The libelous and conjecture-filled offseason is in full swing and the Dutch Ovens are steaming! From every good Hot Stove comes a delicious Hot Knife, guaranteed to make your thinking hazy and unclear. There is a chance that Hot Knives will mess you up like a bad accident. The Old Knives Report is more like that episode of Roseanne where they found some old pot, got high and freaked out over how weird it was. Moral: the old shit still packs a punch.
We here at Walkoff Walk will pack the hole in our crystal ball with some gum and electrical tape and look beyond the Hot Stove. The Hot Knives Report will evaluate the on- and off-field impact of trades and signings (both real and conjured) to teams too busy with their new toys to worry about the cost.
Today we look to the future by looking to the past: which old buzzard will help your club become eligible for the post season and AARP assistance.
The first name on our list is Randy Johnson. He's first on our list because he is by far the best oldie still showing these whippersnappers a thing or two. Dave Cameron of Fangraphs sums his qualifications up thusly:
8.46 K/9, 6th best in NL | 2.15 BB/9, 11th best in NL | 3.9 K/BB, 3rd best in NL | 3.76 FIP, 15th best in NL |
Or, if you prefer, his closest comparable pitcher in the NL this year was Cole Hamels - their walk rates are nearly identical, Johnson's got a slightly higher K/9, and Hamels has a slightly lower HR/9, but the final product is almost exactly the same.
Johnson pitched 184 innings last year and called a very cozy ballpark home. In other words, Randy can still compete. Since no human alive can resist the promise of balloons and cake, you should know he's just 5 wins short of 300 and 211 Ks shy of 5000! Party time!
Unlike some scared little girls, he has no problem going to the American League and hosing down his driveway with the big boys. Any team with a hole in their rotation and a dream of competing could use the Big Unit. The Cubs have shown interest, as have the Dodgers. The Diamond Backs may keep his canasta group together, while the Jays and Rays could provide an indoor stadium to warm his joints and an outside shot at contending.
Even older guy Jamie Moyer is also a free agent, though the list of places he could land is much shorter. An area with high levels of smoke and/or mirrors is most suitable to his needs. Moyer won 16 games and a World Series title, but his K/BB rate was among the lowest of his endless career while his strand rate was among the highest. Apparently the man wants a multi-year deal, which is astounding. Only two tortoises are racing for Jamie's affections, with the Phillies holding a distinct edge over the Mariners.
The Ghost of Pedro Martinez is available and looking for work, and if your team is desperately low in the comic relief department, he might be a good fit. If you need someone to pitch though, dear God look elsewhere. Poor little Pedro, so mind-bendingly good for so long. The Ks are down, the walks are up, he can't keep people off the basepaths and the ball in the stadia. The Mets and maybe even the Astros are interested, which is really too bad. Retire with dignity Petey, you were one of the greats. Oh and Tiny Tim, watch very, very carefully what is happening to this man at this age.
A different kind of old guy is Trevor Hoffman. Only pitching one inning a night at the age of 40 may sound better, but there aren't too many teams looking to hand him the keys to the 9th inning. Most of Hoffman's numbers for 2008 look pretty good but one: home runs allowed. He allowed tater tots on 13% of his flyballs (up from 2% in 2007), better than 1.5 per 9 innings. The fitness fanatic still maintains good control, but all the long balls may indicate his stuff has abandoned him. Teams that would benefit from any new, warm body pitching the 9th (Mets, Tigers, Cardinals) have expressed interest in funneling royalties to the estate of Bon Scott.
Three of the baldest, whitest men in America may all hang up their cleats this offseason. Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, and Greg Maddux have all made noise about returning for 2009, with Smoltz considering a Roger Clemens-styled half season (having passed on the Roger Clemens-styled drug regiment and Roger Clemens-styled underage country starlet) and Maddux putting some thought into the Reg Dunlop-styled player coach. Glavine and Maddux show the same "not enough strikes, too many long balls" sign of age, but John Smoltz pitched damn well in limited appearances in 2008. If he's healthy, he'll certainly have a job either with the Braves or a real contender. Signing outside Atlanta for the first time in his career, uprooting his 35 year old son and all 12 of his grandchildren is something no Opa ever wants to do.
(A big case of super-secret Coke Meconium to the sleuths at MLB Trade Rumors for their valuable conjecture)