According to Blue Jays President Paul Godfrey, the Jays are going to be aggressive in their pursuit of starting pitching. They will be looking to sign two of the following four candidates: Ted Lilly, Gil Meche, Jeff Suppan and Mark Redman. Considering the quality of the starters the Jays already possess (Roy Halladay, A.J. Burnett, Gustavo Chacin), signing any of the two mentioned would make the Jays staff one of the best in the Majors. However, saying and doing are two different things, and in this pitcher-thin free agent market, signing two of those pitchers is about as likely as Sacha Baron-Cohen getting the keys to the city of Astana.
Nonetheless, here's a primer on four potential Blue Jays:
1. Theodore Roosevelt Lilly
Age on opening day 2007: 31
2006/Career E.R.A.: 4.31 / 4.60
2006 Win/Loss: 15-10
Career Starts per Win: 2.7 (i.e. wins every 2.7 games he starts)
2006 K's per start: 5
Analysis: Lilly is the cream of the second-tier starters available this off-season. Personally, I would be shocked if he re-signed with the Blue Jays, considering he got into a fist-fight with manager John Gibbons last season and has a mostly confrontational relationship with pitching coach Brad Arnsberg. Lilly has expressed his desire to return to his home state of California, and that's where I think he's going, unless the Yankees blow him away with an offer he can't refuse.
2. Gilbert Allen Meche
Age on opening day 2007: 29
2006/Career E.R.A.: 4.48 / 4.65
2006 Win/Loss: 11-8
Career Starts per Win: 2.6
2006 K's per start: 4.9
Analysis: Meche and Lilly are basically the same guy, except Meche is two years younger (although Lilly has only thrown 100 more innings). My thought is that the Jays, at best, get one of the two, and they might as well get a fresh start with Meche.
3. Jeffrey Scot Suppan
Age on opening day 2007: 31
2006/Career E.R.A.: 4.12/ 4.60 2006
Career Starts per Win: 2.8
2006 K's per start: 3.3
Analysis: More likely to pick his spots than to blow you away (sounds like I'm talking about an ex-girlfriend), Suppan will consistently give you a question mark when he takes the mound: will it be the good Suppan or the bad Suppan (ladies and gentlemen: Ted Lilly!). He's a .500 pitcher who fills in nicely at the no. 4 spot.
4. Mark Allen Redman
Age on opening day 2007: 33
2006/Career E.R.A.: 5.71/ 4.65
2006 Win/Loss: 11-10
Career Starts per Win: 2.9
2006 K's per start: 2.6
Analysis: Can't wrinkle your nose too much at a guy with a winning record with the Royals. However, I wonder about a guy who's never spent more than one season with the same team (although he had two stints with the Twins). Under Godfrey's master plan (and since when does the President talk about the game plan? Who does this guy think he is, Larry Luchino?), Redman would be a fifth starter at best. That's not too bad.
Even if the Jays end up getting just one of these guys, they'll enter the 2007 season with four solid starters. Here's hoping that J.P. can execute Godfrey's plan.