MLB: Giants add Penny for cheap
By Andrew Baggarly
San Jose Mercury News
SAN FRANCISCO — At pennies on the dollar, the Giants picked up an experienced starting pitcher for the stretch drive Monday.
Right-hander Brad Penny, who was released by the Boston Red Sox last week, cleared waivers and quickly agreed to a minor league contract with the Giants. He is expected to be added when major league rosters expand Tuesday and to take the ball Wednesday against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
Penny, 31, last pitched Aug. 21 and threw a bullpen session Monday near his home in Southern California, Giants vice president Bobby Evans said. While Evans wouldn’t confirm that Penny is hopping on the next flight to Philadelphia, he acknowledged that Penny was an option to fill Wednesday’s hole in the rotation.
The Red Sox are on the hook for the remainder of Penny’s $5 million salary, minus a prorated share of the major league minimum — less than $100,000.
Other teams had interest in Penny, including Florida, where the burly 6-foot-4 pitcher broke into the big leagues and played for five-plus seasons. So perhaps the Giants’ weekend sweep of the Colorado Rockies was convincing in more ways than one.
“You can’t hard-sell the guy when you can only offer what you can offer,” Evans said. “He obviously had plenty of choices. We made an offer, and he took us up on it.”
The Giants added Penny on the last day players could be acquired and still be eligible for postseason play with their new clubs.
There will be no last-minute upgrades for the Giants’ modest offense, but Penny gives them an experienced arm they lacked at the back of their rotation since Randy Johnson hit the disabled list in July with a torn shoulder muscle. Johnson is on a throwing program and could contribute, but only in relief.
Evans said the Giants made a run at signing Penny over the winter before signing Johnson to an $8 million contract.
“He’s a 2007 All-Star, which is not that long ago,” Evans said. “We’ve got a good ballpark for strong, solid arms. His velocity has been pretty consistent in the low 90s. His numbers in the American League might not be the same in the NL.”
Penny was 7-8 with a 5.61 ERA in 24 starts for the Red Sox, giving up 160 hits and 17 home runs over 131·innings. But he also averaged 2.12 strikeouts per walk — his best ratio since 2006, when he led the NL with 16 victories while fronting the Dodgers’ rotation.
Penny did not enjoy a friendly parting from the Dodgers after last season and might have extra motivation against them. If he pitches Wednesday and Giants manager Bruce Bochy doesn’t use days off to change the order, Penny could start twice against the Dodgers in September.
He joins a rotation that already features Cy Young Award contenders Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, plus a resurgent Barry Zito and a steadying Jonathan Sanchez.