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Cubs Inexplicably Re-sign Grabow

By Garrett Monaghan

The Cubs agreed in principle to a two-year contract extension with left-handed reliever John Grabow today, further demonstrating that Jim Hendry pays absolutely no attention to statistics. According to the team's website, Grabow will be Lou Pinella's "top left-handed setup man," which is pretty amusing given that Grabow isn't that good at getting left-handed hitters out.

Grabow actually did well against lefties in 2009, limiting them to a .222/.330/.284 line. The problem is that over the course of his career, lefties have posted a .263/.329/.378 line against Grabow, as opposed to .254/.345/.395 for righties. It's pretty typical for left-handed pitchers to be about 30 points better against left-handed hitters than right-handed hitters, so Grabow is something of an enigma. Grabow's not a bad pitcher, and he's actually pretty good at keeping lefties in the park, but his career numbers say that he's not the guy you want as your "top left-handed setup man."

The bigger issue the Cubs have yet to address is the starting rotation. With Ted Lilly out for at least the first month and Rich Harden likely headed for greener pastures, the Cubs are short two quality starters going into the season. Tom Gorzelanny appears slotted in as the #5 starter because...well...uhm...to heck with it, I have no idea why Gorzelanny's already penciled into the rotation. With a career line of .232/.300/.334 against left-handed hitters, Gorzelanny could actually make a great lefty specialist out of the bullpen, but the Cubs seem to hold out hope that he'll turn into a magic pumpkin and become a decent starter.

Assuming that Gorzelanny starts the season in the rotation, Lilly's temporary replacement will probably be determined in spring training. Expect to see Sean Marshall, Jeff Samardzija, and Esmailin Caridad competing for the spot. Caridad is an interesting guy who flew under the radar at the end of the season, but put of terrific numbers during his September call-up.

Caridad had a mediocre year in AAA before being called up, posting a 5-10 record, with a 4.17 ERA, and 114 strikeouts in 131 innings pitched. Working out of the bullpen in September, he went 1-0 with a 1.40 ERA, and 17 strikeouts in 19 innings pitched. Despite the record, Caridad pitched pretty well in AAA, and it wouldn't surprise me at all to see him on the big league roster in 2010. He gives up a few too many home runs, but makes up for it by not walking a lot of people, and his strikeout rate isn't bad. If he has a good spring training, he's my choice to win a spot as Lilly's temporary replacement.

At the end of the day, signing Grabow isn't the worst idea Hendry's had, but it's unlikely to help much in 2010. But hey, things could always be worse. He could have re-signed Kevin Gregg.

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