Rumor has it that Esteban Loaiza’s incomprehensible contract with the A’s has driven up the price for Angels’ free agent Paul Byrd, who will probably end up getting three years at close to $8 million per year. I understand that the free agent market is weak, but honestly, this is ridiculous. Byrd will be 35 years old tomorrow, which means he will be pushing 38 when he completes a three-year contract. He has a history of arm troubles, missing the entire 2003 season after surgery on his pitching elbow. His fastball tops out at about 35 MPH. He has a mediocre career ERA of 4.23, and last season is only the third time in ten seasons he has dipped below 3.90. His career record is 72-64, which is about what you would expect from someone with a 4.23 ERA. Bottom line: Paul Byrd is the kind of guy you sign to be your number three or four starter.
Look at it this way. Here is a (non-comprehensive) list of starting pitchers who made less than $8 million this past season: Tim Hudson, Matt Clement, Tim Wakefield, David Wells, Josh Beckett, Carlos Zambrano, Mark Prior, Mark Buehrle, Orlando Hernandez, Jon Garland, C.C. Sabathia, Jake Westbrook, Cliff Lee, Jason Jennings, Mike Maroth, Jeremy Bonderman, Dontrelle Willis, Roy Oswalt, Brandon Backe, Jeremy Affeldt, Kelvim Escobar, John Lackey, Derek Lowe, Brad Penny, Ben Sheets, Doug Davis, Johan Santana, Carlos Silva, Kris Benson, Steve Trachsel, Jaret Wright, Shawn Chacon, Barry Zito, Rich Harden, Danny Haren, Joe Blanton, Randy Wolf, Jon Lieber, Vicente Padilla, Mark Redman, Kip Wells, Oliver Perez, Adam Eaton, Woody Williams, Jake Peavy, Ryan Franklin, Mark Mulder, Jeff Suppan, Jason Marquis, Chris Carpenter, Chris Young, Ted Lilly, and Josh Towers. That’s not all of them. Those are just the ones who, when I glanced at their names, I at least thought to myself, “You know, he could probably do as good a job as Paul Byrd could.” But note the bolded names. What sort of a world do we live in that would allow Paul Byrd to make more than some of these guys? I mean, we have Cy Young winners, guys who have led their leagues in ERA, wins, strikeouts, etc.
A weak free agent market shouldn’t cause general managers to lose their minds.