Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Free Agent Starters

To surrogate the recent posts on what free agents the Royals might target this offseason, here's some additional stats and analysis of the free agent starters available.

Cream of the Crop

Matt Morris:

2002 210 IP 210 Hits 16 HRs 64 BBs 171 SOs 17-9 3.42 ERA
2003 172 IP 164 Hits 20 HRs 39 BBs 120 SOs 11-8 3.76 ERA
2004 202 IP 205 Hits 35 HRs 56 BBs 131 SOs 15-10 4.72 ERA
2005 190 IP 201 Hits 19 HRs 36 BBs 114 SOs 14-10 3.94 ERA

Age: 31
Agent: Barry Axelrod
Career ERA: 3.58
Career K/BB: 2.61

Pros: Morris looks like he'd be a good option for the Royals. Unlike a lot of Baird's signings (Lima, Anderson), Morris has been consistently good. His ERA has always been under 4, except in 2004 due to injury concerns. His command has always been pretty good. His consistency is exactly what the Royals need.

Cons: He did resign with the Cardinals in 2002 for a 3-year deal worth $27 million. It would probably take at least a similar deal to lure him from St. Louis. He's also on the downside of his career. His K/9 ratio has consistently decreased over the past 5 years, but his K/BB has stayed about the same. Morris would have to adjust to the AL, which is often tough on aging pitchers.

Kevin Millwood

2002 217 IP 186 Hits 16 HRs 65 BBs 178 SOs 18-8 3.24 ERA
2003 222 IP 210 Hits 19 HRs 68 BBs 169 SOs 14-12 4.01 ERA
2004 141 IP 155 Hits 14 HRs 51 BBs 125 SOs 9-6 4.85 ERA
2005 185 IP 177 Hits 20 HRs 52 BBs 137 SOs 9-11 2.92 ERA

Age: 30
Agent: Scott Boras
Career ERA: 3.77
Career K/BB ratio: 2.68

Pros: Millwood is having a great season and has better stuff than Morris. But, he hasn't been nearly as consistent as Morris. Morris has had an ERA under 4 most years and Millwood's ERAs have been mostly over 4.

Cons: Millwood's agent is Boras, which may eliminate him right away. Millwood has been inconsistent throughout his career.

Jeff Weaver

Pros: Weaver has been a pretty good No. 3/4 type pitcher.

Cons: Weaver is also a Boras client. He hasn't been very consistent throughout his career and his career ERA of 4.44 isn't particularly intriguing. Weaver probably also wouldn't do much for team chemistry, if that actually means anything.

Other possibilities: Jarrod Washburn (Boras client), AJ Burnett (too expensive)

Middle Tier

Esteban Loaiza

2002 151 IP 192 Hits 18 HRs 33 BBs 87 SOs 9-10 5.71 ERA
2003 226 IP 196 Hits 17 HRs 56 BBs 207 SOs 21-9 2.90 ERA
2004 183 IP 217 Hits 32 HRs 71 BBs 117 SOs 10-7 5.71 ERA
2005 214 IP 222 Hits 17 HRs 54 BBs 171 SOs 11-10 3.70 ERA

Age: 34
Agent: John Boggs
Career ERA: 4.59
Career K/BB ratio: 2.33

Pros: Loaiza is having a solid year for the Nationals. Loaiza has a pretty good cut fastball that is pretty effective. Other than a rough stretch with the Yankees, Loaiza has been pretty good over the past 3 seasons.

Cons: Loaiza has been very inconsistent throughout his career. He struggled in the American League and is having success is a pitcher-friendly environment. His home/road splits appear to be warning signs of mediocrity in a less-friendly environment. Seems to be alternating good year, bad year, which means he's in line for a bad year. He's also 34 years old.

Paul Byrd

2002 228 IP 224 Hits 36 HRs 38 BBs 129 SOs 17-11 3.90 ERA
2004 114 IP 123 Hits 18 HRs 19 BBs 79 SOs 8-7 3.94 ERA
2005 198 IP 210 Hits 20 HRs 27 BBs 99 SOs 12-10 3.72 ERA

Age: 34
Agent Bo McKinnis
Career ERA: 4.23
Career K/BB ratio: 2.25

Pros: Byrd is having a solid year for the A's. His K/BB ratio has been very good over the last 2 years. He's familiar with the organization, so that could be a plus.

Cons: This is Byrd's first full season pitching since 2002. So, his durability is still questionable. He's also 34 years old. There was also some talk about him not wanting to come back to Kansas City.

Ted Lilly

2002 100 IP 80 Hits 15 HRs 31 BBs 77 SOs 5-7 3.61 ERA
2003 178 IP 179 Hits 24 HRs 58 BBs 147 SOs 12-10 4.34 ERA
2004 197 IP 171 Hits 26 HRs 89 BBs 168 SOs 12-10 4.06 ERA
2005 122 IP 132 Hits 23 HRs 56 BBs 96 SOs 9-11 5.67 ERA

Age: 29
Agent: N/A
Career ERA: 4.68
Career K/BB: 2.14

Pros: Lilly has good stuff and has been a solid pitcher at times. This is his first bad year in the past 4.

Cons: Lilly's control hasn't been particularly good. He's also really struggled this year, so offering him more than a one-year deal would be risky. He seems a lot like Affeldt, so I'd almost rather just convert Affeldt back to a starter. According to the ESPN scouting report, "Lilly has faced nagging questions about his focus throughout his career". Sounds like he'd fit in great.

Other options: Scott Elarton, Jason Johnson, Jeff Suppan (option)

I'd like to see the Royals pick up two starters, preferably one from the upper tier and one from the middle tier. I agree that Matt Morris is probably the Royals' best option for finding an above-average starter who will be consistently good for the next 3 years. Unfortunately, all of these starters are getting old, so they may have a good 2006, but beyond that (when the Royals are hopefully contending), they may no longer be effective. That said, the Royals must be very careful about making a significant financial commitment.


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At 2:58 PM, Blogger DL said...

There are two more pitchers - Javier Vazquez and Carl Pavano - who could be available this winter in a trade. The Yankees will undoubtedly try to move Pavano after his failure in the Bronx (as is the Yankees' MO), and Vazquez could force a trade after being traded in the middle of a multi-year deal (though I have no idea if this will happen).

The Royals only have one tradable commodity - Sweeney - so he'd have to be involved in any trade. I'd love to see the Royals get Vazquez, but there isn't a good match with them since they re-signed Tony Clark for some reason. It would have to be a 3-way deal with another team who would want Sweeney (Anaheim? Mets?). The Yanks are already subsidizing $6 million of Vazquez salary for the next two seasons, which sweetens the pot.

I'm less interested in Pavano, but I'd probably be as happy to have him as I would Morris, especially if the Yankees would subsidize his salary. Again, Sweeney doesn't fit with the Yanks so the Royals would have to get creative.

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