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The Cubs are thinking about putting Jeff Samardzija in the 2012 rotation

Sep 12, 2011, 11:33 AM EDT

Jeff Samardzija

For the past several years, the name Jeff Samardzija has been synonymous with “Oh my god, what a disaster! Really, avert your eyes, everyone avert your eyes!”  No, it’s not a synonym that comes in handy for writers all that often, but any shorthand can be useful.

Useful has not been something Samardzija has been, putting up ERAs of 7.53 and 8.38 in 2009 and 2010, respectively.  But this year he has turned things around. In 69 relief appearances he has more than doubled his strikeouts per nine innings, dramatically cut his walk rate and reduced the number of hits he’s allowed.  He is sporting an ERA of 3.12 and a 1.279 WHIP which, while not All-Star material for a short reliever is really good and is especially good for a guy like Samardzija.

Gordon Wittenmyer of the Sun-Times reports that, as a result of this great leap forward, the Cubs are having internal discussions about moving Samardzija to the rotation for 2012.

“We’ll evaluate where we’re at this winter, and who the [front office] might go get,’’ [pitching coach Mark] Riggins said. ‘‘But you’ve got to look from within first. And of the guys that we have who could possibly do that, he’s one you’ve got to think about.’’

Coming in to 2011, it looked like the Cubs’ rotation would be a strength. That notion has gone the way of many a man’s best laid plans, so the Cubs need to be creative.  With a new general manager on the way and no sense yet of what direction the team may take in terms of spending. rebuilding, etc., it makes all the sense in the world to put Samardzija on a program that will get him ready to start games next spring. Flexibility is the key.

Now, if I could only convince myself that 2009 and 2010 were the aberrations and 2011 was what we could expect to see for the rest of his career …

  1. Alex K - Sep 12, 2011 at 11:51 AM

    He hasn’t been as good as the numbers suggest. His BABIP is only .247, he’s still walking over five people per nine, and his HR rate is almost exactly half of what it was last year (11.1% to 5.6%). I don’t think he’s cut out to be a starter.

  2. Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Sep 12, 2011 at 12:09 PM

    Oh good, and here I was worried that the Cubs would suck again next year…

  3. chadh88 - Sep 12, 2011 at 12:12 PM

    He should be a TE somewhere in the NFL. He just made a bad choice with that whole going pro in baseball instead thing. Not to mention the money he would have made just on a rookie NFL contract.

    • flapjack3285 - Sep 12, 2011 at 2:41 PM

      He couldn’t play TE, he would get eaten alive, but he may have been a decent possession receiver.

      As far as money goes, he made more from the Cubs contract than he would have on his NFL rookie contract and who knows if he would have made it in the NFL. I didn’t think he was athletic enough to make it and mostly used his size in college, but I’m not a scout.

  4. chadh88 - Sep 12, 2011 at 4:03 PM

    You may have a point about the TE thing, but his size and hands would have gotten him a spot somewhere. He was projected to be a late first rounder and those guys usually get (before the new CBA) $2.5-3M signing bonus and $300K or so per year. I know he got $2.5M to sign with the Cubs and $2M per year so you are right, it is more for the first few years, but if he was a good receiver he could have gotten a much bigger second deal and if he fizzled he still could have tried baseball. As a Notre Dame fan and a St Louis Cardinals fan, I had to stop liking the guy when he signed for the Cubs.

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