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getaway day

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am flying back home today and don't have time for much of a post. but i can offer this quick look at matt morris' list of 10 most similar pitchers through age 30. an impressive group: freddy garcia, bartolo colon, jimmy key, denny neagle, john smiley. asked myself: how'd these guys fare at ages 31 through 33, which years encompass the contract mattymo just signed with san francisco? had to exclude four of the pitchers for one reason or another; for example, one of the comps was steve blass, who was 31 years old when his ability mysteriously deserted him; freak/fluke thing, not applicable to morris. ditto denny neagle, whose career went south at age 32 mainly because he started pitching in coors field. and the #1 most similar guy, freddy garcia, is of no predictive value because he is the same age as morris --- hasn't pitched ages 31 through 33 yet.

but the remaining comps strongly suggest that morris has some value left --- probably not $27m worth of value, but you can't rule that possibility out:

pitcher gs w-l era k/9 hr/9
bartolo colon 67 39-20 4.22 6.6 1.34
tom browning 72 27-26 4.51 4.2 1.11
john smiley 60 24-28 4.33 7.0 1.11
bill gullickson 101 44-36 4.03 3.2 1.09
mike flanagan 69 29-22 3.78 4.3 0.99
jimmy key 92 48-23 3.26 5.6 0.87

colon just completed his age 32 season, so his line only represents two years; the other 5 pitchers represent three years apiece. that makes 17 pitcher-seasons. in 10 of those, the pitcher logged 190+ innings (an 11th would have surpassed that mark if not for the 1994 strike), and in 9 he posted a sub-4.00 era. also, the pitcher was at .500 or over in 11 of the 17 seasons, and in 5 of them he won at least 15 games. the 17 years include one cy young award (colon '05) and one 2d-place cy finish (key '94).

on the other hand, only two of these pitchers averaged 30 starts a year between ages 31 and 33. five of them gave up at least 1 dinger per 9 innings, and only half exceeded the 4.5-k-per-9 threshold. the group turned in a lot of mediocre pitching.

based on this small survey (the predictive value of which is admittedly small), we might safely guess that morris will give the giants at least one good year. but we shouldn't expect him to deliver $25m (or whatever they're paying him) worth of performance.