It’s not that he’s not good enough.
Jeff Samardzija is pitching as well as anyone in the Big Leagues. His 1.68 ERA, along with his 1.06 WHIP are certainly stats to write home about. By any estimation, the Cubs’ current ace is a bona fide number-one starter on the majority of the seven-plus teams who are currently coveting his services.
But, while his 2014 numbers have been stellar through the end of May, baseball has a way of making players turn into who they really are. And, over the long haul, Samardzija isn’t an ace and probably isn’t worth the asking price of a king’s ransom, two first-borns, and nude pictures of the acquiring team’s GM’s wife.
The Orioles, sitting at a game below-.500 aren’t only “a player away” from being a true contender. They’re at least a starter, a closer, a left fielder, and a fast table-setting leadoff hitter away from being the class of the AL East. This, coupled with the hard-luck the club has faced with injuries thus far, makes it a no-brainer to pump the brakes on the idea of sending the likes of Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman, or Eddy Rodriguez to the Cubs in exchange for a 29-year-old starter who has never won double-digit games in the Major Leagues.
Some will make the argument that Samardzija would be a perennial double-digit wins guy if he had any offensive support–but what pitcher wouldn’t? The same argument could be made for the Bud Norris’, Miguel Gonzalez’s, and Wei-yin Chen’s of the world; each of whom are capable of 10-12 wins with some decent four-plus runs per game type of support.
Bringing a pitcher like Samardzija to Baltimore in exchange for two potential front-end starters isn’t the type of trade that creates long-term success. It’s a stop-gap. It’s a short-term “what have you done for me lately” type of move.
For what it’s worth, if you look at the Cubs rotation, Samardzija’s numbers aren’t even the best of the bunch. In fact, Oriole castoff Jason Hammel, has five wins and a WHIP of 0.91. And, if you want to argue that “wins” are an overblown statistic, please, go for it. But keep in mind, at the end of the season, the teams that play in October play because of that very statistic.
Some guys are winner and some aren’t. There are intangibles that some pitchers have and others don’t. Before falling in love with the idea that “wins” don’t matter, or “Samardzija would be great on another team,” I’ll toss out some names like the aforementioned Norris, C.J. Wilson, Edwin Jackson, and all of the other pitchers who have convinced fans and front office execs that their mediocrity is based on their surroundings.
When he gets traded, and there’s no doubt he will, Samardzija will help out wherever he goes. He’ll bolster a contending team’s rotation.
But the Orioles don’t really need that. They need to make the long-play, and he’s the wrong guy for anything like that.