Monday, December 11, 2006

Geez... I leave town for a weekend and we lose Andy Pettitte. I'm actually not sure what to make about this whole deal. One thing's for sure: People are making way too big a deal out of it. Players leave all the time. Maddux and Glavine left Atlanta, after all. Houston shouldn't feel like we're different from other ball clubs just because we have this "hometown team" image.

Here's what I know about the Pettitte situation: Pettitte said he wanted to pitch next year. We offer $12 million for one year. At some point, the Yankees offer $16 million with a player option for the same deal in 2008. Pettitte asks the Astros to improve their offer, but ends up going to the Yankees.

Here's what I don't know: I don't know if the Astros offered $14 million for one year, a deal that reportedly would have lured Pettitte back to Houston. I don't know if Purpura and McLane were adamant about not offering a two-year deal or a one-year deal with a player option. I don't know what kind of contract it would have taken to sign Pettitte. I also don't know what condition Pettitte's elbow was in.

I do remember being upset when we non-tendered Wade Miller. He was a good pitcher for us, but had constant arm problems. Non-tendering him was actually a smart move business-wise.

I don't know why everyone's upset. I don't think Pettitte did anything wrong, and I don't blame Purpura for avoiding a bidding war with New York. Pettitte probably wanted another year or a player option, but I don't think the Astros were willing to give him that. Yes, Pettitte will be sorely missed in the Astros' now-depleted rotation. He was a good pitcher when healthy, and maybe we'll see him back in Houston someday.

Anyway, there's no use crying over him. He's a Yankee now, so let's keep this offseason party rolling. If nothing else, it's sure been an exciting ride so far, eh?

Time to play "Let's Find A Starting Pitcher!" Most of the top free-agents starters been signed, but there are still several options. Here's a list of pitchers that will cost us next-to-nothing. At first glance, they're not very appealing, but bear with me: Tony Armas, Bruce Chen, Shawn Estes, Rick Helling, Jason Johnson, Brian Lawrence, Ohka, Ramon Ortiz, Chan Ho Park, Mark Redman, Aaron Sele, Jeff Suppan, John Thomson, Steve Trachsel, Jeff Weaver, Jamey Wright. I've left off a few starters that I think we have no chance of signing, for better or worse (Zito and David Wells). Several of these pitchers won't get a major-league deal, and they don't deserve one. But there are a handful that might surprise you. Check 'em out:

Pitcher A: Career 4.11 ERA, 1.32 WHIP in 4.5 seasons. From 2002-05, averaged 33 starts and 204 IP. Over his career, creates nearly twice as many groundballs as flyballs (a 1.86 GB/FB ratio). Career 5.58 Ks per 9, 2.45 BBs per 9. Will turn 31 in May.

Pitcher B: Career 4.58 ERA, 1.40 WHIP in 8 seasons, averaging 30 starts per year. Slight ground-ball pitcher (1.16 GB/FB). Career 6 Ks per 9, 2.45 BBs per 9. Will turn 31 in August, and has a World Series ring.

Pitcher C: Career 4.65 ERA, 1.40 WHIP in 6.5 seasons, averaging 30 starts over the past 5 years. Pretty much even ground-ball ratio (1.08 GB/FB). Career 5.47 Ks per 9, 2.93 BBs per 9. Will turn 33 in January, and has a World Series ring.

Player D: Career 4.69 ERA, 1.39 WHIP in 9 seasons. Has made 32 starts the past 2 seasons. Career 5.69 Ks per 9, 2.61 BBs per 9. Alight ground-ball pitcher (1.28 GB/FB). Will turn 34 next October.

Player E: Career 4.68 ERA, 1.38 WHIP in 9.5 seasons. From 1998-2003, averaged 32 starts and 200 IP. After injury took away his 2004 season, he's posted a 3.21 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 84 IP the past two years, mostly as a reliever. Career 6.24 Ks per 9, 3.32 BBs per 9. Totally a fly-ball pitcher (0.67 GB/FB). Will turn 36 on Friday.

Player F: Career 4.60 ERA, 1.39 WHIP in 7 seasons. Has worked about half his career out of the pen. Career 7.17 Ks per 9, 3.48 BBs per 9. Flyball pitcher (0.73 GB/FB). Will turn 30 in June.

Player G; Career 4.45 ERA, 1.42 WHIP in 6 seasons. Played a whole season for the first time since 2002, posting a 5.03 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP. Career 6.59 Ks per 9, 4.30 BBs per 9. Dead-even groundball-to-flyball ratio (1.03 GB/FB). Will turn 29 in April.


Player A: Brian Lawrence. All those stats are awesome. Unfortunately, he had surgery on a torn labrum. He was waived by the Natties, though, so it might be a good idea to pick him up and see if he can get back to a decent level.

Player B: No, it's not Jeff Suppan. It's Jeff Weaver, who had a horrific year before his postseason heroics. Still, teams might be scared off by that nasty 5.76 ERA last year. I'll look at the 4.01 and 4.22 ERAs he put up the previous 2 years with the Dodgers, plus the fact that he's avoided the DL.

Player C: No, this isn't Jeff Suppan either. This one will shock you: it's Mark Redman. He's changed teams every year the past 5 years (Tigers, Marlins, A's, Pirates, Royals). Also, he posted a 5.71 ERA with the Royals in 2006 but was an All-Star! He's been pretty bad the past couple of years, but his career numbers aren't too bad. And a glance at his game log last year indicates he's prone to the bomb-shell starts. In September, for example, he gave up 9 ER and got one out. That'll touch up the ERA.

Player D: John Thomson. He went to Blinn College in Brenham. Go Bucs! He seemed to have a resurgence in Atlanta, but the injury bug caught him again the past two years. When he's healthy, he's capable of being a solid starter.

Player E: Rick Helling. Won 20 games for Texas in 1998. He's done a great job in Milwaukee, and I'd take a gamble on him. He likely won't cost much.

Player F: Bruce Chen. Weird dude. He seems to either bring it (13-10, 3.83, 1.27 for Baltimore in 2005) or suck it (0-7, 6.93, 1.74 in 2006). He was on the Astros for 11 games in 2003, and he's from Panama, like Carlos Lee.

Player G: Tony Armas. his health is the concern, as he's been fairly consistent (and slightly below average) over the course of his career.

OK, hope you enjoyed that. I know I did. Till next time....

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