When the deal officially happened – the Indians and Shaun Marcum agreeing on a minor league contract – Susan did a write-up explaining the essentials. And since the Indians have been relatively quiet this offseason I wanted to take a little step back and dig deeper into Marcum’s production.

5.29 ERA.

Yeah, that’s a bit misleading – sort of like looking at his production from last season with beer goggles. Take a look at the peripheral numbers from Marcum’s 78.1 innings last season compared to his career production:
















In terms of Wins Above Replacement, Marcum was producing better than his career norms. And at the very least he was right on track to have another Shaun Marcum-like year.

But let’s take a different look at Marcum’s numbers from last year. Using Skill Independent ERA, or SIERA, the most advanced measure of a pitcher’s true performance, look at the players all hovering within earshot of right-hander’s 4.15 mark:

  • R.A. Dickey (4.18)
  • Ryan Dempster (4.26)
  • Bartolo Colon (4.17)
  • Bronson Arroyo (4.15)
  • Jeremy Hellickson (4.15)
  • Scott Feldman (4.10)
  • C.J. Wilson (4.08)

That’s a list of some pretty solid, league-average starting pitchers. Colon recently signed a hefty deal with the Mets – yes, that pun was intended. Arroyo is eventually going to sign for a sizeable deal. Feldman signed with the ‘Stros for three years and $30M.

And the Tribe inked Marcum for the low, low price of, well, nothing really.

As Susan pointed out her in article, yes, Marcum was a bitten snake-bitten last season. And it’s something he’s never really been able to move away from during his eight-year big league career.

Marcum’s topped 160 innings just twice (2010 and 2011). He managed to throw between 150 and 159.1 innings another two times. And he’s battled through some bumps and bruises the last two years.

Yeah, OK, he’s brittle. But the Indians don’t need to hit a homerun with this deal. In a way it’s eerily similar to the club’s contract with the recently departed Scott Kazmir. The front office swooped in on a perfect buy-low candidate, signed him to a minor league deal, and offered the chance for a spot in the rotation.

Basically, if Marcum makes a handful of good starts it’s a gamble that’s already paid off. If he throws 100 innings of league average replacement, than that’s even better. If he fails to make the club then, OK, bye.

But this was arguably the club’s best move of the winter so far.


  • medfest says:

    Marcum’s change up is his best pitch so he throws it a lot.If a hitter is sitting on the change up and the pitcher misses his spot,even by a little bit,the batter more than likely hits a scorcher and scorchers mean runs.Similar to a ground ball pitcher who gives up a lot of hits because he gives up a lot of ground balls in play.

    Marcum is a great risk for the Tribe because the rest of the rotation is guys who basically throw hard stuff.

    Tomlin and Carrasco both figure to make the team as long relievers,if Marcum gets the fifth spot,and that would give Francona two true long men/spot starters to work with(and allow them to baby Marcum along).Tito didn’t have a true long man in the pen all last season and I think it hurt the Tribe in the long run.

    That being said,I think the Murphy signing is the best move of the off season so far.He will impact the run scoring ability of the line up in a major way.I hope………..

  • Gvl Steve says:

    I liked this move as well. Don’t forget that Marcum was pitching with numbness in his hand last year due to the Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, which has since been corrected with surgery. I can’t imagine a pitcher being very successful if he can’t feel the ball in his hand. As long as he’s not overused — and Terry Francona appears to be a master at managing workloads — pencil Marcum in for a 3.60 ERA over 120-150 innings.

  • joey says:

    does anyone think ubaldo juiced up at mid season last year? wonder if he was tested?

  • BritDawg says:

    Unfortunately, I think you are underestimating how serious Thoracic Outlet Surgery is. Very few starting pitchers have been able to make a fast enough recovery from TOS in order to be effective the following season (without suffering a major setback). That’s the main reason why he wasn’t be able to secure a MLB deal.

    I expect Marcum won’t be back to his best until 2015. Obviously it’s not a bad deal for the Tribe at all, because minor league deals are basically zero-risk. However, the idea that Marcum might pitch 120-150 innings (as someone suggested) is highly optimistic IMHO.

  • TribeTime33 says:

    I like the Marcum pick up for the tribe but, I do think that the Murphy pick-up was the better move so far. Murphy still has the potential to be a 20 homer guy that could drive in 90 RBI’s. Now that might be a little to high but, he will help our line-up much more than Drew Stubbs. Marcum could be a great 5th man but, I’d rather see a left handed pitcher in the starting 5 rather than all starters be right handed pitchers. Last year it was Kazmir and all right handers. We need at least one lefty in the rotation. If Marcum pitched the whole year he is a max 10 win pitcher with a high ERA. The good thing about him is that he could be a inng eater.