Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Arbitration Results and Brad Penny

I thought Matt Holliday would decline arbitration, but that DeRosa and/or Pineiro might accept. Holliday did indeed decline, and so did Mark and Joel. So that's that.

No one reading these words should be surprised Holliday declined. He's 26 and $cott Bora$ is his agent. He's about to become a very rich man. DeRosa's move to decline was perhaps influenced by the big deals Placido Polanco (3 yrs/$18M with Philadelphia) and Chone Figgins (4 yrs/$36M with Seattle) signed. Erik Manning posted an article over at Fangraphs today which neatly summarizes DeRosa's value. I think Mark saw the two aforementioned deals and realized he could command between 7-9 million dollars, even while coming back from wrist surgery. Can't blame him for chasing the funds.

Pineiro, well, he had expressed interest in staying a Cardinal. However, he probably thinks based on this past season he'll get something north of the $6.5M he made in 2009, and get a multi-year deal. He may be right. Again, he's chasing the money and long-term security.

There is still a chance Joel could return to the Cardinals, but that chance became a lot longer based on the widely reported imminent signing of Brad Penny. There had been discussion about bringing a veteran pitcher on a short term deal like a 1-year contract. John Smoltz dominated that discussion. Ben Sheets also seemed a viable candidate. But Brad Penny? Wow.

Why would the Cardinals give Penny $7.5M in base salary after he struggled for most of last year? Penny finished 11-9 with a 4.88 ERA in 173.1 innings for the Red Sox and Dodgers. Doesn't seem to make sense. Let's look a little deeper. His FIP was 4.46. That's not great; in fact, it's the fourth highest FIP of his career (his worst FIP season was 2008 - 5.27). His K/9 was 5.66, the second lowest of his career. BB/9 ratio? 2.14 (fifth BEST of his career, and best since 2006). K/BB (2.14) and BABIP (.307) were right on his career averages (2.17 and .303 respectively), and his HR/9 ratio was slightly elevated (0.88 career vice 1.14 in 2009).

Other than his strikeouts being down, what caused his bad year last year? Well his fly ball percentage was the worst of his career (38.4%), and in a park as small as Fenway is, that probably killed him. Guys also didn't swing at his stuff out of the strike zone as much as they did in years past, which would also explain his lower strikeout totals.

Penny becomes an intriguing guy for next year's rotation. He won't be as good as he was with the Giants (and in their pitching-friendly ballpark), and he won't be as bad as he was with the Red Sox (and their hitting-friendly park). Not sure if he's worth $7.5M, but Mozeliak is a better judge of market pricing than I am.

Welcome, Brad Penny.

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