Friday, October 26, 2012

Should the Blue Jays Sign Shaun Marcum?


By
Courtesy of The Sports Bank
Full disclosure; prior to his departure to Milwaukee, Shaun Marcum was one of my favourite players on the Blue Jays roster. I really don't have a great explanation as to why, it's just that Marcum struck me as a quiet and unassuming yet effective starting pitcher.

I think what drew me to Marcum was that although his fastball only topped out around 87 MPH (per FanGraphs), Shaun had some of the best command and location of any of the starters on the Blue Jays pitching staff. He proved to me that you don't necessarily need to be a fireballer to have success in the AL East.

So it was really no surprise to see Shaun Marcum build off his career year in Toronto in 2010 and then pick up where he left off with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2011. Unfortunately, injuries hampered his chances in 2012, but Shaun finished the season strong going 2-0 with a 2.50 ERA in his final three starts.

And so here we are at a crossroads; the Toronto Blue Jays need starting pitching, Shaun Marcum is a free agent ... seems like a perfect fit, right?

One of the hurdles is immediately out of the way right off the block with Marcum, and that's simply getting a free agent to come to Toronto without overpaying them. Shaun is familiar with the environment, some of the coaching staff, and even some of the players.


Obviously, the big concern with Shaun Marcum is his injury history. He missed 19 games in Spring Training camp with right shoulder inflammation and 61 games during the regular season due to right elbow tightness. For those keeping track, that's the very same elbow that Marcum had Tommy John surgery on in 2008.

Again, it's tough to find somebody on the list of prospective starting rotation candidates that hasn't had problems with injuries in the past. Not unlike current Blue Jay Brandon Morrow, when Shaun Marcum has been healthy, he has been a very serviceable arm.

Even if all Marcum does is slot in as a number three starter behind Brandon Morrow and Ricky Romero, I'd much rather see him take the hill every five days than say, Henderson Alvarez.

Signing Shaun Marcum obviously comes with some inherent risks, but those are the kinds of risks Alex Anthopoulos is going to need to take this offseason if he doesn't want to overpay for starting pitching or give up the farm for another arm.

From the Blue Jays perspective, the only hurdle I can possibly foresee is that they may be in competition with other clubs to ink Marcum. After all, Shaun Marcum is a free agent for the first time in his career and he now has the liberty of calling his own shots and can sign wherever he wishes.

Marcum said the Blue Jay are on his list of preferred free agent destinations, but he did mention that he'd prefer to come back to a Blue Jays team that still has Bruce Walton as the pitching coach. And now that he's had a taste of October baseball, Shaun wants a shot at the playoffs again.

There was one very interesting tidbit that Jeff Blair revealed on the FAN earlier this week when speaking about the possibility of bringing Shaun Marcum back to the Blue Jays. He said something to the effect that there were "extenuating circumstances with Shaun Marcum" that would prevent the Blue Jays from seeking out his services.

Initially, I thought he may have insinuated that Marcum could have been a part of the widely publicized clubhouse revolt at the end of the 2009 season. But then I remembered that Shaun was curiously optioned to Triple A late in 2008; following three solid starts and just a week prior to the rosters opening up for September call-ups.

At the time, I recall the demotion was rumoured to be linked to Shaun Marcum's off-field behaviour and/or attitude in the clubhouse, and the Blue Jays were sending him down to "send a message". In fact, I even made this horribly bad photoshop to help illustrate why I thought Marcum was sent down.

Even if that was the case, that was four years ago and hopefully it's all water under the bridge. Because it would be a real shame to overlook Shaun Marcum simply because of those issues in the past. At this point, Toronto can't really afford to skip over somebody like Marcum when he fills their need perfectly.

If the Blue Jays could get Shaun Marcum to sign a "former team discount" so to speak at $10 million per year for two years plus and option, I'd be cool with that. On the surface, it seems far better than another option like trading for Tim Lincecum - because not only do you have to give up players to get Lincecum, you still then have to pay his $22 million dollar salary.

With Shaun Marcum, all it takes is cash ... something which we know for certain the Blue Jays will be spending this offseason. And they may as well get the ball rolling and sign Shaun Marcum now, because they don't want to be left fighting over scraps ... like the services of Freddy Garcia or Carlos Zambrano.

10 comments:

  1. Id have no problem bringing him back home.

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  2. I'd sign him. We know he can handle the AL East and he's familier to us. Heck, I'd inquire after Haren too just in case the Angels aren't going to exercise the option... I mean if the Angels are going to just buy out the option anyways I'd just get him cheap, save them the buyout money and use the option.

    Morrow, Haren, Marcum, Romero, Happ... I'd buy that rotation as contender worthy. Plus it'd give Alvarez a year in Buffelo to work on finding a strikeout pitch (guy who throws that hard should not have such weak k/9 numbers).

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  3. My fear with Haren is the type of package the Blue Jays would have to give up to get him if they do the trade before the option is exercised/declined by the Blue Jays. Unless they're willing to kick in a little bit of cash to cover off his $15.5 million salary, it's a tough sell for me.

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    1. Meh, it'd only be for one year so it's not like it's a long-term outlay of big time dollars to use the option on Haren. Let's the Blue Jays contend next year while allowing Hutch to heal, Alvarez to learn a strikeout pitch, Deck to figure out what's plaguing him etc. etc.

      I'm not pitching Haren (pun intended) as a long-term solution but as far as starting pitching goes he'd come cheap (in terms of assets) if the Angels truly don't want him anymore, has talent, and it wouldn't require a long-term investment.

      Sad facts are that Toronto isn't really anyone's preferred destination... if we want talent we'll have to pay highly for it and even if we do offer top dollar it's still no guarantee since they refuse to offer more then 5 years on term, guys don't like playing on turf, and we're in another country. Eat Haren's overly high salary for a year while you wait on the farm (and if he pitches really well enjoy the comp pick).

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    2. I'd like the Jays to go for both Marcum and Haren. Danny would most likely have to be an overpay. I've read in the past that he prefers the West coast so an overpay would probably be required.

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    3. I like what Haren brings to the table at $15 million far more than say Ervin Santana at $13 million. Although, if LA picks up Santana's option, the Blue Jays could probably get him for far less than Haren ... albeit Haren is a much higher calibre pitcher.

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  4. "all it takes is cash ... something which we know for certain the Blue Jays will be spending this offseason."

    Really?

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  5. I like Marcum. But isn't this the kind of thinking that the Jays have had the last two years without success?

    Gambling on arms in hopes that they stay healthy.

    I know there's no guarantees on the arm health of any pitcher, but I'd prefer the Jays to stop nickel and dimeing and crossing their fingers.

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    1. It really is a gamble, even if the Blue Jays land Zack Greinke or something like that. He could fall flat on his face the first year of his deal ... there are always risks, but I guess it's all about minimizing the risks. I'd say Marcum is a medium risk/medium reward candidate.

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  6. In light of "The Trade" and "The Signing" should the Jays still go after Marcum? I think, yes. IMHO, the Jays need a guy with less upside that's less of a gamble in the 4/5 spot of the rotation. I did a breakdown of his numbers and cost, if you're interested.

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