Guess the Pitchers

Time to play a little game of who would you rather have on your team....your three contestants.

  ERA
ERA+
IP
Player A 3.26 137 67.1
Player B 2.68 167 86.1
Player C 3.41 125 68.2

 

Everyone should be pointing to Player B, right? Let's add some columns though...

  ERA
ERA+
IP
K/9 BB/9 HR/9
BABIP
FIP
Player A 3.26 137 67.1  11.40 2.44  0.41  .331 2.32
Player B 2.68 167 86.1 11.75 4.23 1.03 .185 3.62
Player C 3.41 125 68.2  7.60 4.85  0.39 .261 3.80

 

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.

Kerry Wood acknowledges the crowd

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. 

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"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."

Here's to wishful thinking.

Final Braves/WSox deal:

Vazquez, Logan for C Tyler Flowers, SS Brent Lillibridge, 3B Jon Gilmore and LHP Santos Rodriguez

A's looking at Randy Johnson...

Khalil Greene for Mark Worrell (is he related to Tim or Todd Worrell) and a PTBNL

the Chad Gaudin non-tender talk from the previous thread....

ha...mark "13 days!!! 13 days!!!" worrell.

he was destined to be traded. he's been telling anyone with a pen or microphone how he wants out of the STL organization for months.

btw, he's not related to the other worrells.

-edit-

well damn, how's this for timing...

http://stlcardinals.scout.com/2/818116.html

I get the impression he wanted to leave...

yeah...that's way more to the point and blunt than he's been in other interviews.

I agree with ROB G that the Cubs could have kept Wood just by not acquiring Gregg and by non-tendering Cotts, Gaudin, and Wuertz on 12/12, but I think Hendry is more interested in acquiring Jake Peavy and signing either Milton Bradley, Bobby Abreu, or Raul Ibanez to play RF (Hendry: Damn the defense and the compensatory draft pick), and then he will address the bullpen later, after he moves Jason Marquis (and indeed there should be a market for Matquis and his one year remaining at $9.875M after the top FA pitchers have signed). And I think Hendry will gut the farm system (if necessary) to acquire Peavy, too.

Good summary. I don't know if I'd put Wood in "one of the best pitchers around" category after one above-average year, but I agree that Gregg's definitely a downgrade. Perhaps the Cubs can revisit a one-year option with him after they get their other priorities sorted out. I don't think it's quite fair to say they're going into next season with lesser talent since next season hasn't started yet and they're clearly going to try to use some of the money Wood would have gotten for a bat and/or Peavy.

I don't know if I'd put Wood in "one of the best pitchers around" category after one above-average year

FWIW... it wasn't just above average. It was a great year. One of, if not THE, best years a reliever had this past season.

Wood did have a very good year, but I can rattle off the the top of my head 6 relievers that were better (Krod, Soria, Lidge, Papelbon, Mariano, Nathan) and if I looked it up I think we could find a few more. Again not taking anything away from Wood he performed a little better than I thought he would, and had a very good year, but I can't see how he was one of the best relievers last season.

Wood was 7th in FIP last year among relievers with 50 IP

http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stat...

that's 4th (or 5th if you count Broxton) among closers.

about 200+ relievers in baseball, being in top 10 is definitely one of best relievers last season.

If you consider top 10-12 best being one of the best last season, than you are absolutely correct. When I think one of the best, I think top 3-5.

I am curious how you read '7th' and translate that into 10 - 12th.

Take out situational guys and he was top 5.

Wood was not a top 5 closer last year. And when considering all relievers he was outside the top 10 IMO.

According to what? It has already been shown why many of us believe that Kerry Wood was a top 5 closer last year. You should actually show us why you think otherwise.

According to his opinion.

End o' story.

According to the stats...

Here are just the closers (not counting set up guys) I think had a better season in 2008 than Wood in no particular order:
1. Francisco Rodriguez: 2-3, 68.1 IP, 2.24 ERA, 62 saves
2. Joakim Soria: 2-3, 67.1 IP, 1.60 ERA, 42 saves
3. Brad Lidge: 2-0, 69.1 IP, 1.95 ERA, 41 saves
4. Jonathan Papelbon: 5-4, 69.1 IP, 2.34 ERA, 41 saves
5. Mariano Rivera: 6-5, 70.2 IP, 1.40 ERA, 39 saves
6. Joe Nathan: 1-2, 67.2 IP, 1.33 ERA, 39 saves

Kerry Wood: 5-4, 66.1 IP, 3.26 ERA, 34 saves

I also think there could be a couple others (Valverde & Cordero) that I would consider at least on par with Wood. Again, I think Wood had a very good year, but just not top 5 closer or top 10 reliever. Please don't take any of this as bashing Wood, he performed better than I thought and did very well last year.

So pretty much you're just not buying into the who BABIP thing. Go to Vegas and make 7 bets. Put down $100 on the over/under for each of those guys 2009 ERA based on their 2008 ERAs. There's one guy who's probably 5 times as likely to come in 'under' as any of the others.

I do notice, now that you list these guys that Wood pitched approximately the same innings as all of them, despite missing, what 18 games?, with the blister.

Yeah, I can care less about BABIP. You very well might be right about 2009, but we were talking about 2008.

I don't think Wood would have dropped his ERA 1.50 points in those 18 games. ANd injuries are part of the game.

Well you are right, if you judge pitchers solely based on their ERA then Kerry wasn't one of the best last year.

The point of the article, is an illustration why it's foolish to do just that. We're all in agreement now that the point eludes you.

ERA was not the only stat I used to determine it, but again clearly Wood was not a top 5 closer.

yeah, I noticed that too which is pretty freakin' odd. Were any of those guys hurt during the year?

also, add the 7 saves Marmol took from Kerry while he was out (not sure if all 7 were during that period) and he's right up in the total saves as well.

not many pitchers can strike out guys at the rate Kerry still can = best pitchers around. Run his 2008 season on a simulator 1000 times, and he would have easily been one of the top relief pitchers in baseball.

Lesser talent in the bullpen is what I meant and acquiring Jake Peavy isn't going to do anything to help that. Peavy's no 8-9 workhorse that will make the bullpen suddenly  an afterthought.

Ok, I see. Yeah, the bullpen as of now is definitely more iffy than last year but if the choice is Peavy or Wood, and it sounds like it might be that for Hendry, I'll take Peavy every day. Hopefully some of the young guys come through strong for us, esp. in a LH role. I think Gregg and Marmol can be competent, if not quite as solid as Marmol, Wood last year.

No doubt Kerry's stuff is top tier, maybe some of the filthiest in baseball. And his 2008 was great, better than I thought it was after looking at BABIP and FIP. But with his history (and remember, I love the guy), I think it's about as safe a bet that he'll be out for a significant chunk of next season as it is he matches or improves on 2008. That, with his payroll restrictions and other needs, is I think what led Hendry to his decision.

How can a bullpen that has subtracted Bob "Here it is, meat, see how far you can hit it -- wow, that's pretty far" Howry be more iffy that last year?

Stats for relievers can be misleading -- Marmol had a relatively brief stretch where he walked everybody, but gave up few runs. I think he was the best pitcher in the Cubs bullpen last year.

I think we should view Kerry's 2008 as a nice farewell gift. Love the guy, and wish him well, but I expect to see him on the DL in 2009.

I still don't get giving up Ceda for a mediocre closer, though. Yuck.

The reason Howry was pitching last year is because Lou had no one better to run out there (for the most part). That hasn't changed yet.

ANDREW: If Kerry Wood is still out there after Hendry acquires Peavy, signs Bradley, Abreu, or Ibanez, and trades Marquis, I would think he would be more than willing to try and offer some kind of back-loaded deal that would make it possible to bring KW back. But Woody may not still be there when Hendry is ready to address the bullpen.

Not offering Arbitration to KW was really a dumb move. There just isn't anyway else to look at it. For KW to get 10 million in Arbitration it would have taken a 350% jump in his salary to get there. I'm fairly certain that would be an unprecedented level of markup for an arbitrator.

At some point Hendry is going to have to get around to "building" a farm system. I know this isn't the year to do so. But at some point it will be a nice option to have.

such a weird angle and thought process...

Soto, Theriot are starters from our farm system....2/8 of your starting lineup right there

Lee, Ramirez are byproducts of the farm system....that's half now

Fontenot, Cedeno, Pie, Hoffpauir are likely to be on the roster next year....so that's 8/13 of our position players

Z is a farm system product

Harden is a byproduct

Marmol, Wuertz,  Marshall, Samardzija are from the system

byproducts such as Gregg and Gaudin....

16 of 25 guys right there (and I'm sure I'm missing a few) are somehow related to this crap farm system the Cubs have been running for years.

I'm not going to go through every team, and I'm sure there are some low to mid-market teams that have more, but for a high payroll team, I'm guessing that's pretty high. Do we have a lot of blue-chip position players? Maybe not, but is Hendry suppose to sit around and wait for one to develop if it's not there or go and trade or sign for one instead and try to win? I vote option B.

Rob, I'm talking about right now. Every guy you mention above other than Samja was drafted or signed before 2002. At some point we are going to have to get back around to player development. Unless we start spending like the yankees. And obviously all this Non-Tender crap is pointing in the direction of us Not spending like the Yankees. As I said. We don't have to this year. But it will be needed at some point.

Let's face it, as much as they're now the Evil Empire, the Red Sox are the model. Somehow they keep churning out top-tier talent, position and pitching, and yet still seem to be in on nearly every big name each offseason. And they're the most successful franchise of the new century.

If the owners keep considerably upping his payroll like they have the past few years he can get away from not having a good farm system. And I think SD might be showing the days of Hendry being able to send off overhyped/not good prospects for good proven players might be over.

BTW, just because Hendry is prepared to non-tender Gaudin, Cotts, and/or Wuertz on 12/12 doesn't mean he can't trade one, two, or all three of them for auto-renewal guys next week at the Winter Meetings, just like he did last year when he traded Will Ohman (who was arbitration-eligible) to ATL for Jose Ascanio (and speaking of Ascanio, he is having a very good season in the VWL so far).

Is payroll the only reason Hendry's considering non-tendering these guys? I thought they were supposed to be parts of next year's pen? If they go, then we really are up in the air after the starters go 5 or 6.

They 'and they're not good' part my play into the decision factor as well.

If you're keeping score at home, then I believe you have to read Hendry's moves pretty much as AZ Phil is laying them out in these posts. All 'loyalty' and 'fan' feelings aside, Hendry made a necessary business move in NOT bringing Wood back if he indeed does have payroll limitations at this point in the off-season. Offering Wood arbitration would have garnered him well over the $7M he earned in 2008 with his $4M base and over $3M in incentives.

I've got 2009 payroll at $130-135M right now assuming only R. Johnson and Gregg get arbitration money and Fontenot, K. Hill, Hoffpauir, Marmol, Marshall, Soto, and Theriot are auto-renewed. Assuming he even gets approval to go to $145-150M for 2009, there's no way he gets Peavy and a LH hitting RF without dumping Wood's salary and non-tendering Cotts, Gaudin, and Wuertz. I'd be amazed if his budget is even that high. Of course Marquis and his salary has to go as well if the RF is Abreu or Ibanez. And I hope to God Dunn is NOT under consideration - watching him in the OF 150 times next season would make me retch on a regular basis even if he hit 50 HR's. As Stone said today on WSCR - "he's a DH in search of an AL team".

And I can't say I disagree with this strategy if it nets a rotation of Z, Peavy, Dempster, Lilly, and Harden, and puts Abreu's bat in the 3, 4, or 5 hole. The downside is I see no money to sign Furcal, and Roberts to play 2B only if the O's would take DeRosa, Pie, and/or Marquis in return. Having to rely on DeRosa/Theriot to play 2B/SS next year and Harden in the rotation almost forces Hendry to keep Fontenot and Marshall out of any trades. Good luck with that.

But back to the point of Rob G's post, it really isn't about if Marmol and Wood would have been better than Marmol and Gregg. It's about money and a payroll budget.

From Rosenthal's latest article:

"Abreu plays right field, but one GM described his play as 'brutal'".

Brutal is Matt Murton, Dave Kingman, Mike Vail, Brian Dayett, et al. I've seen enough brutal Cubs OF play to put me in semi-permanent anaphylactic shock. I don't need to add Adam Dunn to my list.

Hehehe, Mike Vail. Good Lord, that was a REALLY bad time to be a Cub fan. Today's first baseman....Mike Lum!!

You Rang? Even I don't want Adam Dunn. None of the lefty batters available interest me. Let's get ICHIRO!

yes, right after we trade for Pujols and Grady Sizemore, the Cubs will be getting around to Ichiro.

We can even afford one of those players!

God Pujols is on a sweet deal. His agent should be clubbed to death.

the little related articles sidebar on the right has been fun to look through the archives.

Since you could throw a dart and find an article where I sound like a fool, here's one where I wasn't too far off at least.

http://thecubreporter.com/2008/07/01/buy-low-sell-...

since it uses pitcher peripheral numbers like this article, I thought it has some relevancy.

Len Kasper re-signed through 2011. No word if he'll still be an unpaid PR man for the Redwalls however.

If I ever testify against the mob on TV, please do not have ROB G do the pixalation of my face.

Gaudin isnt getting non-tendred as I am sure there is a good market for a league average starter who only makes $3 or 4 mil through aribration. My money would be on the scenerio AZ Phil mentioned, with us getting a SP who is a auto-renewal guy with options left who would be a 1 or 2 starter for Iowa and one of our primary spot starters. I think we will keep Cotts, simply because we wont have any loogy candidates left expect for Marshall who we need as a spot starter or trade bait. Wuertz will be gone through, seeing how he is in Lou's doghouse. Though unlike Gaudin I dont see us getting anything of use for him, likely a minor league roster-filler or 2.

Haven't seen this mentioned here yet... according to Baseball America, the Cubs have signed three minor league free agents:

RHP Angel Castro -- AA reliever for Detroit last year, 3.30 ERA, 33/19 K/BB in 43.2 IP.
LHP Jason Waddell -- AA reliever for San Francisco, 3.38 ERA, 70/36 K/BB in 64 IP.

and

C Mark L. Johnson returns to the system after spending part of last season catching in St. Louis. Solid replacement for Koyie Hill in Des Moines.

Maybe Manny can give us some Waddell insight, what his repertoire is and if could hack it an an MLB loogy in 2009. Or anyone, but I figured that dude has seen him pitch a few times.

BABIP cracks me up -- "normal is between .290 and .310".

None of the 3 pitchers were in that range, not even within 20 points of it, which allows for all sorts of conjecture -- Marmol was lucky, Kerry wasn't, etc.

Terrific stat.

i've been wanting to hold off writing on the topic, but well...i'm bored again...wee...

marmol/gregg/samninja...cotts/weurtz/asscan/marshall-marquis/etc.

personally, i don't think that's a weak pen. then again i don't have issues with cotts/wuertz and i don't mind gregg.

none (except maybe marmol) are on kerry wood's level, but none are looking even 1/2 the paycheck wood is.

i don't really see an immediate need there.

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