Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Nate Robertson is the highest paid 5th starter in history

OK, I'll admit that the headline is a bit hyperbolic. Sure, Robertson is the 5th starter for the Tigers, but he's a middle of the rotation guy on many lesser teams.

Actually, I'm quite happy with the Tigers locking up Mr. Gum Time at $21 million total for 3 years. Considering the high price and scarcity of major league quality starting pitching, the contract is a relative steal.

Ricky Vaughn glasses and Goose Gossage facial hair?
That's worth a few million in itself...

A pitcher with Robertson's bulldog tendencies is a plus in any rotation. I know, I know, that sort of thing is wholly subjective, and it makes sabers cringe. But you can't deny that Robertson has made the most of his limited talent to become a very respectable starting pitcher on a pennant contending team.

Even though it's mid January, you can pencil Robertson in for 12-14 wins, 125 K's, 200 innings, and an ERA in the mid 4's. Will Robertson win 20 games? No, but 15 wins is not out of line. what I've described is not lights out stats, but are those numbers worthy of $7 million a year in today's game? Easily. It's also a contract that wouldn't be hard to trade, if it came to that, given the high price of free agent pitching.

In fact, I'm positive he'd get more if went on the open market. If Carlos Silva can get 4 years/$44 million, Robertson is definitely worth similar cash. 4 years at $9-$10 million per would not have been out of the question if he had gone to free agency after next season.

But playing on a contender, getting what amounts to lifetime security for your family, and having set down roots as the only Tiger living in Detroit year round is worth Robertson giving the Tigers a hometown discount. He'll also keep his fan favorite status as one of the survivors of the nightmarish times of 2003.

For the next 3 seasons, the 4 of the 5 spots of the Tigers rotation will be taken by Verlander, Bonderman, Willis, and Robertson. That's fine by me. It appears the Tigers are fine and dandy with that rotation as well.

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