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George Sherrill? No Thank You

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According to the Baltimore Sun, the Brewers and the Cardinals are "the two most aggressive suitors for Orioles closer George Sherrill."  It stands to reason that Melvin would like Sherrill...but it would've made more sense a year ago, when Doug could've acquired him for the more typical bargain-basement price.

The last time I wrote about Sherrill, it was because of his (undeserving) inclusion on the All-Star team.  If you measure reliever quality by saves (now that its inventor is dead--RIP Mr. Holtzman--can we kill the stat, too?), Sherrill is probably the best reliever available at the deadline.

By contrast, if you measure reliever quality by "likelihood he'll be better than Guillermo Mota in the second half," Sherrill falls quite a ways down the list.  (Granted, he's still up there, and of course yes, he'd be an improvement on Mota.)

His quick-and-dirty Marcel projection for the rest of the season suggests he'd throw 25 innings, striking out 24 and walking 11.  That would be good for a WHIP of 1.34 and an ERA of 3.76.  In other words, this is a guy who would probably improve our bullpen (especially since he's a lefty), but is not worth getting into a July 30th bidding war over.

Another way of looking at reliever effectiveness is WXRL, a Baseball Prospectus stat that tries to estimate how many wins the pitcher is worth using play-by-play stats such as win expectancy.  For reference, Brad Lidge, Joe Nathan, K-Rod, and Mariano Rivera are at the top of the list.  (With Brian Wilson?  Whoa!)  Salomon Torres checks in at #11.

So I scrolled down the first page of results, then the second page, then the third...and there he is!  By WXRL, Sherrill is the 76th best reliever in baseball this year, behind such big names as Matt Guerrier, Ryan Madson, and Ramon Ramirez, and way behind his teammate Jim Johnson.  He's been worth under one win so far this season, suggesting that in August and September, he'd be worth about half that.

As I said, I don't doubt that Sherrill would improve the pen.  But as always, the question is: At what price?  We have a good comp that you're probably familiar with.  Last year, a certain Central division contender swapped three pitching prospects for a set-up man.  Linebrink wasn't nearly as expensive as, say, Sabathia or Harden, but I think that the Linebrink deal suggests the starting bid for Sherrill.

One reason why is the save total.  Sherrill's a "proven closer," and it's possible that a team like the Cardinals with a floundering bullpen would pay for that.  The bigger reason why is that Sherrill will be under team control through 2011.  He was arbitration-eligible this year, because he was a super-two, but whoever acquires him will have him for three more years. 

If we were talking about Huston Street, that'd be one thing (though Brewers scouts aren't too excited about him, apparently).  But Sherrill is a solid 7th- or 8th-inning guy who has fluked his way into 29 saves at age 31.  He may be a productive pitcher for years to come, but think Bob Howry, not Billy Wagner.

What's more, the Orioles aren't known for being an easy club to deal with.  Because Sherrill is making under $1MM and will be under team control for so much longer, they don't need to deal him.  Someone will overpay or the Orioles will keep him.   Pass.

Maybe I'm just bitter that some other team picked up Jon Rauch--just as good a pitcher as Sherrill, one with nearly as favorable contract status--for pennies on the dollar.  Hey, if we can get Sherrill for Tony Gwynn Jr. or Hernan Iribarren (either of whom look about the same to me as Emilio Bonfiacio, who the D-backs traded for Rauch), bring it on.  But I'm pretty sure we can't.