The Royals claiming Chris Volstad off waivers is just the latest reminder how coveted starting pitching is in the big leagues, and what ridiculous lengths teams will go to find it.
Sometimes it’s a trip down the road of denial, which Kansas City is speeding along while convincing themselves there’s still untapped potential in the 26-year-old Volstad.
I beg to differ of course but it’s not worth slinging more mud on Volstad’s name,which I’ve done plenty already.
“Most men would rather deny a hard truth than face it.”
-Author George R.R. Martin
My best guess is the Royals fell victim to the same traits the Marlins fell in love with when they selected Volstad with its No.1 pick in 2005. His big 6’8” frame, a good hard fastball and quality breaking ‘stuff.’
Miami of course came to find out none of the above traits truly mattered, at least not when it came to getting big league hitters out. Volstad was more thrower than pitcher, a guy who doesn’t pitch to the game-plan, pitch out of trouble or pitch with confidence, none of which is made up for with physical size or ‘stuff’ alone.
The Cubs saw the same frustrating habits with Volstad as Miami did, but thankfully had enough sense to part ways with him after one season and 21 mostly embarrassing starts—a matter of circumstance on a rebuilding team void of better options.
If the Royals want to believe Volstad’s worth signing, fine by me. I’m just relieved Team Theo isn’t living in that world of denial, putting its head in the sand and ignoring the obvious…the Cubs are better off without Volstad than with him.
I can’t believe the Cubs don’t have a better option in the rotation than Chris Volstad (0-9, 6.88).
He’s winless in 14 starts with Chicago and hasn’t won a single game over his last 24 outings dating back to his days with the Marlins.
It’s even tougher to believe Volstad actually won 12-games with the Fish just two seasons ago. Of course, when he faltered badly in 2011 going (5-13, 4.89) he became expendable on South Beach, and now we know why.
Volstad struggles with command, struggles to stick to the game-plan, struggles to pitch out of trouble and struggles with confidence. Did I miss anything?
STOP BLAMING THEO FOR VOLSTAD
It’s easy to be critical of Theo Epstein for dealing Carlos Zambrano for a 6’8″ has-been. But it’s important to remember this trade wasn’t about what the Cubs were getting in return.
This deal was strictly about dealing Big Z; a malcontent who had become a destructive clubhouse cancer on the North Side.
Tom Ricketts was essentially paying Zambrano to go away when Epstein dealt him to Miami in January. The fact a player was coming in return was simply icing on the cake, and although Volstad was coming off a down year, six of his last seven starts were quality outings with Florida.
Let’s not pretend there were better deals on the table for Zambrano, either. In fact, it was the only deal available, and the Cubs finally accomplished what they should’ve done years ago–ridding the organization of El Toro.
PUTTING THE BIG Z TRADE IN PERSPECTIVE
As poorly as Volstad has pitched since joining the Cubs, it’s nowhere near the frustrations that would’ve boiled over with Zambrano’s selfishness on a team treading towards a franchise-worst record. Lord only knows what pyrotechnics would have shot out of Big Z during the Cubs 12-game losing streak in May.
The idea Zambrano would’ve helped the Cubs this season is entirely fool’s gold. Sure, he’s pitched better than Volstad going (7-9, 4.32), but even so it wasn’t enough from keeping his close friend Ozzie GuiIlen from demoting Carlos to the bullpen in the season’s second half.
Volstad, however, doesn’t earn a free pass for simply being a throw-in piece to the trade. The Cubs, believe it or not, are still a major league team in the business of winning. Volstad, to this point, has been counterproductive to those efforts.
WHY IS VOLSTAD STILL PITCHING FOR THE CUBS?
How on earth the Cubs justify Volstad’s roster spot is beyond me. My best guess, however, is with the season a wash and hardly any reserves left in the minor leagues, the Cubs are giving Volstad the longest possible opportunity to show improvement.
It’s been long enough in my opinion, and I’m certain in the minds of many other Cubs fans, as well.
The Cubs currently have two minor league starters who could fit the bill over the final six weeks pitching at least as effective as Volstad, and I’d venture to say even better.
Rodrigo Lopez is (2-5, 5.28) with Triple-A Iowa. He started 16-games for the Cubs last season and wasn’t all that bad going (6-6, 4.42). He’s the furthest thing from being part of the Cubs rebuilding plan, but so too is Volstad.
Casey Coleman (2-4, 4.34) hasn’t exactly been tearing it up at Iowa, either. But he has seen several previous stints in the big leagues as both a starter and reliever, including a spot-start on July 31 against Pittsburgh–4.2, 4-ER, 7-H, 4-BB, 5-K. Volstad-esque, but hardly any worse.
So why not take a chance with one of these two guys? Who knows, maybe the Cubs actually win enough games behind one of them to help avoid a dreadful 100-loss season? Sticking with Volstad, meanwhile, only guarantees the Cubs will reach triple digit losses.
The way I see it the Cubs have 14 days to shore up the backend of its starting rotation.
Dale Sveum, citing a lack of ‘options’, confirmed Chris Volstad will get a second start before the All Star break, despite another dreadful showing against Atlanta Tuesday night.
It’s hard to believe Volstad will do whatever necessary to keep his turn in the rotation, and there’s little to justify giving the 25-year-old more leash.
There must be better options than Volstad: Casey Coleman, Rodrigo Lopez, Chris Rusin…
Hat tip to Travis Wood (1-3) for hanging with Jake Peavy Tuesday night.
It wasn’t the 25-year-old’s best outing of the season, but good enough to earn his first win, not to mention, back-to-back big victories against the South Siders.
Wood’s settled in nicely since his initial call-up from Triple-A Iowa on May 5 to spot-start in place of Matt Garza, and then recalled two weeks later to eventually replace a woeful Chris Volstad (0-6, 7.46 ERA).
In Wood’s seven starts with Chicago four have been quality efforts, including Tuesday evening. He’s allowed three or fewer runs six times and has pitched no fewer than five innings.
It’s time the Cubs removed Chris Volstad from the starting rotation and replaced him with Travis Wood.
Wood’s lone outing this season, a quality six inning start of 3-runs on 3-hits during last Sunday’s 4-3 win against Los Angeles, is better than anything Volstad has accomplished this season.
Meanwhile, Volstad’s inability to pitch out of trouble and avoid the big inning was in full effect Saturday afternoon as he allowed six earned runs in six innings, five of which scored in the sixth inning.
More to the point, it was exactly the kind of poor performance the Cubs didn’t need in the aftermath of Friday’s brutal 8-7 loss in 13-innings. But Volstad, as has been the case all season, failed to deliver.
Chris Volstad (0-4) continues to be consistently ineffective.
He was again haunted by the big inning on Saturday thanks to a two-run double by the opposing pitcher. I mean, that just can’t happen.
It’s been 17 consecutive starts since Volstad last won a big league outing. He’s taken a loss nine times with eight no decisions.
Travis Wood is replacing Garza on Sunday. If Wood pitches well, the Cubs might give some thought to replacing Volstad in the rotation.
It’s only been six starts, but Volstad hasn’t shown improvement. His ERA is above 6-runs and he’s yet to pitch past the sixth inning.
Wishing for a revamping of the Cubs pitching staff is not wrong at all. The troubling part, however, is the organization is void of better options for the time being.
As of this posting the Cubs team ERA of 4.21 ranks 22/30 in the majors. The starting staff’s ERA is 4.20 and ranks 20th in the majors. The Cubs bullpen ERA is a tick higher at 4.23, ranking 22nd in MLB.
Any way you shape it, that’s not very good. But to be fair, the Cubs starting rotation doesn’t deserve much blame for the team’s (8-15) start to the season.
Matt Garza & Ryan Dempster have been simply terrific. Jeff Samardzija is holding his own and Paul Maholm has come on strong winning his last two starts.
But that’s where the good ends and the bad begins.
Born – Sept. 23, 1986 (Age 25)
From – Palm Beach Gardens, FL
Big Fella – 6’8, 225lbs – Throws: Right, Bats: Right
Drafted – 2005, Out of H.S. by FLA 1st Round (16th overall)
High Praise – Named the Marlins’ No.1 prospect by Baseball America in 2006
Games Started – 102
Overall Record – (32-39) 4.59 ERA
-2008: (6-4) 2.88 ERA
-2009: (9-13) 5.21 ERA
-2010: (12-9) 4.58 ERA
-2011: (5-13) 4.89 ERA
About That 2010 Season: Volstad pitched 175 innings including two complete games. He set career highs in Win, Starts, Complete Games & Innings Pitched. His three home runs allowed at home tied teammate Anibal Sanchez for the second fewest long-balls surrendered at home by an NL starter with at least 10 home starts.