The shank end of a miserable season. At least now it's post September 1 and we can focus all our energies on 2010.
Cause who wants to look at the sorry mess of 2009 anymore. And please, can we get the gremlins away from our young pitchers elbows. Does anyone doubt that Craig Stammen will be in James Andrews waiting room a week from today?
Right now we know for certain only four members of the pitching staff for 2010: Lannan, Mock, Burnett and Clippard. That's seven or eight spots up in the air.
Lots of candidates for the three open rotation spots: Martin, Martis, Detwiler, Balester, FA pitcher to be named later, Livan!, I'll even add Stammen on here on the off chance that his elbow ligament isn't already the shape of a never ending pasta bowl at Olive Garden. One might be tempted to add Strasburg and as the options decrease, this becomes more likely. Although I'm sure they'd rather have SS start out in the minors just to defuse some of the inevitable franchise savior stuff.
When you cull it all down, there are only two real difference makers avaibale on the FA market in the starting pitcher department.
John Lackey will be 31 next season and has a career ERA+ of 117. Been less than healthy the last two years after 5 years of heavy labor. Still effective when he pitches though. Have to wonder why the Angels seem ready to part ways with him.
He is somewhat of a flyball pitcher .78 career GB/FB ratio so that's not Rizzo's style. But maybe, with Nyjer patrolling CF, a flyball pitcher would be prefereable to the IF defense with Guzzie and Dunn. Have to believe the Angels will offer him arbitration at least, he only made $7m in 2009 so he'd cost the 2nd round pick. Have to think moving to the NL would be a boost.
He'll probably be expensive -- can't see giving him 5 years. What kind of pitcher will he be at 36? But he might command that kind of deal. Still, he's no flash in the pan and is about as good a bet as anyone in the FA pitching market to come within 80% of his salary in value.
Now the other is Rich Hardin.
Age 28 for next season. Career ERA+ of 129. Most of that in the American League too. .68 GB/FB ratio, another flyball pitcher. Over a K per inning for his career too.
Never thrown 200 innings in any one season. IOW -- extreme injury risk.
One look at his top comp tells you all you need to know about Hardin: Mark Prior. If his arm is right, he's great. But most of the time it's not.
A.J. Burnett had the same reputation and got 5/85 last offseason. But this off season: Will the Yanks be in the SP market at all? Will the Red Sox? If they aren't, who would pony up the dough for Hardin? Again, the Cubs likely to offer arbitration so he'll cost the 2nd rounder too.
No doubt the Nationals management is going to ignore these two on the premise that top of the line FA pitching is a luxury reserved for big market teams or teams just a player or two away. I would hope, at least, that they keep their options open. The market for either of them may be softer than we realize right now. Would it be so bad to get either one for three years even if you had to go to the $12-$15m range?
My post hype prospect who was freely available in ST but not picked up due to the logjam of DH?1B types:
BAd teams need to keep options open and take chances on guys like this. We all remember how Dmitri worked out but there was another FA 1B freely available that off season . . .