Monday, November 17, 2008

A long-winded Cubs post

Ever since I came up with my no-brainer rule, I've been hearing people use that term more and more.

Do you think they'll go for it here on 4th down Johnny?
I'd say it's a no-brainer Bob.

Do you think Dusty will let his starter pitch the 9th?
Of course, that's a no-brainer.

Should I tell my boss I'm unhappy with my salary?
Oh yeah, it's a no-brainer. If you're not happy, you gotta tell him.

In other words, sometimes a no-brainer means you're not using your brain. I was reminded of this last week when I heard one of the local sports radio guys (Brian Paruch on AM670?) saying that the Cubs trading for Jake Peavy is a complete no-brainer (in the good way).

The radio host was saying that whatever the Padres want for Jake Peavy, the Cubs should give it to them, whether it be Jeff Samardzija, Ronny Cedeno, Sean Marshall, Josh Vitters, Tyler Colvin, or anybody. He didn't mention whether or not he'd include Soto (in my opinion, it would be borderline criminal for Jim Hendry to include Soto in a trade for Jake Peavy), but let's assume Soto is untouchable, I still think a trade for Peavy using those other players is the no-brained version of a no-brainer. Let's look at Jake Peavy first.

When he's healthy, Jake Peavy is one of the best pitchers in the league. He strikes out 9 per 9 (sometimes more), he doesn't give up many hits (relative to guys who do), and his ERA has been under 3.00 in four of the last five years (granted, this has been at Petco). These are all good things. But let's look at the bad.

After 2007, he was coming off three straight seasons of pitching at least 200 innings. In 2008, he only pitched in 173. Why did he pitch in fewer innings? Because he missed six or seven starts. Why did he miss six or seven starts? Because he was experiencing elbow pain in his throwing arm. Why was he experiencing elbow pain in his throwing arm? Because he throws a lot of sliders. Why does he throw a lot of sliders? Because that's his 'out' pitch. Why am I asking questions and then answering them? Shut it, nobody asked you. My point is this: the reason he has been one of baseball's best pitchers for the last five years is because he has a wicked slider to compliment his capable fastball. But if the guy is starting to show signs of elbow trouble, you can bet that he'll have to cut down on the number of sliders he'll be throwing in the future. And with a fastball that runs 92-94 mph, what does that make him? Well potentially, it makes him an average pitcher rather than the Cy Young candidate the Cubs thought they were trading for. Granted, he's still a rotation guy, and you can't have too many rotation guys. But let's talk about the guys the Cubs would have to give up to get him.

Jeff Samardzija (who has a no-trade clause. WTF?) is replaceable I suppose. It's not like the Cubs have ever counted on him. He's a reliever with a great arm whom I suspect will always be a reliever. He's good to have around, but not completely necessary. Ronny Cedeno has similar value. He's not a good enough hitter to be their starting SS by any means, but he's a good defensive replacement in late innings and a capable spot-starter. Josh Vitters and Tyler Colvin, well there's your future right there. But who cares about the future? We need to win now! So okay, they're gone. But then we get to Sean Marshall. He sucks, right? Well not exactly. I'm willing to acknowledge that he'll never be more than a back-end rotation guy or long reliever. On the Cubs, however, the back-end rotation guy and long-reliever is extremely important. Look at their starters. You have Rich Harden, who for some reason can't pitch more than five innings a game. You have Carlos Zambrano, who for some reason can't go the entire season without missing a few starts here and there. And with this trade, you'll have Jake Peavy, the "ace" who is beginning to show signs of elbow pain in his throwing arm. Who is the guy who would fill in when Harden gets taken out in the 6th and Zambrano and Peavy miss their starts? Today it'd be Sean Marshall. If this trade were to happen, Sean Marshall would be the guy filling in nicely at the back-end of the Padres' rotation.

So is it a no-brainer for the Cubs to trade for Jake Peavy? Yeah, I'd say it is.

Follow-up note from Brian: I have confirmed that the radio host was Brian Paruch. Greg, you may remember him if I call him by his old Q101 name. He's the Whipping Boy. Yeah now he's on AM670 as a fill-in host. His voice is even more grating now that he's talking sports.

Labels: , , |