Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Arms Race

There's already been a lot of kvetching about this year's rather tepid free agent pitcher class and how many high dollar figures are being thrown about for the likes of Ted Lilly, Gil Meche, Adam Eaton (already signed at $24m/3 years), Vicente Padilla (rumored to be signed at about $11M/year for 3 years).

One of the biggest problems I have with fantasy analysis - and one of the reasons I started this blog - is to take more of a historical look at these types of issues. Too many fantasy web sites only look at what happened five minutes ago.

So below is a list of starting pitchers who signed multi-year deals in the winter of 2005/2006, listed in order of average dollars per season. Just to simply this exercise a little further, I'm leaving out the options.

Kevin Millwood $60M/5 years
A.J. Burnett $55M/5 years
Jarrod Washburn $37.5M/4 years
Matt Morris $27M/3 years
Kenny Rogers $16M/2 years
Paul Byrd $14.5M/2 years
Esteban Loaiza $14M/2 years
Brett Tomko $8.7M/2 years
Scott Elarton $8M/2 years

And to think I didn't like most of these deals last year.

So let me try to wrap my mind around this.

Ted Lilly, who has only thrown over 160 IP three times, has never cracked 200 IP and has never thrown up an ERA under four since he became a full time SP, is looking for a four year deal at about $10M/year?

Gil Meche, who actually looks worse than Lilly, is looking to get $3o million over 3 years?

Adam Eaton, yet another pitcher who has never posted an ERA under 4, is quite taterific, and has never lived up to his potential, getting $24M?

Last year's list, with the exceptions of Elarton and Tomko, at least featured guys who had some major league success, even if said success was well in the past or on again off again.

I understand the need for innings. You can't simply go in with three major league starters and then hope that your phenom will be ready, or your minor league journeyman will plug the gap for 40-50 IP. But we've reached the point of stupidity. If these guys are really going to command $10 or $11 million per season, I'd almost rather pay $16M or $17M to someone like Zito, who at least has succeeded at some point in his career.

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