More Free Agent Pitcher Badness
At some point soon, as hot stove league talk heats up, you’re going to hear one recurring suggestion from the mainstream media – the Mariners need to acquire a frontline starting pitcher. Generally, they’ll add in even more fun extras such as “no matter what the cost”. The idea is, basically, that if the Mariners are serious about contending, they’ll spend the necessary money to sign a big name free agent pitcher. This is an annual suggestion – we’ve been told that this is the solution to the Mariners problems for years. Considering how poorly the rotation pitched this year, it’s inevitable that the same Sign Big Name Free Agent Pitcher calls will be even louder than normal.
I wonder, though, if they ever consider just how bad a strategy that really is? I’ve written about this issue several times before, but the general consensus remains the same – bring us a big name free agent pitcher.
Well, now that the 2007 season is basically over, we can look back and see just how good of an idea that would have been last winter. There were seven pitchers who signed multiyear contracts in excess of $10 million a year in annual salary – basically, these are the guys who would qualify as the types of pitchers that people want the Mariners to pursue every winter. Should the Mariners have been more aggressive in going after a “top tier” free agent starter last offseason?
Player Tm W L ERA IP Hit K BB HR Lilly CHN 15 7 3.85 187 164 156 51 26 Meche KC 7 12 3.82 188.3 195 132 56 21 Zito SF 9 12 4.46 173.7 156 121 73 21 Padilla TEX 6 9 5.70 115.3 142 69 45 15 Schmidt LAN 1 4 6.31 25.7 32 22 14 4 Mussina NYA 8 10 5.51 127.3 162 77 29 14 Suppan MIL 9 11 4.74 180.3 212 97 58 16 Average 9 10 4.63 163 170 110 52 19
Those seven big name, big dollar, long term contract guys have given their teams, on average, 163 innings with a 4.63 ERA. Average Annual Salary? $12 million per year.
With Carlos Zambrano and Mark Buehrle off the market, this year’s free agent pitching class is going to be even less exciting than last years. When Livan Hernandez, Jason Jennings, Kenny Rogers, and Freddy Garcia are the best guys available, it’s time to shop elsewhere.
The Mariners rotation needs help, but it won’t be found in free agency.