Wednesday Triple Play: Pitchers
1. Time to adjust the Braves' offseason grade. If you'll recall, we gave the Braves an emphatic "F" last week, following John Smoltz's unceremonious exit -- which came on top of the Rafael Furcal fiasco and the failed runs at Jake Peavy and A.J. Burnett.
But this week they have added Derek Lowe and Kenshin Kawakami, seriously overpaying for the former. I'm not sure I'd want to give four years to a starting pitcher who will turn 40 during the final year of the deal -- and in fact, it appears 29 other teams felt the same way. But the Braves were understandably desperate and were facing a public relations nightmare, in addition to a pitching shortage. Plus, as a pure investment, I still like Lowe better than Burnett, who is three years younger and who got about 35 percent more money from the Yankees. Sinkerballers tend to age better than strikeout pitchers, and Lowe should be good for 200 innings a year, at least in the first half of the contract.
Kawakami is a bit of a wild card, but if he's as good as advertised, the Braves could have the makings of a very solid rotation, as Cameron pointed out in the previous post. I'll stop just short of giving them a full letter grade for each of their pitcher signings this week, and bump the Braves up to a C-.
2. I also like Lowe better as an investment than Oliver Perez, who, apparently, is the Mets' preferred consolation prize. Though eight years younger, Perez is the anti-Lowe, a woefully inconsistent talent who has never thrown 200 innings in a season (though, to be fair, he has come close twice). That said, Perez is better than the other guy mentioned in this story.
3. When I asked a Nationals official recently about Randy Wolf as a prospective signee, the official basically laid out this equation: At, say, $7 million (a guess as to what it might cost to sign Wolf), would he be so clearly better than, say, Shairon Martis or Collin Balester (at around $500,000 each) as to warrant the additional cost? The only honest answer is: we don't know. We don't know if Martis or Balester will blossom or crash in 2009. But we can be fairly certain that Wolf will win you 10-12 games and pitch 170-190 innings -- and yes, to me, that (near-) certainty is worth $7 million.
But as I often point out, that's easy for me to say when it's not my money.
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