It goes without saying that signing a pitcher with one of the worst ERAs in the league to a 3-year, $21 million contract calls for investigation.
The Trib’s Paul Sullivan today looks into the rationale behind the Cubs signing of Jason Marquis. I see the word “wins” too many times for my liking.
Cubs GM Jim Hendry: “Certainly over a three-year look back, Jason’s statistics, and wins, certainly validate that kind of a salary.
It’s probably not discussed a lot, and not to put him into a category others wouldn’t, but you’re in the big leagues to do two things as a starter: You have to win games and pitch innings. Over the last three years, he won more games than Zito and Schmidt. He had a bad couple of months [last season] and he’d be the first person to admit it, but we felt he was certainly capable of winning 14 or 15 a year, and doing it with a lower ERA and pitching a lot of innings.”
He’s capable of winning 14, but he also lost 16 last year. I suppose that these days 200 or more innings is considered “a lot”. Marquis didn’t make it to that plateau last year and just barely passed by it the previous 2 seasons.
As for wins, I don’t really see why they enter into the conversation at all. The number itself does not signify how he pitched last year. And he was terrible. He’s merely a rehab project; a very costly one at that.
Sullivan also writes, “The Cubs believe the Cardinals damaged Marquis’ psyche when they asked him to take a pounding in a couple of games.” And that “The rap against him was he didn’t use his sinker enough, preferring to try to get hitters out with his curve and an ordinary fastball.”
If the Cards damaged his psyche he must not have had a strong one to begin with. If memory serves, one of those poundings came from the White Sox. The day before the Cards got shelled and burned through their pen. They needed innings from Marquis. It’s not like they were testing his mental toughness. His team needed him.
The sinker is his out pitch and the stats back up the assertion that he went away from it. While his ERA has ballooned from 3.71 to 4.13 to 6.02, his groundball/flyball ratio has dwindled. In 2004 he averaged 2.17 G/F. That number decreased to 1.59 in ’05 and just 1.16 last year. Needless to say his HR allowed have also risen from 26 to 29 to 35 last year.
The Cubs also believe Larry Rothschild can help Marquis. Rothschild has already made a change in Marquis’ mechanics and Marquis claims it has already made a “big difference”.
Marquis may have a good season in 2007. But as of right now he’s simply an overpaid question mark. Not the best idea for a team in need of stability in the rotation. But here’s hoping I couldn’t be more wrong.