The Last Of The Mohicans

L_of_moh_cartoon_4 With the signing of Barry Zito by the Giants, the cream of the free-agent market has poured out of the carton. But, before we toss away the carton, let’s take a closer look at the residue as the Hot Stove simmers down. While teams make final repairs to their remade teams, and agents tighten the screws on needy GMs, the Last of the Mohicans get ready to dip their pens in ink. Admittedly, Roger Clemens and David Wells are more than residue, but since it’s pretty clear where they’re headed, they’re not as free as the rest of the bunch. If you didn’t guess it from that last line, in this entry we will review the remaining starting pitchers left on the market.

Starting Pitchers

Roger Clemens– Rest assured that Clemens will be the last of the
Last of the Mohicans to sign. At 44-years old Clemens has seemingly
inherited the Nolan Ryan gene. At this rate Clemens could be waiting
until his kid Koby breaks into the majors before he retires. With the
Big Unit on his way to Arizona and buddy Andy Pettite signed in the Bronx, it seems
inevitable that the Rocket will end up back in Pinstripes come May or

David Wells– I really think Boomer was all set to sail off into the
sunset, until he saw the Santa-like contracts being handed out to
pitchers this offseason. The final straw in his decision might have
been when Jason Marquis garnered $21-million from the Cubs. With the
D-Backs soon-to-be acquisition of Randy Johnson and the mega-signing of
Barry Zito, it appears that Wells will head back to San Diego and give
the Pads a southpaw for their rotation. 2003 # 1 pick Tim Stauffer will
probably have to wait one more season before getting his crack at the

Jeff Weaver– At this time of year there’s always at least one Scott
Boras’ client hanging around waiting to squeeze the last dime from some
desperate GM’s pocket. This year that man is Jeff Weaver. With Clemens’
and Wells’ destinations pretty much a far gone conclusion, Weaver is
the last best healthy pitcher out there.You can bet your bottom dollar,
or in this case top dollar, that if Walt Jocketty or Omar Minaya even
mention Weaver’s 5.76 ERA last season, all they are going to hear about
is how magnificient and dominant a postseason he had in 2006. That
short 5-start run (3-2, 2.43 ERA, 1.21 WHIP) should net Weaver about an
extra $6-8 million on his new contract. While his top suitors- the
Mariners, Mets, and Cardinals would like to go no further than one-year
and an option, it’s a good guess that Weaver receives at least two and
possibly three-guaranteed years somewhere in the range of $8-10 million / per year.

Tomo Ohka– If the Mets or any other team want to sign a pitcher of
the same age and with similar production to Weaver, they can obtain
Ohka for half the cost. Over their 8-year careers, Weaver has a 4.58
ERA with a 1.34 WHIP, while Ohka has a 4.04 ERA with a 1.38 WHIP.
Because of his familiarity, Ohka will most likely stay in the National
League. The Mets and the Nationals are the two leading contenders for
Ohka, while the Reds, Cardinals, Astros and Giants should also take a
look as they try to fill out their rotations. Because of the paucity of
starting pitching on the market, a multi-year contract is possible, but,
expect Ohka to sign a one year deal with a limited option in the $4-5
million range.

Tony Armas Jr.– Once upon a time Armas was thought well enough to be
traded with Carl Pavano for Pedro Martinez. But because of a string of
arm injuries since 2002, Armas’ stock has plummeted. The good news is
that Armas is still only 28-years old and was able to throw more than
150 IP in 2006 for the first time in four years. If a team is looking
for a high-risk / high reward pitcher, Armas could be their man. A host
of teams will be sure to have Armas in for a physical. It has been
rumored that if they don’t sign Weaver or Ohka, the Mets could sign
Armas. Whoever signs him should be able to do so for 1-year in the $1-3
million range.

*Mark Mulder– While he probably won’t be ready to pitch until May or
June, if Mulder returns to his pre-injury abilities he could be the
steal of this free-agent market. But, because of the amount of damage
done to his shoulder (torn labrum) that is a big IF! Add in a history
of back woes that might have led to his shoulder problem in the first
place and the IF just got bigger. GMs Jon Daniels and Mark Shapiro
appear to be willing to take the gamble, as both the Rangers and the
Indians have two-year guaranteed offers on the table worth between $7-8
million with incentives that could double the contracts. Though he had
success with Chris Carpenter who recovered from a similar rotator cuff
injury, Cards GM Walt Jocketty seems hesitant to guarantee more than a
year. Will Mulder recover like Carpenter or are we looking at Steve
Avery all over again? This is the million(s) dollar question? My guess is Mulder packs up his saddle bag and heads to Texas to compare scars with Eric Gagne.

More Fodder

If the Mariners fail to sign any of the above names, it has been
rumored that they could go after John Thomson. The Twins could also be
interested. Because of his success as a closer in the WBC last season,
Chan Ho Park could end up in someone’s bullpen if he doesn’t land a
starting gig. Steve Trachsel, Mark Redman, Ramon Ortiz, and Jason
are the definition of inning-eaters— guys who indubitably
make your team worse but can pitch 5 or 6 innings. Unfortunately, if
you are a Twins’ or Devil Rays’ fan, your team will probably end up
with one or more of these pitchers.




         Carl the Cabbie

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