Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Adios, Carlos?

As I discussed here yesterday, it has become blatantly clear over the first half of the season that the Twins could really use an additional bat or two. Obviously, the best way for Terry Ryan to go about acquiring such help would be to part with some pitching in a trade. But, which player would make the most sense to deal?

The answer, in my mind, is Carlos Silva. Silva has been a pleasant surprise this year, entering the break with a 4.58 ERA and 1.40 WHIP after finishing the 2006 season with those numbers registering at 5.94 and 1.54. He has cut down on his gopher-ball tendencies and is on pace to allow just 20 home runs, which would be 18 less than he surrendered last year and also his lowest total since becoming a starter in 2004. He's probably been the second-most reliable starter on the Twins' staff this season. And yet, I would argue that it would be silly not to trade him before the July 31 deadline.

Silva is in the final season of his contract with the Twins and will be eligible to hit the free agent market following this season. There is probably close to zero chance that the Twins will re-sign him, because his value on the open market will likely be much higher than the Twins can afford. Teams around the league showed during the past offseason that starting pitchers with the ability to deliver 180+ innings at an ERA around the league average are pretty valuable. How valuable?

Take a look at Jeff Suppan. The right-hander entered the past offseason as a 31-year-old with a 4.60 career ERA. He signed a four-year contract with the Milwaukee Brewers worth $42 million. Jason Marquis, who holds a 4.46 career ERA, signed a three-year, $21 million deal with the Cubs over the winter and he was coming off a season in which he'd posted a 6.02 ERA.

Then you have Silva. He's just 28, he currently holds a career ERA of 4.38, and he's been a workhorse with a proven ability to stay durable and healthy. He's pitched 180+ innings in each of his three seasons as a full-time starter, and is on pace for over 200 innings this season. Granted, he had the rough season in 2006, but that year appears to be an outlier when you compare it to the rest of his career; he posted earned run averages of 4.21 and 3.44 in his first two seasons as a starter, and if he stays the course in the second half this year he can finish with an ERA right around 4.50.

Considering his age and his career numbers, there is a good chance that Silva could be offered a contract worth an average of $10 million per year this offseason. With their budget restrictions and their glut of young pitching talent, it would be both unrealistic and unnecessary for the Twins to make a run at re-signing him.

Keeping in mind that Silva will almost certainly be gone after this season, it seems foolish not to explore the idea of trading him. While the Twins would get draft pick compensation by letting Silva walk, pulling the trigger on a trade would provide more immediate help and the right player(s) could help the Twins make a playoff push this season. There are plenty of contending teams out there that will be looking to add a pitcher to their rotation before the deadline -- the Mariners, Yankees and Mets come to mind as a few examples. Silva won't bring back a marquis player, but I'd have to believe that the Twins could get some useful hitters by trading him, especially if he was a part of a package that included a mid-level prospect.

Of course, it's important to note that losing Silva for the last couple months of the season would be a blow to the pitching staff. As I mentioned before, he's probably been the team's second-best starting pitcher this season and he is also the only member of the rotation outside of Johan Santana with a decent amount of major-league experience. Yet, with Matt Garza, Boof Bonser, Glen Perkins, Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey and Nick Blackburn all in the mix with Santana, you'd think the Twins could piece together a more-than-serviceable rotation for the rest of the season.

I like Silva and I'm glad that he's turned things around this season, but I just don't see anyway that he'll be back in a Twins uniform next season. With that being the case, the Twins have little to lose by trading him for some offensive help.

11 comments:

Dwade said...

Even though stats have shown that players acquired by trade and those acquired by FA compensation have a similar success rate, I really see this as a situation where a draft pick would service the team better. I can't imagine any team seeing Silva as the last piece to their Playoff run (ie he won't be a contender's third starter) and thus, I can't see any GM giving us what we need to make a playoff run.

The draft can get you anything, from Pat Neshek to Mike Smith to Ben Revere, but a trade gets you a know commodity. When you know that commodity isn't going to be good, why would TR go through the motions of a trade when he can get the same value, if not more, by simply sitting on his hands?

That said, if someone DOES think that Silva is their missing piece and is willing to give up real talent for him, the above is rendered moot and we should ship him off.

Nick N. said...

I'm pretty sure Silva will be a Type B free agent, which means the Twins would get only a single second-round pick for letting him walk.

Take a look at the pitching staffs for the Yankees and Mariners and tell me he wouldn't be their third or fourth best starter on either of those teams.

Dwade said...

Point well taken on the Silva being a type B free agent. And I understand your point about the M's and Yankees, though I don't think either of those teams will make the post season. My thought is that if your third best starter (which is all that really matters for playoffs) is Carlos Silva, you aren't giving yourself a chance to win in the post season or really to get there. This includes the Twins, if at least 2 out the of Baker, Bonser, Garza, and Slowey bunch doesn't step up, I don't think we'll be in the hunt come september.

twayn said...

...and he is also the only member of the rotation outside of Johan Santana with a decent amount of major-league experience.

While your reasoning is reasonable, the experience factor is the primary reason that it won't happen, unless we fall out of contention by the trade deadline. It's also the reason we started the season with Ponson and Ortiz in the rotation, and started last season with Batista and Castro in the infield. To say that TR and Gardy don't trust their young players may be an overstatement. It's more accurate to say that they only trust their young players as a last resort, after the veteran retreads have come apart at the seams.

Nick N. said...

And I understand your point about the M's and Yankees, though I don't think either of those teams will make the post season. My thought is that if your third best starter (which is all that really matters for playoffs) is Carlos Silva, you aren't giving yourself a chance to win in the post season or really to get there.

The Cardinals had two starters finish the season with an ERA under 5 last year (Carpenter and Suppan) and they won the World Series. With a good offense and a few good starters at the top of your rotation, you can win in the playoffs. If I'm the Yankees, I'd love to pick up a Silva so I wouldn't be forced to start Kei Igawa 10 more times this season and so I'd have some insurance if the 44-year-old arm of Clemens gives out.

Carlos Silva Fan Club said...

I like Carlos Silva. I hope he continues to pitch well the remainder of the year, and improves his stats by the end of the season.

However I dont see Carlos going for more than 7-8 million next year: and seeing how the Twins are paying him $4.325 million this year, I dont see a problem with them signing Carlos again next season.

Carlos has shown that he can be a very good pitcher, and help the Twins win a lot of games. The improvement of his stats this year could very easily put him third on most teams rotations in the play-offs. With him pitching so well this year I hope that only solidifies his stay in Minnesota.

Carlos Silva's record is 6-10, however, lets remember that the Twins have been shut out four times when he pitched, and even in his 8-0 loss to the Mets, the Twins blew a chance to take the lead in the third inning of that game. I have seen how much better Carlos pitches when he has run support, and how much more confidence he has as well.

I say keep Carlos Silva, giving the Twins a very good chance to make a play-off run, sign him next year, and make our rotation that much stronger. Look at what the Twins rotation could look like next year:

1. Johan Santanna
2. Francisco Lirano
3. Carlos Silva
4. Boof Bonser
5. Glen Perkins, Matt Garza,
Scott Baker or Kevin Slowey

Nick N. said...

Looking at the amount of money doled out to mediocre pitchers on the free agent market last winter, what leads you do deduce that Silva won't be offered more than 7-8 million in the offseason?

carlossilvafanclub said...

Because, last year was an overpriced year for pitchers and players. Look at Barry Zito's contract and how poorly he's doing this year 6-9 4.90 as compared to last year 16-10 3.83.

How about Soriano and Lee who began very slowly then finally turned it up a notch. It looked like at the beginning of the season that all the above players were all over-priced, and Zito keeps on falling. Look at Jason Schmidt who is 1-4 with a 6.31 era.

Last year was an extrodinary year for all players, but I would hope teams have learned from this and dont over pay this year.

Besided, Silva is being pain $4.325 million this year and I only see him being worth $10 million if his era is at or below 3.50. Team way over paid for talent last year and that includes the likes of Lee and Soriano and especially Zito.



Carlos is a heck of a pitcher

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