The Other Fifteen

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More on the Marquis situation

Bruce Miles (who, it should be noted, lost his father earlier this week - our greatest condolences to him) posted this over at NSBB:

There have been scouts through spring training already, and they've formed opinions on Marquis and others and have voiced them to their organizations. This little tempest really doesn't change anything as far as trade value goes.

That could be counted as reassuring.

I think it's pretty clear that the Cubs, if not planning on trading Marquis away, were at least seriously looking into it. Teams happy with their starting pitching depth do not commit nearly $5 million to Jon Lieber, or let their closer start the first game of the Cactus League.

This has been building for a while now; the Cubs were prepping for a moment when Marquis might, shall we say, fall out of their plans for the rotation. That, in fact, may have precipitated this. I can't entirely justify the way the organization has handled this; the fact that Marquis says Lou hasn't talked to him about the situation isn't entirely comforting to me.

But, it is what it is. The Cubs probably already had suitors for Marquis lined up, in the event that he wasn't a part of future plans; this probably just steps up the timetable.

New notes on the presser; apparently Piniella and Rothschild had an "animated conversation" afterwards.

You're probably going to hear quite a few Cubs fans in the next few days talking about how the Cubs should keep Marquis until the All-Star break. Their reasoning: Marquis has sucked the second half the past few seasons. They think that this could maximize his value; pitch a good first half for us, then dump him before he sucks.

Hate to tell you this, kids, but if the blathering heads on WSCR know about it, all the GMs in baseball know about it, too. You're not going to find a GM anymore that doesn't know that Jason Marquis has bad second halves. Sorry.

Which is ironic, because - if not altogether untrue - the split between Marquis is overexaggerated. Take a look at his 2007 pitching splits. Pretty drastic difference between a 3.67 ERA and a 5.73 ERA, right? But look at his batting average on balls in play - that is, how often batted balls off Marquis became hits. In the first half, it was .246; in the second half, it was .306. There's little reason to think that the difference was anything but luck - most pitchers, in a large enough sample size, will approach a .290 BABIP over their careers.

So let's take a look at his FIP-ERA, which is an attempt to evaluate a pitcher outside of the context of his defense. His first-half FIP was 4.67; his second-half FIP was 4.83.

So his split-half tendencies could simply be a fluke, even over a few seasons. (Or, you know, regression to the mean.) I wouldn't overanalyze them when trying to figure out what to do with Marquis right now. If he's not one of our five-best starters, trade him.

UPDATE: Bruce Miles clarifies his comments on NSBB:

I can tell you this: Even before a pitch was thrown this spring, scouts were downplaying Marquis' value. He is what he is, and everybody knows it.

I can see it playing out like this Sunday: Marquis goes into Lou's office and says those troublemaking reporters blew this out of proportion. (We all have voice recorders, and I'd be glad to play the entire transcript of our interview with him; my guess is he's already seen the writing on the wall and chose to use us to grease the skids out of town.)

He and the Cubs make nice for a while, and Hendry continues to try to trade him. Somewhere along the line in spring training, some team's pitcher gets hurt, and they're desperate. They need a guy who can eat up 200 innings, and they might even be willing to OVERPAY (in a sense) to get him. Guess who fits this bill? That team gets their guy, the Cubs get rid of a problem and a guy Lou really doesn't have much use for in the first place and everybody goes home happy. The Cubs might have to eat less than what they'd have to eat to get rid of Marquis in such a scenario.

Bottom line: You can always find somebody to take your problem (somebody mentioned Hundley), and you can blame it on the media in the end. Then it'll be up to the pitcher to perform in his new city. And the cycle starts again.

First off, hilarious the way Miles puts it. Second, I am firmly convinced that Marquis is off the team. (Tonight or tomorrow I'll update the WAR depth charts for pitching and let you know how this affects things.) Maybe I'm wrong, but bold confidence generally tests better than trepidation so I'm running with it.

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2 Responses to “More on the Marquis situation”

  1. # Anonymous Maddog

    Just my opinion, but this stuff happens all the time. Maybe not "all the time" but it happens enough to know that every time it happens it doesn't result in players getting traded. If the Cubs were wanting to trade Marquis they'll continue to try to do so. If they were only interested in taking offers and perhaps pulling the trigger if someone was willing to overpay (as it sounds they were doing), they'll continue to do that.

    Lou and Marquis will put this behind them tomorrow and while Miles (sorry to hear the bad news) likes to play Mr. Innocent here, he's nothing of the sort and he knows it. He'll write about this day in and day out even if Lou and Marquis patch things up and go out and get drunk tonight and bang some hookers together because controversy is good for reporters.

    I wonder how many Reds fans were saying that Dibble was going to be traded after that altercation, which was actually a physical one.

    This doesn't change anything. You may be right that he's gone by week's end, but if that happens he was going to be gone anyway. This just happens far too often with no trades to think it matters much.  

  2. # Blogger Timothy

    Hey Colin.
    You have no email on your blog so I'll talk to you here.
    I've got what's sort of an illustrated funny pages for Cub fans (Cubby-Blue), and once in awhile to make myself seem smart I'll link to other, smarter blogs.
    I linked with you this morning about this Marquis thing.

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