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About Jon
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1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
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How Much Is An Innings-Eater Worth?
2005-11-23 10:12
by Jon Weisman

I've been among those urging the Dodgers to improve their starting pitching, but I'm going to play Devil's Advocate with myself.

Below is a comparison of the 34 starts made by Jeff Weaver in 2005, at a cost of about $9 million, with the 36 starts made by Scott Erickson, D.J. Houlton, Edwin Jackson and Derek Thompson, at a cost of about $1 million - in order of ERA within each start.


Weaver's outings were longer, and he had more games of exceptional quality (allowing two earned runs or less). On the other hand, the bottom third of his starts were about as bad as the bottom third of those by Erickson, Houlton, Jackson and Thompson.

But in general, the difference between Weaver and the motley crew he's being compared to is that every fifth game, Weaver would pitch an extra inning or two and allow one or two fewer runs.

Weaver is valued for his innings-eating skills, but are there other ways to eat those innings? Can they be swallowed more cheaply than Weaver would digest them? The going rate for an innings eater - based on what guys like Weaver, Derek Lowe and Odalis Perez command - is about $8-10 million per year. Instead of spending that kind of money on a pitcher who is going to make a difference every fifth day, maybe it's better to spend that kind of money on a hitter who is going make a difference every day.

If you use a 99-Cent Store brand starting pitcher, you would have to ask more from your bullpen. You'd probably end up carrying a seventh reliever to help pick up those middle innings your starter would sometimes miss. But if you have better offense, you're less likely to need that 25th roster spot for a position player anyway.

It's not as if Houlton and Jackson aren't likely to improve a bit in 2006. It's not as if Chad Billingsley isn't close to being ready for the big leagues. And it's not as if the Dodgers couldn't sign a pitcher for about $2 million who could hold opponents to four runs in six innings every fifth day, on average, before turning the game over to the bullpen.

So maybe starting pitching should be the last thing the Dodgers worry about.

Just thinking out loud, trying to consider all the possibilities.

Comments (62)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2005-11-23 10:36:36
1.   the OZ
Interesting post. I guess it all hinges on the availability of a good middle-relief guy, which can be hard to find by definition.

Also, the Mets are supposed to be getting Delgado and $7M cash for Mike Jacobs Yusmeiro Petit.

So there's one less thing for Dodger fans to worry about.

2005-11-23 10:46:35
2.   scareduck
You may be right, Jon, but the opportunity cost for a panicked Frank is also very high.
2005-11-23 10:49:40
3.   jasonungar05
How about

Bobby Howry, 32, RHP The ideal setup man because he keeps the ball in the park (four homers allowed in 73 IP last season), walks few batters (16), can pitch to righties or lefties and can even close in a pinch. He showed in the second half that his elbow is back to full strength: a 0.99 ERA, only four earned runs and a .146 batting average against.

2005-11-23 10:54:23
4.   Bob Timmermann
I think Howry will try to get signed as a closer and get the accompanying pay increase.

I, for one, would be welcome to the idea of having a Dodgers team that could score more runs. That seems to be antithetical to what most Dodgers fans want. They'd rather have Juan Pierres motoring around, getting caught stealing 20 times a year.

2005-11-23 10:59:53
5.   molokai
From Rotowire:
"The team is more focused on free-agent catchers Ramon Hernandez and Bengie Molina than they are on potential trades for one. The Mets don't believe Lo Duca's abilities justify the $6.25 million he's due in salary in each of the next two seasons, and now that the team has acquired Carlos Delgado from Florida, it is unlikely that they will make a separate deal to get Lo Duca from them."

They just don't value heart and soul like they used to.

2005-11-23 11:01:14
6.   scanderbeg
For the going rate of middle relief, see Scott Eyre's new contract.

A rotation of Penny, Lowe, Perez, Houlton and Jackson is not the worst thing I could imagine. I would like to replace Houlton, though. Ted Lilly or Johnson (from Detroit) would be a nice improvement there.

2005-11-23 11:05:55
7.   molokai
I'm with you Jon but I expect Morris to come our way and I won't be complaining.
2005-11-23 11:09:35
8.   Vishal
i have absolutely zero desire or inclination for matt morris. he seems utterly unremarkable to me.
2005-11-23 11:15:29
9.   scanderbeg
8 agreed
2005-11-23 11:20:17
10.   Bob Timmermann
I remember back in 2004 when Matt Morris threw a shutout against the Dodgers in St. Louis that the Cardinals said that the young Dodger hitters couldn't handle the savvy veteran pitching of Morris.

I'm still baffled by that. Who were the young Dodger hitters in 2004? When did Morris become a wily veteran?

2005-11-23 11:21:42
11.   Thomas Naccarato
My email is down at the moment and I couldn't email this to you, but thought everyone else might find some interest in it.

2005-11-23 11:23:07
12.   scareduck
4 - In Pierre's defense, he's successful around 77% of the time, just above the threshold of breakeven.
2005-11-23 11:24:45
13.   Sam DC
12 Yes, but that counts games against the Dodgers.
2005-11-23 11:36:33
14.   Bob Timmermann
Pierre was 2 for 3 in SBs against the Dodgers last year. He also was 5 for 28 at the plate.
2005-11-23 11:43:16
15.   trainwreck
I have to agree with what Buster Olney said on his weblog (can not believe I just wrote that) that Minaya made a dumb move. The Marlins were ready to give up Delgado for anything as long as someone ate Delgado's contract. So why would the mets give up their best pitching prospect to get him? Makes no sense, but Minaya likes to overpay with prospects and money. Delgado could have gone to the Mets but he did not want to so it will be interesting to see how he feels about being traded there.
2005-11-23 11:44:22
16.   scanderbeg
[15] Anyone foresee a trade demand in winter '06?
2005-11-23 11:45:18
17.   trainwreck
Can we give Bud Black the job now that he initially turned down the offer to even interview with us? How will the LA media handle that one? He has to be out of the race for PR reasons, which seem to be the only reasoning behind anything we do.
2005-11-23 11:47:03
18.   scareduck
13 - now, now, let us be rational.

Pierre only had two stolen bases in seven games against the Dodgers. Now the Nats or Cubs -- well, he swiped seven each against those clubs.

2005-11-23 11:47:47
19.   scareduck
17 - PR reasons? Lasorda blasted him in Simers' column yesterday. He was out of the running before the game started.
2005-11-23 11:50:43
20.   Jon Weisman
19 - I thought nothing of Lasorda's comment when I read it in Simers' column, before the Black interview news came out yesterday. A day later, it seems particularly odd - indicative that communication within the Dodger organization still seems to rely on a string and Dixie cups.
2005-11-23 11:51:46
21.   natepurcell
i dont know if the mets got robbed. jacobs isnt anything special, petit has always been a stats fan's favorite, but scouts are sure if he will succeed in the majors or not.

best case scenario for marlins:

-they platoon willingham and jacobs at first and get 75% of delgados production for 700k
-petit turns into livan hernandez

2005-11-23 11:52:20
22.   trainwreck
Then why convice him to interview with us? Maybe everyone is tired of hearing Lasorda, which I might add is a good thing.
2005-11-23 11:54:18
23.   trainwreck
Not that the Mets got robbed, but if you can get a used car for 500 bucks why offer 1000?
2005-11-23 11:55:31
24.   Vishal
[10] when you stop striking people out, all of a sudden people start calling you "savvy" and "wily", and praise your veteran guile.
2005-11-23 11:55:40
25.   natepurcell
Not that the Mets got robbed, but if you can get a used car for 500 bucks why offer 1000?

because that used car is a big name hispanic player :)

2005-11-23 11:56:11
26.   D4P
Holiday spirit...?
2005-11-23 11:56:21
27.   molokai
Tommy is back out in the cold and not happy about it. Making comments like that to Simers shows he's losing his media savvy ways.
2005-11-23 12:00:26
28.   Javier Gutierrez
How "deadly" would a lineup with Pierre and Izturis batting at the top of the lineup?!
2005-11-23 12:00:58
29.   trainwreck
Mets will be fadunked if any of their older pitchers get hurt.
2005-11-23 12:02:49
30.   D4P
Extremely. Any chance the Dodgers would have of winning a championship would be completely extinguished.
2005-11-23 12:07:30
31.   Colorado Blue
I'm sorry, but isn't Juan Pierre a CF? I didn't realize that was on the list of Dodger needs. We all ready have either Bradley or Drew in CF... why Colletti would even consider JP is beyond me.
2005-11-23 12:08:46
32.   Colorado Blue
I should have added that I am on the record to using Repko as #2 CF over JP.
2005-11-23 12:10:27
33.   D4P
Yeah, but Bradley doesn't fit Flanders' "Personal life > Performance" philosophy and Drew doesn't fit Flanders' "Healthy players" philosophy.
2005-11-23 12:14:29
34.   scareduck
20 - good point, Jon. What was that about hiring Colletti because he was a good communicator? The more I hear of this kind of left-hand/right-hand disconnect, the more I think the real reason DePodesta got fired was because Terry Collins was on his short list for manager. No other reason has even remotely made sense, and no other reason that has been proffered since has had a consistent application. Consider the attributes we were told that the Dodgers new manager needed to have:

- Must know how to win: Why do we hear about Fregosi, then? Why Hershiser?
- Must be a Dodger: Why Fregosi?

They don't have a clue and they don't have a direction. You know, it's funny, but people talk about the Ex-Cub Factor (i.e., the team with more ex-Cubs will lose the World Series) with regards to players, but being that Colletti is a long-time Cub, I have to wonder what this means WRT the Dodgers. Is there an application in front offices? Consider:

"It's hard to put a finger on it," says Jim Brosnan, a writer who once pitched for the Cubs, during a contemplative moment. "You have to have a certain dullness of mind and sprit to play here. I went though psychoanalysis, and that halped me deal with my Cubness."

That "dullness of mind and spirit" -- one would assume it comes from the top, yes?

2005-11-23 12:15:50
35.   Mark
Bob-- someone must have read your comment in the last thread.

2005-11-23 12:15:57
36.   student of the game
ESPNnews reported that Jim Thome will be traded to the ChiSox.
2005-11-23 12:18:37
37.   Bob Timmermann

I hear though that the Dixie Cups used by the Dodgers are the new digital models. And some of them have riddles on the side to keep people amused.


I am a trendsetter in the region.

2005-11-23 12:19:59
38.   natepurcell
for who?
2005-11-23 12:21:52
39.   Javier Gutierrez
Aaron Rowand, Jose Contreras and Brandy McCarthy
2005-11-23 12:22:51
40.   trainwreck
I have been watching ESPNews and have not heard a thing about Jim Thome or seen anything mentioned on the bottom scroll.
2005-11-23 12:22:52
41.   Colorado Blue
33 - True, but I'm quite sure we'll end up with at least one of them on the opening day roster...
2005-11-23 12:22:55
42.   student of the game
38 I think they said Rowland, but I am not sure.
2005-11-23 12:23:40
43.   natepurcell
Aaron Rowand, Jose Contreras and Brandy McCarthy

wait, are you serious?

2005-11-23 12:24:16
44.   scareduck
35 - OMFG, that's hilarious. People, make sure when you go over there, bonk on the "Best Of" voting button at upper right. That URL again:

2005-11-23 12:27:34
45.   molokai
ESPN says only Rowand while the CWS receives Thome and money. Good deal for both teams. WS need the DH and the Phillies needed the CF and then gave themselves some salary relief.
2005-11-23 12:29:43
46.   Bob Timmermann
Is that Brandy McCarthy or was it Brandi McCarthy, the guy who took off his shirt on TV after the White Sox won the World Series?
2005-11-23 12:30:05
47.   Vishal
the chicago tribune has a fun feature they call "the konerkometer" (i'm not sure if it's pronounced konerko-meter or koner-kometer, but i prefer the latter), which attempts to read the tea leaves and determine if konerko is staying or leaving. if the sox get thome, i have a feeling it will push the konerkometer firmly in the "gone" direction.
2005-11-23 12:30:11
48.   natepurcell
WS need the DH and the Phillies needed the CF and then gave themselves some salary relief

why not let micheals or victorino try and hold down the cf position?

is it more, or has there been more big names traded this offseason than ususual?

2005-11-23 12:30:16
49.   trainwreck
Now I heard them mention it. Why would the White Sox do this deal? Jim Thome looks done.
2005-11-23 12:31:16
50.   molokai
Bye Bye Frank - thanks for the HOF career.
Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2005-11-23 12:32:19
51.   trainwreck
Frank needs to to go the A's. It is a perfect fit.
2005-11-23 12:33:04
52.   molokai
Jim Thome had injuries all year. He's not worth his contract but he's far from done.
2005-11-23 12:33:10
53.   Vishal
if the phils get rowand, that would seem to put the kibosh on any potential bradley-to-philadelphia trade.
2005-11-23 12:34:03
54.   Colorado Blue
51 - Thomas or McCourt... frankly, I hope it's the latter.
2005-11-23 12:34:23
55.   Vishal
[51] i'm really hoping he goes to oakland for about $4 million, hits 30 homers, and puts up an OPS of .930
2005-11-23 12:35:47
56.   trainwreck
Haha well I watched Thome a lot with MLb extra innings because he was on my friend's fantasy team and he just looked terrible this season. Now it could all be because of injury but he just looked terrible.
2005-11-23 12:37:05
57.   Jon Weisman
34 - see new post above.
2005-11-23 12:48:23
58.   Uncle Miltie
To quote one of my favorite writers, Bill Simmons.

Thome will be "the team's 'right-handed slugger who used to hit for power right up to the year they started testing for steroids, I'm sure it's just a crazy coincidence' guy."

I really hope the A's get Thomas and Bradley. Frank was my favorite player growing up, I even had his signature batting gloves in little league.

2005-11-23 12:50:07
59.   Uncle Miltie
Oops make that left handed slugger
2005-11-23 17:28:30
60.   greenchris
Jon, thanks for bringing up this subject. I rarely post, but I couldn't resist as the "innings eater" topic has been on my mind lately. I have been contemplating whether or not they should bring back Weaver, and I think he's going to be too expensive. Innings eaters can be had at a smaller price. I would rather them sign a cheaper innings eater and pursue a frontline starter via a trade somehow rather than sign another #3 starter i.e. Weaver, Lowe, Perez. I don't see Jeff "Party Time" Weaver as the kind of guy I want to spend $8-10 mil a year on. I see him at the casino's every now and then throwing back a few whiskey's like their water, seriously.

Innings eater around the $2 million range, I think Brett Tomko might be a good suiter. He'll probably command around $3-4 million a year for the next contract, he made $2.6 in 05. His stats aren't all that bad, especially at his home park or at Dodger Stadium. Adjust them a bit for the pitcher friendly Dodger Stadium and he looks even better at a great price. His record last year is very deceiving as the SF bullpen blew a lot of his leads, he could have easily had 12 wins in 05. We are full of #3 pitchers and I don't think Weaver is an ace of any staff. I think the Dodgers would be better off pursuing a guy like Brett Tomko, cheap and he'll do the job.

Here's how they compare:

2002 10 10 204.1 126 4.49
2003 13 9 203.2 114 5.29
2004 11 7 194 108 4.04
2005 8 15 191.2 114 4.48

Weaver W L IP SO ERA
2002 11 11 200.2 132 3.52
2003 7 9 159.1 93 5.99
2004 13 13 220 153 4.01
2005 14 11 224 157 4.22

IMO, they look pretty even with the exception of 05. I blame a lot of what happened in 05 on him playing for the Giants. That team sucked the first half of the season, no run support, horrible defense, and a bullpen that loved to give up runs.

Here's Tomko's stats at Dodger Stadium (DS) and his Home Stats from 2002-2005.

05 DS 3 0 1 8 4.08
05 SBC 14 6 5 3.58
04 DS 3 1 0 5 2.01
04 SBC 13 6 4 5.31
03 DS 1 0 0 5 8.44
03 Busch15 4 4 2.88
02 DS 2 2 0 1 0.6
02 QC 18 6 5 4.13

DS Stats 02to05- 9GS-3W-1L-19ER-2.88ERA
Home Stats 02to05- 60GS-22W-18L-170ER-3.92ERA

His stats at home are solid, as are his stats at Dodger Stadium.

Would love to hear what everyone else thinks. Maybe there's some better "innings eaters" available via the free agent market, any suggestions?


2005-11-23 18:29:28
61.   slackfarmer
Great way to eat innings and save a bundle: 4 man rotation.
2005-11-23 21:20:45
62.   greenchris
My point in 60 was to compare Weaver and other "inning eaters" not to say we need a 4 man rotation.

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