A couple of weeks ago I ventured a half start at who was ON the market for starting pitchers. But the real question isn't whether Livan Hernandez or Boof Bonser are on the market or not, but whether there are any teams out there who could be in search of what a pitcher like those two have to offer: reliability, stability, innings.
Whether it's good reliability or hand-wringing reliability, or good innings or bad innings, are the types of questions that could drive suitors to other options and other teams. But I'm losing focus.
We can narrow our search to contenders, because those are the teams who will be looking to "buy" someone with those attributes for the back end of their starting rotation. Teams looking to sell, or even those who are treading water, won't be after the services of anyone making millions more than their own youngsters who could likely perform just as well. At least, they won't be looking to pick up a guy like Hernandez in the middle of the season, certainly not when it would mean handing over a prospect.
Of the contending teams in baseball, I've excluded anyone in the AL Central (mainly the White Sox at the moment, but all of them on principle) as well as the following clubs:
Red Sox: Beckett, Lester, Wakefield, Matsuzaka, Masterson (also Bartolo Colon who's on the DL, and Clay Buchholz in the minors)
Yankees: Pettitte, Mussina, Rasner, Chamberlain, Giese (also with Kennedy and Hughes in the minors, and Carl Pavano possibly back in a few weeks)
Rays: Kazmir, Shields, Garza, Jackson, Sonnastine (the Rays look good for pitching, at least from this outsider's perspective, especially with Price on the rise)
Angels: Santana, Saunders, Weaver, Lackey, Garland (also, in very good condition)
Athletics: Harden, Blanton, Smith, Eveland, Duchscherer (simutaneously buyers and sellers, but they won't buy starting pitching...at least not what the Twins would sell)
Cardinals: Piniero, Wellemeyer, Lohse, Looper, Boggs (and Wainwright on the DL, plus they're comfortable enough to consider cutting ties with Matt Clement...although earlier in June they were speculated to be looking for another starter, it's for an ace--not a Hernandez or Bonser)
Braves: Apparently, they're no longer in the market for starters
Padres: Neither buying nor selling at this juncture
After the jump, the teams who could use a guy like Boof or Livan. The bad news: there aren't many. The good news: even in a trade market where good, solid starting pitching will be available, the Twins might find someone interested.
Current Rotation: Cole Hamels, Jamie Moyer, Adam Eaton, Kyle Kendrick, Brett Myers
The Phillies have already been linked to ace-type options like Roy Oswalt, A.J. Burnett, Erik Bedard, Rich Harden, C.C. Sabathia and Ben Sheets. But they've also been linked to a guy like Greg Maddux. While neither Livan or Boof can compete with that string of front runners, if Philadelphia can't land Maddux, someone like Bonser might fit the bill. Brett Myers doesn't look like the pitcher of two or three years ago, it's hard to put much faith in Adam Eaton's relative success this season and, contrary to popular belief, Jamie Moyer isn't getting any younger. Draft mates Hamels and Kendrick look good, but if there's anything the Phillies need it's another front-line starter and a reliable innings-muncher at the back end. Whether Boof or Livan could fill that role better than Myers is the question.
Current Rotation: Scott Olsen, Ricky Nolasco, Andrew Miller, Mark Hendrickson, Ryan Tucker
While I haven't read anything indicating that the Marlins would be interested in acquiring pitching (only a veteran catcher), looking at their rotation I have to believer they'd need to if they want to continue to compete. Only Olsen and Nolasco have pitched well enough to not be replaceable, while none of the six other pitchers who've started have managed to do anything better than suck. Considering what a guy like Hernandez or Bonser might cost the Marlins, both pitchers could hold some interest for a team desperate for starting pitching. They could certainly use another ace arm first, but it's easier to upgrade from horrible to questionable than it is to upgrade from questionable to good.
Current Rotation: Ben Sheets, Manny Parra, Jeff Suppan, Dave Bush, Seth McClung
Oddly enough, as Sheets is the subject of some trade rumors of his own (although not on the levels of Sabathia or Burnett), the Brewers' assistant GM has mentioned that they wouldn't be opposed to the idea of bringing in another starting pitcher. Unfortunately for the Twins, all five of these guys have out-performed both Bonser and Hernandez.
Current Rotation: Brandon Webb, Doug Davis, Dan Haren, Randy Johnson, Micah Owings
Webb, Davis and Haren give Arizona a formidable trio. Johnson's had a rough month of June and doesn't look like his former self, which is understandable considering he turns 45 in less than three months. Of course, he can still pitch, and I'd take my chances with him over Boof over Livan ten out of ten times. Owings is the place in the rotation where Arizona might look to upgrade as far as starting pitching is concerned, although even here the peripherals make him look like a better option than Minnesota's available major league starters. Additionally, Owings turns just 26 in September. Like Milwaukee, if they look to improve the rotation, it doesn't look like the Twins would have much to offer.
Current Rotation: Ryan Dempster, Sean Gallagher, Ted Lilly, Jason Marquis, Carlos Zambrano
Even now, Zambrano isn't active. But according to reports, the Cubs are expecting to activate him for their game on Independence Day this Friday. If he is indeed ready, the Cubs' search for another pitcher would be relegated strictly to a guy like C.C. Sabathia; an ace that sets up the North Siders with a definitive knock-out arm for the summer's final push. If he's not ready, the Cubs may look to someone with more experience than a Sean Marshall, Rich Hill or even Jon Leiber, who the Cubs prefer to keep in the bullpen. Would Livan make any sense?