Thomas Diamond: Whither Art Thou?
With the most unpleasant injuries to Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner, the Cubs have decided to call Casey Coleman and James Russell into starting roles. This surprises me -- I would like to see a little Thomas Diamond, if anyone.
Casey Coleman is a right-handed pitcher who has been a starter for the last two years in the minors, spending 2009 in Double-A and 2010 in Triple-A. He's not even yet 24 years old, and so he's been pitching in leagues older and more seasoned than him -- an impressive feat, no doubt.
Still, his track record of success leaves something to be desired:
2009: 4.04, -.-- (AA)
2010: 4.25, -.-- (AAA)
2010: 4.27, 4.97 (MLB)
He never really dominated AAA, which is kind of what you would like to see out of your MLB starters. His time in the majors does not appear so bad, but his good fortunes with home runs (a mere 4.5% HR/FB) spells bad tidings ahead.
For Casey Coleman -- him being such a young starter -- I think he's better suited to staying in AAA, keeping his contract status favorable for 2013 or 2014, when he can come up be Randy Wells 2.0.
I have been Long a proponent of using James Russell as a LOOGY. A quick look at his MLB splits and MiLB splits tells us he performs markedly better against left-handed batters than right-handers -- so much so that the Cubs really should not have Russell face right-handers.
Moreover, since 2009, he has started a grand total of 13 games -- 5 in Double-A, 7 in Triple-A. That is not a recipe for success.
In 2009, Russell did in fact pitch pretty well in with the Iowa Cubs (AAA). He mustered a 3.43 ERA and 3.85 FIP -- not bad. But this came on the merit of only 65 innings, mostly in relief. Moving him to a starting role in the majors seems like a daft gamble.
Thomas Diamond is a 28-year-old right handed starter whom the Cubs acquired from the Texas Rangers in 2010 -- whence they converted him to a starter. For Diamond, 2010 proved rather nifty: He posted a 3.16 ERA and 3.69 FIP over 21 starts with the Iowa Cubs.
Then, when Ted Lilly left and a few starters went down with injuries, Diamond found himself with the major league club. His first start or two with the team was pretty phenomenal, ironically soliciting a post from me in which I warned Cubs fans of Thomas Diamond.
Here's the deal, though:
- Diamond is not young, thereby limiting the incentive of keeping his contract status favorable.
- Diamond has success as an MLB starter (4.18 xFIP in 2010) and as a minor league starter.
- Diamond could pair with Sean Marshall (also older) and actually provide legit starting options if the Cubs choose to trade Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano, or Randy Wells.