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  • Shaun Marcum could be a fit for the Twins

    The worst kept secret in baseball is that teams need an abundance of starting pitching. Like crack, you can never have enough.

    Also, pitching, like crack, can be an expensive endeavor – particularly when you need a lot of it. And this is exactly the position the Twins are in so said the team’s general manager, Terry Ryan, during his offseason apology tour.

    In a recent interview with Twins Daily’s John Bonnes, Ryan admitted that his financial resources may keep the team from chasing the Zack Greinke’s of the world (shocker), but the team will be scouring the market for top of the rotation help.

    (The interview’s entirety can be found the Offseason Handbook in which Ryan expands on this topic and many more.)

    If the team is looking to maximize the return on a smaller investment, one such arm Ryan should be zeroing in on in the free agent market is the 30-year-old Shaun Marcum.

    If you were looking just at the radar gun, you would likely be nonplussed at Marcum’s fastball. Indeed, his 87.2-mph fastball over his career would incite plenty to label him yet another soft-tossing pitcher. After all, he shares the same career fastball velocity as one flame-thrower Bruce Chen.

    Recognizing his weakness Marcum uses his fastball extremely sparingly. Dating back to 2007, outside of the knuckleballers, only Roy Halladay (33.8%) has used his fastball less frequently than Marcum (38.2%). Once he gets ahead in the count – which we has more often than not – hitters have a better odds of seeing Halley’s Comet than his fastball.

    And it is his plethora of off-speed and breaking pitches that makes him so impossible to make contact against. Again, since 2007, Marcum has registered the sixth-highest swinging strike rate in baseball behind such luminaries as Cole Hamels, Johan Santana, CC Sabathia, Tim Lincecum, Ryan Dempster and Max Scherzer. That’s right: He missed more bats than Justin Verlander. Now, this has not translated into a ton of strikeouts but it shows that he is consistently confounding opponents.

    What makes Marcum so effective in spite of the town ball-level velocity is his ability to keep the fastball away off the plate while mixing in a variety of pitches and speeds that make hitters’ heads’ spin. Take a look at this year’s heat map of his pitch location:


    To both sides, he served every down and away. The reason this is noteworthy is because this area is perhaps the most difficult for a hitter to square up and certainly one of the hardest areas to pull consistently. Furthermore, Marcum’s ability to change speeds to the mid-70s to 80 back to the upper 80s on almost any pitch keeps opponents from cheating on the outer-half. As we have seen at Target Field, it can reward hitters who can yank pitches into the right and left field stands thus having someone who keeps the ball away from those looking to do heavy damage is in the Twins’ best interest.

    In short, his ability to miss bats and keep hitters from pulling the ball with lethal intent would play very favorably as a potentially number two starter in Minnesota. So, what are the odds the Twins could end up with him?

    The Royals, Cubs and Blue Jays all may be landing places for Marcum. In fact, in an interview with a Toronto radio station, Marcum expressed interest in returning to the Blue Jays where he had been a member of the organization from when he was drafted in 2003 until being traded to the Brewers after the 2010 season. Marcum said that he would welcome a homecoming to his original team in part because of the coaching and training staff which he had a strong relationship.

    Presumably, Marcum’s past injury history (Tommy John in 2008) and recent flare up in Milwaukee this year (right elbow tenderness with required a trip to the 60-day DL) will likely drop his stock among all suitors. Even the Brewers, who have seen him up close and are just a year removed from a 200-inning season, have maintained radio silence with him and his agent. This probably does not bode well for his immediate financial future. As a result, his price range is likely going to fall towards more of a one-year plus incentives in order to rebuild his value while still in his early 30s (he’ll be 31 in December), at which point he can explore a longer, more lucrative deal on the market.

    The Twins have plenty of holes to fill and, sad to admit, a finite budget, therefore a one-year deal for a pitcher of Shaun Marcum’s caliber would be in Terry Ryan’s best interest.
    This article was originally published in blog: Shawn Marcum could be a fit for the Twins started by Parker Hageman
    Comments 36 Comments
    1. zchrz's Avatar
      zchrz -
      Marcum, Baker, and a close to ready prospect return for someone (probably Span) and it would be a nice TR money saving overhaul of the starting staff and there would still be money to spend on an infielder or 2.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      What infielder? Go get pitching. Spend some money and personnel.
    1. YourHouseIsMyHouse's Avatar
      YourHouseIsMyHouse -
      I wouldn't mind giving Marcum 3-4 years. Think he's a solid #2.
    1. LaBombo's Avatar
      LaBombo -
      Parker, you made a good case for Marcum, but you omitted the last sentence of the interview with him...

      "The Kansas City, Mo., native added that he has no preference with the geographic location of a franchise or if it's an American League or National League squad, but wherever he ends up signing, he wants there to be a realistic chance at making the playoffs."


      Which pretty much rules out the Twins. On the other hand, rationalization can be a powerful force when fueled by greed.

      But if Marcum rules out the Twins for being non-competitors in 2013, we'll have another high water mark of Twins futility, since Marcum apparently sees an 89 loss team that's gone 20 years without a postseason appearance as having a better shot at the playoffs.
    1. beckmt's Avatar
      beckmt -
      Marcum would be a great addition for the twins. Hope they can do it. He is #1 on my list of affordable pitchers and I believe will give the Twins better than what they have now
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      Quote Originally Posted by Kwak View Post
      Seriously, don't the Twins have a half dozen Marcums in the organization already? There seems to be no need to commit years to a pitcher that doesn't represent a meaningful change for the future? It's better to commit to one excellent pitcher than two "decent" veterans.
      makes to much sence...
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      what would it take to get ian kennedy from arizon? supposedly they are thinking of moving him and an outfielder,add in shields and we have the makings of a pretty good staff
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      [QUOTE=Brock Beauchamp;59559]
      Quote Originally Posted by Top Gun View Post
      Marcum will not save the Twins, he is nottin more than what we got.
      True. Marcum does have two arms, two legs, and is capable of throwing a baseball from a mound.

      Past that, there aren't many similarities between him and the crap the Twins rolled out in the #2-5 spots in the rotation.[/only in 1 of his 7 year career, has he pitched more then 200 innings,
      he also has had elbow problems this past season .....

      the pitcher we need is annibal sanchez and maybe adding chavez at 3b if we end up trading willingham or morneau
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jim Crikket View Post
      If Marcum is one of 2-3 solid additions to the rotation, I'd be OK with that. If he's THE new top man of the Twins 2013 rotation, not so OK with it.
      +1

      These days Marcum might be a good #3-4 pitcher. Had only one season in the AL with an xFIP under 4. This is Diamond territory.
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      Quote Originally Posted by thrylos98 View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by Jim Crikket View Post
      If Marcum is one of 2-3 solid additions to the rotation, I'd be OK with that. If he's THE new top man of the Twins 2013 rotation, not so OK with it.
      +1

      These days Marcum might be a good #3-4 pitcher. Had only one season in the AL with an xFIP under 4. This is Diamond territory.
      A completely laughable misuse of stats.

      xFIP is far from a perfect stat. He has shown over his career (900+ innings) that he can beat xFIP by 0.37 pts. That's a pretty significant adjustment. Some pitchers can do this and some cannot.

      How easily you dismiss NL innings is ridiculous. He's put up a 3.60 ERA over his last 700 innings which were equally split between the AL (East) and the NL. That's definitely not a true #1 but that's far better than I would predict for Diamond next season.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by kab21 View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by thrylos98 View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by Jim Crikket View Post
      If Marcum is one of 2-3 solid additions to the rotation, I'd be OK with that. If he's THE new top man of the Twins 2013 rotation, not so OK with it.
      +1

      These days Marcum might be a good #3-4 pitcher. Had only one season in the AL with an xFIP under 4. This is Diamond territory.
      A completely laughable misuse of stats.

      xFIP is far from a perfect stat. He has shown over his career (900+ innings) that he can beat xFIP by 0.37 pts. That's a pretty significant adjustment. Some pitchers can do this and some cannot.

      How easily you dismiss NL innings is ridiculous. He's put up a 3.60 ERA over his last 700 innings which were equally split between the AL (East) and the NL. That's definitely not a true #1 but that's far better than I would predict for Diamond next season.
      so xFIP is a flawed "stat" and ERA is not?
      alrighty....
    1. Brandon's Avatar
      Brandon -
      Marcum = Cole Devries with more experience and a little better secondary pitches.

      I have the Twins getting Ervin Santana or Edwin Jackson, Baker and a SP from the Braves for Span. Thats 1 pitcher in the 9-12 million range, 1 in the 3-5 million range, and one salary swap for another if its Tommy Hanson. I got that from the Offseason handbook and thats the most even trade proposal I have ever seen that helps both teams. Its a crime if it doesn't get done. Diamond and Gibson are cheap and Devires and Dedunno and Hendricks are right there waiting Rochester could have a pretty good staff next year.
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      Quote Originally Posted by thrylos98 View Post

      so xFIP is a flawed "stat" and ERA is not?
      alrighty....
      This is an argument that I have not made. I use xFIP a lot and I think it's one of the best stats out there.

      But it's not perfect either. Over large sample sizes (like careers) ERA tends to be a pretty good stat. Over small sample sizes (like single seasons) ERA fluctuates like crazy. Career ERA also needs to be adjusted for great defensive teams (neither MIL or TOR), significant park effects (neither Miller or Rogers) or league effects (equal split between AL and NL).
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brandon View Post
      Marcum = Cole Devries with more experience and a little better secondary pitches.
      One of these has had a very good career while one of these looks like a AAAA pitcher. Despite Marcum's lack of velocity he has found ways to K MLB batters which is something that Devries has never done at any level.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by kab21 View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by thrylos98 View Post

      so xFIP is a flawed "stat" and ERA is not?
      alrighty....
      This is an argument that I have not made. I use xFIP a lot and I think it's one of the best stats out there.

      But it's not perfect either. Over large sample sizes (like careers) ERA tends to be a pretty good stat. Over small sample sizes (like single seasons) ERA fluctuates like crazy. Career ERA also needs to be adjusted for great defensive teams (neither MIL or TOR), significant park effects (neither Miller or Rogers) or league effects (equal split between AL and NL).
      And that's why we have ERA+. It's a solid indicator of a pitcher's value at a glance.

      FWIW, Greinke has a career ERA+ of 114 to Marcum's 112.

      Considering how Marcum will probably command about half the money of Greinke, I think he's a fine solution for the Twins' pitching woes. Maybe not my first choice but not that far down the list, either.

      xFIP is a useful stat but when a guy spends his entire career over-performing an advanced metric (and Marcum has done just that with FIP/xFIP), you have to re-apply logic to that metric and consider the possibility that it may not be an accurate representation of every player in baseball.
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      Marcum's.gets weak contact that's consistent with his ability to miss bats entirely. Indeed he has a .270 BABIP, and 6.5 Fielding Dependent Wins which aren't included in his FIP derived WAR.

      Marcum is also a fly ball pitcher whose home has been Toronto and Milwaukee. Put him into a more neutral park and his HR/FB should drop accordingly and improve his ERA even further.

      That is, assuming his shoulder soreness is nothing to worry about.
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