Remaining Free Agents: Starters, Relievers
This is the third and final article in a series of articles on the remaining free agents. Today’s article focuses on starting pitchers and relievers who are still available.
Ben Sheets, Jon Garland, Joel Pineiro, John Smoltz, Braden Looper, Pedro Martinez and Vicente Padillaare the top free agent starters still available.
Sheets is drawing a lot of interest even though there has been no news about his health after missing the 2009 season. Sheets has started 31 games but hadn’t started more than 30 games since the 2004 season. There are rumors that the Cubs may be interested in signing Sheets. Once he agrees to sign with a team he will have to prove he is healthy before being signed. Sheets has never won more than 13 games in a season and he has had four losing seasons in his eight year career.
Jon Garland could be an option for a team needing a starter. He won 18 games in both the 2005 and 2006 seasons with the White Sox. He has only had one full season with an ERA under 4.00 and has a 4.42 lifetime ERA which isn’t good enough for him to be in the top 1,000 pitchers alltime.
Pedro Martinez has won only 22 games total over the last four seasons. However his 5-1 record with the Phillies last season shows he can be successful at the major league level. Martinez is 147th on the career list for ERA with a 2.92 mark which is the best of any active starter. The next closest ERA among active starters is Johan Santana with a 3.11 ERA which ranks him 210th alltime.
John Smoltz may have problems finding a team to sign him at the age of 43 (in May). His 3-8 record and 6.35 ERA in 2008 will not help him in his search for a new team.
Joel Pineiro (15-12) in 2009 may have the best record among the available free agent starters. He was 4-0 in April but by the end of June had a 6-9 record. He did go on to post a eight game winning streak and had improved his record to 14-9 by the end of the streak but then won only once in his last four starts. He was only 3-12 when not in a winning streak.
Braden Looper (14-7) in 2009 may have won a lot of games for the Brewers but led the NL in home runs given up with 39 and in earned runs allowed with 113 as he posted a 5.22 ERA. At the age of 36 Looper won’t be signing a longterm contract.
Vicente Padilla was 12-6 combined in stints with the Rangers and Dodgers in 2009. His temper may hurt him as he has been known to be a headhunter and it may make it more it more difficult for him to find a team.
Kevin Gregg who blew seven saves in 2009 has been on the free agent market for 47 days and he still hasn’t signed and Jose Valverde saved only 25 games in 2009 after saving 44 in 2008. However he lowered his ERA to 2.33 in 2009 after an ERA of 3.38 in 2008. It is surprising that Valverde has not signed yet because he posted 91 saves over the 2007 and 2008 seasons.
Octavio Dotel is the only other reliever besides Gregg and Valverde with a Type A designation. Dotel’s ERA of 3.32 was his lowest since he posted a 2.48 ERA with Houston in 2003. He has been an effective strikeout pitcher having struck out 940 in 770 innings.