As the Chicago Cubs stand on the verge of adding another starting pitcher (Paul Maholm), it’s worth taking a look at the starting pitcher they picked up a few days ago, Chris Volstad. With the Starlin Castro news and Anthony Rizzo/Andrew Cashner trade on Friday, it was easy to forget that the Cubs had just swapped Carlos Zambrano for Volstad, who came in for a healthy discussion on Thursday.
With Volstad in tow, and penciled in for a starting spot, regardless of what happens to the rest of the rotation, it’s interesting to consider what some other folks think of the acquisition and of Volstad’s future with the Cubs.
- Baseball Prospectus’s Ben Lindbergh sounds like he likes the deal from the Cubs’ perspective. “Over the past two seasons, Zambrano accrued 2.4 WARP, much of it due to his performance at the plate. Chris Volstad was worth 2.2. That doesn’t mean the two are equally talented; for one thing, Zambrano put together that total in about 65 fewer innings (albeit because he was so often unable or unwilling to pitch). Extend that selective starting point back to 2009, and the difference becomes even clearer. But even if Volstad isn’t the pitcher Zambrano was and perhaps could be again, he’s five years younger, under team control through 2014, and much less likely to punch someone in the face before then.”
- Lindbergh goes on to describe Volstad much in the way we’ve been hearing – he could be better than his stats have looked recently. “Volstad, a 6’8” groundballer with improving control, seems like he should be better than he’s been, but he’s handicapped by two glaring weaknesses: his fly balls leave the park too often, and he’s helpless against lefties, who’ve knocked him around to the tune of a .295 weighted, multi-year TAv. Even so, he’s not bad fourth- or fifth-starter material, and he doesn’t have any of the stats that typically lead to large sums in arbitration. In Volstad and Travis Wood, the Cubs now have a couple of young starters with potential you can dream on, a commodity they lacked at the back of the rotation last season.”
- Tom Tango also likes the deal for the Cubs, even if it means only that the value coming back to the Cubs was equal to what they sent out, because it means no more Zambrano.
- BP’s Kevin Goldstein seems to be higher on Volstad than most, calling the righty a “very good candidate for a 2012 step forward.” Goldstein even went so far as to call Volstad the Marlins’ 5th best player age 25 or younger, and said, “Volstad is a fantastic sleeper selection for 2012 as he learns how to be a groundball pitcher. His ERA was up in 2011, but his walks were down, his strikeouts were up, and there is still a ceiling there.”
- Marlins blog Fish Stripes reviews Volstad’s 2011 season, and sums it up in one word: disappointment. Volstad was valuable to the Fish, but barely, and doesn’t look primed to take the next step forward in 2012. This was written before the trade, obviously, so it’s not as though they’re being overly critical of a guy on the way out the door.
- FanGraphs concludes that Volstad has been nearly as good as Zambrano over the past couple years, but comes without the headaches and with more team control.