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Hot Stove Conversations: Starting Pitching

The flurry of off-season trading has already begun, and we're just a few days away from free agency, still a theoretical pile of rumors at this point in time, kicking off in a way that will resemble your friendly neighborhood big-box store at 5:30 AM the day after Thanksgiving (hopefully with less violence). There are quite a few departments the Mets may want to do some shopping in, but the place where they're most likely to get into a tug-of-war over some shiny new toy is Aisle 1 - Pitching. Wondering what your favorite Mets fan bloggers think about some of the big names on the market? Just overly interested in reading someone else's IM conversation? Either way, you've come to the right place....

Eric Simon (10:20:27 PM): Well, the Mets have two holes in their rotation. What's your plan?
Jessica Bader (10:21:47 PM): See if Ken Williams is open to being robbed blind by both New York teams (Javier Vazquez) and try to retain Ollie
Eric (10:22:18 PM): Okay, why Ollie over, say, Derek Lowe?
Jessica (10:24:45 PM): Ollie is significantly younger and strikes more batters out. They're both Boras clients seeking expensive multi-year deals, so that issue is a wash.
Eric (10:24:58 PM): Well, not necessarily. Ollie will be looking for more years and more money. So is Ollie a better deal at 5/$70 than Lowe is at 3/$40? Or whatever. Mix-and-match those numbers. Also, Lowe's incredible groundball rate can't be discounted, and he has very good control, too.
Jessica (10:27:00 PM): True, and we don't know how Citi Field will play, although if it's like Shea there won't be a penalty for being a flyball pitcher
Eric (10:27:24 PM): Well, any more of a penalty than just being a flyball pitcher to begin with, though that probably doesn't offset their respective flyball/groundball tendencies. Lowe's also more consistent, for whatever that's worth. Ollie at his best is a better pitcher, but he certainly isn't always at (or near) his best.
Jessica (10:30:09 PM): But generally speaking, isn't the typical BABIP of fly balls less than that of ground balls? The harm comes from fly balls that can leave the yard or become extra-base hits. Pitcher-friendly dimensions + Carlos Beltran in center mitigates some of that harm. (Incidentally, this could make it easier for the Mets to keep Ollie, as teams with less favorable conditions for a flyball pitcher wouldn't get as much out of him and therefore probably wouldn't want to offer him as much money.)
Eric (10:31:16 PM): They do, for sure. Flyball pitchers are a bigger problem if you play in a hitters park and/or your outfield defense is atrocious. Alright, if we submit that the flyball question isn't a concern, do Perez's higher strikeout rates make up for his massive control disadvantage to Lowe? All told, Lowe's strikeout-to-walk ratio was far better than Perez's.
Jessica (10:37:10 PM): Good point
Eric (10:37:29 PM): Then again, Perez is nine years younger. Though Perez is also extremely volatile. These guys are about as different as you can get, eh?
Jessica (10:39:10 PM): Yeah, about the only thing they have in common is that they're both going to get big money. It's almost like the debate isn't about those two specific pitchers but two different philosophies of building a rotation
Eric (10:45:15 PM): Though it's far from the entire story, there is something to be said for consistency. When Ollie is dominant he's as good as anyone -- anyone -- in the league. Then again, other times he goes out there and can't escape the second inning.
Jessica (10:50:15 PM): I don't think the consistency vs. volatility argment is as cut-and-dried as it might appear based on the reputations of the two pitchers. I went through the 2008 gamelogs for Lowe and Perez in order to whip up some game score histograms:

Lowe_game_score_histogram_medium Perez_game_score_histogram_medium

Lowe's mean game score is higher (55.09 to 51.68), but Ollie actually has the smaller standard deviation (17.08 to 17.83), and they each had seven outings with a game score of 35 or lower.

So, Eric and I have had our say, but there's still room for a lot more discussion/persuasion. There are compelling cases for and against each of these pitchers, and the debate is sure to rage on long past the inking of deals. Let's hear your take.

2008 - Oliver Perez 10-7 34 34 0 0 0 0 194.0 167 100 91 24 105 180 4.22 1.40

2008 - Derek Lowe 14-11 34 34 1 0 0 0 211.0 194 84 76 14 45 147 3.24 1.13