Getting To Know Jason MarquisDecember 11, 2009
There have been numerous reports about the possibility of the New York Mets going after free agent pitcher Jason Marquis. With that said, I reached out to blogger buddy Andrew Fisher (aka Poseidon’s Fist) who writes for the Colorado Rockies blog Purple Row. Below is an email exchange I had with Andrew where he gives some insight into the type of pitcher Jason Marquis is.
Question: What’s your overview of Marquis in terms of where you rank him as a pitcher? Is he most effective as a #2, #3, #4 or #5 starter?
Answer: I tend to think that rank within a rotation is overrated. After two weeks, rotations get mismatched and 1-vs.-1, 2-vs.-2 etc matchups dissolve. Of the “#1″ pitchers the Rockies faced in the second half last season, Jason Hammel faced well over a third of them, Johan Santana included. Marquis is a veteran and professional who wouldn’t let mental games with slot order affect him. Hard pressed though, he would be a decent 3 or a great 4, a textbook innings eater.
Question: Last year, Marquis pitched more innings (216) than his every pitched before. Do you think any team that signs him should be concerned about that?
Answer: Absolutely not. He had 33 starts in 2009, which he matched in 2006 and 2007. He also had 32 starts in 2004 and 2005, so he isn’t in uncharted territory. He averaged about 200IP in those four years, so while 2009 was a career high, it wasn’t off the charts. As a 10-year veteran, he is perfectly equipped to deal with that workload more than a young pitcher. And as I’ll go into a little more further down, those innings were less stressful on his arm than previous years.
Question: Marquis is originally from NY. If he signed with the Mets how do you think he will handle the pressures of playing in NYC and the New York Media?
Answer: If I hand-crafted a player to handle it, he would be Jason Marquis. He is laid back, has a sense of humor and doesn’t ride too high or too low.
Question: From what you’ve heard, what type of guy is Marquis in the clubhouse and in the community?
Answer: Last week, a rumor came out that Marquis was upset with the Rockies for not giving him a playoff start. He was an All-Star and was instrumental in keeping the team afloat in the first half but seemed to lose quite a bit of steam at the end. Now, his team has been to the playoffs all ten seasons in his career but just has three career playoff starts, all in 2004, so he is used to that treatment. But given his clearcut career year, it would be understandable for him to be upset. However, he said and did all the right things, accepting Jim Tracy’s assignment to the bullpen, stating he would do whatever he could to help the team win. Sometimes, that’s lip service, but I believe Marquis, as it’s in line with what we saw with him this year.
Question: Considering the only sure things in the Mets rotation right now are Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey and Oliver Perez, do you think Marquis would be a good fit and help the Mets make a return to the playoffs?
Answer: Marquis would be a good fit for the Mets, but as I see it, Pelfrey and Perez are ultimately unreliable, but you’ll know what you’ll get from Jason. Omar Minaya will have to add a lot more than Marquis to get the Mets in the playoffs, though. Even though there was injury concerns last season, I still think the Phillies, Dodgers, Cardinals and Rockies are clearly in better playoff position with San Francisco and Atlanta probably ahead as well.
Question: Was there anything that stood out about Marquis that was a surprise (good or bad) this season?
Answer: Marquis ccompletely reinvented himself last season. With the help from pitching coach Bob Apodaca, he reworked his sinker to the point where it had the “most movement of his career.” The result – he had the third highest GB rate in the league and cut hit HR/FB and HR/9 rates in half from his career rates. That is a dramatic improvement for someone with nine previous seasons under his belt. That particular style of pitching was a huge boon at Coors Field, which still ranks in the top ten in favoring home runs, though the humidor has cut down on a bit. Interestingly, his HR rates were actually higher by double on the road than at Coors. Given that Citi Field seems to stifle home runs more than average, the one thing that made Marquis great last season wouldn’t be as great of an advantage over an average starter with the Mets as it was with the Rockies. Still, if he can keep the sinker Apodaca fitted him with, getting ground balls on 56% of batted balls is always a good thing.
Question: Feel free to add anything else about him.
Answer: Marquis is notorious for having a strong first half only to fall apart late in the season. This is largely why a pitcher with his strong regular season resume has so little experience in the playoffs despite 10 trips there. Indeed, he falters notably in the second half. However, the split was not entirely his fault. From the first half to second half, he improved his strikeout and home run rates but saw his batting average against on balls in play raise 45 points, suggesting there was some poor fortune in the second half. Even including this “slip,” his second half ERA was a good 30 points below his career ERA.
I loved Marquis. I felt as if the Rockies could win every game he pitched (until the last couple weeks in September). He posted the franchise’s 10th best season ERA in their 17-year history. He pitched the most dominant game in Rockies history in my opinion, a complete game two-hit shutout at the Dodgers in which he also drove in two of the three Rockies runs. Unfortunately, he doesn’t fit into Colorado’s budget, or I would be more than happy to bring him back. I wish him well.
Special thanks to Andrew. Be sure to check him out over at Purple Row.