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Brad Penny To Sign with the San Francisco Giants After Clearing Red Sox' Waivers

Adam BernacchioAnalyst IIIAugust 31, 2009

BOSTON - JUNE 11:  Brad Penny #36 of the Boston Red Sox throws against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park on June 11, 2009 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

As if the San Francisco Giants needed more pitching. According to SI.com’s Jon Heyman, Brad Penny will sign with the Giants today. Penny passed through waivers early this afternoon, which made him a free agent and free to sign with any team.

The Giants will pay Penny a prorated portion of baseball’s minimum salary, which will be $75,000.

Just like all recently released, aging, failed comeback attempt with the Boston Red Sox pitchers, Penny will probably pitch swimmingly in the NL.

Penny will join a Giants rotation that includes Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Barry Zito, and Jonathan Sanchez.

Can you believe that Brad Penny was 6-2 at one point during the season? After watching Penny pitch for the last couple of months, it’s almost impossible to believe.

Penny has been terrible in the month of August, going 0-3 with a stellar 8.31 ERA; combined with the fact that the Red Sox needed a roster spot for the newly acquired Billy Wagner, the Red Sox and Penny have agreed to part ways.

After missing some of the 2008 season with the Los Angeles Dodgers because he was battling a shoulder injury, the Red Sox took a $5 million flier on Penny in the offseason. It was a classic high-risk, high-reward signing.

At the end of June, the Penny signing was looking like it was paying off. He was 6-3 with a 4.79 ERA. It’s not the greatest ERA in the world, but A. he was winning games, so nobody cared, and B. this is what was expected out of Penny.

Penny was signed to give the starting rotation depth, not to be a No. 1 or No. 2 starter.

Once the All-Star break hit, however, Penny went downhill. He was 1-5 in the second half with a 7.82 ERA. His last two starts, versus the Texas Rangers and New York Yankees, were unwatchable.

A whopping 12 earned runs in 9.2 innings pitched in those two big starts, letting the Rangers run around the bases like a Little League team running on a poor kid who has never caught before, spelled doom for Penny.

Despite having a fastball that could still reach the mid-90s, I saw three major pitching flaws in Penny.

  1. Despite still having the ability to reach back for that 95 mph fastball, that fastball was as straight as an arrow. As Billy Koch taught us, any major league hitter can hit a straight 95-plus mph fastball.
  2. Penny had no secondary pitches. He had a flat curveball and an even more flat slider. Penny couldn’t throw his offspeed stuff for strikes, and when he got behind in the count (which was quite often), hitters were just sitting on his straight fastball.
  3. Penny had zero ability to hold runners on. Teams ran all over Penny, especially the Rangers. Penny has no pickoff move and never adjusted his delivery to home plate. Back in the day when he had more overpowering stuff, he could get away with that. Not so much anymore.

I think if Theo Epstein was in playing GM in a perfect world, he would have loved to have traded Penny right after he beat the Yankees on June 11. He pitched six shutout innings and his value was at its peak. Unfortunately because of the John Smoltz disaster and the Daisuke Matsuzaka injury, Epstein had to hold on to Penny.

The side story of this move is that it puts the final nail in the coffin in Epstein’s disastrous offseason. John Smoltz was released, Rocco Baldelli has been injury-prone but has hit lefties well to his credit (.303 AVG), and now Penny has been let go.

You might want to take a different approach next season, Theo.

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