Starting pitcher Mark Buehrle of the Chicago White Sox delivers the ball against the Toronto Blue Jays at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
This tweet from Fox Sports' Jon Morosi has me intrigued:
Not just "a" discussion, but "multiple" discussions. This would seem to me to indicate that Theo & Jed are seriously interested in Buehrle.
I would be, too. Follow me past the jump to find out why.
Mark Buehrle has been one of the most consistent pitchers in the American League for the last decade. He doesn't get hurt. He doesn't miss starts -- he's started at least 30 games for the last 11 seasons. Here is a list of all the other pitchers in baseball who have accomplished that feat:
Yes, that's right. Nobody. Buehrle is the only pitcher in baseball who's done that. He no longer strikes out a lot of hitters -- 4.8 per nine innings in 2011 -- but then, he never really did. His career high in K rate is 6.1 per nine. He doesn't walk people -- two per nine innings in 2011, exactly on his career rate -- and he doesn't give up home runs (21 in 2011, with his home park being a launching pad).
I admit, there are caveats. Buehrle has a lot of miles on his left arm; his 2,476 innings are the most of any pitcher who debuted in 2000 or later. But they're fairly gentle miles, as Buehrle is not a hard thrower. Someone here (Josh, I think) compared him to Jamie Moyer, and I think that's accurate. The Cubs, under Jim Hendry's leadership, always liked hard-throwing pitchers better than soft-tossing control guys. Perhaps it's time to get a pitcher on the staff who can simply pile up innings and save the bullpen. Buehrle threw at least six innings in 26 of his 31 starts in 2011. He's a fast worker -- in 2005 he threw a CG win in an hour and 39 minutes -- and that can only help the defense behind him. He's lefthanded and the Cubs could use a LH starter.
He's going to be 33 years old in March, and I know that Theo went on record in his introductory news conference as saying he didn't want to pay for "past performance". In the case of Buehrle, though, since he seems durable, I think you could get four good years out of him.
Buehrle just finished a four-year, $56 million deal with the White Sox. You'd probably want to pay somewhat less than that per year, given his age. That AAV would be what Ryan Dempster is getting this year ($14 million) and though Buehrle might be worth that in 2012, he might not be in future years. Perhaps the Cubs could offer incentives based on starts and innings, something Buehrle could easily make if healthy.
Regarding comments Buehrle has made in the past regarding the Cubs, and his desire to pitch for his hometown Cardinals, I believe all of that is pretty much pandering to whatever audience he was talking to at the time. If the Cubs made him an offer he felt was the best one out there and he wanted to work for Theo and Jed and whatever manager they hire, I assume he'd take it. As JJ Stankevitz pointed out at CSNChicago.com:
Outside of enraging some White Sox fans, the Cubs make a ton of sense for Buehrle. He'd get to stay in Chicago, make multiple trips a year to his native St. Louis, pitch in a lesser hitter's league and get to hit more than a handful of times a year.
I don't know about the hitting part -- Buehrle is 5-for-47 lifetime -- but the rest of it makes a great deal of sense. I'd very much like to see the Cubs sign Buehrle.
And then there's this (you might want to mute your speakers while you're watching it):
Solid pitching. Great defense. Good guy, from everything I've heard. Go for it, Theo & Jed.