Jon Garland versus Braden Looper

by on January 16, 2009 · 8 comments

Cage match time at PH8.

Ok, not really, but a note from RVB ( Cardinals Diaspora ) on Twitter got me thinking:  just how similar are Jon Garland (who I think is somehow destined to wind up a Cardinal) and likely former Card Braden Looper?

I figured they would have some similarities, both are durable, inning-eating types (at least Looper has been since he converted, he almost hit 200 innings pitched in 2008).  Both have a similar, methodical style of pitching.

What I found statistically, is that they are eerily similar in almost every category.

Garland’s career win-loss record is a bit better, he had a couple of really good years with the White Sox.  If you just compare the last two years though, Garland is 24-21 while Looper was 24-26.

Garland pitched 405 innings in 2007-2008, Looper 373.2.

They walk and strike out hitters at very similar rates, with Garland’s total numbers being a bit higher because of more innings pitched.

Here’s where it gets creepy.  Garland’s career ERA as a starter is 4.50.  Looper’s career ERA as a starter is 4.50.

Garland’s career BABIP is .288.  Looper’s BABIP as a starter is .287.

Short of comparing the amount of time they’ve spent starting, win-loss records (Garland had 18 win years for good Sox teams, Looper has pitched on a couple of struggling Cardinal teams), and age – these boys are almost identical pitchers.

Where’s the difference?

Well, for some reason, I had in my brain that Garland would come cheaper than Looper – I had Looper pegged for a Jeff Suppan-type deal, and surely Garland wouldn’t be more than $10mm per season, right?

I don’t know what rock I’ve been living under lately, but Garland made $12mm last year, and then declined arbitration from the Angels.  Doesn’t sound like he’s interested in anything less than about $10mm.

Both are likely to want at least a three-year deal, and that’s where it gets dicey.  Garland is only 29, where a three-year deal wouldn’t be horrible.  Looper is 34, a bit longer in the tooth to be throwing a three-year contract at him.  Sound bites from Cardinal management seem to indicate they don’t want to give a long-term deal to any starting pitcher at all, so this all might be moot.

I have been on the Garland bandwagon for the last couple of weeks, but it seems like he might want a Kyle Lohse-type deal (and his career stats make a lot better case for that than Lohse’s do).  Could Looper be the better option if he’s willing to go one or two years?

Looper has expressed his desire to remain a starter, but he obviously has extensive bullpen experience.  If Chris Carpenter is in fact ready to go on opening day, could Looper then wind up, say, closing?

How would you play this hand?

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Writing about the Cardinals and other loosely associated topics since 2008, I've grown tired of the April run-out only to disappoint Cardinal fans everywhere by mid-May. I do not believe in surrendering free outs.
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