The Cubs reportedly attended the throwing sessions of former Cubs Jake Arrieta and Jeff Samardzija. Only in today’s upside-down world does this make sense.
Before I get into the obvious nostalgia component here, let’s just look at this through the sabermetric lens.
Cubs don’t know if they’re getting Jaws or Baby Shark in Jeff Samardzija
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In 33 starts in 2014, Samardzija pitched to a 2.99 ERA, 1.065 WHIP, 125 ERA+ and an All-Star selection. Ironically the All-Star pick straddled his trade to Oakland. It was the high point of his career. After that, it was pretty much a mess.
Samardzija’s one-year stint with the White Sox was a disaster. A 4.96 ERA, 70 ERA+, and he led the league in hits, earned runs and home runs allowed. After which he somehow wrangled a five-year, $90 million, $18 million AAV deal from the Giants.
In those five years, he posted a 4.24 ERA, a relatively respectable 1.192 WHIP, and a very mediocre 98 ERA+ and was a complete disaster in the postseason.
I remember him for his pestering of then-Cubs manager Lou Piniella, a guy you just didn’t pester, into letting him start. Finally, on August 12, 2009, Piniella started Samardzjia against the 2008 World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies. Shark got smoked for seven earned runs in just 3 1/3 innings.
However, most Cubs fans remember “Shark” from Game 2 of the 2016 NLDS when gave up a second-inning two-run hit to Kyle Hendricks. Now, at age 36, is there really anything worth considering here?
Cubs hoping Jake Arrieta can reinvent himself at this point
Now two back-to-back injury-plagued seasons are what any prospective suitors must add to the mix of a 4.75 ERA, 1.483 WHIP, a sub-par 94 ERA+, and a meager 2.12 SO/W ratio. Maybe there’s a long-relief role or a specialty role here for Jake Arrieta.
Always tougher against right-handed batters, that gulf widened during the last two years. In 2019 he held RHB to a .252/.313/.367 slash compared to lefties, who slashed .317/.393/.538 against him. 2020 was the same though even his numbers against right-handed hitters deteriorated.
The nostalgia factor is strong here. It’s like Kerry Wood strong. That’s the real issue here and maybe why the Cubs fought the nostalgia factor of bringing back Jon Lester. Wood is a huge fan favorite but what we got at the end, especially in that 2012 season was a heartbreaking glove and hat heave into the stands. Do we really want to see our heroes in those last inglorious days? I for one, do not.
So sure, take a look, if just for auld lang syne’s sake. Maybe some other team picks them up and if so I wish them both, and especially Jake, all the best. But it’s a hard pass for me because nostalgia belongs where it has always lived – in the past.