Friday, August 05, 2005

remlinger -- and why the cub bullpen will stay bad

the cubs always seem to find a way to amaze me with their ineptitude, despite years of observation and only five days of optimism.

today, in order to make way for the return of nomar, wood and williamson, the cubs stupidly dfa'd mike remlinger to make room. (sergio mitre was also optioned to iowa, with jerry hairston going to the DL thanks to ligament damamge in his shoulder. despite speculation, the klown was not called up -- putting burnitz in center for a while.)

now, i'll be the first to admit that remlinger hasn't been at his best this year. nonetheless, he's arguably the best reliever the cubs have on staff.

how can i say that? after all, it seems to go against received wisdom in the cubosphere -- there's no shortage of people calling for remlinger's head.

i can say it because i have more concern for what remlinger has pitched like over the last 300 innings than the last 30 -- or, in the worst cases of attention-deficit disorder, three.

take a look at the cubs relief output this year sorted by whip. top four? borowski. remlinger. dempster. hawkins. how many of them are still on the team?

it's almost as though the cubs are trying to sabotage their bullpen.

hawkins, because of some difficulty in a few save situations, was ridden out of town on a rail by fans and media alike despite having a 3.32 era and being one of the best cub relievers of the last five years. he has a handful of rough outings and they dump him? appalling. one might quickly note that hawkins has posted a 1.97 era over his last 13 outings in san francisco, with 12 ks against four walks.

i myself has concerns about borowski when he came back from surgery having lost a considerable amount of velocity. despite having been the cubs best reliever in 2002 and 2003 before his injury, jim hendry apparently believed borowski was done, dfa'ing jobo for another kerry wood comeback after just 11 innings, in which he recorded 11 k's and one walk (although allowing five longballs). borowski went to tampa bay, where he has been absolutely stellar -- zero runs allowed and only three hits and two walks in 9.1 innings of work.

now comes remlinger, a guy who has been more unlucky than bad this season, seeing as he puts fewer men aboard than any other cub who was on the roster yesterday. this is a pitcher who, since moving to the bullpen in atlanta in 1999, has chalked 438 innings of 3.04 era -- making him one of the most effective relievers in all of baseball over that span. he's allowed only 31 hits and 12 walks this year in 33 innings, while fanning 30 -- not his best year, but hardly the cubs least effective reliever, with future gas station attendants like novoa inexplicably hanging around. and yet, hendry saw fit to designate him for assignment.

i'm fairly certain remlinger will now join a pennant contender and pitch brilliantly down the stretch. and bully for him.

in the end, this is another example of how poorly managed teams -- like those jim hendry manages -- sell low and buy high in free agency, ensuring that they pay tons of money for players that they are destined to give up on over a short spot of trouble.

hawkins. borowski. remlinger. when the cubs bullpen is as horrifyingly bad over the next few seasons as it's been over the last couple, while hawkins, borowski and remlinger are continuing to put in quality innings for other clubs, remember what hendry did these last few months to prove that he is not equipped to be a major-league general manager.

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