Change-UpNovember 07, 2007
Know Your Free Agents - Wherein We Eagerly Await the Contract Ned Is about to Furnish Carlos Silva
By Patrick Sullivan

Carlos Silva, the 28 year-old right-handed starting pitcher for the Minnesota Twins is about to hit the market. In any sort of rational world, where players make money commensurately with their ability, Silva would be happy to be entering free agency. In the world we currently inhabit, Silva is doing cartwheels straight out of the Metrodome and the chilly streets of Minneapolis as he is set to strike it rich. Here are Silva's numbers over the last four seasons, all with the Twins.

        IP     H    BB   SO   W-L   ERA  ERA+
2004   203.0  255   35   76  14-8  4.21   112
2005   188.3  212    9   71   9-8  3.44   129
2006   180.3  246   32   70  11-15 5.94    75 
2007   202.0  229   36   89  13-14 4.19   103

He is a groundball pitcher, a good thing by most any account but his ability to induce groundballs is really the only element of his game that prevents him from being an all out disaster on the mound. See the following:

        G/F  HR  ERA+
2004   1.58  23  112
2005   1.55  25  129
2006   1.29  38  75
2007   1.57  20  103

His consistency in 2004, 2005 and 2007 inspire confidence but his disastrous 2006 shows that Silva walks a fine line on the mound. As you can see in 2006, when the sinker ain't sinkin' and the balls are flying out of the yard, Silva becomes a crummy pitcher pretty quickly. Any team willing to pony up the $30-$40 million guaranteed will have to be assured that Silva has become a surefire groundball machine because minus that skill, his effectiveness all but disappears.

Given his affinity for Derek Lowe and his pitching style, I see Ned Coletti and the Los Angeles Dodgers jumping into the mix for Silva's services. But while Silva is most definitely a groundball pitcher, Derek Lowe he is not. Lowe induces a greater number of groundballs and yields fewer hits. In fact, just about every pitcher in baseball yields fewer hits. In 2004, 2006 and 2007 Silva was among the top-10 in Major League Baseball as far as hits allowed go.

Silva may well be a good pitcher over the life of the contract he is about to sign. Unfortunately, given the (un)success rate of free agent pitchers in his class over the last few years and the blatant red flags detailed above, I would have to slap a big, fat "buyer beware" sign on him. The risks outweigh the potential rewards from my vantage point.


Does Ned have an affinity for Derek Lowe? It was DePodesta who signed him.

Ned does have an affinity for overvaluing name players with weak peripherals, I'll admit.

I'd be interested in Silva's road/home splits for G/F, HR and general hits allowed/BABIP/whatever. I'm wondering to what extent the turf in Minnesota may have helped or hurt him. In my mind, lots of grounders on turf means a few more hits leaking through. Maybe not many, but I have no idea.

Jon - only insofar as Lowe has been a good pitcher on the teams Ned has presided over.

Look at Silva's 9 walks in 188.1 IP in 2005. That's unreal.

Since they have a solid defense and need sinkerballers at home, the Rockies might pursue Silva.

If Tony La Russa thinks Dave Duncan can refine Silva's pitching, look for the Cards to take a shot. TLR & DD love ground-ball pitchers.

Silva pounds the strike zone. His low walk rate is what makes him the pitcher he is. However, like Sully said, if Silva's HR rate approaches its 2006 level, he will be an unmitigated disaster at anywhere close to the rumored price of four years and $48 million.

Unless Joe Torre can convince Ned Colletti that Silva is another Chien-Ming Wang, I don't see the Dodgers going after him. L.A. has Penny, Lowe, and Billingsley to form a strong top three plus the team has Loaiza under contract for 2008 as its #4 and will likely take a chance with Schmidt and one or more of its highly touted prospects as the #5.

Colorado and St. Louis both make sense as suggested above, although I would be surprised if the Cardinals paid up for him.

RL: "...although I would be surprised if the Cardinals paid up for him."

Roger that, Rich. DeWitt's idea of "take a shot" is financially different than mine.