Goatriders of the Apocalypse

The fifth starter

With yesterday's trade, nobody knows anymore if Jake Peavy is a real possibility as the next Cubs ace.  Luckily Jim Hendry has some options if Peavy isn't coming be they in-house or not.

Some guys who might take turns starting next year ...

Chad Gaudin: Although I want to punch him in his ridiculous face any time I see him on tv, Gaudin's not a bad choice to take a crack at starting.  He was 3-2 with an ERA of 3.75 in 6 starts last year, and over the past 3 seasons the 25-year-old has started 40 games resulting in 14 wins and 15 losses.  Fairly unimpressive until you consider that he has an ERA of 4.32 over that time while playing in The League With All That Offense, which is undeniably better than the 4.99 ERA posted by Jason Marquis in that same span.  Using that keen and indisputable logic, it can therefore be concluded that Gaudin would be an improvement.

Sean Marshall: Maybe you have an older sibling - or hell, a younger one.  If you have an older one then you know that there have been times in your life when you have tried desperately to capture the attention of your big brother or sister only to be ignored like a 3AM infomercial.  If you have a younger one, then you might not have noticed that he/she is actually pretty freakin' cool sometimes.  Sean Marshall is the younger sibling of the Chicago Cubs.  He started in 19 games for the 2007 Cubs, where he went 7-8 with a 4.05 ERA.  In 2008 Marshall started 7 more times, posting a respectable 4.15 ERA while going an embarassing 1-4.  The ERA totals are good, the win-losses don't mean so much, if he's not traded for Jake Peavy then he has to be Lou's top choice to start fifth.

Aaron Heilman: The last time he started way back in 2005, he went 2-3 in 7 starts with an ERA of 4.71.  And those are his best totals as a starter.  One Goat Reader says that Heilman wants to start in 2009 but I'd honestly rather see the Cubs reverse their trade of Marquis before letting Heilman give up Hail Mary's to the bleachers.

Jeff Samardzija: The Shark should start in Chicago or in Iowa.  He had success as a reliever in '08, but using a pitcher his age as a reliever is a waste of his talents.  Chances are the Shark will begin the year in Triple A.  He may be the first person they turn to if the Cubs have pen trouble or he'll be ready to step into the rotation should somebody get hurt or fail to do the job in the fifth spot.

Jake Peavy: The mere thought of Peavy brings fire to the loins of Cub fans everywhere - and it is apparently a mutual sensation for Peavy.  If Hendry can somehow pull this off, then the Cubs will have undeniably the best Chicago starting rotation since the World Champion Cubs of the early 20th century used to have dueling shutouts on a regular basis.  At this point some people think the Peavy Trade-0-Meter should be dipping into the red, but I'm not convinced.  We'll keep it on lower Meh for the time being.

Ben Sheets: The poor man's Peavy.  2008 was the healthiest season Sheets has seen since 2004, which isn't to say that his arm didn't almost spontaneously combust in late September.  The longer Sheets goes without finding a home the cheaper he'll be.  The Cubs have no rumored interest in him.

Curt Schilling: File this one under Proof that Bloggers Are Often Wrong.  I wrote Schilling a letter last off season begging him to offer his services to the Cubs because he would truly be a legend if he helped reverse our so-called curse as well.  Schilling signed with Boston and spent the year watching his arm unintentionally contort into weird shapes.  Anyway, my brother EMailed me last week and asked me what I'd think about the Cubs taking a chance on a reclamation project.  I said it was probably a bad idea because the rotation isn't exactly invincible with Zambrano, Dempster, and Harden.

Besides, SI writer and injury expert Will Carroll made a point to me the other day...

The Cubs at Wrigley Field are not exactly in what we could call a "state of the art" situation.  In fact the trainers and the training facility can only do so much and can often be easily stretched very thin.  A reclamation project like Schilling or Sheets would be interesting, but the Cubs staff just might not have the tools-at-hand to keep them healthy - especially with pitchers like Harden and Zambrano being injury risks.

So, with all that in mind, I believe the Cubs should either go Peavy or stay home, if you get what I'm saying.  The team has good depth right now and shouldn't have to worry too much about upgrading.

5th Starter

Hey Kurt, I wouldn't be too concerned about Heilman giving away blasts into the bleachers. He's only given up an average of one homer for every 9.17 innings over his career. The Cubs are short on lefty relievers and I hope that Heilman is the 5th starter barring that rumored deal for Peavy, with Marshall in the pen awaiting his chance to start in the event of an injury to Harden or one of the other starters.

I'm not opposed to Heilman

I'm not opposed to Heilman competing for the 5th spot, primarily because I don't think he has a chance of winning it. Marshall deserves the first consideration, and Gaudin has pitched well as a starter in the past (and he's only 25). If Samardzija isn't in the rotation opening day, then I suspect he will be by September and certainly spring of 2010. All three players are better starters than Heilman. Actually, Jason Marquis is a better starter than Heilman.

What Heilman is GOOD at is pitching out of the pen. I suspect that he'll end up there by late March.

His role?

Once in the pen, is he penciled in as the stopper? Or will we have a three-headed closing situation with Marmol/Gregg/Heilman?

Most great teams have the

Most great teams have the closer and 2 lights-out set-up men. When the '01 Cubs were awesome - before they turned into awful - Tom Gordon was being masterfully setup every day by Jeff Fassero and Kyle Farnsworth. There was a one or two month period where those three were flat-out automatic.

I'd probably insert Marmol into the closer's role and let Gregg and Heilman take turns getting him there.

I don't think Lou's going to

I don't think Lou's going to think this way, but for me, I want Marmol to face the best three hitters in the opponent's lineup.

If in some game, the 8-hitter leads off the 8th inning, I wouldn't use Marmol or Gregg. If 8 and/or 9 get on, I bring in Marmol in the 8th, so he can get the next three outs. Then I bring Gregg on in the 9th to close.

If 8, 9, 1 go down in the 8th, then I bring Marmol on in the 9th instead.

Funk saves. Does that make too much sense?

I'm not opposed to Heilman

Well, I think Heilman has a great shot at the 5th spot in the rotation. I see Samardzija starting at AAA, and the Cubs like Marshall in the bullpen and spot starter role. I'm not sure how you can say the Samardzija is a better starter and Heilman, seeing as how he's never started in the majors. Gaudin has a 4.32 ERA as a starter over the past three seasons, and Marquis has a 4.99 ERA as a starter over the past three seasons. Marshall has a career 4.62 ERA and 4.15 career ERA as a starter (his career composed of the last three years). I think it's unfair to evaluate Heilman as a strictly as a starting pitcher because all of his 25 career starts came during his first three years in the majors, over half of those in his rookie year. This is no indication IMO that the will revert to his 6.93, 5.46, and 4.71 ERA's he put up as a starter during his first, second, and third years in the majors. He's simply developed into a better pitcher over the years. I believe he'll be much closer to the 3.90 ERA he has posted over the past three years combined, which would mean that in terms of ERA's, Heilman would rank above all of the four pitchers you mentioned.

There's an article on Yahoo

There's an article on Yahoo that went up an hour ago about the Cubs:

"They want to convert Heilman back to a starting pitcher, and the two players used to acquire him — infielder Ronny Cedeno and left-handed pitcher Garrett Olson — were part of a package that it was believed might have gone to the Padres."


No byline, so I don't know what to make of it I guess, but it's there anyways.

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