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Free Agent Profile: Gil Meche

Gil Meche

Gil Meche may be the best tier-2 starting pitcher on the free agent market.  Once you eliminate Barry Zito, Jason Schmidt, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and maybe Roger Clemens, there really isn’t anybody with great career statistics left.  Of course, Mark Mulder is available, but he’s out until July after shoulder surgery and may never be the pitcher he was for the Oakland A’s a few seasons ago.  That leaves Gil Meche, who may become the best bang-for-the-buck starter left on the market.  The one thing that stands in his way is lack of consistency, Meche can throw 3 great outings and follow them up with consecutive shellackings.  He’ll need to work on giving a consistent effort each time he takes the mound, but I think he has the stuff to do it. 

Here’s a look at the 2006 numbers for Gil Meche…

  • Record: 11-8
  • ERA: 4.48
  • WHIP: 1.43
  • BA Against: .256
  • Games: 32 (32 starts)
  • Innings Pitched: 186.2
  • Hits: 183
  • Runs: 106 (93 earned) — the Mariners played terrible defense behind him
  • Walks: 84
  • Strikeouts: 156
  • Homeruns allowed: 24

I’m not going to lie to you and say that those numbers are phenomenal in any way — they’re not.  However, Meche may be the best a team can do this offseason if it has limited wiggle-room on its payroll and needs a decent middle-of-the-rotation starter.  And at age 27, it’s hard to say if Meche has even reached his peak yet; if he hasn’t, he could be a steal. 

Here are the situational stats for Meche…

  • Bases Empty — Opponents BA: .246
  • Runners On — Opponents BA: .270
  • RISP — Opponents BA: .238 — very good
  • RISP w/2 outs — Opponents BA: .244
  • Bases Loaded — Opponents BA: .250

Meche’s situational stats are good enough for him to be a #3 starter, and possibly a #2 if a team in dire need of starting pitching pursues him.  Once again, Meche’s numbers don’t match those of Barry Zito or Jason Schmidt; they do however, make him a solid value this offseason. 

To close out my look at his stats, here are Meche’s splits (ERA/WHIP/BAA if applicable)

  • Vs. Lefthanded hitters: .256
  • Vs. Righthanded hitters: .271 — strange that righties did better than lefties against Meche (RHP)
  • Home (Safeco Field): 3.76/1.24/.235
  • Away: 5.14/1.60/.275 — keep him home and you’ll be fine
  • Day: 4.12/1.25/.245
  • Night: 4.67/1.52/.262

There are some very significant differences in Meche’s numbers in various situations.  Keep him at home, facing lefties, and pitching during the day and no problems will arise.  Take him on the road, against righties, and pitching after sunset and you’ll be sleepless away from Seattle.  That will be a concern for teams looking to sign Gil Meche, and it’s another mark of his inconsistency.  As a righty, he should be able to get his BAA with righties at the plate down, but improving his road numbers may take much more work.  Whether he’s able to get better away from his home ballpark will determine how successful Meche will be in the future and how smart the GM that inks him will look for sealing the deal. 

Which team is most like to ink Gil Meche this offseason?

Gil Meche’s agent Casey Close says that nearly 20 teams have contacted him regarding Meche, which means the veteran righthander is getting more interest than just about any free agent on the market.  I wouldn’t put too much stock in anything an agent has to say about his client, but Close wouldn’t make that kind of comment if Meche weren’t at least drawing the attention of several clubs.  The teams I think will make the strongest push for Meche are the San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres, New York Yankees, Oakland Athletics, LA Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, and the Houston Astros, though the Seattle Mariners could jump into the mix, if they decide to try and bring him back. 

My prediction: Gil Meche will sign a 3year deal worth 21Million to join the LA Dodgers, adding depth to an injury-prone LA pitching staff, while benefitting from the usually lax hitting of the NL West division. 

Stats prediction: Meche’s 2007 will look something like 13-7 with a 3.90ERA and a 1.25WHIP.  His numbers will improve because pitching in the NL is always easier than pitching in the AL, but also because I think Meche will become a better starting pitcher over the next 2 seasons. 

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Tomorrow’s Profile: Julio Lugo

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Trivia Time!

Yesterday’s question (see — Free Agent Profile: Gary Matthews Jr) was…

On September 13, 2006, Gary Matthews Jr. accomplished what rare feat?

The correct answer…

Matthews Jr. hit for the natural cycle, getting a single, double, triple, and Homerun in that order.  He also walked in his 5th at-bat of the game. 

Today’s question is…

What MLB award did Gil Meche win in 2003?

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