Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Pitchers Who Drove Me To Alcoholism, Not Quite Anonymous

Remember the Worst Batters Of My Life spectacle? Here comes its pitching equivalent. Rules: Again, only time spent with the Cubs and during my lifetime (8/5/82-present) count. Pitchers must have 162 IP to qualify.

We'll go ten deep here, as a) it is a fairly arbitrary number, and b) it will allow me to start the list with this man, a true lousy Cub pitcher if ever there was one...

10) Glendon Rusch (341.1 IP, 18-18, 4.69 ERA, 1.49 WHIP)

The Cubs have had many mediocre fat pitchers during my lifetime (Mel Rojas, Rod Beck, Rich Garces), but Glendon was and is more left-handed than any of them...which is one of the few nice things you can say about this guy. (I said the other a couple weeks ago, in which I expressed the sentiment that I hoped he didn't die.) Glendon only pitched well when he was fighting for a job, which was always amusing, because when he'd get the rotation spot (or whatever), he'd promptly go back to sucking. This is a metaphor for the world at large, if you're a Cub fan.

9) Jeremi Gonzalez (254 IP, 18-16, 4.71 ERA, 1.42 WHIP)

Jeremi has made a career out of questionable decisions, such as changing his already stupidly-spelled name to "Geremi", and signing with the Brewers. However, when he came up, he looked like he was going to be the Cub Of Tomorrow!!!. He was 11-9 his rookie season, with a reasonable ERA...then, 1998 came, and he was the one Cub pitcher who wasn't really all that good. Mercifully, he blew out his arm against the Mets, threw 35.2 more innings over the next two years in the Cub minor league system, got released, missed all of 2001, and finally came back in 2003 with Tampa. I know that losing a promising young pitcher to an arm injury is a shock to us Cub fans, but really, with a K-rate of 5.78/9, this gackass didn't deserve a gob in the first place.

8) Jason Bere (273.2 IP, 12-21, 4.74 ERA, 1.37 WHIP)

Unlike the Cub Of Tomorrow!!! wannabe listed above, this idiot surprised absolutely nobody by sucking. True, he had a fairly decent season in 2001...but that was apparently caused by Chicago River fumes or something, because he came back in '02 with one of the most atrocious seasons ever (1-10, 5.67). His services were not retained, and he went on to pitch nearly seven more innings with Cleveland before admitting to himself that he was washed up, and a disgrace to his family.

7) Jim Bullinger (481 IP, 27-28, 4.77 ERA, 1.46 WHIP)

Jim was actually halfway decent for a couple of years, but dubious control along with a total inability to strike people out spelled an end to his career. (That 6.54 ERA in his final season with the team also might have had something to do with it.) He was a pretty fair hitter, though, including an OPS of 899 his final year with the team. I remember rooting for this guy to do well when I was growing up, so I don't want to be too hard on him...unfortunately, I also remember him being behind just about everybody in the rotation. At least he was better than his brother Kirk, who posted a 6.53 ERA in his major league career (although his minor league career was both long and dominant, but even Pandrew is long and dominant where minors are concerned).

6) Kyle Farnsworth (478.2 IP, 22-37, 4.78 ERA, 1.45 WHIP)

I have nothing negative to say about this man. He seems to have Bret Saberhagen Syndrome, where he only suck(s/ed) in even-numbered years. 1999 doesn't count, because some genius got the idea in their head that he was a starter. He wasn't.

5) Jose Guzman (210.2 IP, 14-12, 4.78 ERA, 1.41 WHIP)

Jose came to the Cubs after two successful season with Texas. He proceeded to have one decent season, and then the next year, four terrible starts and a career-ending injury. If I ever learn to use auto-text, I am going to have an abbreviation that inserts "career-ending injury" into every article I ever write about Cub pitchers. Fun fact: Jose attended high school in Puerto Rico. John F. Kennedy High School, to be exact.

4) Felix Heredia (163.1 IP, 15-6, 5.01 ERA, 1.51 WHIP)

No, that's not a typo...I have no idea how this waste of organs (namely: left arm) had a 15-6 record with the Cubs. I seem to remember him blowing every game in which he pitched, actually. Hernia (as my oh-so-mature friends and I called him) was a lefty specialist who wasn't used as one...thank you, Don Baylor. His four seasons with the team ranged from "lousy" to "inexcusable", and somehow he's in baseball today - and only 30! The Indians didn't even call him up during their closer crisis earlier this year, despite his whopping six major league saves.

3) Danny Jackson (183.2 IP, 5-14, 5.19 ERA, 1.65 WHIP)

In 1991, the Cubs signed Jackson for 10.5 million over 4 years despite being three years removed from his one great season. Jackson managed to get hurt after three starts, miss two months, and win ONE of his fourteen starts. He walked more men than he struck out, and let more men score than he walked. We'll always have June 14, 1991, though...his solitary victory (five innings of shutout ball over the Padres). 1992 was not much better, as he went 4-9 before being traded straight up for Steve Buechele. Jackson barely struck out four batters per nine innings as a Cub - to put that in perspective, of all of the Cubs who qualified for this list, none struck out fewer than Jackson. His worst quality, though, was the fear he instilled in the Cubs of giving promising young pitchers with low strikeout rates long-term contracts...thereby causing us to lose out on Greg Maddux.

2) Amaury Telemaco (163 IP, 6-11, 5.36 ERA, 1.43 WHIP)

"When the ball goes real high and hits Waveland on the fly, that's Amaury!" Telemaco won his first two major league starts for the Cubs in grand fashion, and it was all downhill from there. He hung on for two more seasons before being waived, and went on to be thoroughly mediocre for other teams. In both of the full seasons he pitched with the Cubs, he cracked the rotation only to be demoted to the bullpen midseason - and oddly enough, when they started him in the pen in 1998, he was fairly serviceable, which is probably why he was released.

1) George Frazier (191.1 IP, 15-15, 5.36 ERA, 1.65 WHIP)

Frazier pitched for the Cubs from the time I was a year old until a week past my fourth birthday, so I don't have any personal recollections of him doing anything. He does sound like the mutant offspring of George Foreman and Joe Frazier, but I doubt he could fight as well as Farnsworth. What he could do was make crappy relief appearances for the Cubs, and that he did well, if such a thing can be done "well". Also, he was the pitcher who finished the Pine Tar game for the Yankees, so there's that.

I didn't have as much fun with this list as I did with the lousy hitters. With a couple exceptions (Rusch, Jackson, Heredia), these guys were mostly silently crappy and not flat-out awful. Most of the enjoyably crappy guys didn't qualify (Estes and Alfonseca both just missed), and some of these guys just weren't fun to pick on. Next, I'll try something a little more uplifting...because really, there are reasons that we stick with the Cubs year in and year out.

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