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Much has been written to chronicle the Cubs efforts to acquire a left fielder for next year, but I have a persistent concern about the pitching rotation.
Although I agreed mostheartedly with the decision to allow Matt Clement for leave to Boston (for budgetary considerations), I am worried about Glendon Rusch as the #5 starter. I believe the Cubs are putting too much faith in one year of excellent performance, rather than heeding a sizable body of mediocre to bad work.
Rusch is the definition of a journeyman, a good guy yes, but a journeyman nonetheless. Rusch' career ERA is 4.97 with a 48-78 record. Although he posted a 3.47 ERA in 2004, I have seen nothing to suggest that he will continue performing a point and a half below his career ERA. I think its much more likely Rusch will post a 4.50 ERA in 2005 and lose more games than he wins.
A look at Rusch' career stats also raises the question of durability. In the years when he was primarily a starting pitcher, Rusch averaged 5.2, 6.1, 6.1, 5.2, and 6.1 innings per appearance. This average is slightly below the 6.1 innings per appearance the rest of the Cubs starters logged in 2004. However, in only one year has Rusch pitched 200+ innings.
Is there a fix?
Not necessarily, but opportunities will present themselves. I would have loved to see the Cubs make a push for Wade Miller, but that ship has sailed, so I won't cry over spilt milk.
Some of the Prospects
Anyhow, I'd like to see Hendry bring in another established veteran to camp and give Rusch a run for his money. I liked having Rusch come out of the pen as the long reliever/spot starter in 2004. I just don't think he's gonna do it as the #5 starter.
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