Wednesday, November 5, 2008
The Case Against Peavy
It would seem that the Cubs have interest in Jake Peavy, a beast of a starting pitcher who is young and has spent his career in San Diego. This immediate interest comes as a result of Ryan Dempster declaring free agency, and is without a doubt one of the worst things that could happen to the Cubs.
I know I'm out of my groove when I'm trying to help the Cubbies, but acquiring Peavy is just a recipe for disaster. Sure, Peavy is only one season removed from a Cy Young Award, and had yet another year with a sub-3.00 ERA. He's a good pitcher, no doubt, but let's look at the intangibles, shall we?
#1. Injuries. Whenever the Cubs are looking at a pitcher with an injury history, I see a red flag. When the injuries are a result of being overworked at a young age or mechanics issues, I see two red flags. When I see that he's fragile enough to break a rib from celebrating a postseason berth, I get a whole red quilt. Match this up with a team that has a bad reputation when it comes to taking care of their pitchers (Wood, Prior, and soon to be Zambrano), and I smell a season of DL time. In the last two years, he's had a myriad of injuries - most recently, a 15-day DL trip for an elbow strain. If I'm a Cubs fan, the prospect of getting someone with that much of an injury history is terrifying (and you guys haven't even seen the dark side of Rich Harden yet!)
#2. Playoff Presence...of which Peavy has none. Part of the Cubs' problem this year was not their regular season performance, but their absolute choke-job in the playoffs. Peavy is the equivalent of CC Sabathia when it comes to baseball - amazing pitching during the regular season, and an awful showing in the postseason. Peavy's got two playoff starts in the last three years, and has given up a total of 13 runs in 9 total innings, going no further than the 5th inning of any playoff start. If you're looking for someone to hold the reigns for Game 2, Peavy probably isn't your guy (although Dempster's 7-walk 1-ER performance was rather miraculous).
#3. Money. Probably not that big of an issue, as Zell is in a "make money now, let some other guy foot the bill later" mode, but Peavy is going to command more money on the market than Dempster. Unlike Peavy, Dempster is older, has been less dominant in a pre-Cubs era, and would come with a cheaper price tag than Peavy (who is probably looking to cash in big time over his current $6 mil contract). Oh, and Dempster probably would merit a 2-3 year contract, while Peavy would be looking closer to 4-5. Hmmm...a four-year contract on an injury prone pitcher...does that sound like anyone we know? (Hint: I didn't link to Kerry Wood out of pity)
#4. Biased Stats. Not ripping on Peavy, he's a great pitcher, but PetCo park is seemingly endless. His 2008 ERA was an impressive 2.85...until you look at his 2008 Home/Away splits. Home ERA: 1.74. Away ERA: 4.28. Guess which one of those Wrigley qualifies as. Peavy has a respectable 3.68 career ERA at Wrigley, but when the wind is blowing out, no amount of pop-outs can help you.
#5. Attitude. Last, but not least. To make it in Chicago, you need to have cajones. You can't be some wuss West-Coast player who whines about every possible ailment. The media here is merciless, and can turn on you in an instant no matter who you are or how much you make (Hello Kosuke!). Some players never recover from the initial shock and expectation. Off the top of my head, Nick Swisher, Fukudome, Aardsma, and Gaudin. Hell, I hear that Will Cordero became a wife beater when he -- oh, what's that? Nevermind then.
Long story short, show Dempster the money - he's a shorter investment, and he's the smarter one too.