Unlike last summer, there won't be a lack of decent starters on the block; some
of them might surprise you
THE SUMMER market
for starting pitchers could be considerably spiced up by the sudden
availability of one or two stars in their walk years. The Brewers' Ben Sheets
and even the Indians' C.C. Sabathia—once extreme long shots to be moved, given
their teams' high expectations—are candidates to be dealt if their floundering
clubs don't turn things around by midsummer.
Even if those two
aces aren't traded, the consensus among baseball executives is that this year's
group of available arms won't be nearly as dreadful as last summer's, when Kyle
Lohse and Joel Pineiro were the two best starters moved. The following is SI's
list of the best hurlers who could change addresses:
1. Sabathia and
Paul Byrd, Indians.
After a terrible start (0--3, 13.50 ERA), Sabathia has looked like his old self
in his last four outings (1.20 ERA, 33 strikeouts in 30 innings). The
27-year-old lefty would undoubtedly be the top attraction at the trading
deadline, and one G.M. says confidently, "If Cleveland continues like this
[23--27 at week's end], he'll be out there."
2. Sheets and
Jeff Suppan, Brewers.
With the Cubs looking like the class of the NL Central (we're not buying the
Cardinals' and Astros' success just yet), the Brewers would consider trading
Sheets, the superb but fragile 29-year-old ace, if they slip much further.
Locking up Sheets—who hasn't pitched 157 innings in a season since '04—to a
long-term deal is risky. Suppan's postseason success could be appealing to a
contender, but the $33 million left on his contract is not.
3. Joe Blanton
and Rich Harden, A's.
The Reds showed interest this winter in Blanton. (They thought enough of him to
offer top prospect Homer Bailey in return.) Harden can be as dominant as any
pitcher, but his injury history makes Sheets look like an iron man.
4. A.J. Burnett,
When healthy, he's outstanding. Toronto desperately needs offense, and with
four solid to excellent starters ( Roy Halladay, Dustin McGowan, Shawn Marcum
and Jesse Litsch), they could afford to shed the 31-year-old righty, who can
opt out of his contract at season's end.
5. Freddy Garcia,
Talented and clutch, he's coming off a shoulder injury but has begun throwing
off a mound again and is aiming for a July return. The Yankees, Mets, Red Sox,
Braves, Astros, Rangers, Royals, Mariners and Padres have all inquired about
the services of the 31-year-old righty.
Texas looked to deal Padilla a year ago, when he was awful. Back on track now
(6--2, 3.33 ERA), the righty, 30, could bring more in return this year.
7. Greg Maddux
and Randy Wolf, Padres.
Maddux has a no-trade clause, but with the Padres sinking in the West, his
three previous teams—the Dodgers, Cubs and Braves—could be interested. Wolf's a
solid, tough lefthander and could return to Philly or Los Angeles, where he
spent an injury-plagued '07.