Here is part one of what may be a several day series examining some of the potential starter options that are available on the trade market. Over all there are not too many good options, certainly none worthy of trading Salty or Yuney for, but it's worth breaking each pitcher down and seeing what's there. The best option I've heard that doesn't have us giving up either of those prospects is the "rumored" Edgar Renteria for Jon Garland trade. While I think moving Renteria for a starter is a good move, since we've got someone ready to step in at short, as you can see below, I'm not sure that Garland would be a fair return.
Jon Garland, Chicago White Sox - Garland may get wins - he has two 18-win seasons - but "how" he gets wins is anyone's guess. He's essentially a fastball / change-up pitcher who also works in a pretty effective slider, but he's not a dominant pitcher. If you look at his comps on Baseball-Reference he's not listed with too many guys I'd like to have (or have back) - Paul Byrd, Cory Lidle, El Duque - none of those guys were really overpowering. Garland's track record also reminds me of Russ Ortiz, and indeed Ortiz was pretty much a fastball / change-up / slider guy much like Garland. Interestingly, as this is written both Garland and Ortiz have the "exact" same career ERA of 4.41. Stay away, says I.
Matt Morris, San Francisco Giants - Morris is another one of those guys who lost a bunch of velocity off his fastball right around the time he turned 30. It's a pitch that he can't throw by hitters this year - the league is hitting .304 off his fastballs - but he still manages to throw it almost 50 percent of the time. He also has a pretty effective curve and a decent slider, but it all works off his fastball which isn't what it used to be. Add to that the fact that he's gotten shelled his last three times out and a huge red flag of impending injury should be raised. On the other hand, he may benefit from the company of Tim Hudson, who has been able to use his fastball more effectively this year even with decreased velocity. On the other hand, he may not benefit from getting away from the Giants home park; as his 3.28/4.83 home/road ERA split says. If we were to acquire him, we'd simply be "hoping" he'd turn it around.
Jason Jennings, Houston Astros - This is one of the few guys who hasn't benefited from getting out of Coors Field. Of course, a move to Minute Maid Park and its short porches are not always a step in the right direction. The big red flag with Jennings this year is that he has a higher road ERA (by more than a run) than home ERA. For a guy who's not yet 30, his drop-off this year scares me away. He was also injured for a bit early in the season, so nagging injuries could have something to do with his decline.
Livan Hernandez, Arizona Diamondbacks - Count me as someone who has always been a Livan fan. He's certainly not a glamorous trade option, but he's always been that steady dependable starter who goes out there every five days and usually gives his team a chance to win. But I'm rather wary of him this year. He's sporting almost a 5.00 ERA, and he's essentially thrown 200+ innings for nine straight years - and he averages 230 IP a year. That's a lot of wear and tear on his arm, and as his ERA has gone up and his strikeouts have gone down each of the last three years, perhaps those innings are beginning to take their toll. The Livan of several years ago would have been worth acquiring, but not the Livan of 2007.
Bronson Arroyo, Cincinnati Reds - Bronson's a strange one. He had a great season last year, while sporting a 2.60/4.00 home/road ERA split in one of the best hitters parks in the leauge, but he's done just the opposite this year with a 5.96/3.70 home/road ERA split. Some people think he would be a good fit in Atlanta, but I look to his overall numbers last year as an aberration of what he would normally put up, and his overall performance does not rate what the Reds would likely want in return for him. For a pitcher he's no spring chicken either at 30 years old, and he too threw a ton of innings last year. His price tag also goes up and over $10 million a year starting next season, and he's signed through 2010.