For the entirety of Mark Buehrle‘s career he has been a winning pitcher. (So far) his 2006 season is the only year he has had a sub-.500 winning percentage with a record of twelve wins and thirteen losses. He’s also been the most consistent pitcher on the Sox staff with double-digit wins in eleven straight seasons and over two hundred innings logged in those eleven seasons. He hasn’t issued more than sixty walks in a season since 2003 and hasn’t walked more than fifty-two in eight consecutive seasons. The only negative thing to look at in his statistics is his career average of one home run every nine innings pitched.
The veteran left-hander’s contract with the White Sox has come to an end. Buehrle has expressed in the past that he’d love to someday pitch for the St. Louis Cardinals who he cheered for growing up in the town of St. Charles, Missouri. But that can wait. We need Buehrle now more than ever. At 32-years-old there’s plenty of time to get to the Cardinals before his career is over. Right now we need to keep him around not only to be a good pitcher but to develop Chris Sale (a possible entrant into the starting rotation) and John Danks into better pitchers – which he can do.
The 2011 starting pitching staff, on occasion, was a fun one to watch. We had the surprising Phil Humber, the streaky Gavin Floyd, the disappointing John Danks, the project Jake Peavy, and then the rock Mark Buehrle.
Zach Stewart was alright.
Every five games you could count on Buehrle to go out there and pitch well. His 3.59 ERA was the lowest on the Sox staff this year with Humber’s 3.75 finishing second. The guy is the model of consistency; a left-handed Greg Maddux. Granted his prime has been nowhere near that of Maddux’s, Buehrle is our equivalent. (He also hasn’t won any Cy Young awards much less four in a row.) He keeps this rotation together.
Going into the 2011-2012 offseason the left-handed free agent class features the talents of C.J. Wilson, CC Sabathia, Buehrle, and Erik Bedard. C.J. Wilson had a good year but his performance in the playoffs thus far has shown he gets tired when it counts. Sabathia has had the crutch of a high-paid offense and while Bedard can be a good pitcher there are more headaches than you would want.
What would it cost to resign Burhele? Coming off of the less-then-Justin-Verlander-like-but-still-great season that he had it shouldn’t be too much. Buehrle still has a team option for the 2012 season but it would be more beneficial to ink him to a three- or four-year deal in the area of $13 million per year.
Buehrle will be our best bet. Make it happen.