If you are like me, you have no real stock in who wins the World Series and your team has been sitting for a while. What else is there to do but speculate?
It's never too early to look into who your team might be able to pick up this off-season to help improve. Here is a list of a few starting pitchers that I can see either 1) taken early in free agency or 2) causing the inevitable bidding war between clubs:
14-13, 3.86 ERA, 228.1 IP, 171 K
Zito has been the focal point for many a trade rumor over the past few seasons. With all of the other "Big 3" gone with FA and trades it seems only fitting that Zito tests the market. He is a solid ace that eats up innings and can rack up K's with his great curve. He needs to be more consistant though.
11-9, 3.59 ERA, 213.1 IP, 180K
Schmidt is a bonafide ace. He pitches innings, almost always gives his team a chance to win, and is a veteran. Started somewhat shaky this season due to some injuries but finished strong. He is getting up there in age (33) but he still has plenty left in the tank.
6-7, 7.14 ERA, 93.1 IP, 50 K
Injuries plagued Mulder this season giving him his lowest win, innings pitched, game starts, strikeout totals, and highest ERA of his MLB career. However, Mulder is still a solid pitcher. At 29, he is still young and hasn't shown a propensity at injury until now. He may have to work back up to "Ace" status but would be a great addition as a #2.
14-13, 4.20 ERA, 214.1 IP, 178 K
Yet another lefty makes the list. No, Pettitte may not be the ace he once was in NY but he is still quite effective. The Astros was among the league leaders in wins after the All-Star break and Pettitte was a big part of that. A good fit as a #2, Pettitte will give you innings and even a gem or two as the season goes along. At 34, he is getting a little long in the tooth.
15-10, 4.50 ERA, 200 IP, 156 K
I know what you are thinking...Padilla? What? Let me start this by saying that MLB pitching has been diluted for years and even mediocre pitchers are getting PAID these days. I belive Padilla is far from being mediocre. At one time, the Phillies believed that he was going to be their ace of the future...but things don't always go as planned. He is a solid pitcher though and still young at 29.
12-7, 4.12 ERA, 190 IP, 104 K
There is nothing spectacular about Suppan's resume that should put him among some of the other pitchers listed here but he does have one thing going for him...a great post-season. Each year a couple of players buy themselves a payday with good post-season play...and that is what Suppan has done. Surprisingly enough, he does have 7 double digit win seasons under his belt and a team could do worse in a #4 starter.
14-16, 6.02 ERA, 194.1 IP, 96 K
Yet another Cardinal making the list. Marquis isn't that good but, as I have said, pitching is at a premium. Someone will overpay and either get the Jason from 2005 or 2006...I'm betting somewhere in between. He's young at 28 and can work through some innings for a club in need of a #3 or #4.
The next pitcher has a team option that could keep him at home or packing to another destination:
12-13, 4.99 ERA, 204 IP, 98 K
Buerle saw his wins, innings pitched, and strikeouts plummett while his ERA soared. For much of the season his pitches were flat and he had trouble keeping the ball in the ballpark. He is still a good young (27) pitcher with a good to great arsenal at his disposal. I promise that if the White Sox don't exercise their option on him, he will not wait long for another suitor.
Granted, these aren't all the free agent pitchers out there but it is a taste of what is to be had. If your team, like mine, is looking for some starting pitching help then these are some of the guys I would be targeting.