Quick Hits: Duchscherer, Damon, Gorzelanny

Happy birthday to Astros manager Brad Mills, who was born 54 years ago today in Exeter, California.  Here are some news items to help the 'Stros skipper celebrate his big day…

  • Justin Duchscherer recently held private workout sessions for two American League clubs, tweets ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick.  The Yankees, known to be interested in the right-hander, weren't one of the two teams.  The Pirates, Red Sox and Athletics (Duchscherer's former club) have all expressed some degree of interest in the free agent hurler this winter.
  • As part of an mailbag piece, MLB.com's Lyle Spencer discusses the Angels' search for a leadoff hitter and notes that "it doesn't appear that the Angels are in play" for Johnny Damon.  Spencer also raises the point that if there actually is a rift between the Halos and Scott Boras, signing Damon could be an important olive branch between the club and the agent, esepcially given that Kendry Morales and Jered Weaver are both Boras clients.
  • Did the Cubs really need to trade Tom GorzelannyESPN.com's Justin Havens asks this question and points out that Gorzelanny and Matt Garza had surprisingly similar 2010 seasons.
  • Sean Marshall's two-year contract is examined by Jack Moore of Fangraphs, who compares it to Grant Balfour and Brian Fuentes' recent deals with the Athletics.  While Moore thinks the Cubs should probably have not made a multi-year commitment to Marshall, "if a team is going to go multiple years with a reliever, better to do so with young, arbitration eligibles like Marshall than veterans like Balfour and Fuentes."
  • MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez looks at how various teams filled the holes left behind by departing free agents this winter.


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45 Comments on "Quick Hits: Duchscherer, Damon, Gorzelanny"


4 years 6 months ago

I have a wide, wide variety of complaints about the Cubs’ 2010 offseason. But Hendry giving a healthy, 28 year-old lefty reliever coming off a 2.2 WAR campaign $4.7MM over two years is not one of them.

studio179
4 years 6 months ago

Hendry threw a bone for being a good soilder and not saying a peep when sent to the pen a couple years back. He’s good there.

Regardless, I can’t disagree with Marshall’s deal, either.

BlueCatuli
4 years 6 months ago

What’s so bad about their offseason? They’ve made themselves competitive while staying under budget.

4 years 6 months ago

As a lifelong Cub fan, my right to complain needs no specifics.

(Seriously, though, I mostly agree. I didn’t mean I hate this offseason overall, just that I have my own stack of quibbles and gripes.)

BlueCatuli
4 years 6 months ago

102 years is reason enough.

Redsox1324
4 years 6 months ago

Duchscherer would be a good depth move for the Red Sox if he’d accept that kinda deal. Other then that he won’t get a look from the Sox.

4 years 6 months ago

Yeah I always liked Duchscherer and he’d be a great long relief/spot starter option, but my suspicion is that the Sox are done spending.

johnsilver
4 years 6 months ago

Boston seemed so determined to pry Masterson back away from the Tribe, yet here is Duchsherer the perfect long guy *if* he is willing to do that role and sign as a FA with them and no fooling with nonsense from the Tribe wanting to get far more than Masterson is worth trying to get them back for fleecing them out of a year and a half of VMart.

4 years 6 months ago

I thought that the Sox would really go after him since Young came from the A’s also and is familiar with him. Or maybe Young knows to stay away.

dc21892
4 years 6 months ago

Well if they can get him on a low base salary I don’t see why they wouldn’t do it. Remember, you can never have enough pitching. Having a long relief/spot starter/middle inning reliever type arm in the pen is something any team wants. We still have Wakefield but I think a healthy Duchscherer would put a better season in doing that role than Wakefield. I think Wake needs to be used in the later innings after Jenks/Bard have thrown. Try hitting a knuckleball after you’ve been seeing 95-100 mph from relievers.

Guest
4 years 6 months ago

I wish the A’s would have signed Duchscherer instead of McCarthy, even if they had to guarantee him that he would be the 5th starter if healthy. Both of them are solid low-risk acquisitions, but Duchscherer has a lot more upside in my opinion. And now he has both hips taken care of, which was a congenital condition that surgery worked very well on the first time. Whoever winds up with him could be in for a nice surprise this year.

4 years 6 months ago

It sort of boggled my mind that Garza only produced a 1.8 WAR season in 2010. I always thought he was kind of overrated, but dang.

Karkat
4 years 6 months ago

Garza is totally a better pitcher than Gorzelanny. Yes, they had similar seasons in 2010, but Garza’s season was in the AL East.

crunchy1
4 years 6 months ago

First Aaron Harang and now Gorzelanny. Stare at xFIP numbers too long and things start getting blurry — and common sense goes out the window. Would anybody in their right mind actually consider those pitchers as equals with Garza? I’ll take Garza and this Havens character can keep Gorzelanny.

Guest
4 years 6 months ago

Wasn’t Harang injured most of last year? How is that comparison fair between Garza and Harang?

crunchy1
4 years 6 months ago

Because despite everything that’s different about the two, their xFIPs come out the same in the wash — and because Dave Cameron said it — and for some that’s enough to call them twins.

Obviously they aren’t the same and if some prefer Harang because he’s cheaper or didn’t cost prospects, that’s fine. I’ll still take Garza.

Guest
4 years 6 months ago

Is Cameron the fangraphs guy? And he really tried to compare Harang to Garza? WOW. Now I know why the only time I ever visit that website is when I’m interested in looking at a guys UZR/150 (which I don’t consider an end-all stat; I just prefer it to fielding %).

crunchy1
4 years 6 months ago

I prefer UZR/150 and other advanced stats too. And Cameron’s a smart guy. I really do like a lot of his stuff. I just don’t buy those kind of comparisons between players. 3 year snapshots and xFIPs tell a big part of the story, but it’s incomplete and I’m wary when people draw such definitive conclusions from it. Let’s face it, all things being equal…if you put both guys out there in front of 30 teams, not one would choose Harang. You can try to say the Cubs paid too much, or Harang’s cheap price tag make him a better value, but it’s hard to argue Garza’s the better pitcher right now and in the years to come. And in the end, you want to put the best players on the field that you can.

Guest
4 years 6 months ago

Yeah. Both those guys are worth pretty much exactly what they’re costing their teams, in my opinion. Garza, in terms of salary and the prospects they gave up. And Harang, in terms of just salary. But if I were a GM who had a choice between the two, it’s Garza by a mile.

studio179
4 years 6 months ago

The only similar qualities between Garza and Gorzelanny is both last names start with ‘G’.

chance18
4 years 6 months ago

And have a Z in them.

MB923
4 years 6 months ago

And an R and an A

Let’s just combine them and put TomMatt Garzalanny

ludafish
4 years 6 months ago

The numbers may seem similar but you have to like a guy better that dominated in the 08 ALCS.

start_wearing_purple
4 years 6 months ago

Not really sure where this surprisingly similar comparison is coming from. Gorzelanny pitched 136 innings last season, Garza pitched 204. Gorzelanny had a 1.5 WHIP, Garza had a 1.25 WHIP. Gorzelanny had a 4.5 BB/9, Garza had a 2.8 BB/9.

nats2012
4 years 6 months ago

lol, for all the reasons and stats you just read about in the article.

start_wearing_purple
4 years 6 months ago

The thing about stats, especially when there’s a lot of stats, you can easily find a few to prove a point. Give me enough time and I’ll probably give you a reason why Gorzelanny will be a better option next year than Cliff Lee. WAR is one of those stats that I think people only pull out to prove a point.

I think Garza is overrated, but I certainly would take him over Gorzelanny.

Guest
4 years 6 months ago

So true! If you crunch numbers long enough you can make just about any player look better or worse than they actually are.

dc21892
4 years 6 months ago

He may be overrated in the eyes of some, but I’d take a guy with his stuff any day. His stuff is ace potential. His head is in other places, though. Get them on the same track and he’s an ace.

crunchy1
4 years 6 months ago

Agreed. I don’t want to say that xFIP and other advanced statistics aren’t useful. They are. They tell us a lot more about a pitcher than say, ERA. But there’s a mentality out there that seems to think it conclusively defines a pitcher even though there are pitchers who routinely “out-pitch” their FIP (like Garza himself, or Carlos Zambrano), while there are others who consistently “underperform”. At some point, you would think there would be an understanding that it’s not the end all — but yet you still have people insisting on comparing certain numbers and declaring conclusively that (insert star level pitcher) is just a more expensive version of (insert journeymen starter here). I think that mentality is becoming as out of balance as those who cling to wins and ERA as conclusive evidence of a pitcher’s worth. But boy, it sure makes you sound smart when you pick the right statistics to quote.

Some pitchers are better than there peripherals would indicate. Call it clutch, call it toughness or whatever intangible/undefinable quality you want — you can even call that ability a skill. But at some point it doesn’t make sense to call it luck anymore. Not when some pitchers consistently outproduce others despite similar xFIP or strikeout/walk rates or whatever. The bottom line is, if you’ve got a big game you need to win you want guys like CC Sabathia to pitch — not guys like Javier Vazquez. And I know that I’d love to manage against a guy who’d pick Vazquez to start over CC because of a better career xFIP.

start_wearing_purple
4 years 6 months ago

Call me old school, but stats like BABIP, FIP, WAR, etc I often find to be just as subjective as the older simpler ratios. We can certainly separate Felix Hernandez and Roy Halladay from guys like Matt Garza, but then we could get a room full of people to cite stats on who is better between Halladay and Hernandez. Then you can even introduce issues that stats have more trouble distinguishing such as environment. Take 2 similar pitchers, put one on the Pads and one on the yanks… one is pitching in a more pitcher friendly park and in a weaker hitting division. We can compare home/road splits, but still one is in a tougher division.

Anyway, that’s my rant about stats and baseball. It’s also why I tend boil down my arguments to only a few simple ratios.

4 years 6 months ago

I’m absolutely on board with the frustration about people who cite stats like FIP and WAR and act like that ends the argument, but I disagree with your assessment of advanced statistics on the whole.

BABIP, WAR, FIP etc. aren’t really “subjective,” and they do an excellent job of, for the most part, weeding out factors like luck, park conditions and defense. These stats are constructed from a huge pool of data concerning league averages and regression to the mean. A very high fly ball % leads to more home runs, so a pitcher with a high FB% and a very low HR/9 can be expected to trend towards giving up more home runs in the future, and this is reflected in a stat like xFIP or FIP. This is obviously just one of many factors in these equations.

The overall goal is to determine what skill sets are effective and which ones tend to indicate a future regression. But, there are factors that we haven’t found an effective way to incorporate into advanced metrics yet (although you did cite park factors, which have been pretty effectively analyzed). Things like pitchers who tend to induce weaker contact (and whether this is a real or perceived phenomenon), divisions with tougher lineups, reliability of defensive metrics, etc. But on the whole we’ve seen many years of data that do an excellent job predicting future trends.

Now certainly – as with pretty much every statistic ever – there are outliers. This doesn’t mean we should disregard the advanced stats, it just means we should look into what factors we may not be considering yet. There tends to be an issue with the attention we give outliers that color our opinions; when a player has a good year with shaky peripherals and then regresses the next year as the advanced stats predicted, nobody bats an eye. But when a couple players outperform their FIPs or BABIPs more than once, people are quick to point out how flawed the stats are.

The fact is that advanced metrics tell us a lot more than most traditional stats, and “older simpler ratios” are just that: simple. Most of the time they’re not useless when you want to look at a broad evaluation, but they don’t look at a lot of factors that are time and again proven to play a part in a given player’s performance.

Sorry for the essay, just figured I’d share my thoughts on the matter. Also, for what it’s worth, even though I still think Garza is overrated I think Havens is a dope for comparing him and Gorzelanny. The sample size is grossly misleading, Garza pitched in the AL East and Gorzelanny spent some time as a reliever which helped a lot of his stats like K/9 and LOB%.

crunchy1
4 years 6 months ago

Nice post. Agree with just about everything you said here. The only thing I would add is the question of outliers. There are some, as I’ve mentioned, who seem to consistently outperform (or under-perform) their peripheral statistics. I wouldn’t call those years outliers after a certain point, maybe the players themselves are outliers. The part that’s missing from advanced stats is what exactly makes those players outliers?

Let me give you an example of a 5 year stretch between 2 pitchers: 2004-2008

xFIP
Javier Vazquez 3.87
Carlos Zambrano 4.04

Wins/ERA
Vazquez 53/4.52
Zambrano 78/3.45

Zambrano, with inferior xFIP numbers, outperforms Vazquez by a large amount in Wins and ERA — two conventional statistics that measure bottom line production.

These are just two pitchers that are familiar to me because their pitching was mostly in Chicago during these years, but there are many examples across the league. Are we supposed to assume Zambrano had 5 years of better luck? I don’t think so. So why is Zambrano consistently more productive in terms of actual bottom line results? These are the kinds of things that advanced statistics, as much as I like them, fail to explain. But explain this to an advanced stat nazi and they’ll say, “but, but…his xFIP is better!” I understand the predictive value of such statistics. They add a ton to people’s understanding of the game. But I also understand it’s limitations. So I share your frustration with those who think advanced statistics are the irrefutable answer to everything. But what can you do but smack yourself on the forehead and move on?

Lunchbox45
4 years 6 months ago

I love you

Victor Kipp
4 years 6 months ago

Their last names start with “G” and they are both alive. I think thats where the comparisons end.

nats2012
4 years 6 months ago

I would rather have Garza, but for what the Cubs gave up and what we had to give up to get Gorz, Im fine with it. I wouldnt give up that much for Garza.

cubfan4life
4 years 6 months ago

Arguing that Matt Garza is only a marginal upgrade over Tom Gorzelanny is ludicrous. The numbers are what they are but as far as the eye test goes there is no question who the better pitcher is. There is no comparison when you figure in that Gorz got his numbers pitching in low important games for PIT and Chicago and pitching against the NL Central. Garza got his pitching in playoff runs and against the AL East. I know im in the minority here but i would have liked to have seen Maddon start Garza in Game 1 against TEX. You look at Gorzelanny’s career stat lines and it would be fair to say that he has been trending down since 2007. Yes he was pitching for a bad Pittsburgh team but his numbers didnt say that he should have won more than he did. Garza meanwhile pitching in a much stronger division and league has done nothing but get better each year. Even in 2009 when he finished 8-12 is numbers were not deserving of an 8-12 year. The shaky pen helped him with that one.

You could also argue that Garza is just beginning to scratch the surface of his potential. In 08 when i started watching him he relied on his fastball and blowing it by guys. He was more of a thrower than a pitcher. Last year it seemed like he trusted his secondary pitches to be the ones to get outs with more than he has before. Now imagine how much better he can get moving to a weaker division/league and becoming a better pitcher as opposed to just a thrower. Greg Maddux should help out with that too.

daveineg
4 years 6 months ago

I think Havens was using the comparison of the two not to point out that they are equal but to emphasize that giving up your 4th best starter was a backward step. Garza’s a nice piece, but the Cubs top 3 can certainly be matched by the Brewers and Cardinals. Because of that the division could come down to which team gets the most out of the 4th and 5th spots. Gorzellany is better than Wells and Silva.

crunchy1
4 years 6 months ago

There’s still Randy Wells, whose peripheral statistics were better than Gorzelanny’s, to be that reliable #4 guy, and they have at least 5 guys competing for the 5th spot, one of whom, Andrew Cashner, has the potential to surpass the other 4 — or at least make Wells the 5th starter in the not too distant future. One thing the Cubs don’t lack is depth when it comes to #4, #5 starter types.

daveineg
4 years 6 months ago

The league started catching up with Wells and his mediocre stuff last year. He figures to continue to slide based on what was an unimpressive minor league career. 2009 was a complete aberration. Not sure I get the Cub fans fascination with Cashner, who has 3 starts above AA. He’s a nice prospect to be sure but he needs work on command. The other guys, Silva, Coleman, Samardzija just don’t seem to me to be as reliable as Gorzelanny.

crunchy1
4 years 6 months ago

The fascination with Cashner is a fastball that can hit 100 mph and one of the filthiest sliders this side of Carlos Marmol. If his change-up continues to develop as quickly as it did last year, and he continues to make progress with his command — then he’s got #1 starter potential. The only Cub arm with that type of upside (including the recently traded Archer).

Wells isn’t as good as his rookie numbers, but his peripheral numbers last year were similar, the biggest difference was a slight uptick in walks, a BABIP that was 25 points higher, and another slight uptick in flyballs that left the yard. But there was nothing to indicate that we should expect a slide. I don’t think it’s a case of the league not knowing Wells. It’s been two years, if they don’t have a full scouting report on him by now, then there’s a lot of people not doing their jobs.

As for the other guys, I agree. It’s likely the last go-round for both Silva and Samardzija — Coleman, though, has a chance to be a 5th starter. I have no idea what to expect from Jeff Russell as a possible starter, but between Cashner, Wells, and Coleman — I’m sure the Cubs can match and even surpass Gorzelanny’s production. The Cubs have bigger and better arms on the way, even with the loss of Archer, you don’t want guys like Gorzelanny standing in the way.

cubfan4life
4 years 6 months ago

Exactly. I dont think that it is unreasonable to expect Wells to get to 12 wins or so with the peripheral numbers he had. He probably would have been closer to .500 if it wasnt for the pen. He does need to get more consistent from start to start and he also needs to understand that he doesnt always need to stay in the strike zone to get people out. I dont think that he’ll get to his 2009 numbers but i wouldnt be surprised to see him get his ERA down under 4 and be a .500 or a little better pitcher which unless youre SF or Philadelphia is all youre really expecting. So pencil him into the 4 spot.

As far as the other guys go. Samardzija needs to go into the pen and stay there. We saw this with Marshall. Bouncing a guy back and forth between the rotation and the pen doesnt work. Its completely different in how you prepare and how you pitch. Put him in the pen and eliminate all chances of him being a starter and see what he can do. He did have some success when he first came up in a middle relief role and i believe that is where he has the best value going forward.

Cashner should start the year in AAA as a starter. Give him the time to develop that changeup more giving him a 3rd effective pitch and build up his arm and also save some service time and not waste it or him in the pen. He can be a June/July callup if someone goes down or is ineffective.

Russell wont make it as a starter. IDK if he even makes the team out of Spring Training. Marshall, Grabow, and Maine are the top 3 lefties and i could even see them dumping Grabow before opening day as well. Maine was very good at the end of last year and we all saw what Marshall was capable of when they leave him in one role all year.

Coleman i see as more of a spot guy who comes up and starts when a guy cant make a start but isnt injured enough to go on the DL. Mediocre stuff with pretty good command. Outside shot at the 5th spot but i would put him 3rd in line with Cashner ahead of him.

That leaves me with Silva. Had a great 1st half last year. Could have been an AS IMO. Then health and ineffectiveness popped up after the break. I think he has the early lead for the 5th spot right now. But this falls into my opinion on Cashner. I think you can start the year with Silva and see if he can give you a decent couple months while Cashner builds his arm and his change at AAA then if Silva his going good you can wait on Cashner. Or if he has been more 2nd half than 1st half you can call Cashner up and DFA Silva since he is now in his final year of his deal.

Between those 3. Silva, Cashner, and Coleman the 5th spot shouldnt be a problem and should collectively be better than Gorzelanny. And thats not even bringing up a guy like Jay Jackson who could be ready soon also.

crunchy1
4 years 6 months ago

Agreed. Wells as the 4th starter and Silva as the 5th is the most likely scenario to start the season. I think if both show up healthy and pitch reasonably well, they’ll get the nod. Silva’s hold on the job will be tenuous though. He’s likely to get injured at some point wherein Cashner can take over, hopefully for good.

I also think there’s a very good chance that Silva is not healthy or ineffective and Cashner wins the job outright in the spring. I just can’t see the Cubs burying him in middle relief behind Marmol, Wood, and Marshall. He needs to pitch, so if he doesn’t make the club as a starter, I prefer he start the year in AAA.

dc21892
4 years 6 months ago

I’m curious as to why the Angels aren’t in on Damon. He does everything they like. He gets on base, can run the bases well and hit for a decent average with some pop still. This rift between Boras and the Angels is getting a little out of hand if that’s the case. The Angels organization needs to grow up and get over what happened. It’s a business. Are you going to let your teams chances of landing a free agent every year hang on to whether or not he’s a Boras client? Pathetic…

disgustedcubfan
4 years 6 months ago

The Cubs should have enough money left to take a chance on Duchscherer. He can’t be too expensive, he has a big up side, and the Cubs have some holes in the bullpen

BlueCatuli
4 years 6 months ago

Where?