Sources report that the St. Louis Cardinals are set to sign free agent right-handed pitcher Brad Penny to a one-year contract, pending completion of a physical. The deal is said to worth $7.5 million with $1.5 million in incentives. (Update: This was completed on Tuesday, with the signing formally announced by the club that evening.)
Penny just completed a 2009 campaign that contained two distinct parts. Coming off a shoulder injury and the worst season of his career in 2008, Penny had signed a one-year deal with the Boston Red Sox one year ago.
In the first part of the year, the 31-year-old made 24 starts for Boston. Like John Smoltz, the American League East proved tough on the lifelong National Leaguer. In 131 2/3 innings for the Sox, he posted a record of 7-8 with a 5.61 ERA.
Boston released him in late August and he was quickly signed by San Francisco. A return to the National League suited him fine. In five starts with the Giants, he posted a 4-1 record with a 2.59 ERA.
A couple of statistics stand out when comparing his struggles in the AL compared to the success he found in the NL. After coming over to the Giants, Penny lowered his BB/9 by one and his H/9 rate by over four hits. Interestingly, his strikeout rate dropped when he came to the NL as well.
In his annual projections, Bill James expects Penny to have a record of 10-11 with an ERA of 4.01 in 2010. James projects him to throw 182 innings, allowing 191 hits and 57 walks to go along with 123 strikeouts.
In 10 seasons in the big leagues, Penny has a record of 105-84 with a 4.14 ERA. He was an All-Star during the 2006 and 2007 seasons when he posted a record of 16-9 and 16-4, respectively, for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Also in 2007, he was named the starter for the NL in the Mid-Summer Classic and would later finish third in the Cy Young voting that season.
The native of Oklahoma was a World Series champion in 2003 while a member of the Florida Marlins. In Game 7 of the NLCS, he was credited with the win after coming out of the bullpen on the road at Wrigley Field. Penny went 2-0 with a 2.19 ERA in two starts against the New York Yankees during the fall classic. On September 23, 2006, he became one of only 30 National League pitchers in history to strike out four batters in one inning.
Penny was originally drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the fifth round of the 1996 amateur draft. In July of 1999, he was traded by the Diamondbacks with a player to be named later and Vladimir Nunez to the Florida Marlins for Matt Mantei. Arizona later sent former Cardinal Abraham Nunez to Florida to complete the trade. Penny made his big league debut in 2000. The Cardinals will be his sixth organization.
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