View From The Bleachers

June 26, 2013

Was the Carlos Marmol Extension Jim Hendry’s Worst Signing?

Filed under: Featured,General — Noah Eisner @ 2:00 pm

As Jeremiah noted yesterday, the Cubs designated Carlos Marmol for assignment. This nearly marks the end of the era of Jim Hendry’s big spending, which will officially and mercifully end with the conclusion of Alfonso Soriano’s following the 2014 season. Hendry signed some petty notorious contracts over the last several years of his stint as the Cubs’ general manager. He bid against himself to sign Soriano to an eight year deal, when all reports indicate that six years would have nabbed the left fielder easily. He overpaid Kosuke Fukudome, a corner outfielder with a lack of power. He signed Carlos Zambrano to a big extension. He signed Milton Bradley at all.

Yet, I’d argue that Jim Hendry’s worst actual decision was signing Carlos Marmol to his current extension, which bought out a year of Marmol’s free agency at $9.8 million. Let’s look at the competition.

Sure Soriano was overpaid, but it was similar to the idea behind the Angels signing Albert Pujols. You know the contract will be bad at the back end, but hope to get an elite talent at the front end. And Soriano was elite in the first two years of that contract, contributing more than 10 fWAR in valueas the Cubs made the playoffs both years. On top of that, Soriano was signed specifically under orders from management to increase payroll to raise the value of the franchise.

Carlos Zambrano quickly declined following signing his extension, but from 2003 to 2006 was one of the most consistent pitchers in baseball. Kosuke Fukudome was still in that ordered adding payroll phase, and had dominated Japanese baseball sufficiently to be arguably worth the risk.

OK,Milton Bradley was a disaster. Not only was Bradley a well known malcontent, but to expect Bradley to be able to play regularly in Wrigley’s right field at that point of his career was optimistic at best, if not down right foolhardy. But I understood the move. The Cubs were trying to take that last step to getting to the Series before the sale from the Tribune. It was a disaster, and was clearly one very quickly.

Yet I still don’t find it as bad as signing Marmol to that extension. Here is my problem with the extension: it was rewarding Marmol for past success, not paying him for expected performance. Any baseball personnel man worth his salt should have realized Marmol, a high strikeout, high walk, high stress pitching motion reliever who relied on an ability to locate an inconsistent but devastating slider was someone who was unlikely to have a long peak. Any baseball personnel man should also have realized that even a great reliever doesn’t turn a bad team into a good one. You ride the Carlos Marmols of the baseball world through arbitration and let them go, or trade if you’re out of it. Yet the Cubs were stuck with Marmol an additional season in a year that Hendry should have known he had a high likelihood of ineffective. As a result, the Cubs were both unable to trade Marmol a year earlier, and now will be paying him nearly $5 million to play for someone else.

Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us:
Share

Noah Eisner is a Chicago attorney living in the western suburbs with his wife and son (and impending daughter). When he isn’t practicing law or entertaining a toddler, Noah follows Cubs baseball with a focus on the farm system and sabermetric analysis. His Cubs-related ramblings can be followed on Twitter @Noah_Eisner.

  • PLCB3

    I say Hasbro because Adam Dunn and Bobby Abreu could have been had instead for cheaper, he was given 2 years, with a 3rd year that would easily vest. If we had signed Dunn or Abreu, the 2009 team might have made the playoffs.

  • WholeDamnShow

    Todd Huntley’s 4 year 23.5 million. Only lasted two years and gave us a .199 batting average. I believe Bradley was the worst still, with Marmol & Flipping the Bird jockeying for second.

  • http://swantron.com/ jswanson

    I’d say $10M for a year of Pena is worse than all of these.

  • Sherm

    On THIS? These is no question. Milkit Badly.

  • Seymour Butts

    Board game hands down.

  • Noah_I

    Hundley wasn’t a Hendry signing. Hendry was named GM in July 2002. Hundley was signed before the 2001 season. MacPhail was the GM at that point.

    There’s a definite argument to be made from Bradley.

  • Noah_I

    While I agree Dunn would have been cheaper, I think a lot of people underestimate just how awful Dunn would have been in right field. I’m talking historically awful, bad enough to counteract any offensive contribution he would have made. According to FG, he was worth -36 runs in left field in 2009. I could only imagine how bad he would have been in right field in Wrigley.

    Agree that I wish the Cubs had picked up Abreu who was bad defensively at that point, but survivable.

  • PLCB3

    In that scenario, you move Soriano back to 2B so Dunn can play LF.

  • PLCB3

    The Hundley move was one of Hendry’s best. He turned him into Karros and Grudz

  • Noah_I

    Good point. While Hendry didn’t sign Hundley, he flipped him for useful pieces.

  • Noah_I

    Carlos Pena put up a .356 wOBA, 2.3 WAR according to Fangraphs, and 2.5 WAR according to B-R. In other words, he put up excess value over the amount he was paid. On top of that, the pick that Carlos Pena netted the Cubs in draft compensation turned into Paul Blackburn, one of the highest ceiling pitchers in the Cubs’ system. Pena was a perfectly acceptable signing on a short deal, and the Cubs received surplus value from the deal, especially considering Blackburn.

  • Noah_I

    But then you’d wind up with two guys combining to put up -60 runs in the field. Soriano’s last year playing 2B full time he was worth -15 runs in the field, and that was 4 years prior to the 2012 season and before his knees started going. A team with Soriano at 2B and Dunn in RF would have competed for the worst defensive team in MLB history.

  • PLCB3

    Who cares about the defense!? I want some runs! And how bad was his defense compared to Hasbro’s? I’m not going to refuse to sign someone with a huge bat because they don’t have a good glove.

  • PLCB3

    Raul Ibanez was another option that winter too. What do you think of him?

  • Noah_I

    A run saved is worth as much as a run earned. Bradley was worth -3.7 runs in 124 games according to FanGraphs. If he doesn’t get suspended, we’ll say he’s worth -5 runs over a whole season. Mike Fontenot gained the Cubs 2.5 runs defensively in 2009 at 2B. So let’s say over a full season Bradley and Fontenot would have given the Cubs -2 runs total in defensive value. It’s almost inarguable that Dunn in left field and Soriano at 2B would have been awful to the tune of about -60 runs over a whole season. The difference between two would have been 58 runs, which is 5.8 wins! In other words, not enough for the bats to have made up for it.

  • Noah_I

    Wouldn’t have offered Ibanez the deal the Phillies did, but clearly would have been better than Dunn defensively, although he would have had to play RF. He hadn’t played RF at that point since 2005. Honestly, I just wish the Cubs have made the play for Abreu, but that’s hindsight. They could’ve easily had Abreu on a pretty nice deal of a contract.

    But that’s one of the things I’m liking about the new front office. They realize that there are some players where the only real difference isn’t in expected production, but in the amount you have to pay them. When all else is equal, sign the cheap guy.

    After Abreu, in hindsight, Ibanez would have been my second choice.

  • http://swantron.com/ jswanson

    Holy shit.

  • http://swantron.com/ jswanson

    I failed to consider his money per good factor. Clearly Carlos Pena was worth $10M. For a year.

  • Jedi

    So much comedy.

  • PLCB3

    What a joke! Fontenot and Hasbro hit no where near what Soriano and Dunn hit. Plus don’t forget with Dunn in the lineup, that gives Lee and Ramirez better pitches to hit and more chances to drive in runs.

  • Jedi

    Bradley was signed, then turned out to be such a cancer that he was traded after one season for a guy who the team would summarily dump at the least opportune time possible because he was himself a massive clubhouse cancer. Pretty much as bad as it gets.

  • chet

    We signed Bradley and that very season we hit the crapper. That signing was the worst by far. Who knows the damage he caused behind the scenes to that clubhouse. Hated the signing from the second it was announced. Talk about buying a stock at it’s all-time high. Other than one season, Bradley had not shown a track record of being a dominant middle of the order hitter anywhere along the line, that contract was a gamble. I will take somebody who underperforms the money in his contract, but remains decent in the clubhouse, over a guy who doesn’t even come close to performing up to the money in his contract and then blows up any clubhouse chemistry we had. The guy had to have made people feel uncomfortable to say the least.

  • Milton Bradley

    Racist.

  • PLCB3

    Of course. It has everything to do with the fact that you’re African-American. Yet one of your teammates was one of the most popular players and he also happened to be African-American.

  • Seymour Butts

    The Sherm?

  • J Hendry

    Anarchist

  • PLCB3

    Why don’t you just give him the finger like you did to me in 2007, Jim?

  • Doc Raker

    Hasbro was the worst signing on so many levels. Hendry’s hubris on curing Hasbro’s behavioral problems with a 3 year $30M contract was laughable from the get go.

  • http://elizababble.com/ Lizzie

    I know!!!

  • Jedi

    The triangle mouth is a dead giveaway.

  • Doug S.

    I lost track and thought this was the last year of Soriano. We’re on the hook through 2014? At 18 mill? It’s not that he’s bad, just so overpaid.

  • Doc Raker

    Impostor obviously.

  • Sherm

    test me…

Powered by WordPress