From the Boston Herald:
Penny will be placed on release waivers tomorrow and clear them on Monday. He can talk to other teams while on waivers, but he can’t formally enter into a contract until he clears. He would like the opportunity to start, which probably wasn’t going to happen in Boston.
Penny, the former Dodger and disgruntled right-hander, became the odd man out after the Red Sox acquired Billy Wagner to strengthen their bullpen. And with Tim Wakefield starting again, the team chose to release Penny. After Penny clears waivers on Monday, he’ll be free to sign with any team. He’s made his preference well known that he’d like to start. The bonus with signing Penny by the end of August is that he would make the cut-off for post season rosters.
Should the Giants consider bringing him aboard?
I think you’ve got to at least consider it. After missing most of 2008 (save for 94.2 IP) with an arm injury, the Red Sox signed Penny to a 1-year incentive laden deal over the offseason. On the surface his tenure in Boston doesn’t look very appealing — 131.2 IP, 160 H, 5.61 ERA. But, underneath things, there are some encouraging signs. First, Penny has regained some of the velocity on his fastball. According to Fangraphs’ pitch data, the average Penny fastball thrown this year has been clocked at 94 mph. That’s a near +2 mph increase off his injury shortened ’08.
Secondly, Penny’s BB/9 in ’08 shot up to 3.99 walks per 9 innings, indicating that his arm troubles could have affected his command. This year with the Red Sox Penny has regained his strike-throwing form with a 2.87 BB/9. That’s in line with is career BB/9 of 2.92.
Third, Penny has posted a slightly better than league average FIP in the American League (a tougher offensive league than the NL because of the DH) and has been worth +2.1 WAR on the season. You could probably shave a few points off of his 4.48 FIP if he transitioned to the NL.
What’s killed Penny this year has been, primarily, two things. He has had terrible luck at stranding runners on base. His LOB% currently stands at 64.4%. That’s the 2nd lowest LOB% in baseball. For comparison, Matt Cain has stranded over 85% of the runners he’s allowed on base this year. That’s the best LOB% in baseball. The league average for LOB% tends to hover around 70% and often pitchers will look worse (or much better) because they’ve either had really good or bad luck at stranding runners. If you adjusted Penny closer to a 70% LOB%, he’s going to look a bit better.
In addition to his LOB problems, Penny’s curveball has been absolutely crushed this year by opposing hitters. By Fangraphs’ pitch-type linear values, Penny’s curveball has been worth -16 runs (or about -1.6 wins). That’s easily the worst curveball in the majors among starters by the linear weights metric. Quickly eyeballing Penny’s PFX numbers, his curveball appears to have the same vertical break that it’s always had. He’s throwing it at the same velocity, too. Penny’s curveball has always played as an average pitch for him. Check out the run values on it during the past 5 seasons: -3.2, 0.8, 1.1, 0.8, and -16 runs. Which number looks out of place?
So, we’ve got a pitcher that’s pitched like a league average pitcher in a tougher offensive league. He’s regained some velocity on his fastball. He’s had poor luck with stranding runners. And a pitch that was previously a solid pitch for him, has rated as the worst pitch in baseball for that pitch type. To me, it seems like Penny has good upside to take a chance on. He would slot into the Giants rotation as the 5th starter by replacing Joe Martinez. The Giants could then send Martinez to the bullpen to pitch in a long relief role. The Giants would improve their rotation and bullpen with one aquisition — Miller or Merkin Valdez would most likely get pushed out of the bullpen. Ideally, the Giants would improve their hitting over the last stage of this season, but if an upgrade like Penny presents itself, I think you’ve got to take advantage of it.
I hate myself for saying it but, sign Brad Penny.