Cubs Potential Offseason Targets: Kelvim Escobar
Trying to figure out which relievers the Cubs may try to acquire - if any - to bolster a poor bullpen performance is like trying to find a decent Cubs position player developed by the Cubs farm system over the last 35 years. For all I know the Cubs won't do much but try and resign John Grabow and then see who might stick from the current crop of youngsters plus a few Chad Fox-type reclamation projects that they might hope to stick...and probably Chad Fox himself.
We do know Hendry likes his strikeout pitchers and Escobar has a 7.89 K/9 rate for his career which trends higher when he's worked out of the bullpen as you'd expect. There hasn't been much chatter on Escobar since he went down with a shoulder injury after pitching just 5 innings in 2009 (and he missed all of 2008 as well after labrum surgery), but I think it's a fair bet he'll come back in 2010 as a reliever...that is if he's coming back at all.
|162 Game Avg.||11||10||.526||4.15||46||22||15||7||167||162||84||77||15||68||145||5||113||1.375||8.7||0.8||3.6||7.8||2.14|
|TOR (7 yrs)||58||55||.513||4.58||301||101||130||58||849.0||846||469||432||84||394||744||30||105||1.461||9.0||0.9||4.2||7.9||1.89|
|LAA (5 yrs)||43||36||.544||3.60||110||101||2||1||658.0||615||286||263||53||217||566||17||125||1.264||8.4||0.7||3.0||7.7||2.61|
For his career, he's actually got a better ERA as a starter(4.09 vs. 4.44) than a reliever, but a lot of that relief work was done early in his career. He can throw up to six pitches, but said he scrapped his slider so that takes him down to a 2 and 4-seam fastball, split-fingered fastball, curveball and change-up and that's probably 2-3 more pitches then he needs to be an effective reliever. Obviously the big concern will be how well that shoulder is doing and then what kind of contract he'll be expecting after missing out on two seasons. If he does show to be healthy, at least one other fanbase wouldn't mind getting in on the action.
Any type of serious statistical analysis on Escobar isn't going to have much merit as he hasn't pitched in two years and we don't know what the shoulder injuries may have done to his arm. This signing would be up to the doctors, trainers and scouts and if they feel that something resembling the old Escobar is still out there. Now I realize the Cubs and their fans feel snake-bitten by some of these high risk-high reward type talents the Cubs have employed over the last decade, but with the expected budget crunch, Hendry's gonna have to roll the dice on a few of these spots. If they can get Escobar on a one year incentive-laden deal, maybe with a 2nd year club option - and the doctors give the all clear signal - it could be a decent risk for the Cubs in 2010. He'd probably start the season as a set-up man but definitely has the ability and experience to step into the closer role if/when "Wild Thing" Marmol isn't getting the job done.