Friday, January 7, 2011

Phil Rogers…oh how hateful art thou?

Something really pissed me off today…so a quick rant to deal with it….

Phil Rogers has chimed in on the Matt Garza trade.

He thinks it’s a good idea. So does Al Yellon…so there.

That’s not why I’m writing this.

Rogers took this Matt Garza trade as an opportunity to continue his assault on Carlos Zambrano.

In his post about the benefits of the Garza trade, Rogers said this…

…Garza has a powerful arm along the lines of Zambrano before his decline, and thus has the potential to do what Zambrano did not — develop into a reliable, long-term ace.

First off, decline? While, yes, Zambrano’s win total has declined from 2007 to 2009, Z’s ERA and ERA+ have gone up each of the last 4 seasons. In fact, Zambrano’s WAR was 2.4 last year having nearly half of his innings pitched cut because of various reasons. I’m not saying Zambrano is getting better, but his stats over the last 4 years do not show a decline.

As far as an ace, Zambrano has been the teams opening day starter for the last 6 seasons. In fact, Carlos Zambrano has the 14th highest active WAR of any pitcher…and he’s only 29 years old…younger than anyone else that is ahead of him. Sorry, he’s been arguably the team’s best pitcher since 2004. Is he the best ace out there? No…but he is an ace, and he has been a long term ace no matter what happened last season.

That's the biggest hole on a Cubs' team that has had plenty of holes since the back-to-back playoff seasons in 2007 and '08.

Wrong…the biggest hole since the 2007 and 2008 playoff seasons is a hitter that can consistently drive in runs. The failures of Derrek Lee, Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez are what has, more than anything else, caused the drop-off over the last 2 seasons.

But it's almost impossible to win without a No. 1 starter and Zambrano's regression has left the Cubs without one.

I would argue a bit with this point...if what he says is true and Zambrano isn't the Cubs ace...based on Z's stats, 2007 and 2008 were a couple of his worst seasons, yet with this "non-ace" leading the team, they went to two consecutive playoffs. Z's supposed regression was during 2007 and 2008. It didn't appear to be too impossible for the Cubs to win in those season.

And any argument that says the Garza is going to fill that role is likely wrong. Garza might develop into that guy in 2 or 3 years, which Rogers correctly states. But, in my observations, players like Garza are available almost every off-season…so why not wait until the team is rebuilt before going after a player like him. The price was too damn, especially on a team rebuilding. What does Garza show that Zambrano showed 4 years ago? Nothing. In fact, Zambrano was a much better pitcher than Garza at the age and experience level that Garza is currently at.

It’s asking a lot to think that an unproven pitching coach can develop Garza to more than he currently is.

But back to the point about Zambrano…look, I want him gone as much as anyone…but to call Zambrano a pitcher in decline is just false. In fact, even with all the back and forth, in and out of the bullpen, mental health sessions and such, Zambrano put together one of his best seasons…especially if you were to stretch his stats out to 30 starts.

It is irresponsible to say that he is in decline, especially coming off his 2nd half this year. Just look at the stats. I’m not going to carry out pitch forks and try to drive this guy out of town just because I want him gone (though, I suppose I have, and I have apologized for that). And it’s one thing for me to say anything with my 3 readers. It is quite another for a reporter who has thousands (or maybe hundreds now) of readers to skew things like this about a team's best pitcher over the last decade.

Come on, Phil...look at the facts.