchers can't be due to overwhelming performances by all the starters currently employed. After all, there's Jamie Moyer and his 8.15 ERA, Carlos Silva and his 8.48 ERA, Oliver Perez and his 9.97 ERA… plenty of others at sixes and sevens, from Scott Olsen to Scott Kazmir. (Even as I type this, Moyer is giving up another home run. No, really.)
My suspicion is that teams view Martinez, Perez or Byrd as band-aid solutions. And that would be fine, normally. After all, band-aids have a rich tradition of stopping people from bleeding.
But the trade market for pitchers has the most top targets it's had in years. The Padres are already 10 games out, and Jake Peavy will likely hit the market. If Cincinnati fades, Aaron Harang could be available. If Toronto falls back to earth- and the smart money still has them finishing fourth- Roy Halladay could be someone else's ace by August. And Cleveland's Cliff Lee will be a prominent target as well.
There are even second-tier options that can help teams now and in the future, from Baltimore's Jeremy Guthrie to Seattle's Erik Bedard. And in the current economic climate, teams that fall out of the race may have even greater incentive to shed salary as soon as possible.
So it may well be that for veteran free agents, the market will only pick up once the trade deadline has come and gone. And with so many targets out there, once the deadline deals are made July 31, there may not be any place for Martinez, Perez or Byrd to land.
Newsday's Ken Davidoff runs through six current free agents, digging up new information about a few.
- Paul Byrd never received a call from the Angels, so he'll continue to wait until later this summer to see what's available.
- Frank Thomas is working with hitting coach Mike Easler, who believes "Frank might give it to the All-Star break." Easler says another client of his, Jacque Jones, could help a club.
- Jim Edmonds would play in the right situation, but his agent Paul Cohen doesn't know if there will be an offer. Damion Easley, another Cohen client, would also like to continue his career.
- A friend of Orlando Hernandez's tells Davidoff he's considering a comeback. El Duque didn't pitch in the Majors last year.
- In my opinion, these free agents are better served playing independent league ball than working out privately.
Let's take a look at the latest from SI.com's Jon Heyman.
- Heyman's on Twitter!
- Heyman runs through the surprise contenders and decides which teams are the real deal.
- The Nationals, as you know, have decided to draft Stephen Strasburg.
- Heyman learned from Yankees GM Brian Cashman that "the Yankees can't seriously consider Pedro Martinez or Paul Byrd until they're pitching somewhere." Heyman talked to another GM who estimated each player would need a month to get ready. Byrd told Yahoo's Tim Brown he needs just two weeks in the minors.
They're 15-8, in first place in the NL West, but the Dodgers face questions about a rotation that includes three ERAs of 5.50 or more. Behind Chad Billingsley and Randy Wolf, they have Clayton Kershaw, who hasn't pitched out the the fifth inning his last two starts, James McDonald, who has walked a batter an inning this year, and Eric Stults, who's allowing two baserunners an inning. Yahoo's Tim Brown takes stock of the rotation and how Ned Colletti will progress with it.
- Brown says it's unlikely the Dodgers will add Pedro Martinez, Paul Byrd, Odalis Perez or Freddy Garcia.
- One scout's analysis: "There's plenty of pitching available. None you'd want."
- Brown suggests the Dodgers need a club like the Indians, Reds or Mariners to fall from contention so some quality arms become available.
- If David Price pitches his way into the Rays' rotation, Jeff Niemann could become trade bait.
The Dodgers could rely on pitchers already in the organization. Hiroki Kuroda is rehabbing, though MLB.com's Ken Gurnick reports the righty is likely weeks away from a return. Jason Schmidt is rehabbing too, according to Gurnick. Jeff Weaver pitched well against the Padres last night and Eric Milton and Shawn Estes are stashed away in the minors.
On this date three years ago, the Red Sox traded for Doug Mirabelli to be Tim Wakefield's personal catcher. Mirabelli had to put his uniform on in the car from the airport and arrived 13 minutes prior to first pitch against the Yankees. While trades in April and May are rare, they are not unprecedented. Let's take a look at what is being written in the Blogosphere…
- Fire Ned Colletti Now argues that Ned Colletti does not deserve an extension. My head just exploded.
- Sox and Pinstripes makes a case for the Yankees signing Pedro Martinez.
- Jorge Says No! takes a look at the market for Paul Byrd.
- More Hardball puts together a roster of the highest paid players ever.
- Fangraphs reviews the Yankees drafts from the past three years.
- The Fightins honor Raul Ibanez's first month with the Phillies. The signing was highly criticized.
- 6 Pound 8 Ounce Baby Joba contemplates the Yankees acquiring Chone Figgins.
According to Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times, Angels manager Mike Scioscia says he might look to independent leagues for pitching help.
"There are some good pitchers that don't have jobs that have major league experience," Scioscia said of independent league pitchers.
According to Baxter, "the team appears unlikely to make a trade and management doesn't believe the big-name free agents still on the market – namely Pedro Martinez and Paul Byrd – can get up to game speed fast enough to help them."
Baxter notes that Jose Lima and Brendan Donnelly are among the players who have resurrected their careers after pitching in the independent Atlantic League. He mentions Ryan Drese as a player who "might be worth a look" by the Angels.
Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times reports that Paul Byrd is interested in pitching for the Angels. Byrd's agent spoke with the Angels recently and heard that they're going to find pitching within their organization until John Lackey and Ervin Santana return. Earlier in the week GM Tony Reagins acknowledged contacting the agents for Byrd, Mark Mulder and Pedro Martinez.
Byrd says he's open to signing an incentive-laden deal and now it seems he's ready to sign sooner than anticipated. DiGiovanna writes that the Dodgers could be one of the teams that's keeping tabs on Byrd's progress.