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Quick Shot II

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If salary is not a consideration, I would prefer Matt Morris to Paul Byrd. There's an upside that Morris has tapped into over his career which hasn't even been sniffed by Byrd. It's a big longshot for Morris to suddenly regain that form, but there has to be some consideration for the peak he enjoyed as a younger pitcher. The risk of collapse is similar for both pitchers, with Byrd having a couple of years on Morris and a checkered injury history of his own.

This quote from Ken Rosenthal gives me the jibblies, though:

Esteban Loaiza received $21.75 million over three years from the A's. Paul Byrd could earn $22 million if the Indians exercise his third-year option. Matt Morris, the next step up among free-agent right-handers, should easily exceed those deals.
I just can't see how that upside from another lifetime is worth several millions more than Byrd or Loaiza. The second-half freefall from Morris should have put him at a salary plateau comparable to Loaiza, at least. If there is any accuracy to Rosenthal's contention, though, it seems like Morris' finish to the season has been dismissed with a "pitchers will be pitchers" kind of sentiment, because, heck, any pitcher could have a poor half. There's just something really scary about a pitcher completely messing himself to finish out a season. It's hard to tell the difference between poor luck, tired arm, and smoldering ligament.

I would rather have Byrd and his contract for 2008, but would take Morris on ability next year. Even if Morris gets one more guaranteed year and several million dollars more than Byrd, that doesn't factor into how he'd look in orange and black for next season, and he'd look pretty nice. Of the free-agents on the market, the only pitcher I would instantly take over Morris for 2006 would be A.J. Burnett. Jeff Weaver, Kevin Millwood and Jarrod Washburn would probably be preferable as well, but I'm optimistic about Morris and his ability to bounce back. I just can't gloss over the nuttiness of the eventual contract he's going to get.