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lowe country

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espn's jerry crasnick, having talked to half a dozen gms and scouts, says suppan is drawing slightly more interest than weaver, with marquis a distant third. no surprise there. crasnick likens weaver's position to that of derek lowe, who came up big in october 2004 after a lackluster regular season and cashed in to the tune of 4 years / $36m. but the comparison only goes so far; here, side by side, are the pitchers' 3-year records heading into free-agency:

weaver lowe
13-13, 4.01 21-8, 2.58
14-12, 4.22 17-7, 4.47
8-14, 5.76 14-12, 5.24

lowe ranked 2d in mlb in victories over that 3-year period and 11th in winning percentage; his worst won-lost record was equal to weaver's best. lowe ranked 45th in era during that span (4.07), which isn't very good; weaver is even worse, placing 62d (4.57) in the corresponding 3-year run. put another way, lowe's era placed in the top half among mlb pitchers; weaver's, the bottom fourth.

he's in good company: 10 pitchers from the (roughly) bottom 1/4 in era between 2004-06 are free agents. the others are mulder, marquis, ted lilly, vicente padilla, miguel batista, gil meche, mark redman, ramon ortiz, and jason johnson. a number of other pitchers in this free-agent class have eras that are just as bad, but they haven't thrown enough innings to make the list (i used 450 innings, or 150 per season, as a cutoff).

in a group like this, it's no wonder guys like weaver and suppan stand out. all the same, i have a difficult time believing weaver's going to get better offers this off-season than he got last off-season. crasnick (presumably paraphrasing one of his sources) suggests that weaver might be well served "to sign a one-year deal with St. Louis, continue to build confidence under Duncan, then go back on the market with something more impressive on his r?sum?." it probably won't break that way, but perhaps weaver would agree to a 2-yr deal with an option for a third. . . . .

but the cardinals might be better served to look at a cheaper alternative like miguel batista. the more i look at this guy, the more i am reminded of jeff suppan right before he joined the cardinals. batista embodies "league average" --- check out his last 6 era+ figures at his baseball-reference page. now compare his career record to that of suppan through 2003:

w-l era whip k/9 k/bb
suppan 62-75 4.90 1.42 5.0 1.7
batista 68-79 4.46 1.46 5.7 1.5

it may be that i'm underestimating the market for this player; he made $4.7m in each of the last two seasons. but he's done nothing to distinguish himself, and in a market full of bigger names and hotter commodities he might just fall through the cracks. if that happens, and his price hovers in the $4m-$5m range, he'd be a valuable buy --- a durable, reliable 180-inning parcel. such an acquisition might also give the cardinals leave to risk overspending a bit on their other rotation slot, throw $30m or so at one of the more seductive second-tier picks (meche, padilla, randy wolf) in the field. i'm only now getting familiar with that group; prob'y take a closer look at those guys on thursday.

Update [2006-11-7 14:10:50 by lboros]: here is the last of the SB Nation awards --- nl mvp. pujols won it rather handily. he appears likely to take home the real-life hardware, too. god only knows how 4 voters left carlos beltran off the ballot entirely; i had him 2d. final vote: