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Jason Marquis, Carlos Martinez, and the Cardinal way vs. the Jocketty way

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Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

As two 23-year-olds came to the finish line in the St. Louis Cardinals' fifth-starter competition last month the Cincinnati Reds were awarding a starting job to a 35-year-old non-roster invitee coming off Tommy John surgery. The organization's respective approaches to filling out their starting rotations is a distillation of Mozeliakism and Jockettyism. It's homegrown talent vs. scrap-heap retread.

Bill DeWitt Jr. wanted to go in a different direction than that which the Cardinals had traveled under Jocketty. DeWitt envisioned a homegrown-talent pipeline feeding the St. Louis roster and a more analytics-based approach. Jocketty bristled and so DeWitt effectively severed the Cardinals' employment relationship with Jocketty (even if some danced around labeling the separation a termination).

After his ouster, leaks from Camp Jocketty bemoaned the Cardinals' imposing budget constraints that forced the GM to rely on bargain free-agent signings and creative trades toward the end of his tenure that resulted in a lackluster collection of talent on the St. Louis roster. DeWitt hired John Mozeliak to replace Jocketty. As GM, Mozeliak has gradually changed the way the Cardinals do things to implement DeWitt's vision of relying more on homegrown players than imported free agents and trade acquisitions.

During the winter we examined the difference in approach the Cardinals have taken to filling their major-league roster in the Jocketty and Mozeliak eras (complete with graphs). Comparing the season that (in so many ways) represents the pinnacle of Jockettyism with the one that (in so many ways) represents the height of Mozeliak's tenure as GM (at least so far) provides an illustrative contrast.

2004

The Cardinals won 105 games in 2004, Jocketty's 11th season as GM. That year the Cardinals relied on homegrown pitchers (those drafted and developed by the organization) for 267 2/3 innings pitched and 1.1 rWAR. Imported players (those acquired by trade or free agency) gave them 1,186 and 12.8 rWAR. Imported pitchers threw 81.59% of the club's innings that year and posted 92.09% of rWAR.

The same lopsided share is found on the position player side of the 2004 roster. Homegrown talent took 1,367 plate appearances and posted 9.4 rWAR (thanks largely to one Albert Pujols). Imports tallied 4,453 PAs and put up 24.3 rWAR (thanks largely to Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen). Imported position players accounted for 76.87% of the clubs PAs that year and 72.11% of its rWAR.

2013

In 2013, the shoe was on the other foot. The 97-win Cardinals had imported pitchers throw 482 1/3 innings and post 10.8 rWAR. Homegrown hurlers notched 977 1/3 innings and 10.8 rWAR. Homegrown pitchers tallied 66.96% of the club's innings pitched and 61.02% of the club's rWAR.

A similar dynamic is found with the position players on the roster. Players the Cards drafted and developed took 3,978 PAs and posted 17.5 rWAR. Players signed as free agents or acquired from other organizations via trade dug in for 1,852 PAs and put up a total of 5.1 rWAR. Homegrown talent was responsible for 68.23% of the club's PAs in 2013 and 77.43% of its rWAR total.

2015

It's poetic that the Reds plucked off the scrap heap a pitcher in Jason Marquis who Jocketty acquired prior to the 2004 season (along with Ray King and Adam Wainwright) in exchange for the homegrown J.D. Drew (and Eli Marrero). Marquis has not been good for years and is coming off Tommy John surgery to replace his ulnar collateral ligament. The righty didn't pitch in the majors last year, though he did notched 51 2/3 innings in the Phillies farm system. Making the move all the more fitting for the Reds GM is the fact that Marquis is a former Cardinal. Signing 35-year-old Marquis and installing him in the big-league rotation is such a Jocketty move that it feels more like parody than reality. Yet here we are, with Marquis slated to start the first game of the Cardinals-Reds series this evening.

To be fair, Martinez will face off against Raisel Iglesias, a Cuban righty the Reds signed and their ostensible fifth starter. But Iglesias doesn't count as a homegrown Red. The 25-year-old wasn't drafted or developed by Cincinnati. The Reds signed the Cuban as a free agent. The righthander last pitched for Toronjeros de Isla de la Juventud in the Cuban National Series in 2012 and hasn't notched a minor-league game according to his Baseball-Reference page. Thus, it appears he's more a free agent import than homegrown talent. Between Marquis and Iglesias, I think it's fair to say that Iglesias has more potential upside, even if both pitchers are projected to be worse than replacement.

Martinez, who won the fifth-starter competition (such that it was) in spring training (but nonetheless appeared in relief Sunday night at Wrigley Field, where he displayed a filthy, disgusting, NSFW changeupwill likely take the ball for the Cardinals in their fifth game of the season on Sunday night (weather, bleachers, and restrooms permitting of course). If you've read VEB over the last few years, you know of the stratospheric potential Martinez has thanks to his thermonuclear stuff. There's a tendency to view veterans as safer bets, so how does the Cardinals' choice of Martinez compare to Marquis for the Reds? Let's look at their Steamer and ZiPS forecasts:

Pitcher

Pro Sys

IP

LOB%

K/9

BB/9

ERA

FIP

WAR

Marquis

Steamer

143.0

69.5

6.26

3.29

4.51

4.53

0.6

Marquis

ZiPS

80.0

70.8

6.08

3.60

5.29

5.69

-0.6

Martinez

Steamer

125.0

70.8

7.62

3.39

3.83

3.83

1.3

Martinez

ZiPS

150.0

71.6

7.68

3.06

3.66

3.35

2.5

First, there's risk with any player that he will suffer an injury or perform badly. These projections are mean 2015 projections from each system—that which is most likely to happen based on the formula each uses to forecast performance. With that in mind, it appears that Marquis is the riskier bet. ZiPS sees a player worse than worthless, one more likely to hurt the Reds' chances of winning than help. On the other hand, both Steamer and ZiPS agree that Martinez will be the better pitcher in 2015, it's just a question of how much better.

The stater of the Reds' and Cardinals' rotations is yet another reason I'm glad DeWitt switched tracks and ditched Jockettyism in favor of Mozeliakism (though it's probably as much or more DeWittism).

FanDuel:

SBN and FanDuel have an exclusive partnership for daily fantasy baseball this 2015 season and they're paying SBN writers like me to help promote it. If I were setting a FanDuel lineup for today (April 10, 2015), I'd look at the Cardinals who can hit homers against Marquis, who has a history of allowing the long ball. Peralta, Holliday, and Adams thus interest me. I like Michael Wacha and his changeup against the Reds lineup on Saturday as well. Click here to play FanDuel.