This offseason, I was fairly vocal with my belief that pretty much every deal the Cubs made this winter was, at best, questionable.
Dumping Kerry Wood for Kevin Gregg? I’m sure it’ll work out just fine. That dude only blew nine saves last year.
Trading your most versatile player for some prospects and trying to replace him with Aaron Miles? I guess it could work out when you package those prospects as part of the trade for Jake Peavy. Er, that didn’t happen? Nuts. Guess it doesn’t look so good now.
(Obviously, Milton Bradley’s bat was a great addition. Well, so far it’s been more his ability to draw walks has been a good addition. Of course, the question is whether his knee or his mind will snap first. If it’s neither, it would be a miracle. But if he’s around for the playoffs, it should go down as the no-brainer token good offseason move.)
But the most underrated potentially bad offseason move was tradiing Jason Marquis to the Rockies for Luis Vizcaino. It was a salary dump, another made with the expectation that a little more space might be freed up for Peavy. Who is, it should again be pointed out, still in a Padre uniform.
Obviously Marquis is nothing special, unless you count his inclusion on R&R’s gentile-tested, Jew-approved 2008 all-Jew team. But he did what was asked of him in his role as the team’s fifth starter for two years. A good No. 5 guy’s primary existence is to eat enough innings to save the bullpen for when it really matters. If he gets the win, that’s some tasty icing on the cake. If he gets rocked from time to time, it’s to be expected. The dude is the No. 5 guy because he’s prone to a shellacking from time to time.
Yet based on his reception from his return to Wrigley Field on Wednesday, you’d never guess that J-Marq put together a respectable 23-18 record in his time in Chicago. The guy was booed at every possible opportunity during the game, much to the confusion of several of my fellow Cub-fan friends.
Yes, he got his ass handed to him a bunch of times each season. It’s maddening watching a guy who can look nearly dominating one game and then really shitty the next two. I’d be less than honest if I didn’t admit this was extremely aggravating and curse-worthy at times. But again, that’s why he was at the bottom of the rotation. Did anyone ever boo Bill Cartwright for not putting up stats comparable to MJ’s?
Of course not. They had different roles. Unfortunately, it would appear that the majority of fans at the ballpark on Wednesday can’t grasp the intricacies of the game well enough to understand that. But what the hell is the point of booing someone that at least occasionally had a hand in the most successful consecutive Cubs season in a century and had nothing to do with either ensuing playoff collapse?
Marquis showed exactly why he could be missed this season (particularly during Dick Harden’s inevitable DL stint) in his return with a two-run single (another of his staples) and seven solid innings (5 hits, 1 run) on the mound.
As for the booing?
“Everybody has the right to react the way they want and feel the way they want,” he said. “Obviously, that’s not the way I was raised, to boo people, but everybody is different. If there was something I didn’t like, I just didn’t pay attention.”
I’m not morally opposed to booing, but it had better be for a pretty good reason. Marquis was no All-Star, but he wasn’t Mel Rojas either. He was a decent enough Cub. And it used to be that that was good enough for some respect.