Free Talent All-Stars: Starting Rotation

As we continue to look at the Free Talent All-Stars, the job gets a bit harder. Right now, pitching is severely overvalued by major league clubs, as they give extreme amounts of credit to pitchers who experience any success at all and horde arms in their organization. They also value experience and track records more than they should, so the list of guys being given jobs in the rotation is mostly made up of players who don’t qualify by our standards for this team. That isn’t to say there aren’t free talent starters, however – they’re just fewer and farther between than position players. On to the guys who made the cut.

Number One: Jeremy Guthrie

The Orioles claimed Guthrie off waivers from the Indians after they ran out of patience with him following the 2006 season. It was a good move, as Guthrie has been a well above average starter since he arrived in Baltimore, throwing 238 quality innings and establishing himself as the anchor of Baltimore’s rotation after the Erik Bedard trade. The Indians do a lot of things right, but giving up on Guthrie right before he made the leap wasn’t one of them.

Number Two: Chad Gaudin

Yep, another Oakland player. J.P. Ricciardi tossed his former organization a bone when he traded Gaudin to the A’s for a player to be named later, which turned out to be career minor leaguer Dustin Majewski. Gaudin has gone on to become a valuable member of the A’s rotation and bullpen, switching between roles as needed. The A’s keep winning despite churning their roster every year, and picking up guys like Gaudin for nothing are the main reason why.

Number Three: Brian Bannister

The only player on the Free Talent All-Stars who might actually read this post, Bannister has gotten a lot of publicity for admitting that he’s fully aware of the sabermetric writings of the day. While he’s not blessed with his father’s raw abilities, the younger Bannister has created a career as a strike-throwing innings eater out of his intelligence and understanding of how to pitch. Considering that he only cost the Royals Ambiorix Burgos, he may have been the best hiring of a stathead in major league history.

Number Four: Odalis Perez

The Nationals pulled the rare trick of signing a guy to a minor league contract and then having him start on opening day that same year. You can generally say that a team isn’t a contender when they pull that off, but Perez has given them solid performances for next to nothing. With his shaky command and home run problems, he’s no one’s idea of an ace, but he is showing that he’s perfectly capable of putting together a respectable performance, and that teams don’t have to pay top dollar to get a useful veteran starting pitcher to fill their rotation.

Number Five: Armando Galarraga

The Tigers rotation has been a disaster this year, but Galarraga has been the bright spot in a very dark cloud. Acquired from the Rangers for non-prospect Michael Hernandez, Galarraga has come up from Triple-A and brought some hope to a team that finds itself extremely disappointed in how the 2008 season is shaping up.

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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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Out of curiosity, have you seen this?

Similar kind of thing, but from last season. It’s interesting to see how a lot of free talent ends up getting locked down by teams for the longer term, so they end up on lists like these more than once.