A significant elbow injury suffered by Cardinals ace-hurler Adam Wainwright figures to eventually churn the rumor mill toward a Mark Buehrle-to-St. Louis scenario. Before those rumors start to fly, the White Sox are not looking to move any hurler from one of the American League’s best starting rotations, once a healthy Jake Peavy returns.
Buehrle’s full no-trade veto power as a 10-year veteran, with at least five years playing for the White Sox, also comes into play. There’s no need for Buehrle to think about invoking the no-trade provision with the White Sox hoping to contend for a World Series title, let alone a division crown.
But if the White Sox falter early and look to trade away veteran salaries, with Buehrle in the final year of a four-year, $56 million deal, the southpaw would judge the situation on a case-by-case situation.
“There are teams, if it came down to it and I didn’t want to play for them, I would not waive it,” said Buehrle, asked about his no-trade thought process before the Wainwright injury. “But if it came down to it, I would do it for [White Sox chairman] Jerry [Reinsdorf] and the team because they have done enough for me.
“I’m sure if we play bad in the first half and there’s no way of getting back into it and they don’t think there’s a chance and they are starting to trade away guys, I would probably be one of the first guys to go. With my contract expiring, they could dump money and get prospects. But I don’t want to think about it and hope it doesn’t get close to that point.”
Obviously, the Yankees have a dearth of back-end starting pitching. If the White Sox fall out of it and do start trading pieces away, I’m sure the Yankees will be linked to Mark Buehrle as they have in the past. Is this a good thing, though?
There are indicators that the Yankees should shy away from the Chicago lefty. His career high in K/9 is 6.49 (2000) and he hasn’t struck out six per nine since 2004. In 2009 and 2010, his K/9 was under five (!!). That few strikeouts is never a good thing. But, on the flip side, Buehrle’s control has been great for his entire career; his career BB/9 is 2.06. He’s also got a decent ground ball rate of 46.0 and a relatively acceptable 1.0 HR/9 rate. Those things don’t tell us the most important thing about Buehrle, though.
He pitches. A lot. In 2000, he pitched 51.1 innings. In every year since that, he’s pitched at least 200 innings. His lowest was 201 in 2007. 2006 and 2007 are the only years in which Buehrle has pitched fewer than 205 innings. While performance is obviously important, Buehrle in the back end would just need to eat innings and keep his head above water. And that’s something he can certainly do. He’s got a career FIP of 4.15 and has been over 4.50 only one time in his career (5.27 in ’06). He’s most certainly a better option than anyone the Yankees currently have on staff as a 5th starter candidate, but the problem is he’s not on the Yankee roster.
Chris Carpenter of the St. Louis Cardinals is another name that’s come up as a possible trade target. This may be a pipe dream, since the Cardinals are perennial contenders in the N.L. Central. Adam Wainwright‘s apparent elbow injury doesn’t do much to clear up the situation, either. On the one hand, we could see the Cardinals fall out of contention more quickly without their best pitcher. If that happens, the Cardinals could be anxious to get something for Carpenter instead of just seeing him walk at the end of the year. On the other hand, though, we could argue that without Waino, the Cardinals would be more likely to hold on to their other good right handed pitcher.
While I fully expect both players to be available at some point during the 2011 season, I’m not sure if either will be a Yankee. That will depend on how each player performs, how much salary the Yankees would have to take on, and what players they would have to give up (or also receive) to complete the deal.
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