Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The 47 Best Players from the 1998 Chicago Cubs - #30 Felix Heredia

30. Felix Heredia
When it comes to Felix Heredia, I can't separate him from the heartbreaking trade that got him here. As I have probably mentioned a couple dozen times by now, the Cubs bullpen was absolutely terrible. At the trade deadline, the Cubs had to do anything they could to make things happen in the bullpen. So they traded one of my favorite Cubs, Kevin Orie (along with Justin Speier) in order to acquire Felix Heredia.

I was heartbroken. I loved Orie, despite him somehow performing worse than the Cubs bullpen did in 1998, I still believed. And to only get Heredia in return? A guy with an abysmal 5.49 ERA? How could the Cubs do this to me?

As bad as I thought the trade was, the Cubs needed to do anything they could to help the bullpen, and Kevin Orie was not going to help that team in 1998. In August, Heredia's first month with the team, he was doing everything he could to make me hate him. On August 27, his ERA rose to 6.97, and I cursed him every time he entered the game.

Somehow, on August 28, he turned things around. His ERA went down to 6.75, then 6.55, 6.35, and it just kept dropping. He had 15 appearances over the next month and didn't allow a single run, dropping his ERA to a totally acceptable 4.08. He even gave the Cubs a scoreless 1/3 of an inning in the playoff elimination game against the Giants. He was the hottest relief arm on the Cubs staff.

So it was no surprise when he came in during Game 1 of the NLDS with a runner on and no outs and the Cubs down by just two runs. He manged to get an out on a failed bunt attempt before walking the next two batters. After the bases were loaded, the Cubs went to trusted relief specialist, Matt Karchner, who promptly gave up a grand slam. The Cubs would not come back to win that game, and Heredia would not pitch again in the playoffs.

Heredia would never relive that September magic but stayed with the Cubs for three more years of painful performances where he recorded 4.85, 4.76, and 6.17 ERAs. The Cubs sent him to the Blue Jays in 2002 in a trade for Alex Gonzalez and managed a 3.61 ERA. Then, he was even better in 2003, putting up a 3.00 ERA for the Reds before being traded to the Yankees and putting up a 1.20 ERA in 15 innings while striking out 2.4 batters per 9 innings.

It rightfully fell apart in 2004 where his ERA was back over 6.00, and then he would pitch just 2.2 innings after that year before bouncing around the minors and various international leagues until 2008 when he retired. Although he came up known as El Gato Flaco, The Skinny Cat, he ended his career with a different nickname, The Run Fairy. He wasn't bad enough to truly earn that nickname, and he was definitely better than this low of a spot on this list, but much like I learned when the Cubs traded away Kevin Orie, life isn't fair sometimes.

In case you missed it:
#47 - Matt Karchner
#46 - Jose Nieves
#45 - Rodney Myers
#44 - Justin Speier
#43 - Tony Fossas
#42 - Kennie Steenstra
#41 - Chris Haney
#40 - Bob Patterson

#39 - Pedro Valdes

#38 - Derrick White
#37 - Ben Van Ryn
#36 - Terrell Lowery
#35 - Don Wengert
#34 - Kurt Miller
#33 - Jason Maxwell

#32 - Kevin Foster

#31 - Mike Morgan

No comments:

Post a Comment