Saturday, June 20, 2009

Come on, Peter.

Peter Gammons is the top of the sports journalism world, having been honored by the Hall of Fame for his contributions to the sport.

But sometimes he really throws out some boneheaded stuff, and most of the time this has to do with the Red Sox, his favorite team. Now, don't get me wrong--I'm not one to complain about an ESPN analyst having fan leanings one way or the other--I think it's fine for journalists to be open about their chosen teams (in fact, I think it adds a lot to the conversation). But Peter, if one of my friends made the suggestion you threw out in your most recent blog post, regarding what it would take to pry Brad Penny away from the Red Sox, I would openly mock their suggestion. The comment in full, below:

"Brad Penny would probably be the best starting pitcher out there [on the trade market], but unless someone comes up with a Justin Smoak, Matt LaPorta or Brett Wallace -- which isn't going to happen -- they are going to hold onto Penny, who is two years removed from finishing third in the NL Cy Young race."

Do you want me to list the have beens and the luckboxes who have managed to finish 3rd in a Cy Young race? The Sox signed Bartolo Colon last year, who was 3 years seperate from WINNING the Cy Young. Think you could have traded him for more than a bag of balls?

Last year, Matt LaPorta was traded for C.C. Sabathia, who had won the previous year's Cy Young, and went on to garner a significant number of Cy Young votes playing a HALF SEASON in the NL. Justin Smoak is a 22 year old who is absolutely torching AA, with a line of .325/.444/.503. He's drawing comparisons to Mark Teixeira. Brett Wallace is not on the same level as either of the previous prospects (especially as he's put up a .294 wOBA since being promoted to AAA) but given his pedigree and previous performance (~.400 wOBA before this year through AA) he's still extremely highly thought of.

Brad Penny is not worth any of these prospects. Especially given that he is blocking laptop stealing uberprospect Clay Buchholz, who is killing it in AAA; John Smoltz, who expects a chance to start; and solid prospects Justin Masterson and Michael Bowden. The Red Sox would be very foolish to hold on to Penny, and simply assuming that he's going to continue on his current streak. I could pick you out several periods in which Barry Zito was very good over the past few years. Or Livan Hernandez, for that matter. Could Brad Penny be back? Sure, it's possible. Would I bet on it (even if he were on the Yankees)? Nope. Given the massive depth the Red Sox have at starting pitching, they're really much better off moving Penny, and other teams know it.

Is Penny worth a decent prospect or two? Sure. But he's not worth a team's first rounder, and Gammons should know this better than most of us. He's been around and intimately involved in the sport for a long time. Which is why it's tougher to swallow this sort of crud from him.


  1. It all makes sense when you consider the fact that Gammons is a Red Sox supporter (and, ergo, a Yankee hater, although he tries to hide that and does a decent job...usually). He's in a great position as a sports commentator to help talk up Penny's value. And like most fans, he probably believes what he's selling, too.

    He is, after all, the guy who put the Gammons in Gammonites...the anti-Yankee slanted reporters at ESPN.

  2. I don't necessarily think Gammons is a Yankee Hater, or even if he was, I don't see how that's relevant here. But he certainly still holds a torch for the Sawx, and it always shows in his writing.

    As for Penny, well, here's a fun stat: Want to know the last time he had more than two Quality Starts in a row?

    August. Of 2007.

    He may be the best bet out there on the market, but that's only because he's the most available, the most marketable. He used to pitch well and sometimes he still does, he's "only" making $5M, and he's got something of a track record this year (unlike Smoltz) showing that he's at least healthy, if not consistent.

    That's probably worth a couple of Grade B prospects, or a B+ and a B- prospect. But nobody would part with a Matt LaPorta or a Mike Stanton or a Matt Gamel for him right now. Justin Smoak is out of their league, but the Red Sox might be able to pry Elvis Andrus and a AA/AAA pitcher with some upside away from Texas.