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About Jon
Thank You For Not ...

1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
2) personally attacking other commenters
3) baiting other commenters
4) arguing for the sake of arguing
5) discussing politics
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Hindsight: Revisiting the 2004 Free Agent Pitchers
2005-08-25 23:14
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

Seems a good a time as any to take a look back ... from November 9, 2004:

Here's a peek at 28 pitchers available on the free-agent market. Though it leaves off such players like hometown loyalist Roger Clemens and reclamation projects like Hideo Nomo and Shane Reynolds, and of course doesn't consider players available in trade, it still should give you a good idea of what's out there.

SNLVAR is a Baseball Prospectus statistic that measures the team wins the pitcher provides in comparison to a replacement-level pitcher, accounting for the quality of the batters faced by the pitcher.
PlayerR/LAgeIPHBBSOERA SNLVARComment
Wilson AlvarezL34120.2109311024.031.1Still a top swingman
Kris BensonR30200.1202611344.282.9This guy was a primo July trade target?
Paul ByrdR33114.112319793.941.8Has his good moments and his injured ones
Matt ClementR30181155771903.683.2Good numbers, still underrated
Shawn EstesL312022231051175.84-0.1Somehow survived Colorado, somehow only 31
O. HernandezR3584.27336843.302.9Best-looking potential bargain?
Al LeiterL39173.2138971173.214.6Better version of Ishii: high walks but low hits
Cory LidleR32211.1224611264.901.3Durable in '04 – that's about it
Jon LieberR34176.2216181024.332.6Improved as season went on in comeback
Jose LimaR32170.117834934.072.7You're paying for spirit and magic, here.
Esteban LoaizaR32183217711175.701.5Probably not salvagable
Derek LoweR31182.2224711055.420.7Postseason success obscures truly lousy year
Pedro MartinezR33217193612273.905.5Still freaking good if not great, asking for moon
Kevin MillwoodR29141155511254.850.5Recovery potential, will poor 2004 lower price?
Eric MiltonL29201196751614.751.4Also gets Ks, but pricy and hittable (43 HR)
Matt MorrisR30202205561314.721.8Inconsistent
Russ OrtizR30204.21971121434.133.9Long overrated, people may be catching on
Carl PavanoR28222.1212491393.005.6Control good, Ks average. Too hip a choice?
Odalis PerezL27196.1180441283.255.0Stats similar to Pavano's
Brad RadkeR32219.2229261433.486.9Best season of 10-year career
Glendon RuschL30129.212733903.472.1Hmm … an older Odalis or younger Alvarez?
Ismael ValdezR3117020249675.190.2Cue the talkshows if he signs. Ug-lee K numbers
Ron VilloneL3411710264864.080.4Reliever who could spot start
David WellsL41195.2203201013.734.2Wily and wooly - great control gets him by
Woody WilliamsR38189.2193581314.182.4Another oldie but somewhat goodie
Paul WilsonR31183.2192631174.362.6Mediocre
Jamey WrightR2978.28245414.121.6Decent season in pitcher's park possible
Jaret WrightR28186.1168701593.284.1Another Leo Mazzone success – great comeback

Here are, in alphabetical order, the best-looking targets:

Top targets, regardless of salary
Matt Clement
Jon Lieber
Pedro Martinez
Carl Pavano
Odalis Perez
Brad Radke
Woody Williams
Jaret Wright

Top bargain candidates
Wilson Alvarez
Orlando Hernandez
Glendon Rusch

There really isn't enough pitching to go around, is there?

And here are the comments that people made at the time (commenting was sparser then):

Is there something wrong with me that I'm kind of hoping we end up with Odalis Perez?

Anyhow, it'll be great to hear de Podesta's thoughts when you drag them out of him during that interview you've surely earned and we're all feverishly looking for. . .

Posted by: Sam (DC) at November 9, 2004 10:49 AM

* * *

DePodesta. (Not going to suck him in by misspelling his name, I suppose).

Posted by: Sam (DC) at November 9, 2004 10:52 AM

* * *

Who wrote the pithy comments about the pitchers?

Posted by: Bob Timmermann at November 9, 2004 11:57 AM

* * *

Do you know any other pithy people publishing presently?

Posted by: Jon at November 9, 2004 12:02 PM

* * *

None with such eloquently alchemaic alliteration.

Posted by: the other Doug at November 9, 2004 12:03 PM

* * *

You neglected to include Kris Benson's numbers with the Mets, which may lead to your dismissive comment about him.

Benson's not going to be confused with Cy Young, but with his Mets numbers added in, he threw 200 1/3 innings, and had a SNLVAR of 2.9.

There's 4 guys on your list with 200 or more innings and higher SNLVAR's than that--Pedro, Ortiz, Pavano and Radke. Four more threw 180+ innings and had higher SNLVAR's--Wells, Wright, Perez and Clement.

Personally, setting aside salary, I'd take Benson over Wright, Wells (age) and, from your list, both Williams and Lieber.

Posted by: james at November 9, 2004 12:03 PM

* * *

Why, Bob, are you pithed off?

To answer your question, Jon, no, there isn't enough pitching to go around.

Comments on the pithyness:

- Clement should be on the short list for the Dodgers.

- I wouldn't touch Morris with a 10-foot baseball bat.

- Radke: I don't understand why we're pursuing the guy (allegedly). Like Ortiz, he strikes me as overrated.

- Ortiz is one of those guys who lives and dies by H/9. Watch for him to fall apart eventually.

- OP may actually be a bargain; the Yanks won't pursue him after his meltdowns, and the Dodgers might be able to talk him into coming back at a good price.

Posted by: Rob McMillin at November 9, 2004 12:08 PM

* * *

James - sorry about the error. I started my list using MLB.com stats before switching to ESPN - and didn't check to make sure the first ones had two-team totals. I've made the correction.

It doesn't change my comment about Benson (particularly since my erroneous stats were his stats in July). Sill not knocked out by him. Williams was a borderline pick by me, but under the assumption he'd get a two-year deal tops. Benson would want more, and I'm not sure he's any better. I think I'd rather leave off Williams (and Lieber) than add Benson.

Posted by: Jon at November 9, 2004 12:20 PM

* * *

San Diego Union-Tribune today: Dodgers are interested in David Wells.

Posted by: Terry Austin at November 9, 2004 12:26 PM

* * *

I'm not a big Wells fan - can't help feeling he wont be happy (and thus, productive) unless he is back in NY. It's hard to ignore some of his numbers though, and I'm sure his good control (20 walks in about 200 innings pitched) is tripping the alarms on Depodesta's laptop.

Posted by: Warren at November 9, 2004 01:06 PM

* * *

I am not a fan at all of Odalis Perez. He had 2 chances in the playoffs and could not get out the 3rd inning in either.

Lieber, Lowe, Radke, Wells (lefty), and Clement would be on my short list. They are all condusive to Dodger Stadium.

And Radke is not over rated. He consistently throws over 200 inning and his ERA last year was 3.5. This in the Metrodome. Take those stats to Dodger Stadium

Posted by: Joe at November 9, 2004 01:59 PM

* * *

I compliment you on the bredth and depth of your pithiness then!

Posted by: Bob Timmermann at November 9, 2004 02:27 PM

* * *

I like OP and hope we resign him. Also think Radke can be had at a decent price. He throws a ton of innings and always (save one fluke) stays healthy...I think he can be another Jeff Weaver for this team...

Posted by: Nolan at November 9, 2004 02:46 PM

* * *

I'm very skeptical of any pitcher from the AL Centeral.

Posted by: Rob McMillin at November 9, 2004 03:20 PM

* * *

Rob,

Like Bartolo?

Posted by: Eric L at November 9, 2004 03:43 PM

* * *

There is only one real ace in this year's free agent pool (Pedro), and he's on the downside of his career. There is a bumper crop of back-of-the-rotation guys and I feel the Dodgers have more than enough candidates for those positions. Penny and Weaver make decent number 2's (pardon the pun) and quality number 3's, but not "Staff Aces".

It seems evident that DePo is willing to trade quality for quality. He is also creative enough to get what he needs to make a trade happen. Given that, whom does he trade and for whom?

If it were up to me, I'd call on the Astros and see what it would take to get Roy Oswalt on the Chavez Ravine mound for Opening Day 2005.

Posted by: Ben at November 9, 2004 05:02 PM

* * *

Here's a challenge to you Jon, and the community at large. The setup is as follows:

You are the Dodgers GM at the winter meetings in Key Biscane, FL. A fellow GM approaches you and says, "We need to cut payroll. I have an abundance of starting pitchers and ownership wants to improve our defense up the middle. What starter on my 40-man roster would entice you to trade Izturis to us? No money can change hands since we're cutting payroll, so YOU have to assume 100% of the player's existing contract." You know the free agent class of shortstops is deep, so aside from the PR hit you know you can fill the position (offensively and/or defensively) for the next 3-6 seasons.

The challenge is: Name the team whose GM is speaking with you and name the starter you want in return for Izturis.

Posted by: Ben at November 9, 2004 05:13 PM

* * *

Why Brad Radke? Because, despite striking out very few batters, he has one of the highest K/BB ratios -- 5.50 this past season, third-best in the AL). More notably, the guy simply has awesome control, though the downside is that he gives up a lot of jacks: he allowed only 26 walks, but gave up 23 homeruns. For a historical perspective on his uncanny BB-HR numbers, see Aaron Gleeman:

http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/nnq-21july04/

With Radke, I think that the Dodgers' calculation is simple: put him in a more pitcher-friendly park and hope that the HR totals go down a bit. He may strike out few batters, but the Dodgers have a great defense to field behind him. And, on the aggregate, his low walk total should counterbalance Kaz Ishii.

Posted by: Robert Tagorda at November 9, 2004 05:13 PM

* * *

Re: Radke.

Giving up 23 HRs while pitching half your innings in the Metrodome is a huge accomplishment. Balls fly out of that place. In Chavez Ravine, many of those same balls die a quiet death just shy of the warning track. With their infield defense, the Dodgers need a control pitcher in the worst way. Radke has always pitched very well in Anaheim. I'm sure he'd do even better in LA.

Having said that, though, my top choice for the Dodgers would be Clement.

Posted by: R. at November 9, 2004 05:32 PM

* * *

If we want to expand Jon's list to include big names who could be gotten in trade:

Unit
Mulder/Hudson/Zito
Vazquez (owed 10/11/12)
Livan (owed 8/8/7)

A couple of other names who could feasibly become the Jim Colborn reclamation project for 2005:

Miguel Batista (owed 5/5)
Ramon Ortiz (don't laugh!)
Gil Meche
Joel Pineiro (coming off surgery, owed 4/6)

Posted by: bigcpa at November 9, 2004 05:37 PM

* * *

Eric -- yes, Colon is front and center in my thoughts regarding the relative merits of pitchers who spend their time in the AL Central.

Robert Tagorda -- the problem is Dodger Stadium suppresses doubles and triples, but surprisingly, not home runs:

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/stats/parkfactor

The real argument for moving Radke to Dodger Stadium is that he won't face the DH therein. It's a weak argument and I'm not sure, at 32, that Radke is the kind of guy you want to pay a lot of money for. Nonetheless, the prospect of playing -- finally -- in a pitcher's park (more so than the Metrodome) might entice the guy to Dodger Stadium. I just don't think he's necessarily as good a fit as others seem to.

bigcpa -- the Big Unit is not going anywhere intradivision. Vazquez is the Yankees' Pitcher Of The Future (tm).

Ben -- excellent question. My guess is the Cubs. The pitcher I take back is Sergio Mitre. He's a groundball pitcher who rarely gives up home runs and has a high ERA mainly because -- we would assume -- he has unspectacular defense behind him. Though, minus Izzy, things start getting dicey for the Dodgers, too. Kerry Wood? Nah.

Posted by: Rob McMillin at November 9, 2004 06:00 PM

* * *

Did anyone see that on DodgerDugout.com they are reporting that today the Dodgers offered Belly 3yrs at $37M. $10M, $12M and $15M. Seems like a reasonable opening offer but I'm sure Mr. Boras will disagree. At least now the floor is set--I suprised it was Depo who set it. Never works to bid against yourself. Boras will negotiate with Depo, raise the offer than shop it around. Its like buying a very very expensive car. If we keep him great, if it gets too pricey, let's go with Glaus and buy a pitcher. Pavano? He would fit in great in LA--can hang out with Alysia, Paris and Britany.

Posted by: LAT at November 9, 2004 07:10 PM

* * *

Every time I have seen Radke pitch he impresses me as a guy who knows what he is doing on the mound. He moves the ball around the strike zone and rarely beats himself. I grew up with Koufax and Drysdale, so I am well aware of the value of a top shelf starter; but I also remember Podres and Osteen, so I know that guys without the best stuff can be successful. I would put Radke in the Podres/Osteen class of pitchers which in my mind is high praise indeed.

Posted by: stan at November 9, 2004 10:01 PM

* * *

If it is the Cubs then the player I want is Zambrano. I don't give up a gold glove SS for Mitre. If Kerry Wood or Zambrano are available I would make the offer a little more enticing. As good as Izzy was this year, he is only one year removed from being the worst starting offensive position player in baseball and I would be shopping him like crazy this year seeing if someone doesn't get dazzled by his gold glove and make us a silly offer.

Posted by: molokai at November 10, 2004 08:22 AM

* * *

molokai, the problem is I'm not sure you get Zambrano with Izzy. Plus, the overall trend with Izturis is increasing competence with the bat. I dunno, maybe I'm underappraising Izzy's worth. But by how much?

Posted by: Rob McMillin at November 10, 2004 10:19 AM

* * *

Keep Izturis. Dodgers play a different brand of baseball than a lot of teams. Pitching and defense. And Izturis is the best defensive shortstop in the league and his hitting will continue to improve.

My wish list is Radke and Wells.

I have also heard Zito for Bradley straight up since Dye is gone from the A's.

Posted by: Joe at November 10, 2004 11:32 AM

* * *

I would not give up Bradley for anyone who is out there.

Posted by: Howard Fox at November 11, 2004 11:46 AM

* * *

Personally, I'd like to get Radke and Pavano.
Trade Kaz to Seattle for prospects,Weaver back to
Detroit for same, send Nomo to the bullpen, keep
Lima, Alvarez and OD, and see if ANY of our so-
called pitching prospects are truly worth a crap.
Just my .01 worth ( not 2 cents,just one, which it's almost worth.Haha! )

Posted by: Jim at November 12, 2004 11:20 AM

Now, your hindsights?

Comments
2005-08-25 23:29:46
1.   Bob Timmermann
See, if you don't make predictions, nothing will ever come back to haunt you.

I told people that back in 2003!

2005-08-26 00:15:16
2.   the OZ
So, now we're making comments about COMMENTS? This is an existential loop that may unravel the fabric of the universe.
2005-08-26 06:47:09
3.   Purple Hippopotamus
OR plunge the Comments into self-referential decline, and DT will go the way of postmodernism--straight down the pie hole! Regarding free agents, Damon would be an excellent pickup who would not only solidify the Dodgers merry-go-round outfield but bring consistency to the plate. He gets additional points for not having bones made of plastic.
2005-08-26 07:44:26
4.   Sam DC
And yes, apparently, there is something wrong with me . . .
2005-08-26 13:25:23
5.   everett
is there an easy way to get current stats for all of those pitchers?

Comment status: comments have been closed. Baseball Toaster is now out of business.