No, this post is not driven by Sean Marshall’s implosion last night against the Phillies – that’s just an unfortunate coincidence.

Dave Gershman at Beyond the Box Score recently took a look at the Cubs’ decision not to make Sean Marshall available at the trade deadline by comparing him Mike Adams, who is roundly considered the best reliever available (not named Heath Bell, anyway). It’s a great piece, and worth a read. Among the highlights is Gershman’s analysis:

In 2010, [Marshall] posted a 2.28 FIP followed by a 1.95 mark this year. In addition, he’s struck out more than ten batters per nine innings this year and last which translates to a 29.3 & 25.3 K% respectively, both at least ten points higher than the league average. He hasn’t been lucky, which his .314 BABIP this year and .294 last year would suggest and most of all, he’s earned the Cubs almost four wins in the same span of time….

Adams on the other hand has posted 2.34 and 2.24 FIP’s respectively over the past two seasons with a lower K rate and higher HR rate than Marshall over the same time frame, although his 1.88 BB/9 this season is superior to Marshall’s 2.08. Adams is sporting a .193 BABIP which most likely has to do with some good luck on balls in play and has earned the Friars 2.3 wins over the past two years….

Meanwhile, Marshall and the aforementioned Adams both have a year-and-a-half of control left before they enter the the gauntlet, also known as free agency. Unlike Sean Marshall, however, Adams heads to arbitration after this season which could up his 2012 salary to something in the $5MM range at least. Marshall is under control and will only earn $3.1MM next year. So in other words, Sean Marshall would serve as a better acquisition than Adams and the fact that Jim Hendry and co aren’t considering at least listening to what the market has to offer is absurd. Being oblivious is one thing, but unwilling is another.

Sure, the Cubs have every right to believe in 2012 contention. And oh my, what would that pen look like without Marshall as a staple, or much less a bridge to Marmol? There’s even a strong chance they will be a fine baseball team, especially when you counter in the continued progression of guys like Starlin Castro and the additional flexibility the Cubs brass will have when Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena head off in to the sunsets free agent pool. But if the word that’s been going around almost guarantees the Padres a Jonathan Singleton type prospect for Mike Adams, the Cubs should be able to snag someone similar, if not better. And damn, we’re talking some kind of prospect.

Gershman makes a strong case that Marshall is actually more valuable than Adams (and allow me to add that Marshall is 28, while Adams turns 33 next week), which is hard to see when you merely look at their respective ERAs and WHIPs. So, if Adams can net a top 50 prospect like Jonathan Singleton, what could Marshall bring back?

Even if Marshall couldn’t bring back more than Adams, if he could bring in a top 50 prospect, the Cubs would strongly have to consider moving him, no? Marshall is an excellent hood ornament on a 1980 Ford Pinto. In 2012, he might well be the same thing. With Carlos Marmol unlikely to go anywhere, what with his new three-year deal, Marshall is likely to remain the Cubs’ primary setup pitcher in 2012. Could they not risk Jeff Samardzija, Chris Carpenter or Kerry Wood in that role? If the upside of the risk was one of the best prospects in baseball?

It’s definitely something to consider, though it’s almost certainly wholly academic. Jim Hendry has stated unequivocally that he’s not listening to offers for Sean Marshall – and not in the way that you say you’re not listening to offers just to increase the possible return. I actually believe that the Cubs won’t even consider moving Marshall.

And I’m starting to wonder whether that might be a mistake.

Relatedly: “like” Bleacher Nation on Facebook to get this kind of wonderfulness piped right into your Facebook feed, which is just the bee’s knees.

  • CubFan Paul

    i think James Russell’s new found success as a lefty reliever (era under 2.0, i believe) has kinda made Marshall expendable – at least for this year

  • EQ

    maybe they’re considering Marshall as a starter next year? and, shoot, why not? he could be a great choice, especially if Cashner is kept in the bullpen.

    • Brett

      I don’t think so. Marshall – even back when he was in the minors – just can’t seem to go six innings. He can be very good for five innings, and then boom, falls apart. He’s also not very economical with his pitches, which works well in the pen, but horribly in the rotation. I think he’s one of those guys who can pitch well in the pen, but not well enough in the rotation (or, at least, he can’t go deep enough).

      • MichiganGoat

        We played that game for a few years and it wasn’t till the organization and Marshall accepted him as a reliever. Hopefully we’ve done the same thing with Russell.

  • dreese

    Dont get me wrong I love Sean Marshall but a top 50 prospect is really really nice expecially since many project that the team is not going anywhere for a few years. Also if you use the same logic signing ARam to an extension is just wrong

    I love Marshall and I love prospects. Tough choice

    • EQ

      Here’s the problem I see with all the rumors, etc. Hendry’s convinced we can win next year, we are all screaming for change and rebuilding (sort of). The Cubs are in an ideal position to rebuild but Hendry doesn’t want to.. The smart and logical thing to do is get as much talent as you can through trades but if Hendry thinks we can win next year, we will keep the majority of these players, who aren’t winning!

      I’m thinking we get the best deals we can for ARam, Demp, Pena, Big Z, Soriano, Bryd, Wood, etc. We could load up on prospects and have a ton of money to spend. The boatload of prospects could net a few key players through trades, and we can go after a free agent or two.

      all this works ONLY if we get great prospects in return. That way next time a player like Roy Halladay or Adrian Gonzales is available we have the players to pull of such a trade. We need pitching and defense and need to do all we can to get it done.

      • MichiganGoat

        Great point about prospects, the more you have the more quality you can trade for. Just look at Philly, they traded prospects for Lee then traded Lee and prospects for Halladay and then grabbed Lee as a FA, and none of that would have gotten done without Philly’s deep prospects. We did a similar thing for Garza, but the problem is we gave up a handful of our top prospects (their value TBD) and now we are diminished in prospect depth. Getting a handful of top prospects may not have an immediate impact but might getbus that missing piece at the next trade line.

        • Brett

          Yup. Great comments. Unloading players for prospects isn’t necessarily a sign of a multiyear rebuild – you can wait on the prospects to develop, OR you can bundle them for ready pieces, and make some savvy FA moves.

          • CubFan Paul

            the Brewers didnt wait this year by trading “prospects” for Marcum, Greinke, Nyger Morgan, &K-Rod they’re .5 games back from the division leading Pirates (wtf?!)

            i doubt all of the prospects that Milwuakee traded were Top 100 & im willing to bet that maybe only 2 or 3 were top 100 ..screw prospects as far as development & win now because 5th place gets more & more embarrassing everyday

            • MichiganGoat

              Yes Brewers are in a win now mode, they’ve traded every meaningful prospect to get Grieke and Marcum and K-rod was simply salary dump for the Mets. If the Brew doesn’t win this year or next they will be in trouble because they won’t have Fielder or the pitching to compete and no prospects coming up. I’m all for winning now but that’s what we did before and now we are stuck in the mess we are in. I hope the new organization can effectively put together an organization that can stay competitive year to year and avoid being reactionary. If Hendry is around we will be reactionary, it’s his MO.

            • hardtop

              hold on there pwanson! the brewers went through a huge rebuilding process. they arent having sucess now because they picked up a few free agents. hart, braun, fielder, weeks, gallardo, are all core guys and came throught the system. drafted by the brewers and developed while the team sucked nuts. it took them a long time to build this core, so dont discount the work and planning it took because they traded away some lower level prospects. some of these core guys have been up for 7 years, others for 4 or less, and they are still relatively young.. all under 30. they traded pieces away here and there to keep the minors full of prospects, they picked up some nice pieces ( that the cubs put on waivers) from time to time to keep them “competitive”, and then, when they were ready, they went out and got some talent via trade. these last few years are their window to take advantage of a long rebuilding process. scouting, drafting, and player development, for 3 to 5 yers, then make a push when you have your young guys ready to play and under control. they did a lot of waiting, and are decidedly not a “win now” team. one of very few recipes for sucess in the bigs.

              • CubFan Paul

                lol@pwanson!! point in that post was the Brewers traded a BUNCH of crappy prospects (that we can duplicate) for 4 major leaguers that’s probably going to put them in the playoffs This Year

                the Cubs have a “core” (good/crappy/whatever anyone thinks of it) & they sat on their hands this year (except for Overpaying for garza, signing Wood, & gave $10million to a .240 hitter) ..If Cricketts had any visions or motivation to win this year (he doesnt according to ryne sanberg if u read between the lines, that guy) he would of let Hendry make more moves via trade & free agency but he didnt and instead he lowered the payroll & limited/hamstrung Hendry to the point of being able to not add winning pieces

                Im quite sure the Cubs could of traded for Garza and adrian Gonzalez both & still traded more “prospects” last offseason or now to add more instead of just stopping at one traded ..a prospect is a prospect and i’m quite sure nyger morgan, shaun marcum, zack greinke & k-rod could have been cubs (21games under .500) just as easily as they are Brewers (6games over .500 & still making moves) right now

                im not trying to start an e-argument but im tired of people saying “we dont have the prospects” or “trading away prospects is no way to win” when obviously teams that care about winning just so happen to have More than enough prospects to make deals and they win despite trading away prospects for Major League talent to help the big league club ..again, i go back to the Ryne Sanberg quotes a couple weeks ago when he basically said the Phillies care & want to win (recent trades & payroll commitment) & the cubs have no interest in winning

          • CubFan Paul

            ..the Brewers didnt wait this year by trading “prospects” for Marcum, Greinke, Nyger Morgan, &K-Rod they’re .5 games back from the division leading Pirates (wtf?!)
            I doubt all of the prospects that Milwuakee traded were Top 100 & i’im willing to bet that maybe only 2 or 3 were top 100
            ..screw prospects as far as development & win now because 5th place gets more & more embarrassing everyday

            • EQ

              and what makes me sick is the rumor that we didn’t get Adrian Gonzalez because we didn’t want to throw in Archer and Colvin in the deal??? I’m thinking we made a huge mistake on that one..

              could you imagine what our team and future would look like with him at 1B for the next 4-5 years?

              • http://BleacherNation Bric

                I agree (although i admit i wanted to keep him in December and still think he has a future, just not in the current situation). But as far as Gonzalez vs. Garza goes, I was of the mind that I’d much rather have a top guy that plays every game opposed to one that only plays every fifth.

                And if you recall back in Dec. our rotation looked really good without Garza, so there was a bigger need at 1st not SP.But hendry thought he’d get something for nothing. It’s just another example of his cutting corners to win now. He thought get a top line starter, rent a 1st baseman, and then sign Pujols or Fielder this winter. It’s his pie in the sky, everything will work out just right attitude that’s killed this franchise.

                Again, his record in 10 years- 3 post season apearances: 6 and 10, no world series appearances, despite the 3rd highest payroll in baseball (not to mention his own paycheck and what his coaches and scouts make which is way more than most other teams).

  • Caleb

    Good post.

  • philoe beddoe

    yes it sounds crazy, but with or without Hendry this team could compete next year…the Cubs are a franchise that does not need to have a five year rebuild because they are in the upper-echelon of teams with $ (empty bleacher seats asside)…never has it been easier to turn things around quicker….and the cupboard is NOT completely bare

    ROTATION- Garza, Dempster are very solid 2nd and third starter….Wells may work his way into a 5….so need 1 or 2 arms
    BULLPEN- Marshall is solid and the Notre Dame wide-out has improved, Carpenter has potential
    OUTFIELD- garbage
    INFIELD- Castro real deal as a hitter, he just unfortunately may not be a SS….Barney needs to show he is not Ryan Theriot-redux….corners ahhhh, get back to you on that one
    CATCHER- an area of strength as the Cubs arguably have 2 more(after Soto) MLB ready catchers in minors…which confirms the validity of Brett/Ace’s crusade against the keeping of Koye Hill this spring

    call me a sucker, drinker of the kool-aid, I think they are just a few good moves from 2012 contention…and after this year, Ricketts knows he has to do something big..

  • HotRuta

    I get a little frosted when I hear about the desire to “be competitive”. That’s like saying your goal is to be the fourth best team in your league. On paper, the disaster we’re watching today, with a couple of breaks, could have been considered “competitive” in the weakest of the divisions. If you want to win the World Series, you have to set your goals higher than “fourth best” + “anything can happen”.

    If you’re shooting for a World Series win, you can’t afford to be sentimental. Although it dates me, I still have fond childhood memories of Ellis Burton (the Cubs’ switch-hitting CF in 1963-64), and his catch phrase of “I just try to meet the ball”, which he applied equally to batting AND fielding (he was one of those much-loved “scrappy”-types). But I have no delusions that any team is going to win the World Series if he’s the best they’ve got for CF.

    If we’re going to build a dynasty, we’ve got to change the question from “How much money would it take to get you to consider playing for the Cubs?” to “What makes you think you’re good enough to play for us?” That would be real “Cubbie Swagger”, and we’re not even remotely able to pull that off at the present time.

    That said, I wouldn’t consider ANY player (not even Starlin Castro) untouchable — after all, keeping him would mean “we’re only 24 pieces away” from world domination. We need to decide what style of team we want to build, and start assembling the pieces based on a REALISTIC timeline.

    2012 is going to suck nickels any way you look at it; I would prefer that the reason for the suckage be “the young players still are learning to work with each other”, and not “we signed a bunch of 37-year-old ‘names’ so that we could pretend that we were ‘competitive’”.

    • MichiganGoat

      Great post!

  • RY34

    Hendry won’t get us anything good, he is not savvy enough. Fundamentals, lower walks allowed, more walks taken, and better focus with runners on will improve us quickly. The question is can the cub players find a way to improve on all of those??

  • EQ

    Well I’m not totally sold that we can’t be in the thick of it next year.. in 2002 we sucked, a few moves in ’03 and a new coach and we’re… sigh… 6 outs from the World Series.. ’06 we were terrible, last place.. we were in the playoffs the next 2 years in a row. the Pirates were a 100-loss team last year, they’re in 1st place this year… It’s not impossible. Even with a few of the same players as a part of it next year. In 07 we brought in Pinella, Soriano, and a couple more guys and the attitude and excitement level changed.

    We need an attitude change more than anything.. The right coach and a Pujols or Fielder signing could cause happen.. not that I’m endorsing those signings.. but still. We can’t be dumb enough to say it’s impossible to win next year.. a couple of right moves and we could be there. That’s not a “Wait til next year” or an “overly optimistic” opinion, I just can’t rule it out when it’s happened before and continues to happen.

    I fully believe we are a new coach and a pitcher or two away from being much, much better.

    • MichiganGoat

      Yes any team could at any time be WS champs, and it’s not beyond the possibility that we could be a contender next year. Whatbi think many of us are saying is do not build for next year, do not react and look for that one player, but instead build carefully and look 3-5 years down as much as next year. Since 2003 we have been a react team, not a planned team. I agree it’s all about attitude and hopefully the new regime will bring back some swagger.

      • pfk

        “Since 2003 we have been a react team, not a planned team.” Spot on!

        • EQ

          well with the new scouting director, etc. the farm system seems to be getting better.. which is the backbone of any organization.. if we can start producing legitimate players over the next 3-5 years we could really have something. that, hopefully, can result in a planned team…

          but realistically, the attitude of losing is what’s bringing this team down the most.. look at our roster vs. other teams.. this really isn’t the 2nd worst roster in the bigs, but we play like we are. I keep hearing how bad this team is but look at the roster and keep thinking, man we shouldn’t be…

          this team needs a kick in the butt to get going.. maybe we should have got Girardi when we had a chance.

  • Buzzamus

    I think we should trade Marshall while we still can. Due to the overuse of every arm, including the great ones, I have a feeling next year is going to be a rough one for guys like Marshall and spell check. Just a thought.

    • Buzzamus

      I meant to say due to the overuse of every bullpen arm. obviously some starters have been overused too, but I meant mostly due to the early exits when the bullpen has had to pitch way too much.

  • heath

    the thought to trade marshall is crazy. he is not overpriced he is the cubs best most conisitant player over the past two years. The cubs have always had problems with getting good relievers, hence overpaing john gabrow, latroy hawkins?? keep marshall work on building a team and keep the players that are contributing (not many) and go with youth or trade for prospects by getting rid of pena, dempster, zambrano, rameriz, fukadome, soriano and byrd. to trade marshall and hope to get a prospect that might work out is ludicrus especially when you can trade any of the others i just mentioned. Heck i would trade marmol (i wouldn’t trade marmol) before i would trade marshall. Step away from the let’s trade marshall ledge it is a steep fall.

  • TWC

    Again with the Facebook appeals. Come ON Ace! I’m all for following you on Google+, but Facebook? That’s sooooo 2010.

    • Brett

      Google+ doesn’t yet provide for “organizational” members. Until it does, I’m living it up in the 2010s.

      • TWC

        Then my banana hammock and I will await your arrival on G+.

  • jim

    This CUBS team has as much of a chance of winning
    as PHOENIX ARIZONA has of getting a major Snowstorm
    in August! Terrible FIELDING, Lousy PITCHING, NO Team
    a very STRONG MESSAGE! DA!

    p.s. Thank GOD for COLLEGE FOOTBALL!

    • Joe

      Nice to see what you really think, Jim Hendry.