Guess the Pitchers
Time to play a little game of who would you rather have on your team....your three contestants.
Everyone should be pointing to Player B, right? Let's add some columns though...
Just a friendly reminder on BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play) and FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching), where BABIP should usually settle in the .290 to .310 range for a pitcher, so if a pitcher is below it, don't be suprised when it goes up along with all his other numbers and if he' s above it, dont' be suprised if it goes down. Knuckleballers and change-up specialists are the exception to that rule. FIP is a similar concept, in it's basically the ERA for a pitcher on what they are ultimately responsible for....walks, strikeouts, hit by pitch and home runs, essentially factoring out defense and lady luck.
The additional columns make the argument a lot more interesting and it's pretty clear that Player A was considerably unlucky last season and you can say that for his entire injury-plagued career.
But the Cubs, in their quest to improve on a 2008 ballclub have decided they're gonna run with Players B & C, which is pretty clearly going to be an inferior product. And if there's anyone still trying to figure it out, your players are Kerry Wood (A), Carlos Marmol (B) and Kevin Gregg (C).
Sure, the Cubs are up against it budget-wise, but there's a lot of creativity that could have gotten them to fit Kerry Wood's salary into their budget. The cost of Kerry Wood and Jose Ceda wouldn't be considerably more than the potential costs of Kevin Gregg (expected to make $4M), Michael Wuertz (around $1M), Chad Gaudin (around $2 M), and Neal Cotts ($1 M). And if you really think any of those last three are essential to the Cubs, which I don't, there's probably a few more ways to hack $5-6M if the Cubs are really that desperate (I'm looking at you Jason Marquis).
Yes, Kerry Wood is an injury-risk, moreso than most pitchers and yes, it's generally unwise to throw 9-10MM at a bullpen arm, but it's also unwise to knowingly go into a season trying to win a World Series with lesser talent, which is exactly what the Cubs are preparing to do.
Is some of this bias towards one of my favorite Cubs players? Maybe, I mean I don't know how you can completely remove that from your sub-conscious. On the other hand, I don't care either. It's not like Kerry Wood is in the Mark Grace stage of his career, he's still one of the best pitchers around, even in a different role. A helluva a lot better than Kevin Gregg will be next season. The ship has probably sailed on Wood pitching for the Cubs in 2009, but there's still that small sliver of hope that the new ownership group gets named rather quickly and rides in on their white horse with a new contract for Kerry Wood.