2010 Player Preview: John Grabow
I'll tell you that it is not John Grabow, or at least it shouldn't be. The Cubs picked up Grabow at the trade deadline last year, which was probably the best they could do. The problem is that they decieded to resign him to a two-year $7.5 million contract this offseason for some reason. If there is one thing that Jim Hendry is good at, it is signing relievers to mulit-year deals for lots of money. It's not a very good trait, but a trait he owns and uses quite often.
Grabow finished 2009 with a respectable 3.36 ERA, but his WHIP was 1.41, which is not great for a releiver. Against lefties, Grabow held them to a .222 average with a .607 OPS against. That's not terrible again, but I would rather have a lefty that shut lefties down even more than that. Against righties, Grabow was worse, which is to be suspected. Righties hit .238 with a .697 OPS against. The Cubs could do worse for relievers, but they could do much better. His numbers last year match his three-year average, so there shouldn't be any shock with the preformance Grabow gives in 2010.
Yarbage couldn't be more right about Hendry's tendency to sign middling veteran relievers to relatively exorbitant contracts. But in terms of Grabow's likely performance, I have to disagree with Yarbage on this one. I'm afraid he might be very, very bad next season.
Last year, Grabow walked about five guys per nine innings. The year before, the number was about 4.5 per nine. In America, we call that "not very good" in terms of control.
Lucky for Johnnie G, he only gave up five home runs in his 72 IP last year, so the walks didn't bite him in the ass. But if you look at how many of his fly balls allowed turned into home runs -- roughly 5.7% last year -- you realize how appropriate the word "lucky" is in this discussion, because for most pitchers (and on average over John's career) about 10% of your fly balls will leave the yard.
Grabow will probably keep walking guys, and he'll probably give up more home runs than he did in 2009, which will inflate his ERA. Expect an earned run average close to 4.50. OK, so, maybe not terrible, like Yarbage was saying to begin with, but not set-up worthy, I wouldn't think. And if he doesn't cut down on the walks, definitely a chance to be shockingly bad.
Remember how mad Lou used to get when Heilman and Marmol and Gregg refused to stop walking dudes? That anger may resume so long as Grabow continues to get a significant number of innings.
Not a LOOGY. However, I am not as reticent about Grabow's salary as my friends are.
I like choo-choo trains!