Okay, the Tigers shored up their rotation yesterday when they signed Brad Penny to a one year, $3 million deal. Or did they? Penny started off the 2010 season with the Cardinals and he got off to a nice start before lat and back issues derailed his season in May. The other knock on him is that his only time in the American League with the Boston Red Sox didn’t go all that well and in 24 starts, he posted a 5.61 ERA in 2009. Oh, and his last really good season was way back in 2007 when he finished third in the National League Cy Young voting while with the Dodgers.
Still, even with those negatives, I like this signing. The biggest reason is, you can’t get much of a lower risk then a one year, $3 million deal. Even if he doesn’t work out, this isn’t going to be one of those debilitating multi-year deals the Tigers have gotten themselves into lately. Another reason is, we’re talking about just upgrading over our fifth starter, which at this point is Armando Galarraga. Even in 2006 when the Tigers won 95 games, the Tigers fifth starter (Zach Miner) won only seven games. Their fourth best starter won 13 that year, which is Galarraga’s best win total.
So in order to evaluate this properly, it’s a Penny versus Galarraga discussion. Penny has a better strikeout rate and a better walk rate and he’s also not as reliant on the ground ball as Galarraga is. Plus it gives us some flexibility. If Penny tanks, then Galarraga can move right into the rotation and if there’s a hole in the pen or the Phil Coke rotation experiment fails, we’re not left an arm short at a key point in the season. So I like the move and a ten win Brad Penny would mean the Tigers are sitting pretty in the division.