My Least Favorite Cubs - #4 - Felix Horridia and George Frazier (tie)
Well, tied with hundreds of other lousy, pitiful bullpen arms over the past forty years, including and not limited to: Tom Detorre; Oscar Zamora; Donnie Moore; Bob Locker; Eddie Solomon; Joe Coleman; Mike Garman; Pete Broberg; Lynn McGlothen; Bill Caudill; Doug Capilla; Ken Kravec; Bill Campbell; Warren Brusstar; Dave Gumpert' Ray Fontenot; Jay Baller; Frank DiPino; Ed Lynch (yep!); Drew Hall; (the corpse of) Goose Gossage; Dave Smith; Chuck McElroy; Heathcliff Slocumb...
...and since we're only getting to around 1990 at this point, you get the gist.
But, why do these two solitary men stick out like a swollen goiter from a roster of such swirling, festering shittiness?
George Frazier came to us along with Rick Sutcliffe, and as it goes with the fate of the Cubs, if we somehow stumble upon something good, it has to be accompanied with something bad.
Frazier was the worst pitcher we had during the thrilling dash for the first title we had won in (pretty much) all of our lifetimes. Of course, in that wonderful season of miracles and unicorns and rainbows and such, 'worst' was an ERA around 4.50. Nothing harsh could ever, ever sink us, at least not until the Gatorade Glove.
No, the next year, the karmic payback for blowing it, for being given the finest of all gifts (three chances to clinch the NLCS) and somehow pissing it all away, was having our entire five-man rotation on the DL SIMULTANEOUSLY at one point. Sooo...it stands to figure that our bullpen was heavily relied on, and perhaps there was occasion to overuse it.
Rarely in the history of big league baseball have there been bullpen arsonists quite like the 1985 George Frazier. In 51 appearances, his ERA was 6.39. More walks than strikeouts. A WHIP close to 2. His partner in crime was the aforementioned Brusstar, who was nearly as bad, in all aspects including the bad porn mustaches both had.
It was after one game in mid-June, with the Cubs in first place, after Frazier had blown his second save in a row, that Harry Caray proclaimed "the way the Cubs look, they might now win another game". The Cubs did not win for another two entire weeks, and by the time they posted another W, they were knocking on the door of fifth place.
Incredibly, they kept handing him the ball, another 35 times in 1986, until Minnesota took him off our hands. And he sucked for them, too.
Felix Heredia (I had to look up exactly what his surname actually was, since I have simply known him as HORRIDIA since day one) threw left handed. Otherwise, I am not sure how in God's name he would have caught anyone's attention as it pertains to pitching baseballs.
Thing is, he wasn't even the worst reliever we picked up during the 1998 Wild Card run - that would have been Matt Karchner. And actually, pitch for pitch, Krotchner was better, but we didn't give up Jon Garland for Horridia, like we did for the Krotch.
The problem I had with Horridia was that they kept sending him out there, and outside of the fact that he throws with a hand most of us only wipe with, the only other possible reason I could come up with was his won-loss record. Yeah, for those of us who remember his tired act, but never looked it up: Horridia had a 15 - 6 record as a Chicago Cub!?!?!
This could very well be the single most hollow stat in the history of stats.
For those of you who don't remember this particular bum: you put him in when we were down 8 runs (which was often), and he'd hold down the fort for 2 or 3 innings. I suppose while other teams are up big, the hitters stop concentrating, which made his level fastball and useless breaking crap effective.
On the other hand, with the game on the line, he was totally caustic. He was a major vulture: giving up leads, and getting "wins" when the Cubs came back in games. These were the Sosa days - the "live" Wrigley, the Friendly Confines. I figure out of Horridia's 15 wins, 14 of them are because Sosa bailed his miserable ass out of jail.
High walks, high ERA, high WHIP, but young, left-handed and cheap. Everything came to a head during the 2001 season. Recall the Cubs rode Sammy's big swoled-up bat to a surprisingly successful 2/3rds of a season after 2 miserable years of near-historic ineptitude. That year featured the implausible but nearly automatic convoy of Kyle "Tightpants" Farnsworth in the 7th, Jeff "Last Legs" Fassero in the 8th, and Tom Gordon in the 9th. This doesn't sound like something that should work at all, but it did, up to the point where Fassero and Gordon both broke down.
Enter Horridia. With the offense we had that year, we were never out of games, and because of that, as bad as he had been, he became even more urgently worse. How can you be worse than worst? When you already suck, how can you give up even MORE walks, hits, runs and homers? Some guys thrive under pressure, and others simply do not.
Horridia made LaTroy Hawkins look like Mariano Rivera. Horridia also made my ass ache. When he left, you could follow his progress. When another team had a double-digit inning posted on them, I always checked to see if a) Horridia was taking up one of their roster spots, and b) if he was part of the debacle.
More than once, it was so. Just an utter piece of southpaw shit.