Joe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus is no fan of the Cubs' acquisition of Marlins closer Kevin Gregg last week.
In a piece posted Sunday at BP, Sheehan argues that the newest Cub is currently no better than the team's third- or fourth-best right-handed reliever, which is pretty sad given that he was acquired at the cost of the third-ranked prospect in the entire Cubs system, young Jose Ceda, "who at worst will probably be better than Gregg starting in 2010."
This deal smells like the Braves' acquisition of Dan Kolb in 2005, a team getting a pitcher whose save total belies the fact that he's just not nearly as good as that statistic, and having a front-row seat for the end of his career.Kolb, you may recall, was a star in the Brewer bullpen for two years, 2003 and 2004, following four, mostly undistinguished years with the Rangers. In '03 and '04, Kolb saved a whole big bunch of games for Milwaukee (60, to be exact), had some dandy ERAs (1.96 and 2.98), and even made an All-Star appearance. He was traded to the Braves following the '04 season to replace John Smoltz in the Atlanta pen and didn't provide much relief at all, going 3-8, 5.93. He did save 11 games in 2005, but he blew 7 save opportunities, which was the same number he had squandered while accumulating those 60 saves in his two years in Milwaukee.
Kolb was traded back to the Brewers following the '05 season but was ineffective in 2006, as he was for the Pirates in 2007. He tried and failed to make the Red Sox roster coming out of Spring Training last season and is currently a free agent.
For the sake of comparison, Gregg saved 61 games for the Marlins the past two seasons with a 3.48 ERA, following four mostly undistinguished years with the Angels.
If the notion of Gregg as Kolb isn't enough to dampen your enthusiasm for last week's trade—assuming you had any—Sheehan goes on to argue that looking forward, he would rather have Kerry Wood's next three seasons than Francisco Rodriguez's...
...without even considering the difference in the money they'll make. Wood, having been through the surgeries and the comebacks and having adapted quite well to relief pitching, seems ready to be a high-strikeout, great-peripherals high-leverage reliever in his thirties, and because he's new to the role and hasn't pitched very much of late, I'd rather take a chance on him than on Rodriguez, whose command problems scare the heck out of me.
The biggest difference between the two (in 2008 was) their walk rates. Wood went to the bullpen and pounded the strike zone. Rodriguez hasn't been that guy in a few years, and is getting worse instead of better. There's a league gap here that favors Rodriguez, but that's in the past; I'm signing the guy's future, and I'd rather pay for Wood's future than Rodriguez's.