Well, today the Chicago Cubs traded away Ronny Cedeno to the Seattle Mariners for troubled relief pitcher Aaron Heilman. I know what you are thinking. Who cares about Cedeno, he was a bench player at best. Yeah, I know he was. I also said that I fully expected him to be traded before or during Spring Training as the Cubs bench was overflowing with players. Both Cedeno and Felix Pie were likely to be traded since they had no position, and were out of options. Both have been traded in the past week. Will they succeed with actual playing time, or will they continue to hang around in mediocrity like they did while spending time with the Cubs. That is none of my concern anymore, and I wish them both luck with their new teams.
However, what did catch me by complete surprise today, was the pitcher that was included in that trade for Heilman. Garret Olson, who was the pitcher that we got from the Orioles when we traded away Pie, was in the deal with Cedeno for Heilman. In case you are wondering why I am surprised that he was included, as I have mentioned in other blogs, everyone was sure that he was going to be part of a package for a deal for San Diego pitcher Jake Peavy. Now that deal does not look anywhere near as sure of a deal as it did even 8 hours ago. If we do not make the deal for Peavy, then just about every other trade we have made this off season makes absolutely no sense at the moment.
While we are talking about the possibility of trading for Peavy, no matter how likely or unlikely that still is, I am not sure if I really want him anymore on the Chicago Cubs. Don’t get me wrong, if the Cubs trade for him, I will be ecstatic. He is a great pitcher who will make any pitching staff better. But after the news today that Jon Garland signed a one year contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks for about $6 Million dollars, it makes me think. Instead of trading away all of our young prospects for a former Cy-Young winning pitcher, why not save our prospects and a hell of a lot of money by signing one of the many talented starting pitchers that are still available in free agency. Here is a list of starting pitchers that are still looking for work
Kris Benson. Paul Byrd, Tom Glavin, Livan Hernandez, Orlando Hernandez, Jason Jennings, Braden Looper, Pedro Martinez, Mark Mulder, Odalis Perez, Oliver Perez, Ben Sheets, and Randy Wolf.
There are more I believe, but these are the bigger names that are still available. Anyone on that list look like they would be a good fit for the Cubs? They will not win any Cy-Youngs, or likely not anyway, but they will come a lot cheaper then Peavy will next year, and if you sign them to a multi year deal, they will be cheaper every one of those years as well. Plus you get to keep your prospects for any mid-season deal to acquire a player that the Cubs may need. I say we keep our prospects, save some money and sign one of these pitchers to a one year deal at very least. Our pitching staff will still be one of the best pitching staffs in all of baseball, and we will have bullets in the gun incase we need them later in the season.
Anyway, back to the trade that brought this blog up. I am not sure what to make of this move, as I don’t know what to make of Heilman just yet. He was traded twice this offseason. The Mets traded him to the Mariners in December, and now he has been traded once again, this time his stop is here in Chicago. What was he brought here for? Starter? Reliever? Even though he says that he wants to be a starter, I don’t believe that he was brought here to do that job. Sure, he will be given a shot to win the fifth starters spot, though it may be more of a show then a real competition.
Heilman last started a game in the Majors in 2005, and has been working out of the bullpen ever since. He has 25 starts in his six year career with the Mets. In his career, he has a win-loss record of 22-33 and has an ERA of 4.24, not very stellar numbers at all. But those numbers are not the only thing that causes concern. Heilman was the most abused relief pitcher in all of baseball. Followed by someone us Cub fans are very familiar with, Carlos Marmol. That’s right, we have the two most abused relief pitchers in all of baseball from 2008 on our team.
I would like to thank Metstoday.com for the following information.
Look at the numbers and judge for yourself.
His 1486 pitches thrown were tied for the second-most in MLB among “pure” relievers — pitchers who did not make any starts. Marmol led all relievers in pitches with 1505.
Here is a chart that shows how many games they each appeared in per moth, followed by how many pitches he threw in that month.
Pitcher AprG/P MayG/P JunG/P JulG/P Aug G/P SepG/P
Heilman 16/308 10/247 14/238 16/299 15/293 7/101
Marmol 14/277 15/293 12/231 12/235 16/244 12/225
Heilman was essentially pushed to the upper limits in April — you can blame Randolph for that — and he may never have recovered. To Randolph’s credit, he did back off on using Heilman in May and was limiting his pitches in June. However, once Manuel took over, it was right back to abuse, appearing 16 times in July and 15 times in August.
While it could be argued that Marmol was abused more than Heilman, it should be noted that Marmol’s highest pitch count in any one month was 293, and second-highest was 277. Heilman had highs of 308, 299, and 293 ? again, these are numbers more comparable to long relievers. Still, it would seem that Marmol was at the very least the second-most abused pitcher in MLB next to Heilman, based on his frequency of use
Lets look at how many times there were used on various days rest
Pitcher 0 days 1 day 2 days 3 days
Heilman 26* 21 18 11
Marmol 27 30 11 9
Finally, Aaron Heilman threw 26 or more pitches in an outing 18 times, including two instances in which he threw 51 pitches or more.
Of particular consideration is the fact that Aaron Heilman was slated to be a setup man or 7th inning middle reliever. As a result, he was conditioned for this role from the beginning of spring training. As such, we can presume that preseason preparation program was optimized for him to pitch one inning at a time, 2-3 times per week. The sum total of his actual workload in the season, however, was more comparable to that of a long reliever / spot starter. In fact, the only relievers in 2008 who threw more pitches than Heilman and Marmol were those who made at least a few starts, and who were used almost exclusively in long relief roles: Chan Ho Park, Hong Chih Kuo, Boof Bonser, and Carlos Villanueva.
But then what about Marmol, who threw 19 more pitches than Heilman and had perhaps the best season of any setup man / middle reliever in baseball?
Unlike Heilman, however, Marmol was never used in both ends of a doubleheader. He threw more than 26 pitches in an outing 17 times (compared to Heilman’s 16), but never more than 51 (Heilman did it twice).
Also of concern is the fact that both Marmol and Heilman rely heavily on a mid-90s fastball. Generally speaking, throwing at a higher velocity takes more toll on a pitcher’s body.
It has to be understood that these numbers reflect the most abused pitchers in all of MLB — the vast majority of middle relievers are used 10-12 times per month, 160-220 pitches per month. Total pitches for the year for a typical middle reliever is anywhere from 650-1100.
Thank you again to metstoday.com for those stats and passages.
Well, just wanted to get these thoughts out there. What do you think?