Know Your Free Agents - Wherein We Eagerly Await the Contract Ned Is about to Furnish Carlos Silva
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.