Sunday, November 22, 2009

Cubs Throw More Money Down The Drain

You would think that Jim Hendry would have learned after he gave so much money to Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Zambrano, Aramis Ramirez, Derrek Lee, Ted Lilly, Ryan Dempster, Kosuke Fukudome, Milton Bradley, and Aaron Miles. Especially Aaron Miles.

But of course, Hendry set his eyes on a player, and when that happens, Hendry gets his man. He just stops caring about the price. Obviously, I'm talking about the signing of left-handed reliever John Grabow, a perfect reflection of how teams still consider ERA a legitimate way to evaluate a pitcher. Now, not only does ERA have its numerous flaws, the statistic is extremely context driven and dependent on factors that are essentially out of the pitcher's control, but those flaws are magnified when you're talking about exceptionally small sample sizes, and relievers don't exactly rack up innings.

For whatever reason, the Cubs determined that Grabow was worth giving $3.75M in each of the next two seasons, in spite of his consistently mediocre performance. We're talking about a guy that's practically fungible, and could likely be replaced for near the league minimum. Grabow doesn't have great stuff, his fastball sits 88-91 and doesn't have great movement, if he's not locating the pitch then it's very hittable, and he lacks the kind of out-pitch that you would expect from a marquee reliever.

Now, the Cubs are stuck paying relatively big money to a guy who hasn't posted an xFIP under 4.72 in the past two seasons and has shown an increasing walk rate for three years running. The only reason that he's posted such pretty ERA's is because hitters have posted BABIP's of .251 and .279 in the past two respective seasons, and he had the benefit of a 85.5% strand rate in 2008 and a 5.7% HR/FB ratio in 2009, each of which are exceptionally flukish and due for regression.

The Cubs certainly could use some help in their bullpen, they have about three established relievers and their projected closer walked 65 guys in 74 innings last season, but overpaying a mediocre lefty just isn't remotely the right way to go about fixing the issue.

If the Cubs were willing to spend pretty solid money on a reliever, why not go after a potential stud closer that would take a one-year deal (Billy Wagner!!), or at the very least try to go after cheaper (and better) options, like maybe Joe Beimel or Kiko Calero.

It's just another questionable allocation of resources by Hendry and the Cubs, who have had a nasty habit of doing that in the past couple years.

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