somebody else's meche

gil meche's agent says gil meche is a hot commodity --- half the teams have made contact, blah blah blah. @#$##$ agent-generated buzz. . . . but we do hear from other sources that the cardinals might be interested in this guy. meche is cut from the carpenter mold: big boy, throws hard, nasty stuff. like carp, he was drafted high (22d overall), reached the big leagues young (20) with ace-like potential, struggled, and got hurt --- blown shoulder. that injury required two surgeries to fix and kept meche sidelined for a year and a half; he has stayed healthy since his return four years ago.

if the shoulder is fixed, the pitcher still is not; here the similarity to carpenter ends, and the likeness to jason marquis begins. after nearly 150 big-league starts, meche still apparently lacks a plan for getting hitters out --- either that, or he's unable to execute one. jeff sullivan at the great mariner blog Lookout Landing recently posted an excellent review of meche's 2006 season; excerpts:

Gil's probably always going to be reputed as possessing terrific stuff, and because of that people will consider him more likely to break out than any number of other pitchers. And while there is some truth to that, his arsenal isn't anywhere close to being as great as so many claim it is. We've all seen him pitch enough to know that he can miss a few bats when he's going well, but what about the rest? You'd think that "great stuff" would show up in the numbers somewhere, but it doesn't, not in K% (which hasn't been consistently good), and certainly not in HR/FB% or LD%. His repertoire is fine, and easily good enough for the Majors, but it's not so good that he can coast by on stuff alone. He needs to have both control of his pitches and a solid approach to succeed, and so far in his career he's shown neither on a consistent basis. . . . .

He finished the season even worse than he started it, and fans who had been swayed by his run of good pitching in the middle of the summer swore off ever believing in Gil again. He concluded the year appropriately enough, walking five batters in Oakland's AAA lineup and needing 125 pitches to get through six innings. Classic Gil. The second he got pulled, Mariner fans everywhere breathed a deep sigh of relief, armed with the knowledge that they'd almost certainly never have to watch Gil trot his sorry ass out to the mound in a Seattle uniform ever again. After more than a decade of underachieving, the Gil Meche Era was finally over.

interestingly enough, the "run of good pitching" jeff refers to came mainly against nl teams --- three consecutive starts in june vs the giants, padres, and dbacks. he made a fourth start vs an nl team (padres) in may, also a good one. his cumulative line vs the nl:
ip h bb so w-l era
29.1 20 5 24 2-0 1.84

probably meaningless; he was pitching pretty well against al clubs too at that time. in any case, the month of interleague play (june) was the only one in which meche managed to keep his era under 4.00; he was at 4.78 or higher in 4 of the 6 months last season.

another fine mariner blog, USS Mariner, seems to have spoken for the majority of seattle fans in this post:

I hope the sucker that decides to give Meche a huge long-term free agent deal because they think they can fix him is in our division, because I would love to watch him get regularly shelled by the team for the next 3-5 years.
that sentiment seems less rooted in reason than in frustration; as we know from watching marquis, there's nothing more exasperating than watching a talented player (particularly a pitcher) labor to achieve mediocre results. but mediocre is exactly what meche was in 2006 --- not awful, a la marquis. taken as a whole, meche had a pretty tolerable season in 2006; 185 innings of league-average era. in 18 of his 32 starts, he posted a game score of 50 or better --- about equivalent to jeff suppan (19) and far better than jeff weaver (12). on the other hand, he has spent his whole career in a pitcher's park without once having a truly good season; he labors to throw strikes, and his shoulder history is worrisome --- particularly in light of the fact that he got worked extremely last year. if it takes 3 years / $24m to get this guy --- and such are the prognistications --- forget it; too much money.

one other item: ken rosenthal reports that baltimore is shopping rodrigo lopez, a pitcher the cardinals reportedly tried to get at the trade deadline last year. lopez had a terrible year --- 5.90 era in 189 innings --- and hasn't been very good his whole career; had one good season, whoop de doo. he is in his last year of arb eligibility, so he won't come cheap (prob about $4m) and can walk at the end of the season. the orioles have a hole in the outfield; the brewers supposedly have offered kevin mench for lopez. one can imagine st louis offering encarnacion for the guy, but i hope they don't; lopez looks like another problem, rather than a solution. the orioles (who, with the acquisition of jaret wright, now have six starting pitchers) also might dangle kris benson; he's sort of the pitching equivalent of juan encarnacion --- a reliably, hopelessly average player. benson is under contract for $7.5m this year, with an option at the same price for 2008; we'll have to see how the market develops, but he doesn't look like much of a bargain at this point and hence doesn't seem to meet the cards' needs.

i doubt the orioles would view encarnacion any more favorably . . .

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