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What Can You Get For Poor Man's Versions Of A Coveted Commodity?

[UPDATE - Tuesday evening]

Just a friendly reminder (and a word to the wise) to remember the following category of violations to AN's Community Guidelines: Comments that bring politics into AN (which is a non-political blog), e.g., "Bush/Clinton ruined this country by...", "Check out this link about the war in Iraq," etc.

Whether a "strike" is actually issued depends on whether a complaint is lodged, and if so whether the sub-committee deems a comment to have violated the stated CGs. And now back to...nothing until April...:-(

OK, I'm writing the Tuesday post because Blez is in Mexico, and Cindi wanted to post something but the idea was nixed by AN's sub-committee by a vote of 3-0, with Cindi abstaining. Didn't you wonder why only people with bad hair ever got "strikes"? But all seriousness aside...

...What is the market value of a 6th starter right now? This question is highly relevant to the A's, because the A's are knee-deep in 6th starters. A 6th starter, to me, is a pitcher who is good enough to be in the conversation, could even be argued to be a perfectly good 5th starter, but has actually failed more than he has succeeded as a 5th starter (or as a pitcher in general). Kirk Saarloos meets these criteria. Brad Halsey, too. And so does Joe Kennedy, who has only had one good season as a starter and is coming off a season in which he was used only in relief and was injured longer than he was healthy.

Teams are way overspending for pitching this off-season, so you might assume that if someone is willing to pay Barry Zito what nobody used to get, and someone is willing to pay Gil Meche what aces used to get, and someone is willing to pay Jeff Suppan (career: 106-101, 4.60 ERA) what good pitchers used to get, and someone is willing to pay Mark Mulder what Mark Mulder used to be worth, then certainly teams will give you some useful returns if they can snatch a Saarloos, Halsey, or Kennedy to fill out their rotation.

Sadly, I don't think that's the case. I think that starting pitching has gone the way of the "haves" and the "have nots," where there is little in between. There are very few outstanding--or even decent--pitchers available and so teams are paying #1-2 starter money to #3-4 starters and hoping those guys can "step up" a notch or two (good luck with that, San Francisco, Kansas City, Milwaukee, and St. Louis). But there are always plenty of #5-#6 starters to go around. If you're available and you're not good, then you're simply not good enough to excite anybody about adding you to their rotation. You're Jamey Wright and Jason Johnson and John Thomson and Eric Milton and Wandy Rodriguez and Ramon Ortiz and Russ Ortiz and your sister's dog's friend's neighbor's barber. There are always tons of these guys floating around, and while everybody is trying to figure out which one will be surprisingly good next year, every team also knows that almost all of them will pitch to their established ability and/or their track record--which is not a good thing.

My conclusion: If you stockpile #4 starters, like Blanton and Loaiza, you can make some great trades in today's market . But if you stockpile #6 starters, you will just wind up releasing them one by one. Jerome Williams. Juan Dominguez. Next?