Thursday, January 06, 2005

Pitchers That Bavasi May Target 

With the door on Odalis Perez slammed shut, it seems that the M's may look to the trade winds to find our next pitcher. It is assumed that the centerpiece of any trade will be Randy Winn, as he has been sought after. So who might be available, and who might we be able to get? Here's a list of players that might be available via trade and might plug in well to the Mariners rotation in 2005 (and beyond).

Kip Wells, Pittsburgh, RHP, 28. A sore elbow cut short a mediocre 2004 for Mr. Wells, and he is in the final year of his contract, so its a great time to buy low. The upside is his 2002-2003 numbers with a low-3 ERA. The Pirates could certainly use Winn and put Tike Redman on the bench where he belongs. And its usually not a bad thing to trade with the Pirates.

Brian Lawrence, San Diego, RHP, 29. Our favorite trading partners have a couple of pitchers in Lawrence and Adam Eaton that I would love to pry away. If they hadn't traded for Dave Roberts, Winn would have been a perfect fit for them as well. Lawrence's high (near 2.0) GB/FB ratio looks especially tasty given our improved infield defense. The M's and Padres always seem to be hatching up deals, so why not one for pitching? Klesko/Burroughs for Winn/Spiezio was a hot offseason rumor. Why not Klesko/Lawrence for Winn/Spiezio/prospects(Nageotte)? Don't answer that.

Miguel Batista, Toronto, RHP, 34. 2004 free agent signing was somewhat of a bust for the Jays with a 10-13 record and 4.80 ERA. His K/9 rate dropped from 6.6 to 4.7 while his BB/9 jumped from sub-3 to over 4 and his HR/9 rate nearly doubled. Perhaps with the M's infield defense, Batista would not be so scared to throw strikes. Not sold, look at these ERAs from past 4 years - 3.36, 4.29, 3.54, 4.80. See the pattern? 3.50 ERA coming in 2004! Batista makes $4.75 million over the next two years which is eerily similar to the money Randy Winn would command. For the Blue Jays, Winn provides a substantial upgrade over Reed Johnson and Frank Catalanatto in left field. Unfortunately, the Blue Jays don't have anything that could be called depth in pitching, so we may need to send pitching back as well. Perhaps we pursue Ted Lilly and settle for Batista.

Joe Kennedy, Colorado, LHP, 25. Turned career around with a 3.66 ERA in Coors last year after a miserable 2003 with the D-Rays. If the Rockies want to treat Kennedy (who they acquired in 3-way trade for Justin Speier) as found money and spend it, they could certainly enjoy turning him into Randy Winn, who would be a great left fielder to have in Coors and an offensive upgrade over the series of rookies and never-beens that the Rockies have in the outfield.

The remaining players in this list may be hard (or in the case of Brown, stupid) to acquire, but I can't help but discuss them.

Ben Sheets, Milwaukee, RHP, 26. Power pitcher who was one of the best in baseball last year, after three average seasons to start his career. Looks to be a perennial Cy Young candidate, especially if he can get away from Milwaukee. He will be arbitration-eligible in 2006, but right now the Brewers have expressed no desire to trade him. Should be at the top of the M's trade list. The Brewers could use Winn this year, with rookie Corey Hart probably slated to start in the outfield with Carlos Lee and Geoff Jenkins. The Brewers are maybe two years away from being very good, so deals for prospects are much more likely. A lucrative offer centered around Jeremy Reed and/or Jose Lopez would be much more likely to land Sheets.

A.J. Burnett, Florida, RHP, 28. Throws hard, and has #1 potential, but just last year returned from Tommy John surgery. The Marlins were offering Burnett to the A's for Tim Hudson. Burnett is a year away from free agency, but the Marlins are beginning process of negotiating a long-term contract, expected to be at more than $10 million per year. Adding Winn would be an upgrade over Juan Encarnacion in the outfield alongside Juan Pierre and Miguel Cabrera, and provide some much-needed depth there, but the M's would have to include much more.

Kevin Brown, Yankees, RHP, 40. The Yankees have seemed willing to eat some of his $15 million contract. He has just one year remaining on his contract, so he is not someone we would build around. His first year in pinstripes saw his K rate drop by 2K/9 innings in an injury plagued year, but he is just a year removed from a 2.39 ERA in Dodger Blue. Might be worth taking a chance on for a one-year plug while we wait for King Felix and his court to come up from Tacoma.

And it never hurts to ask the Cubs about Carlos Zambrano, the Padres about Jake Peavy, the Twins about Johan Santana, or even the Indians about Jake Westbrook.

In the meantime, Mr. Bavasi, while your waiting for these GMs to return your phone calls (do GMs email?), could you find a way to sign Antonio Osuna for our bullpen?

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