Monday, January 15, 2007

Jon Papelbon

Is Jon Papelbon worth a $20 bid next year?

The answer, my son, depends on you.

A better way to phrase the question might be: "Do you believe Jon Papelbon will be a Top 12 starting pitcher in 2007?" Twelve A.L. starters cracked the $20 barrier last year. Only 10 earned $20 or more in 2006. So it's a tough club to break into.

It's an even tougher club to predict:

$20+ Pitcher Bid Limits A.L.
RankPitcherBid Limit$06+/-
1Johan Santana$41$46+5
2Roy Halladay$31$34+3
3 Mark Buehrle$25$1-24
4Randy Johnson $23$13-10
5Bartolo Colon$23-26-13
6 Josh Beckett $23$10-13
7Rich Harden$23$5-18
8Curt Schilling$20$21+1
9Barry Zito$20$15-5

The table above lists the nine pitchers who Alex Patton (well, Peter Kreutzer, ably filling in for Alex) gave a $20+ bid to last year. These were the nine pitchers who Peter believed had the best chance of being the top pitchers in the league.

It's easy to look at this table now and think snide thoughts. But do any of these guys seem that illogical without the benefit of hindsight?

So maybe Papelbon doesn't need to be a Top 12 starter. Maybe he needs to be a top nine starter. The uncertainty at the top of the food chain means that you probably should avoid giving too many starters bid limits of $20+

Keep in mind that, even in a good year, some of the best bets going into the year are going to fail. Mark Buehrle, in my opinion, is the most surprising pitcher on this list: he's always earned in double digits and when he's on he can earn $30. Seemed like a safe place to put your $25 on Auction Day. But he wasn't.

I haven't ranked the pitchers yet (I usually wait until Alex comes out with his predictions and tweak, which saves me a lot of time). But my guess is that Papelbon won't be a Top 9 pitcher, and he'll get a $17 bid from me. Which doesn't make him a freeze at $20.

Keep in mind that this is a compliment to Papelbon. That's saying that he'll be among my Top 15 predicted starters, more or less, and that I'm willing to go out on a bit of a limb.

And if you think this is B.S., and you want to have 15 pitchers at $20 or more, then rank Papelbon accordingly. Just don't forget to cheat the guys at the bottom of the pay scale, so that your bids all at up to $3120.

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