And… we’re back.
Last week, as you may or may not remember, we looked at the pitching staff, calling it the most important remaining question, and came to the conclusion that the Dodgers absolutely need to sign at least one and preferably two starters. At the time, we’d said Randy Johnson and Ben Sheets were going to be the best way to go.
Well, since then, Johnson signed with the Giants for one year, $8 million. Usually I’d be pretty upset that our most hated rivals got the pitcher I was hoping for, but I don’t think you can kill Ned Colletti that badly on this one – Johnson’s a native of Northern California who still has family in the area, and if at this late stage in his career, he wants to go home, who are we to stop him? Besides, while he would have been a great fit for the Dodgers, doesn’t it make you feel good, just a little, to know that we still get to hate that ugly behemoth for at least another year?
That said, the Dodgers still need to fill out the rotation, and now we’ve got news on what I do consider to be a large mistake by Colletti (besides the cowboy boots, that is) – Brad Penny’s signed with the Red Sox:
Boston media outlets are reporting that the team has agreed to terms with free-agent pitcher Brad Penny. The reports indicate the right-hander will receive a one-year, $5 million deal and can earn an additional $3 million for throwing more than 160 innings.
If you’ve been following this blog at all, you know that I wanted to pick up the option on Penny from the very beginning. After seeing this deal, I now believe that even more strongly. The Dodgers – clearly – need to find some starting pitching innings. The available options are guys who want too many years (Jon Garland, Randy Wolf), too much money (Andy Pettitte, Oliver Perez, Wolf), or just aren’t that good (Pettite, Wolf, Garland). Yet you allow a guy like Penny to walk, even though you have the option to retain him on a one year deal at a reasonable price? Considering that the $2m buyout on his $8.75m option was a sunk cost that he was going to get anyway, we’re talking about a $6.75m, one year deal. That’s slightly more guaranteed money than he’ll get in Boston, but slightly less than he’ll get if he’s healthy and reaches his incentives. Either way, when I say “slightly more” and “slightly less”, we’re not talking about tens of millions of dollars – we’re talking about one or two million in either direction, which for a large market team is a very reasonable risk.
There’s only two possible reasons to not have picked up Penny’s option, and the first is if you believe that he’s seriously injured. Based on his outings in September, I certainly don’t believe that to be the case (you can read here how guys who throw 96 don’t generally have blown-out arms) and clearly, the Red Sox don’t seem to think so either. Certainly, he had arm issues last year, and it seems pretty obvious that after a good start to the year, pitching through the pain in hopes of scoring a nice free agent deal really did him in. But it wasn’t bad enough to require surgery, and as I detailed in the article linked above, he was bringing the heat at the end of the year. After how good he was in 2006 and ’07, isn’t that worth the risk?
The second goes back to what we’ve been debating all winter, especially with Jamie McCourt’s ridiculous statements: the Dodgers may be playing on the cheap. But it seems especially misguided here, because deciding not to give $6.75m to Penny may now mean that now we have to live with Jon Garland for $40m over 4 years, or the decaying corpse of Andy Pettitte for $10m/year.
Sure, it’s possible that Penny goes to Boston and gets hurt or repeats his dreadful 2008. It’s also possible that you get hit by a bus walking to work today, but you still take the risk of going outside to do so. Life is all about calculated risks, and when you’ve got 300+ innings to fill in the starting rotation, $6 million for one year on a guy with a proven track record seems like a pretty good risk to me when you consider what you’re going to have to pay for some other guys.
Besides, now Eliza Dushku’s not going to come to as many games! Truly, this is the greatest tragedy of all.