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.
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