2008 Season Recap - Jason Marquis
In the 2008 season, our fifth starter won more games than he lost. He went 11-9, in fact, a year after he went 12-9 for us. He made 28 starts, pitched 167 innings. He ended up with an era of 4.53, which places him in the top 2 or 3 fifth starters in all of baseball. The Cubs won 16 of his 28 starts. Ask the White Sox, for example, if that would work for them?
His high "game score" for the year was 73 on July 11th. In that game, which was won in the late innings 3-1, our fifth starter went seven innings against the Giants, gave up only three lousy singles, and struck out four. He also gave up only 3 hits on June 8 to the Dodgers in 6 1/3 innings. Although our fifth starter has been maligned over the years for his poor second-half showings, in 2008, he managed to win five of his last eight starts.
He did enjoy the fruits of our outstanding regular season run support, but he has managed to offset his somewhat suspect control with his ability to generate groundball outs, which makes him a likely candidate to succeed not only at the Friendly Confines, but in many of the new, smaller retro-parks throughout the NL. His comparables, courtesy of Baseball Reference, are Gil Meche, Cory Lidle, Joel Pinerio, Kyle Lohse, and Mark Clark (?!?!?)
Our fifth starter earned seven million dollars in 2008, and is set to earn eight million more in 2009.
/sound of needle being dragged across phonograph
Good Morning, Americans, and Those Who Want To BE Americans!!! Let me take a second to let you all know how proud I am, prouder than I have been in many years, to live in a place like this. Now I don't have to go live in Carolyn's parents' basement. I can stay right here, with heaping new scoopfuls of hope in my heart, and write about the Marquis duuuuuuuuuuuu Suc!!
He is quite the luxury we "enjoy" on our roster. Most team's fifth starters are either has-beens or never-will-bes. If they're lucky, it will be some young kid from AA who simply has a lot to learn before he is solid in a major league rotation. We, the Cubs, can trot out a guy who has won nearly 80 games in his career, is still on the good side of 30, and very rarely lets games get out of hand early, which is death to bullpens. Some days, he even pitches quite well. He has a tendency to start involuntary twitching, whereas he experiences elevated temperature under his collar, and his head starts turning towards the bullpen, when things get tough after the fifth inning. It is a gruesome, deabilitating disease that I am currently in the process of documenting for a well-respected medical journal (named, oddly enough, "Well Respected Journal of Medicine") that I have tentatively named "Marquis Disjunction". But he eats innings, and wins as least as many as he loses.
In other words, he's a great fifth starter. But we pay him like a #2 starter, and he is nigh untradeable. Perhaps, if he had crafted an 11-9, 4.53 after the 2003 Season of High Steroids, with one year left on his contract, we could have maybe found a taker for him. But, in these kinder, gentler steroid-and-greenie free times, Jason Marquis is a #4 starter making #2 money, and thus he is the proud holder of a Bad Contract. As such, we aren't going to get anything of any worth in return for him unless we, in turn, accept someone else's Bad Contract.
For example, to the young and naive, it might seem logical to include him in a trade for Jake Peavy. Certainly the Padres would not mind receiving a solid starter in return, a quite durable young man with an expiring contract who would take up some of the slack the loss of Peavy would leave behind. But although his contribution might be considered to be a slight plus, the eight million is more than a slight minus, and we would have to take back someone else's momentary folly. In this particular case, it would probably require our welcoming in a fine field, declining hit shortstop with a strange-ass New Age name and a surfer hairdo who in my humble opinion would go over as well in Wrigley Field as a fish taco with a mediocre Chardonnay served out of a box into a plastic cup.
I say folly because my one and only e-mail exchange with David Kaplan, the WGN Radio sports host happened in the fall of 2006, two years ago. I don't even know how or why Dave even decided to write me, but he indicated that Jim Hendry loved Jason Marquis and would end up with him, one way or another. So I was totally unsurprised a few weeks later, when we did end up with him, and at the price he signed for. Please recall that this was coming off of the Cardinals' 2006 championship season (which some here claim never happened), and Marquis was infamously left off of the playoff roster due to his completely atrocious second half, where his ERA approached asymptotic infinity. Hendry felt that Mr. Rothschild (don't begrudge him his silent 'S') could straighten him out, and I dare say to a certain extent, he has.
Marquis was quite consistent in 2008. He was consistently mediocre all year. His first half was kind of meh, and so was his second. We made great fun of him here, outlining in graphic detail how nervous we all were whenever the morning paper listed him as the probable starter. Sure, he kind of sucks. But if you strictly think of him as the fifth starter, he is a far superior option to, say, Angel Guzman.
There is one name I haven't mentioned until now, one Sean Marshall.
Is he a better fifth starter than Jason Marquis? Looking at a strictly dollar value proposition, it is obviously preferable, if possible, to run Marshall out there every fifth day, and spend Marquis' $7MM elsewhere. But Uncle Lou pledged to run out the 25 best guys out there, and that the best five guys would pitch. As much as many of us would prefer the lefthander, and the guy who at least still has his best baseball ahead of him, the 2008 Marshall was not set up to start well, due to his 27 bullpen appearences to go along with his seven starts, none of which were outstanding and a couple were truly bad.
Marquis gave us the better chance at a quality start in 2008 than Marshall did. How about this year? The future of both of these guys depends on what happens with both Ryan Dempster and on whether we are able to bring in an alternative starting option, ala Peavy or Sabathia. I honestly believe that both will start the season with us, and unless we lose out on Dempster AND on all outside help, we still only need one. Jeff Samardjia also figures into the mix (unless we trade him for Brian Roberts, which is what I believe is going to happen). But since this is Jason Marquis' post, my prediction is that he will in fact remain our fifth pitcher, as Hendry tries to wring every last ounce of value out of his late 2006 Momentary Folly.
If you believe in quick-n-dirty trends, as I do, since:
- 2007 - 12-9, 4.66 ERA, 1.39 WHIP
- 2008 - 11-9, 4.53 ERA, 1.45 WHIP
- 2009 - 10-9, 4.40 ERA, 1.51 WHIP