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Braves New World

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?

Tags:  Andy Pettitte  Atlanta Braves

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1 OldYanksFan   ~  Jan 14, 2009 5:00 pm

Don't know how Jeff Weaver has sunk this low. Worth a MiLB contract to see if he can work out of the pen? He's all but free, yes?

2 Raf   ~  Jan 14, 2009 5:03 pm

WW posted a similar entry, based on a Pete Abe entry.

I wouldn't mind if they landed another pitcher, but I'm confident that someone in the system, be it Aceves, Kennedy, Hughes, or one of the guys in the system should be able to step it up and throw "5th starter" innings.

If not, then someone can and will be found during the course of a season.

3 Raf   ~  Jan 14, 2009 5:05 pm

Worth a MiLB contract to see if he can work out of the pen?

I suppose that would be fine if he showed anything in the minors... He hasn't.

4 williamnyy23   ~  Jan 14, 2009 5:47 pm

The Astros signed Russ Ortiz to a minor league deal, so you can remove him from the list of available filler.

If I was Cashman, I would sit down with Pettitte and hash out a one year deal. It makes too much sense for both parties to not get it done. Otherwise, I wouldn't touch any of the names above (assuming Oliver Perez wouldn't also sign a 1-year deal, which is highly unlikely).

5 williamnyy23   ~  Jan 14, 2009 5:50 pm

[2] I am also confident in Hughes and/or Aceves filling the 5th slot, but wonder how much they can pitch. Also, I fully expect the Yankees to baby Chamberlain (as they should) and think there's a good chance that the Burnett will miss 3 or 4 starts. In other words, the Yankees will need more than just a 5th starter...they will also likely need another 10-15 starts as well. I'd much rather give Andy the 5th slot and let Hughes or Aceves take on those extra 15.

6 TheGreenMan   ~  Jan 14, 2009 6:07 pm

I think they will be fine with the in-house 5th starter options, but Paul Byrd makes a little sense to me. The top 4 guys all throw hard so a change of pace, so to speak, wouldn't be a bad idea. Plus he has the experience to fill in and log innings if one of those guys gets hurt.

Aw screw it...I just like his old-school wind up!

7 joejoejoe   ~  Jan 14, 2009 7:13 pm

I think Pedro Martinez is worth one of those John Smoltz deals, $5M + $5M in incentives. He was very good in a tiny sample size in 2007. If his shoulder is wrecked then it's wrecked but if there is a 1 in 5 chance that he can have stretches of good health then why not roll the dice? Use him as a spot starter, not a rotation pitcher.

8 thelarmis   ~  Jan 15, 2009 12:47 am

perpetually injured bartolo colon signed a 1-yr deal w/ the pale hose this evening...

paul byrd, has hinted at retirement, at least for half the season. he'd like to play in the southeast if it comes up...

i hope cash gets andy back for a year. would be nice and worth it, methinks...

9 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Jan 15, 2009 12:48 am

the names on that list..ugh...Josh Fogg?? didn't Manny B almost decapitate him with a liner in the "Rocktober" WS??

we all know who will spot-start in the dog days of summer..arise ye, Sir Sidney!

10 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Jan 15, 2009 12:57 am

[8] ouch, you beat me buy a minute thelarmis..but it's the 3pm office-nap-time hour here so am a bit slow..

Bartolo Colon and Sir Sidney on the same team, can the caterers handle it??

Schilling would be hysterical...

11 thelarmis   ~  Jan 15, 2009 1:28 am

[10] pale hose got sir sid, too?

i have friends up in arms 'round these parts about smoltz. did you see some guy put his "heart and soul" up for sale on ebay, in response to the smoltz fiasco?! too funny! over 25 people actually bid and the guy is getting a money order for almost $80!!! in turn, he will send a check to the john smoltz foundation. crazy...

braves lose smoltzie, glavine may not make it back and the ghost of andruw was at the georgia tech game tonight wearing a braves hat!!!

np = ike quebec

12 Mattpat11   ~  Jan 15, 2009 1:37 am

Jeff Weaver is on the Javier Vazquez list.. No rational argument will ever overwhelm my hate for him following 2003.

13 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Jan 15, 2009 2:07 am

[11] didn't Ike play on "The Sermon" w/ Jimmy Smith?? think he was an A&R guy for Blue Note too..

[12] who is Jeff Weaver? no memory of such a person on the Yankees..

damn, would they just sign Pettite already and get it over with?? what's his problem, does he really want to end up on the Dodgers???

14 thelarmis   ~  Jan 15, 2009 2:22 am

[13] no, it was Tina Brooks who was the tenor man on jimmy smith's The Sermon & House Party blowing sessions. they're sort of from similar ilks though. i liken tina to a hank mobley. yup, Ike was an A&R guy for BN. after he died, Duke Pearson took over. there's a handful of Ike solo cd's on BN. ditto for tina brooks. the best of both of those guys, is Tina's True Blue record. it's a must-have BN title!!!

[12] who is jeff weaver? i, too, have zero recollection... (i wish!)


15 Diane Firstman   ~  Jan 15, 2009 7:33 am

RIP Ricardo Montalban ...

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver