Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Rating the Hate 2: Electric Boogaloo

Yesterday, I hated on the position players and lest you think I have spared the pitchers, I present the latest installment of Rate the Hate:

Carlos Zambrano - 4.5 - Obviously, I don't hate Zambrano nearly as much as Phil Rogers or Dave Kaplan, but my frustrations with him are getting up there. Carlos' personality is extremely polarizing. When he pitches well, everybody loves the fist pumps, the pointing, the yelling into his glove, and belly-flopping slides into third. When he isn't pitching well, everybody just wants him to shut the hell up and pitch like a staff ace and stop trying to be a hitter. Personally, I have worried for the last couple of years that all of the innings and pitches were piling up on Zambrano and he would have a season like this where he struggles to stay healthy and doesn't pitch like a dominant pitcher when he is in there. I don't completely hold that against him. I also don't get as riled up as some people when he said he was "lazy" and he didn't do his core training as much as he probably should have.

Of course it is frustrating to hear a top pitcher admit he hasn't worked as hard as he could have on keeping himself healthy, but the flip side is that by saying so to the media, he was owning up to it and vowing that would change. I have a certain amount of respect for that.

I hate him because he should be so much better and it was within his power to be better, but I give him a break because he appears he may be learning from the experience. I am restrained from wanting to smack the hell out of him by my hope that the lesser innings this year, coupled with a more diligent workout routine on his part, will return him to the type of pitcher that earned him his rich contract.

Ted Lilly - (-8.0) - Ted Lilly is just plain awesome. I heard a rumor that he was the one who smashed the pipe in Dodger Stadium last year in the playoffs, and my admiration of him has grown ever since. Not only is Ted consistent when he takes the mound, but he was pissed as hell when he got hurt and couldn't go out there every fifth day. You know this losing is killing him, but you don't hear word one from him in the press. He just takes the ball and goes out to the mound and gets outs. Ted would be a negative ten on this scale, but his presence in the city makes me fear that Kris will eventually leave me for him. In theory, the only way he could get any more awesome is if he killed Aaron Miles with his bare hands on the field during the seventh inning stretch at Wrigley.

Ryan Dempster - 2.0 - Dempster has had a tough year off the field. I'm not indifferent to how much something like a newborn daughter being very ill could affect concentration when on the mound. Despite the problems, and the fact that the problems became public against his wishes, he has pitched decently. The problem is that he is not getting paid to pitch merely decently. We had to know that he would take a bit of a step back this year after his career year last year, but dropping from a 2.96 ERA to a 4.15 ERA is more like falling down the stairs.

Speaking of falling down, Dempster still might have redeemed his season more if he knew how to jump a fence without breaking a toe. He's a good guy, and I think he'll be better next year, but this year I have to hate him a little bit.

Randy Wells - 0.0 - He has not only been very consistent this year, but his ascension into the rotation allowed the Cubs to rid themselves of Neal Cotts, who was so bad that we all overlooked Aaron Miles for the first month of the season. There was talk of Rookie of the Year for Wells, but I'm fine if he doesn't win it and he keeps flying under the radar as a very good pitcher.

Rich Harden - 4.5 - Harden has just plain filthy stuff and he has managed to stay healthy for the bulk of this season, which, in theory, means he should be kicking ass and taking names, but he has been incredibly inconsistent this year. I'm hating him a bit more right now after witnessing his latest stint where he couldn't throw strikes during his warm up pitches. I ended up losing count (and I don't care enough to look it up), but at one point, he had built up 61 pitches in 2 1/3 innings.

This aspect of Rich Harden is the real root of any hatred I have for him. The man can't seem to go more than six innings, no matter how well he is pitching. He would work a full count on a corpse propped up in the batters box. He would even go full on Aaron Miles. Meanwhile Joel Piniero is completing games with fewer pitches than Rich makes to a single batter. It makes me want to kill someone.

Sean Marshall - 0.0 - Marshall has pretty much done everything Lou has asked him to do this year. He functioned decently as the fifth starter when given a chance after the trade of Jason Marquis. He got bumped from the rotation by Randy Wells and proceeded to replace Neal Cotts as Lou's only left-handed option in the bullpen. Now, he has been bumped from that role and has to share the left-handed long reliever role with Tom Gorzellany. None of these demotions were brought about by anything Marshall did wrong. He has gone out and pitched (and usually pitched well) and he hasn't bitched at all to anybody that I have seen. If it turns out that Harden leaves via free agency, Marshall has earned a spot in the rotation next year until he does something to lose it.

Tom Gorzelanny - 1.0 - The Pirates gave up on Tom Gorzelanny, so he comes to Chicago with extremely low expectations. He has been good, he has been bad, and when he tried to field a bouncer in front of the mound in Colorado, he stumbled, fell down, threw awkwardly to the plate, and left with an injury in what turns out to have been a perfect microcosm of the Cubs season.

John Grabow - 0.0 - Grabow was supposed to solidify the Cubs bullpen, and for the most part he has. We are no longer treated to Aaron Heilman in any situation that means anything. That, in and of itself is enough for me to not hate John Grabow at all. though the Cubs did start playing an awful lot like the Pirates when he joined the team.... nah. Has to be a coincidence. Right?

Aaron Heilman - 8.5 - Aaron "Miles" Heilman has been almost useless to the pitching staff. He walks people. He gives up crushing homeruns. He allows inherited runners to score. He basically does everything that you ask your relievers to not do, and he does them on a disturbingly frequent basis. So, why do I not hate him more than I do? Because I had very low expectations from him to start the season. I didn't think that he would be good, yet I hate him because he still somehow managed to come in under expectations. He doesn't hit the Aaron Miles level of hate because I can think of some games where he came in and actually performed well - there are just too few of them.

Angel Guzman - 3.0 - Guzman was at zero for most of the season, but when Gregg flamed out in the closer role, I backed him as the guy who should get the shot at closing because he was the guy who had been getting the job done most consistently and effectively. Lou went with Marmol instead, and Guzman did his part to solidify Marmol in the closer role by going out and pitching like Marmol (and not in a good way). All of a sudden, Guzman couldn't throw strikes, and when he did, they got hammered somewhere. He can still win me back by showing that was an unfortunately timed bump in the road, but for now, I hate him more than I probably should.

Carlos Marmol - 9.5 - I don't know what the hell happened to Marmol in one season, but I do know that if Marmol was trying to hit me with a baseball, the safest place to be would be where he is aiming. Everyone is pissed at Kevin Gregg, but I blame Marmol for the end of the bullpen nonsense more. He got outperformed by Gregg in spring training, bitched about it, then proceeded to Nuke Laloosh his way through an entire season.

When Gregg had issues (as we all knew he would), Lou had no one else to turn to because he couldn't trust Marmol. Lou had to let Gregg completely implode and start the Death March of 2009 in Florida and San Diego before he figured he had nothing else to lose by giving the ball to Marmol despite the fact that he still walks almost a batter per inning (and if he doesn't walk them, he hits them with a pitch). His WHIP went up almost 60% from last year despite having a batting average against of only .162. That is mind boggling.

Whenever he walks someone, I want to tear off his gigantic ears and beat him to death with them.

Kevin Gregg - 6.0 - This hate rating is going to get the most disagreement because most everybody hates Kevin Gregg more than anyone else on the team (and I include Aaron Miles in that statement). I still think we set Gregg up to fail by forcing him into a closer role, and I'm not sure what other options there were in this bullpen other than Gregg. There were extended periods where Kevin Gregg was getting it done better than anyone else besides Guzman out there. Lou was sending him out there for multi-inning saves and he was closing those games out.

Unfortunately, we can pin an entire season turning on his blown saves in Florida and San Diego. There is no getting around that those losses were crushing and probably damaged the team's confidence and psyche. For that, I hate him, but I still hate him less than Heilman and Marmol, who, in my eyes were the real culprits in torching the season.


duey23 said...

It's scary but I just about agree with you on every count here. I guess I'd drop Gregg up to a 5.0 though. He came here as a closer and he's pretty much on his numbers from last year. Those crushing blows dismantled any of the good he had done up to that point.

Unfortunately for him, he's being compared to Kerry Wood who is frankly putting up the same numbers (almost same # of blown saves) in Cleveland. If Kerry were here, would we be lynching him as much? Prolly not!

Overall great assessment. Maybe I'd push Marmol to 11, it's one more than 10!

Adam said...

I can't put any of the pitchers in the same hate class as the offense. In specific games, I don't get too down on the offense, but when you look at the season on the whole, it's maddening.

There's definitely hate to go around all around the clubhouse, but my hate-scale for pitchers probably peaks at a 6 if Aaron Miles is an 11. (And he is.)

SixRowBrewCo said...

AK, I mostly agree that we can't put this season too much on the pitchers, but Heilman has been horrible and Marmol is just shocking. I used to look forward to him coming in, and now I can't watch.

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