2008 Season Recap: Jeff Samardzija
It’s currently 4 a.m. and I’m surfing Jeff Samardzisoiajsdkj’s (that was actually easier than trying to type his real name) personal website, so cut me a little slack if my grammar is lacking.
Wait what’s that I just said about a Samardzija website? Did you hear that correctly? Yes friends, young Jeff does indeed have his own website and here it is. Enjoy it and all its Modest Mouse glory. Seems a bit much for someone who has only pitched 27.2 innings of big league baseball, but so does a no-trade clause in your first professional contract.
Anyway, Samardzija made his first and somewhat highly anticipated MLB appearance of the season on July 25 against the Marlins and Cubs fans instantly fell in love despite the fact that he blew a save in said game. Maybe it was his flowing locks or his high 90’s fastball, but the collective boner Cubs nation got lasted for much longer than any male enhancement pill could ever provide. Maybe we should see a doctor?
Lou seemed to find a nice spot for the hard-throwing righty somewhere around the seventh inning(depending on the situation) and he would often use Jeff as a lead in to fellow flamethrower Carlos Marmol. While command was an issue at times, Samardzija provided some fire and timely strikeouts from the ‘pen. He wasn’t as dominating or intimidating as the aforementioned Marmol, but he was a nice appetizer for the bigger meal to come.
Despite struggling in the Cubs minor league system, Samardzija was called up from Iowa to replace a shelved Kerry Wood who was suffering from a blister on his throwing hand. Many thought Jeff would return to the land of corn soon after Wood’s return, but the move proved to be a permanent one and a good one at that.
While Jeff’s success might have come as surprised based on his minor league performances, maybe we all underestimated his ability to play in front of a large crowd. Unlike so many young players, Samardzija already had a wealth of experiences in playing before huge stadiums from his days as a member of Touchdown Jesus. In a way, maybe the Wrigley crowd helped him. Maybe he felt more at home on a mound in front of 40,000 people.
In the brief time that the Cubs have been in the postseason, Samardzija’s name has already come up several times as a possible piece of a trade that would bring San Diego’s ace Jake Peavy to the North Side, but now those rumors seem to be dead as Jeff was unwilling to waive his no-trade clause. Supposedly the Cubs are now exploring the idea of letting Samardzija compete for a spot in the rotation.
While I find this idea intriguing, I feel there are many factors that could affect Jeff’s role next season – namely the status of Peavy and Ryan Dempster. With Kerry Wood now out as a member of the Cubs, it also becomes more important for Samardzija to stay in the bullpen and perhaps take on the role of set-up guy if the Cubs are to use Marmol as their closer.
Either way, 2009 is sure to be a much more important year for Samardzija than 2008. Based on what we’ve seen (which is not much) that might be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your point of view.
Don’t worry though. If he sucks then the Cubs can just trade him away…oh wait.