Most of us have entertained the idea, at one point or another, that our teddy-bear of an innings eater would, at some point, hit the trading blocks. While he hasn't come up on Peter Gammons' screen as of yet (Insider required), he's still a prime candidate to be moved. Just like he has been for, seemingly, the last 10 years.
Contenders and pretenders alike will always shop for starting pitching come the trade deadline. While year-to-year markets will always fluctuate for position players, a full starting rotation is always in demand. We'll kick off our list with those most familiar to us.
Livan Hernandez - Minnesota Twins, RHP
|2008 - Livan Hernandez||6-3||14||14||1||0||0||0||86.1||124||56||51||11||15||27||5.32||1.61|
While he's still averaging better than six innings per start, his early season successes have been erased everywhere except the Win column. After seven quality starts in his first ten, he's now strung together four consecutive starts good for a 9.70 ERA in 21.1 innings, aided by allowing 44 hits in that span. There are likely to be more effective options on the market, but by the end of June and July, suitors may be looking to temper how effective a pitcher is against A) how much he's due on his contract, and B) what he's likely to cost in prospects. Livan likely will have an advantage on both of those fronts.
Boof Bonser - Minnesota Twins, RHP
|2008 - Boof Bonser||3-6||15||12||0||0||0||0||72.2||83||58||50||9||23||48||6.19||1.46|
I've said it myself--"Boof isn't going anywhere." Right now I still believe that, because even though it was Dennys Reyes' fat pitch that landed in the seats last night, two of the three runs belonged to Bonser. It's frustrating as a fan because he had a very solid April...which was of course off-set by May. In June he's appeared in three relief stints, but is still struggling to be effective: 6.1 innings, 10 hits, 6 runs. So what makes him appealing? Well, while he's a bit more generous with walks and homers than Hernandez, he also doesn't allow as many hits and is capable of striking a few guys out. He's younger and cheaper than Livan, and who knows, with a change of scenery that fastball/curveball combo might shine. Finally, he's a starting pitcher who's pitching in relief, which makes him redundant. Or at the least, probably more available than Livan.
Joe Blanton - Oakland Athletics, RHP
|2008 - Joe Blanton||3-8||14||14||0||0||0||0||93.1||105||47||43||9||22||44||4.15||1.36|
Really, if a team wants a guy who can take on innings while getting hit, here's the prime cut. Blanton is 27, under team control through 2010, and is less "hittable" than both Bonser and Hernandez. Of course, being under team control for the next two and a half seasons means hes going to be quite a bit more expensive than either Hernandez or Bonser, but depending on how badly a suitor needs a starting pitcher (also see: a more reliable starting pitcher), that may not matter much. To the right club, Blanton is available (even now). I'm looking forward to seeing how much he'll cost.
C.C. Sabathia - Cleveland Indians, LHP
|2008 - C.C. Sabathia||4-8||14||14||3||2||0||0||91.1||95||45||44||10||28||87||4.34||1.35|
For the team who thinks they have the pieces to dangle for a potential ace (and who thinks they have a buffet large enough), they'll know that Sabathia has been much more effective over the last few weeks. He's already been mentioned in rumors, although I'm sure nothing will get serious until the Indians collapse in on themselves like a dying star. Which may not happen. If he does get shopped, I'd be surprised if part of the deal didn't involve a long-term contract. While it happens, in today's baseball market most teams won't be willing to pay Cleveland's likely asking price for a rental. But...teams get desperate when they get a whiff of October.
Gil Meche - Kansas City Royals, RHP
|2008 - Gil Meche||3-8||14||14||0||0||0||0||82.1||87||48||48||11||31||63||5.25||1.43|
Meche turns 30 in September (he shares a birthday with two of my ex-girlfriends...creepy), so while he's still in his prime he isn't much more than a #3/borderline #2 pitcher. Which still, at this point, makes him better than either Bonser or Hernandez. He's signed through 2011, but having a career year in '07 has given him the dubious title of "achiever-on-an-under-achieving-team". So he's attractive. But, according to the Kansas City Star, the Royals expect him to be around for their next winning team. Which we've been waiting for since 2003. Or, if you're a Royals fan, before that.
Any Detrot starting pitcher except Justin Verlander - Detroit Tigers, RHP/LHP
Fire sale, anyone?
Daniel Cabrera - Baltimore Orioles, RHP
|2008 - Daniel Cabrera||5-2||14||14||1||0||0||0||91.0||85||44||44||12||36||50||4.35||1.33|
Cabrera just turned 27, and is in the same situation as Joe Blanton. He won't hit the open market until after the 2010 season. He turned in eight consecutive quality starts (April 12 - May 20), but has gotten knocked around a bit in his last two outings. He's an extremely talented pitcher with control issues, but any team who's looking to bolster the middle of their rotation (and possibly pick up starter #3 for October) will be glancing his way. Again--being under team control for the next two and a half years will drive his price up, but for the right team it'll be worth it. Cabrera's the kind of guy who could string together a handful of very effective seasons...especially if he can cut down on the walks.
Odalis Perez - Washington Nationals, LHP
|2008 - Odalis Perez||2-5||13||13||0||0||0||0||70.1||80||36||32||11||28||48||4.09||1.54|
Perez hasn't pitched since June 3rd, but while his peripherals aren't too solid he's still likely to garner some interest. The tendinitis in his shoulder caused him to miss his last start, but how soon he's able to return will play a large role in how actively he's pursued.
Kevin Millwood - Texas Rangers, RHP
|2008 - Kevin Millwood||4-3||12||12||1||0||0||0||66.0||87||38||36||6||22||45||4.91||1.65|
In his 12th season, Millwood is only 33. He's interspersed a solid and reliable career with a few very good season, and just like Hernandez always seems to be available in July. He's signed through 2010, which will drive his price tag a bit. Additionally, it's not as though the Rangers are decidedly out of the hunt yet. As long as he and Vincente Padilla perform, Texas might have a shot.
Vincente Padilla - Texas Rangers, RHP
|2008 - Vicente Padilla||8-3||14||14||1||1||0||0||85.2||91||45||37||14||33||59||3.89||1.45|
The perennial under-achiever is actually looking like the promising pitcher the Phillies saw in '02 and '03. But he is turning 31 in September, meaning the shine and glossy finish of six years ago has worn away, so it's easier to think he's just having a decent season as opposed to believing he's turne a corner. Still, he's been largely reliable in 2008--rarely outstanding but with only a couple of bad starts to his credit. The results of his last four years make me think Millwood is more likely to attract attention, but Padilla does have his merits, and he's signed through next year.
Colorado Rockies - Jeff Francis, LHP
|2008 - Jeff Francis||2-6||13||13||0||0||0||0||77.2||88||47||47||12||32||60||5.45||1.55|
This is a personal preference, because I really want to see how Francis performs away from Colorado. He has impressive minor league stuff, and coming off a mediocre (yet 17-win) season they might be able to see high. His road splits are better than his home splits, pretty much across the board although not impressively so in some areas, so I think there's a little merit here. Free Jeff Francis!
Barry Zito - San Francisco Giants, LHP
|2008 - Barry Zito||2-9||13||13||0||0||0||0||66.1||84||50||43||8||40||35||5.83||1.87|
Hahaha...just kidding. Sure, he could be moved...if the Giants ate almost his entire salary. Zito's had some health issues, but I think a change of scenery could do him a world of good. He hasn't been the same player since leaving Oakland (although he did have a very solid month of May), and that curveball is too good to go to waste on a losing team. Sadly, that $14.5 million dollars this season (not to mention the rest of that contract) makes him all but impossible to move.
So Many Pitchers...So Little Time
A.J. Burnett, Bronson Arroyo, Jarrod Washburn, Randy Wolf, Greg Maddux...the list goes on and on. As we get closer to the time when these talks actually heat up, we'll renew this list and take a more careful look at how things are shaking down. Until then, keep some of these names on your radar screens, because a few are likely to be in direct competition with Minnesota's directives...if they choose to move anyone at all.