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Another starter in the works?

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Baseball trades, rumors and blog coverage - SB Nation MLB Hot Stove

Jeff Moorad chatted with fans this afternoon. There were the usual idiotic questions - "Is the team interested in Prince Fielder or Jake Peavy?" - and some surprisingly direct ones too, such as "Why did you decide signing Eric Byrnes for three years and $30 million was a good idea?" But perhaps the most interesting couple of responses were this pair, from separate spots in the chat:

azgamer: Who will be the number five starter for the D-backs?
Max Scherzer.
Who will be the No. 4 starter for the D-backs?
Moorad: A player to be named.......

There's not very many ways to interpret these two answers, other than they seem to make it likely that the team will be acquiring another starting pitcher: our rotation is, presumably, Webb, Haren, Davis, "A player to be named" and Scherzer. That's definitely a change from what we've all been expecting - that Scherzer would be the #4 [and possibly the de facto #3, if he performed well] with Yusmeiro Petit the #5. It would take some...interesting expectations, to have Petit the #4 to be named later.

There really isn't very much upon which to hang any specific names. Moorad discussed the financial aspects, saying that "At this point, Josh [Byrnes] has some additional money to spend and I'm confident he'll spend it wisely." But it's hard to see us having enough in the kitty for the free-agent market, even to get a #4 starter. If you recall this piece, that's someone capable of posting an ERA in the range of 4.35-5.15. Still, for a bit of fun, there are four free agents with 100+ innings pitched last year, who returned ERAs in that range, and I'll also add the one who was at 4.34. Here are their details, and the off-season news around them so far.

  • Paul Byrd (4.60 ERA) The Marlins are interested in him, and he's supposed to be looking for a team close to his Georgia home. Earned $7.5 million with the Red Sox last year, and refused arbitration [he's a Type B].
  • Jon Garland (4.90 ERA) The youngest, at only 29, and with a solid career ERA+ of 104, despite struggles last season. This would seem like a good 'buy-low' candidate, though at $12m, how low will he go?
  • Odalis Perez (4.34 ERA) I am disinclined to believe Perez can repeat his performance - it was the first time since 2004 he'd had an ERA+ better than 90. Still, he was cheap - only an 850 K salary, plus incentives.
  • Andy Pettitte (4.54 ERA) An extremely-well paid #4 starter - $16m! - he's another one in line for a severe pay-cut. Still, last year was his first with an ERA+ below 100 and the Yankees have offered him around $10m.
  • Sidney Ponson (5.04 ERA) - Has a hearing tomorrow on the Orioles' voiding his contract three years ago, saving them $11m. If he wins, he'll hardly need a big contract. Hasn't seen an ERA+ above 88 since 2003. Pass.

There's a good article on Fanhouse, talking about cheaper free-agent alternatives to Sabathia, etc. - though it is undeniably painful to see who is number one on the list [to save you the bother, it's a certain tall, left-hander whom we know well]. Of the names on it, it may be worth taking a flier on someone like Brad Penny on a one-year deal. Unfortunately, the team's oft-stated stance against contracts with incentives probably works against us, and I certainly wouldn't recommend giving Penny a large, guaranteed deal. Jason Jennings and Daniel Cabrera are other possible names, though there could be competition - it's said that eleven teams have onquired about the letter. We can cross one name off the list: Chan Ho Park, who signed with the Phillies, despite interest from other teams, including Arizona, though it seems we were more interesting in him pitching out of the bullpen. .

Random stuff. The Diamondbacks Foundation raised $2.5m in 2008, and is handing out grants to more than sixty non-profit groups throughout the valley. The team was also ranked ninth in the Best Place to Work survey. No word on whereabout they ranked in the Best Place to Get Laid Off From survey, and I'd be more impressed if Go Daddy were not honored in the same awards [I also recall the emails that went out there "requesting" employees fill in the questionnaire on which the awards are based, another reason to be skeptical]. The Republic asked Max Scherzer - and also top picks from the other sports - what life was like for a first-round pick.

If you're looking for something to do in the off-season, MLB Live are screening two games each day free of charge, one from the 2008 season, the other a 'classic' from the archives. One of tomorrow's entries features the Diamondbacks in what we voted Game of the Season - the stirring ninth-inning comedback againat the Brewers, while New Year's Eve sees the 11-1 win over the Atlanta, which marked Doug Davis's comebac., The 'classic' side, meanwhile, sees Johnson's perfect game replayed on January 8th, and - for those who can't get enough of it, which should be just about everyone reading this - Game 7 of the 2001 World Series will be shown on January 15th.