Monday, January 10, 2011

The Most Intriguing Starters Left on the Board

There are 27 free agent starting pitchers left on the market. Andy Pettitte is one of them but we won't include him. He will either pitch for the Yankees or retire. We also won't include Carl Pavano who should sign any day now with the Twins (now that he's seen he won't get three years anywhere). Brian Bannister has signed to play in Japan. Ben Sheets will miss the season with injury. That leaves 23 pitchers still on the market. Most of them aren't worth considering besides a minor league deal. But there are still a couple of intriguing picks out there. Here's the Fan's list:

Chris Young - Young is 31 and coming off of two injury plagued seasons. But he showed promise last year when he got into some games down the stretch for the Padres. The first thing you think about with Young is his health. The second is wondering if his past success was because he pitched in San Diego. His health will have to be checked carefully, but as for as his home/road splits over his career, they are not bad at all. His K/BB ratio improved dramatically at home, but his OPS against on the road and home are remarkably similar. His career splits are also very similar against right-handed batters and those that bat from the left side (Young is right-handed). Young would be a worthwhile flyer with lots of upside. You probably wouldn't want him if you played in a smaller ballpark.

Jeff Francis - The Fan has been on this bandwagon for a while. Francis throws from the left side and is only 29 years old. He's a big guy at 6'5" and is very imposing on the mound. And he's had success in the past. This Fan doesn't think he was very healthy the past couple of years and Coors probably beat him down. He'd be a really nice fit in New York, especially for the Mets, but the Yankees could use him as a lefty arm against the Red Sox. Why has Francis been out there for this long?

John Maine - The one thing Maine's on field spat with his manager showed was that the guy had heart. And when he is healthy, he can pitch. The question is his health. If his medicals show any hope, he would be high on the Fan's list of long shots.

Brad Penny - Penny has been jettisoned from two of the best organizations in baseball (the Red Sox and Dodgers). Both questioned his heart and his desire to be as good as he can be. That may be fair and it may not. Joe Torre does have a doghouse and it's hard to get out of it. Larry Bowa is even worse. But the Fan believes the Cardinals and Dave Duncan gave Penny some tools he can use to rebuild a good career. He's only in his low thirties and he can still get people out. As only the Cardinals can do, they got him to lower his walk total and if he can repeat that for another team, he's very much worth a shot.

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