Chicago Cubs Signaling Change in Their Marshall Plan?

Damen JacksonCorrespondent IFebruary 26, 2010

MESA, AZ - MARCH 03:  Starting pitcher Sean Marshall #45 of the Chicago Cubs pitches against the Oakland Athletics during the spring training game at HoHoKam Park on March 3, 2009 in Mesa, Arizona. The Cubs defeated the A's 6-4.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Filed:February 25th, 2010

Lost amongst the news of Carlos Zambrano's secret handshake with Kevin Millar, Angel Guzman being shut down, Ted Lilly being flu-ridden, and the existential question of should Lou Piniella tweet or not tweet, came a small snippet out of Arizona expanding on the Cubs competition for spots on the pitching staff.

According to Piniella, he regards it as a race between Jeff Samardzija, Carlos Silva, Tom Gorzelanny, and, wait for it...Sean Marshall.

With that statement comes something of a drastic change in position, as the organization has long maintained that Marshall lacks the stamina to start, vacillating instead between using him in the bullpen out that fact, or as a matter of necessity.

I don't buy the argument; never have. While there is certainly a drop-off in statistics when Marshall starts (1.35 vs. 1.43 WHIP, for example), his numbers as a starter are on par with your expectations for a back-of-the-rotation guy, if not better.

Think I'm kidding? Take a look at some of the free agent class of 2007 for a comparison, which was the off-season after the year that Marshall broke into the majors. Needless to say, all were paid substantially more over the last few seasons than Sean.

Sean Marshall (as starter) - 4.86 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 6.1 SO/9

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Jeff Suppan—4.69 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 4.9 SO/9

Adam Eaton—4.90 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 6.5 SO/9

Gil Meche—4.42 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 6.6 SO/9

Jason Marquis—4.40 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 5.2 SO/9

Get the point? I think the Cubs have. And if nothing else, it's a good signal that the on-field management doesn't feel the least bit obligated to assure acquisitions Gorzelanny and Silva of anything. I'm scoring one for Lou.

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