Big Ticket Arms Finding New Homes

Thanks to the dearth of marquis arms available, GM’s are handing out around $8 million a season for average starting pitchers, making the Phillies acquisition of Freddy Garcia a major coup for next season. Garcia at 30 years old, a known commodity in the prime of his career who should give the Phillies at worst 15 wins, a 4.00 ERA and 200 IP for 2007 at the now “reasonable cost” of $10 million next season. Sounds like a bargain when compared to the 3 year, $24 million contract the Phils had to hand out to get Adam Eaton, who is only a year younger and has never won a dozen games in a season, thrown 200 innings or posted an ERA under 4.00.

The Phillies gave up a blue chip prospect in 21 year-old lefty Gio Gonzalez, who was drafted by the Sox in 2004 and a major part of the deal that brought Jim Thome to Chicago. Obviously, the Sox are high on him if they’re willing to give up a pitcher of Garcia’s caliber to reacquire him. Philadelphia fans might also remember Gavin Floyd, the other minor leaguer included in the deal. He was the “next big thing in Philly” a few years ago but he has struggled with control problems and may never have realized his potential without a change of scenery. Neither will be expected to contribute immediately in Chicago and should have a chance to develop in the minors without the pressure of being labeled as saviors for an underachieving pitching staff.

The downside of the deal for the Phillies of course is that Garcia is only signed through next season. The Phils will face stiff competition and a hefty price tag to resign him so the pressure will be on to make the playoffs next season. No doubt, Garcia’s history of pitching well under the bright lights was a major reason the Phils moved aggressively to get him. He ptiched some of his best games of the season last year with the Sox fighting for their playoff lives and threw three gems in the 2004 playoffs, capping it off with seven innings of shutout ball in the Game 4 clincher.

Speaking of postseason standouts, the Yankees finally added a big name this offseason, by bringing back Andy Petttitte with a one-year $16 million deal. Sure, it’s a little pricey for the 34-year old lefty but after two straight seasons of outright collapses in the playoffs, New York rightfully jumped at the opportunity to reacquire a proven playoff performer who can handle the bright lights of the Bronx. But regardless of what he does during the regular, the success of this move will be determined by how he pitches in October. And now of course, we can cue the Clemens to NY rumors, even though that decision is probably at least 3 months and $20 million away from being resolved.

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