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July 2014

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COMMENTS

What to do with Edwin Jackson?

Written by , Posted in General

Heading into the winter of 2012, the Cubs’ biggest free agency target was right handed starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez, offering him a 5 year, $75 million deal. Unfortunately for the Cubs and their fans, Sanchez made it clear that he wanted to stay with the Detroit Tigers, the team he was traded to the previous summer, and gave the Tigers the opportunity to match or beat any offer he received from other teams. When the Tigers offered Sanchez a 5 year, $80 million deal, the Cubs moved on to plan B: Edwin Jackson, on a 4 year, $52 million contract.

While no one ever thought Jackson was as good as Sanchez, evidenced by the nearly $30 million difference between their contracts, Jackson had been a solid mid-rotation starter who could eat innings from 2009 to 2012. Yet while Sanchez found the next gear in his career since the start of the 2013 season,  progressing from a solid 2/3 to an ace caliber pitcher in 2013, Jackson took several steps back. While he’s eaten up innings, he’s done it at well below replacement value according the Baseball-Reference’s WAR.

There was an argument last season that it was just bad luck or random variation. His FIP and xFIP have been better than his ERA as a Cub (4.98 ERA, 3.79 FIP, 3.86 xFIP in 2013; 5.64 ERA, 4.26 FIP, 4.04 xFIP in 2014) and his strikeout and walk rates were close to his more successful stretch from 2009-2012, particularly last season. But we’re nearly 300 innings in, he has not been able to get consistent results (except when they’re consistently bad), and nearly 27% of batted balls against him in 2014 have been line drives (league average is 20%), leading credence to the argument that he’s being squared up by opposing hitters this season.

The real question, with nearly two and a half years and approximately $27 million left on Jackson’s deal and the Cubs likely looking to be more competitive next season, what can the Cubs do with Jackson?

The all the stars aligning answer is some fringe contender thinking they can fix what ails Jackson and offering to take a fair amount of the money off the Cubs hands for some lottery ticket prospect.  But is there a team that desperate, or a general manager that dumb with the Phillies being terrible? Probably not. The best target may actually be the Yankees, who just need arms to throw innings with all the injuries they’ve dealt with, and are always capable of adding payroll, but I’d be surprised if Cashman would take on a struggling 30 year old starter with a contract that long this month.

Should Jackson not be tradeable, as presumed, the Cubs really have no choice but to keep pitching Edwin Jackson for the remainder of 2014 to see if Jackson can turn it around. If he can’t? Can the Cubs really go into 2015 planning on Edwin Jackson throwing 180 innings or more? I don’t think so. It would mean admitting an expensive mistake, but not as expensive as continuing to throw Jackson as is out there every fifth game, particularly considering the Cubs’ ability to find solid mid-rotation arms on short term deals. The next two and a half months, though, are going to be very important for the future of Edwin Jackson’s career, and the construction of the 2015 starting rotation.

  • Seymour Butts

    If you look at the totality of the pitching acquisitions (and what they were turned into) the Cubs have made in the Jeo era, we are ecstatic. You can’t find a better job by a front office over the same time frame.
    But you can’t hit all of the time, and Jackson is proving to be that point. I do think he has some value as an innings eater, and will get traded before the contract is up. Timing should depend on when the kiddies are ready to move up and stay up without getting pounded into depression.
    Jeo will have to eat some of his salary, but I’m guessing they get more than a bag of ball for him.

    • Noah_I

      I agree, overall on pitching they’ve done great, with only one meaningful miss (Jackson), two extremely low risk misses (Baker and Volstad), and three big wins (Maholm, Feldman, and Hammel). While the number of hits and misses are the same, two of the misses in no way negatively impacted the rebuild, while all three of the hits positively impacted it, or at least have significant potential to do so in the near future.

      • Dork

        probably would have to throw Mcdonald into the low risk misses as well, but I agree they have done pretty good with recognizing pitching. Hope they can do it again this offseason

      • Noah_I

        Good point, I forgot about McDonald. I think the main key is that if you spread minimal risk around, a couple of big successes more than make up for the failures, and then some.

    • ddg

      Veras, Baker, Fujikawa, Volstad, Camp, Villanueva, Jackson.

      The Cubs scooped up every scrap heap they could.

      Of course 3 overperformed for a few months and were shipped off to another sucker of a team, where they promptly imploded.

  • Seymour Butts

    If you look at the totality of the pitching acquisitions (and what they were turned into) the Cubs have made in the Jeo era, we are ecstatic. You can’t find a better job by a front office over the same time frame.
    But you can’t hit all of the time, and Jackson is proving to be that point. I do think he has some value as an innings eater, and will get traded before the contract is up. Timing should depend on when the kiddies are ready to move up and stay up without getting pounded into depression.
    Jeo will have to eat some of his salary, but I’m guessing they get more than a bag of ball for him.

    • Noah_I

      I agree, overall on pitching they’ve done great, with only one meaningful miss (Jackson), two extremely low risk misses (Baker and Volstad), and three big wins (Maholm, Feldman, and Hammel). While the number of hits and misses are the same, two of the misses in no way negatively impacted the rebuild, while all three of the hits positively impacted it, or at least have significant potential to do so in the near future.

      • Dork

        probably would have to throw Mcdonald into the low risk misses as well, but I agree they have done pretty good with recognizing pitching. Hope they can do it again this offseason

      • Noah_I

        Good point, I forgot about McDonald. I think the main key is that if you spread minimal risk around, a couple of big successes more than make up for the failures, and then some.

    • ddg

      Veras, Baker, Fujikawa, Volstad, Camp, Villanueva, Jackson.

      The Cubs scooped up every scrap heap they could.

      Of course 3 overperformed for a few months and were shipped off to another sucker of a team, where they promptly imploded.

  • Josh Cornwall

    Can we only refer to him as Edlose?

    • Apply that same logic to the last name and you’re on to something.

      • Josh Cornwall

        Edlose Jackwagon?

      • That’s not it.

      • Seymour Butts

        Can we make it Johnson? There has been a dearth of those things swinging around here.

      • Put the scalpel down for a bit and help me out buddy. That was for you, or at very least for CAPS to segue into some bulk noodle prep tips.

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        How about Edlose Loseson?

      • Josh Cornwall

        Shirtless bulk noodle prep tips.

      • Seymour Butts

        Sorry… I just can’t think of anything funny to add after the first syllable “Jack”.
        I guess I’m off my game.

      • I’m off my game too, Seymour, I can’t figure it out either. jswan went over our heads this time!

      • Get your head in the gutter amiga.
        win : lose :: on : off

      • Well you see there’s the problem. I try to stay out of the gutter and I get stupid. Lesson learned!

      • Josh Cornwall

        I’m trying to keep it G!

    • Good to see you Josh!

      • Josh Cornwall

        Good to see you too Lizzie. I’ll start being around more. Life is too serious without the nonsense around these parts.

      • You’ve got that right Josh!

  • Josh Cornwall

    Can we only refer to him as Edlose?

    • Apply that same logic to the last name and you’re on to something.

      • Josh Cornwall

        Edlose Jackwagon?

      • That’s not it.

      • Seymour Butts

        Can we make it Johnson? There has been a dearth of those things swinging around here.

      • Put the scalpel down for a bit and help me out buddy. That was for you, or at very least for CAPS to segue into some bulk noodle prep tips.

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        How about Edlose Loseson?

      • Josh Cornwall

        Shirtless bulk noodle prep tips.

      • Seymour Butts

        Sorry… I just can’t think of anything funny to add after the first syllable “Jack”.
        I guess I’m off my game.

      • I’m off my game too, Seymour, I can’t figure it out either. jswan went over our heads this time!

      • Get your head in the gutter amiga.
        win : lose :: on : off

      • Well you see there’s the problem. I try to stay out of the gutter and I get stupid. Lesson learned!

      • Josh Cornwall

        I’m trying to keep it G!

    • Good to see you Josh!

      • Josh Cornwall

        Good to see you too Lizzie. I’ll start being around more. Life is too serious without the nonsense around these parts.

      • You’ve got that right Josh!

  • lifepainter

    I would bring in a different pitching coach and try to teach him the Tommy John/Randy Jones type sinker. Edwin misses up in the zone alot and his fastball doesn’t “hop” enough to afford to make mistakes above the belt. Tommy John pitched many years by setting up hitters with curves and throwing a 80-83mph sinker that broke down. Randy Jones once threw a shut(I think against the Pirates) throwing less then 70 pitches and no pitch was faster than 79mph. Jones also had a very good slider. Edwin already has a slider. He needs to drop his arm slot down to get move lateral run on his slider and learn not just a two seamer, but a two seam pronated sinker.

    • Noah_I

      Chris Bosio has been fantastic, and generally saying that one pitcher or a couple of pitchers, the last of whom pitched 25 years ago, is a key to success in the modern day… well, it’s not a way to build a staff. Most guys can’t just drop their arm slot and maintain any semblance of control. And you need near perfect control and command to succeed throwing in the low to mid-80s these days. Buehrle can do it, but very few can. But, generally, modern hitters would destroy pitchers like that.

      • lifepainter

        How about Brandon Webb? Right handed, good sinker. Hurt his arm trying to learn a 12 to 6 curve. Tim Hudson throws a lot of sinkers. Rick Porcello, throws a power sinker. All right handed pitchers with good sinkers. You are missing the point. The Cubs have invested alot of money is this guy and he is not performing. Does he have the mentality to be a closer? Jackson would not know if he could be throw in a lower arm slot until he tried. Name guys that tried it and couldn’t do it? I pitched some college ball and came back to play amatuer league baseball at age 45 by lowering my arm slot and throwing nearly nothing but sinkers, sliders and forkballs. Sure, I seldomly topped 80mph, but as long as you can change speeds and have a foot of movement and don’t miss up over the plate, you can get people out. The game is destroying the hitters timing and keeping them thinking. What do you really know about pitching? Have you played any baseball since little league?

    • Noah_I

      Also, Tommy John and Randy Jones were both left handed. Left handed pitchers have succeeded basing their success on lower velocity with a lot of deception in their pitching motion than their right handed counterparts have.

      • lifepainter

        I saw both pitchers pitch in person, they weren’t anymore deceptive than Gaylord Perry or Tom Seaver, both right handers. Yes, many right handers threw low speed junk, Jamie Moyer more recently. Jim kaat and Tom House threw low 80s with movement and location. The modern hitters are not much better than the hitters of the 70s except they workout and are stronger. Edwin Jackson needs a fresh perspective on what
        his role with the Cubs and maybe as a major leaguer really are.

  • lifepainter

    I would bring in a different pitching coach and try to teach him the Tommy John/Randy Jones type sinker. Edwin misses up in the zone alot and his fastball doesn’t “hop” enough to afford to make mistakes above the belt. Tommy John pitched many years by setting up hitters with curves and throwing a 80-83mph sinker that broke down. Randy Jones once threw a shut(I think against the Pirates) throwing less then 70 pitches and no pitch was faster than 79mph. Jones also had a very good slider. Edwin already has a slider. He needs to drop his arm slot down to get move lateral run on his slider and learn not just a two seamer, but a two seam pronated sinker.

    • Noah_I

      Chris Bosio has been fantastic, and generally saying that one pitcher or a couple of pitchers, the last of whom pitched 25 years ago, is a key to success in the modern day… well, it’s not a way to build a staff. Most guys can’t just drop their arm slot and maintain any semblance of control. And you need near perfect control and command to succeed throwing in the low to mid-80s these days. Buehrle can do it, but very few can. But, generally, modern hitters would destroy pitchers like that.

      • lifepainter

        How about Brandon Webb? Right handed, good sinker. Hurt his arm trying to learn a 12 to 6 curve. Tim Hudson throws a lot of sinkers. Rick Porcello, throws a power sinker. All right handed pitchers with good sinkers. You are missing the point. The Cubs have invested alot of money is this guy and he is not performing. Does he have the mentality to be a closer? Jackson would not know if he could be throw in a lower arm slot until he tried. Name guys that tried it and couldn’t do it? I pitched some college ball and came back to play amatuer league baseball at age 45 by lowering my arm slot and throwing nearly nothing but sinkers, sliders and forkballs. Sure, I seldomly topped 80mph, but as long as you can change speeds and have a foot of movement and don’t miss up over the plate, you can get people out. The game is destroying the hitters timing and keeping them thinking. Greg Maddux was real good at this. I do not want to Chris Bosio go, I think Edwin might just need another “teacher” at this point.

    • Noah_I

      Also, Tommy John and Randy Jones were both left handed. Left handed pitchers have succeeded basing their success on lower velocity with a lot of deception in their pitching motion than their right handed counterparts have.

      • lifepainter

        I saw both pitchers pitch in person, they weren’t anymore deceptive than Gaylord Perry or Tom Seaver, both right handers. Jim Kaat and Tom House threw low 80s with movement and location. And do not forget about Joe Horner. The modern hitters are not much better than the hitters of the 70s except they workout and are stronger. Find some real old footage of Eckersley, he was throwing from both 3/4 and sidearm in the old days. He switched to almost sidearm later on. Of course Juan Marichal threw from several arm angles and slot. It’s about throwing the hitter off balance AND good stuff.

  • Doc Raker

    Can we replace Len Kasper with Edwin Jackson in the broadcast booth?

    Or even switch them? I bet the Cubs get an upgrade at each job position if Jackson and Kasper switch jobs.

    • Seymour Butts

      you forgot the fire Kasper link

      • Doc Raker

        firelenkasper.thoughts.com

  • Doc Raker

    Can we replace Len Kasper with Edwin Jackson in the broadcast booth?

    Or even switch them? I bet the Cubs get an upgrade at each job position if Jackson and Kasper switch jobs.

    • Seymour Butts

      you forgot the fire Kasper link

      • Doc Raker

        firelenkasper.thoughts.com

  • PLCB3

    .3% playoff chances, prom dresses still cheap, cardinals won’t have HFA in the World Series if they make it there which I hope they don’t. Life is good.

    • Mark_from_Toronto

      At least the playoff chances won’t have any opportunity to decrease for a few days.

      • PLCB3

        I like your thinking.

    • Seymour Butts

      Did you notice all the AL runs came off Cardinal pitchers?
      When is prom season anyway? Isn’t Carrie ready for another remake.

    • Doug S.

      ESPN has our chances at making the playoffs at 1.2%
      What do they know?

      • What sort of prom dress deals are they running?

      • PLCB3

        Nothing. In 6 weeks they become known as ESecPN

  • AC0000000

    .3% playoff chances, prom dresses still cheap, cardinals won’t have HFA in the World Series if they make it there which I hope they don’t. Life is good.

    • Mark_from_Toronto

      At least the playoff chances won’t have any opportunity to decrease for a few days.

      • AC0000000

        I like your thinking.

    • Seymour Butts

      Did you notice all the AL runs came off Cardinal pitchers?
      When is prom season anyway? Isn’t Carrie ready for another remake.

    • Doug S.

      ESPN has our chances at making the playoffs at 1.2%
      What do they know?

      • What sort of prom dress deals are they running?

      • AC0000000

        Nothing. In 6 weeks they become known as ESecPN

  • Doug S.

    I don’t know about you, but the next 2 days are pretty lean for me as far as sports go. There’s CFL football and British Open golf. As I said, lean.

    • Mark_from_Toronto

      Agreed, I can’t say I have any interest in watching CFL football, but I wouldn’t mind watching the British Open, the only problem is the broadcast times are all either while I’m asleep or at the office. Worse yet, I notice the Cubs Friday game is in Arizona, meaning it will be a late night game here in the Eastern time zone.

      • Eddie Von White

        Sleep is over-rated.

      • PLCB3

        I like the late start time. It gives me plenty of time to engage in shirtless batch cooking after Zumba class.

      • PLCB3

        940 start time out east, local time of 640pm. I’m surprised it’s not starting an hour later. I learned last year Arizona doesn’t observe dst so right now they are on pacific time.

      • Mark_from_Toronto

        I was wondering about that start time as well. Back when I first went to Arizona many years ago I couldn’t figure out why they were on PST as it was getting dark there at 8:00pm (this was in August when most other places including back home in the EST get dark around 9:00pm).

      • PLCB3

        Because that means one less hour of people running their AC in the summer.

  • Doug S.

    I don’t know about you, but the next 2 days are pretty lean for me as far as sports go. There’s CFL football and British Open golf. As I said, lean.

    • Mark_from_Toronto

      Agreed, I can’t say I have any interest in watching CFL football, but I wouldn’t mind watching the British Open, the only problem is the broadcast times are all either while I’m asleep or at the office. Worse yet, I notice the Cubs Friday game is in Arizona, meaning it will be a late night game here in the Eastern time zone.

      • Eddie Von White

        Sleep is over-rated.

      • AC0000000

        I like the late start time. It gives me plenty of time to engage in shirtless batch cooking after Zumba class.

      • AC0000000

        940 start time out east, local time of 640pm. I’m surprised it’s not starting an hour later. I learned last year Arizona doesn’t observe dst so right now they are on pacific time.

      • Mark_from_Toronto

        I was wondering about that start time as well. Back when I first went to Arizona many years ago I couldn’t figure out why they were on PST as it was getting dark there at 8:00pm (this was in August when most other places including back home in the EST get dark around 9:00pm).

      • AC0000000

        Because that means one less hour every day of people running their AC in the summer. I learned it last year when I had a flight connection in Phoenix they Arizona doesn’t observe dst.

  • art alcala

    i never liked Jackson, put him in the Pen, but don’t start him next year.

  • arta

    i never liked Jackson, put him in the Pen, but don’t start him next year.