Tuesday, March 23, 2010
If that is true, how is Jeff Samardzija's largely unsuccessful attempts at getting opposing batters out this spring earned him anything but a bus ticket to Iowa? That is apparently what will happen if the Chicago Tribune is to be believed:
"It appears the final two rotation winners will be Carlos Silva and Tom Gorzelanny, with Samardzija and Sean Marshall headed to the bullpen, where they have succeeded before. The decision will come after Marshall and Gorzelanny make starts this week."
While I am also pissed that Gorzelanny is going to get a rotation spot ahead of Marshall, I concede that it will be easier to lift Gorzelanny out of the rotation when Lilly returns in June. (He ain't making a Cactus League start afterall, folks. Turns out he's human.)
Samardzija has no business being on this team unless there are a few more injuries and/or massive failures by guys who have shown a much better propensity to not allow opposing batters to run willy nilly on the bases and cross home plate repeatedly. Maybe if hair length is suddenly a valuable baseball skill there is an argument to be made.
Samardzija has a 1.75 WHIP this Spring. The only pitcher with a worse WHIP that will make the roster is John (Hey, Its Only Two Years!) Grabow. Opposing batters have a .918 OPS against him. That is better than Matt Holliday, Chase Utley, and Lance Berkman hit last year.
OK, so Spring stats don't mean much. The important thing is his history where he has "succeeded before," right? Ah, yes, what a glorious August of 2008 that was. Samardzija was brought up to a team that was in the midst of winning 97 games and succeeded out of the bullpen for a month before the rest of the league figured out that he has no secondary pitch. If there was some way to make all of the other opposing teams in the league forget that Samardzija has only a very straight fastball (that he doesn't locate very well), he could return to that one month's worth of success that the Tribune seems to be referencing. Maybe the Ricketts have developed some Men-in-Black-like mind altering technology that can wipe out opposing teams' memories.
There wasn't any success last year, that's for damn sure. Anybody who witnessed his start against the Phillies and Pedro Martinez are scarred for life and the rest of his season wasn't a hell of a lot better. This Spring has been a marginal improvement at best. But somehow, someone like Justin Berg (0.57 WHIP, .412 OPS), James Russell (1.00 WHIP, .489 OPS), or even Mike Parisi (1.38 WHIP, .788 OPS) are going to lose out because Samardzija has "earned" a spot in the bullpen?
As far as I can tell, there are ten million reasons Samardzija's flowing locks will be gracing the Cubs' clubhouse in Wrigley when the season starts and they all have a portrait of George Washington printed on them. It certainly isn't because of anything positive that has happened on the field.
It can not be good for the players in an organization to feel like they have no shot at making the roster if there is a player making more money ahead of them on the depth chart. It has to be demoralizing to bust your ass to make the team when the spots have pretty much been pre-determined and everyone knows it.
Meanwhile, people are pissed off about a sign blocking a different sign... (sigh...)
Well, take heart you Toyota sign haters, with Samardzija pitching with any regularity, that sign is going to get peppered with so many rockets off the bats of opposing batters, the thing may get knocked over by May. Then they'll start in on the Horseshoe Casino ad.