My latest for SI.com looks at the Braves’ new rotation in the wake of the Derek Lowe and Kenshin Kawakami signings, including a scouting report on the 33-year-old Japanese import. Toward the end, I summarize the remaining free agent market for starting pitchers in two paragraphs:
After [Oliver] Perez and [Ben] Sheets, there’s only a handful of veterans that could be considered remotely reliable signings. That group includes Andy Pettitte, who continues to play chicken with the Yankees over a one-year deal, Paul Byrd, Randy Wolf, whose name frequently surfaces as a back-up option, Braden Looper and Jon Garland. Of those five, however, only Looper posted an ERA better than league average last year.
Beyond that group there’s a series of bad bets, be it on aging stars who’d be better off retiring (Tom Glavine, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Kenny Rogers, Orlando Hernandez), the perpetually injured (Jason Jennings, Mark Mulder, Bartolo Colon), roster fillers (Livan Hernandez, Sidney Ponson, Josh Fogg, Josh Towers) or assorted castoffs who will be lucky to land a non-roster invitation to camp (Steve Trachsel, Jeff Weaver, Kip Wells, Mark Redman, Matt Belisle, Esteban Loaiza, Kris Benson).
I realize now I left Odalis Perez and Jon Lieber out of the list of roster fillers and failed to find a place for Freddy Garcia. Nonetheless, that’s about it. In fact, you can cross Prior off the list, as he’s landed back with the Padres on a minor league deal. So, do you think the dearth of alternatives gives Pettitte any leverage over the Yanks? Should they peel off and sign Ben Sheets or Braden Looper before they’re forced to overpay for one of the next five or turn to one of the bad bets? Or should they walk away now and let Alfredo Aceves, Phil Hughes, and company fight it out over the fifth spot in the rotation?