There was surprisingly little fan outcry when the Toronto Blue Jays traded Shaun Marcum to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for Brett Lawrie. Sure, Marcum was the team’s Opening Day starter and a leader among his peers, but THE GUY THEY GOT WAS CANADIAN!!!11!

The Canadian part is nice (for business) but Lawrie is a former first round pick who posted more-than-respectable numbers at AA as a 20 year-old. Nothing to sneeze at, even if he does lack a real position. Marcum is a due a raise and a walking injury red flag to some, most sober-minded Jays fans saw this as a giving something to get something.

One thing nobody really doubted: for as long as he is healthy, Shaun Marcum will carve up the National League. Lo and behold, he IS carving up the National League! The crafty right-hander currently ranks 9th in Wins Above Replacement, 10th in innings pitched, and 5th in strikeout to walk ratio (behind THREE Phillies lol).

Marcum sports a 4-1 record and serves as the de-facto Brewers ace while Zack Grienke regains his form after missing the start of the season with injury and Yovanni Gallardo just goes through some good, old-fashioned struggles. Marcum took his strikeout rate to ace territory, whiffing a full K per 9 higher than his career numbers while his walks are near career lows.

Not all is perfect in the Land of Milk and Honey – Marcum is a free agent after next season. Since the Brewers clearly want to contend now, locking up their trio of excellent pitchers young(ish) starters seems like a priority. Pitching wins games, right? Some in Milwaukee are not so sure.

Jim Breen, of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Bernie’s Crew blog, is firmly in the “no thanks on a Marcum extension” camp, judging by his Extend Shaun Marcum: No Thanks post on the paper’s website. Breen cites the previouisly-mentioned injury concerns while expressing doubts over the former Jays ability to maintain his smoke-and-mirrors approach.

Shaun Marcum enjoys a plethora of success on the mound because he can change speeds and gets tons of movement on everything he throws. He keeps the hitters off-balance and also possesses one of the league’s best changeups.

Will that success last as Marcum sees his fastball velocity dip into the low-80s, though? Perhaps, but I am not about to sign a three-to-five year contract extension at $10M+ per year on a guy that “could potentially” remain effective as his stuff declines.

Call me crazy but I think a soft-tosser has a better chance of succeeding as he ages. Changing speeds? Working both sides of the plate? Sounds good to me. As during his time with the Jays, home runs might be a problem for Marcum. The dramatic increase in Marcum’s fly ball rate is enough to scare me, though he’s avoided the dingers early in the season. All things being equal, and health notwithstanding, an artist like Marcum could well pitch into his late-thirties.

In other words…Shaun Marcum is the new Jamie Moyer! Ready your old age jokes, Marcum’s going to be the 2021 Opening Day starter for the defending Pacific Division champion Honolulu Methtrolls!

Comments (14)

  1. *waves Methtrolls pennant*

  2. I think its is fairly obvious at this point and time, that had it been the Blue Jays of Toronto moving over to the National League, rather than Selig’s precious Milwaukee, the teams faithful fan base would have been attending a World Series game or two.
    Or at the very least, Farrell would probably enjoy coaching more and be applauded for his in game tactics.

  3. this article is very poorly written.

  4. Having read the article I think it makes me more appreciative of the way the Jays are building the organization. I would hate to have all that talent and have to let some of it get away and essentially keep re-tooling the organization. I know Marcum has stressful mechanics and is going to be hitting his 30′s soon, but his ability to pitch should be able to overcome any aging issues. Not to mention he could get better as time goes on and he gets more experience in the NL.

    It makes me wonder if the Brewers could have gotten a better deal for one of their top prospects, seeing as there are so many inherent risks in locking up Marcum.

  5. but wait, probably the biggest argument against Jim Breen’s argument is not just that soft tossers have a better chance of sustained success because they already know how to mix speeds, its the fact of why would Marcum lose that much velocity in the next lest say 4-5 years??

    He’s 30 years old, and his average FB is 86-89 MPH, which is where it has sat since he first came up. Why would anyone anticipate (barring injury, which is complete seperate reason for not signing him) Marcum to start lose MPH off his fastball anytime soon?

    Also, as for lack of fan outcry, as good as a guy and pitcher Marcum was, he stuggled against the AL east. Fairthweather fans, aka the ones who use to scream for Randy Ruiz to start at 1B, watch the yankees, red sox vs jays games more and would see him struggle more often thean not.

    • :( I used to cry for Randy Ruiz to start. DH maybe.

      I’m with you, why will Shaum Marcum age worse than anybody else? He’ll either break down completely or keep on keeping on.

      @Just

      You’re probably right. Thanks for the insight.

  6. Marcum is a really solid pitcher. I know they’re not the same, but what Breen said is like saying “Greg Maddux relies on changing speeds and locations. Nah, he’s no good.”

    I think the reason there wasn’t a ton of outcry over the Marcum trade is twofold. YEs, it was a something for something deal, but I think most fans recognized that starting pitching was a position of strength to deal from. I also think most fans would have been happy to see Marcum stay a Jay for a while longer, and Milwaukee should appreciate what they have. I was watching the game last night, and he seemed just as good as ever.

  7. I don’t think the Underground will ever recover from Marcum’s absence. Although i’m sure Jesse Litsch is single handedly keeping them afloat these days.

  8. Marcum’s 5-1 after last night’s win, with an ERA+ of 149.

    The Breen article is ridiculous. If Marcum’s throwing 80mph, it’ll be because his arm has fallen off and he’s throwing with his tongue. But it might be the case that the Brewers don’t want to pay him what he’s worth. He’s likely to command a raise to around 8M in his last year of arb, maybe even more if the season continues to go well for him and he doesn’t wind up on the DL again. As an FA, I don’t see why he wouldn’t get a contract at least as good as Gil Meche’s from a few years ago.

    I do remember arguing with a bunch of people at the time of the trade, on DJF and MLB Trade Rumors, who thought it was crazy to trade Marcum for “an unproven kid who won’t be able to help the Jays for 3 years or more.” You have to trade a valuable asset to get another one that fills a need, and as you say, he’s better suited to the NL. Besides, he can hit a bit too.

  9. @Just: Thanks for the insight. It’s always nice to get constructive criticism. Hey, I need another writer over at Baseball Canadiana. Interested? You know, since you’re obviously an awesome writer and all.

  10. I’m interested Travis!

  11. @dc, twitter me with your deets and maybe a sample of your writing, lol. @travisgarrey

  12. I’m surprised no one has yet pined for the Jays to sign Marcum as a free agent. It would be a little odd because if the Jays really liked Marcum, they would have probably offered him an extension. Since the team doesn’t seem to want to commit to him long term, the market would have to be pretty bearish which it rarely is when it comes to starting pitching but you never know, stranger thing have happened.

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