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The Chicago Cubs, so far this offseason, are taking a decidedly clear approach to new player acquisitions: bounce-back candidates on the cheap.

That is not to say the team won’t still be making plays for bigger names, but, for now, they’re content to go after guys like David DeJesus, Ian Stewart, and … Paul Maholm.

The Cubs are currently negotiating with the free agent lefty, formerly of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Maholm, 29, is coming off a solid, if unspectacular season, which saw him put up a 3.66 ERA and 1.294 WHIP in 162.1 innings. His 105 ERA+, only the second above-average full season in his career, suggests he was only marginally better than OK, though. On the right contract – read: cheap – Maholm could be a fine back-end of the rotation type, especially if he’s paired with an improved defensive infield (he’s a ground ball pitcher who doesn’t strike too many out).

The rub with Maholm?

He pitched only 162.1 innings last year because his year ended early with a shoulder strain (though Dr. James Andrews found no serious structural damage). He was cleared for workouts in late October, but there’s no guarantee he’ll be as effective when he returns next year.

If the Cubs do ink Maholm, it’s hard to picture him as someone they can count on for more than depth given his erratic performance and shoulder trouble. At best, a Maholm signing would fall into the same categories as the DeJesus signing and the Stewart trade: fine, but nothing exciting. And judgement would be more fully-reserved until the rest of the offseason plays out.

 

  • Kansas Cubs Fan

    Hmm I’m fine with these small deals there’s not much risk. I just hope when they do make the decision to sign someone to a big deal they think it all the way through.

    • http://www.frenchrocks.net Ian Afterbirth

      I’m fine with these deals as well. Depth is good. Some of these guys are going to end up being important. When we sign the bigger dudes, whether it’s this year or next or later, we’ll still need Maholm and Stewart-type guys to be there to fill in the inevitable lulls and cracks and be the unlikely heroes that always emerge on championship teams.

  • Rick Vaughn

    I’d like to see Rich Harden back too. More incentive laden contracts for guys who struggle with injuries. Whatever keeps Casey Coleman out of the rotation/Illinois. The more depth, the better.

    • Rick Vaughn

      Scott Kazmir could be interesting

      • Kansas Cubs Fan

        I had the Kazmir idea awhile back and from the answers I’ve got on here and twitter everyone thinks hes done.

        • Rick Vaughn

          I figure he’ll have to settle for a minor league contract with an invite to spring training. Can’t buy much lower than that. Then I saw this:

          “Official line of Scott Kazmir in his debut in the Dominican Winter League: 0.1 IP, 2 H, 4 ER, 2 walks, 0 K (27 pitches)”

          bummer.

          • http://casualcubsfan.blogger.com hansman1982

            Not sure how much you want to read into everything that happens with MLB pitchers outside of MLB games.  Often times, especially in their first games back, they like to work on one specific thing and that means they might get shelled a bit.  If after 4-5 outings like that he is still throwing about as good as I could, then it is MC Bummer time.

            • CubFan Paul

              cant touch this..

  • Eric

    Sounds good to me. One thing you have to consider is when the team sucks as much as bad as the Cubs do (IE: can’t really do a real good firesale because after a few guys we have NO valuable peices). About the only way a smart front office can start to restructure and rebuild the team is to do things like this. Get buy low / high reward type guys like Stewart and Injury returns like Maholm. Ofcourse that still doesn’t stop them from going out and signing Fielder on a somewhat reasonable contract ofcourse. I do expect it to be a bit overpaid but hopefully not too much.

    • wilbur

      Agree, and this is consistent with the stated strategy to build a starting staff that goes nine deep and put some speed an defense around them.

    • http://www.frenchrocks.net Ian Afterbirth

      I agree as well. These guys are investments that we can either keep or trade. Theo is restocking our empty cupboard. If one or two of these guys has a good year we suddenly have commodities that we didn’t before. These are incremental upgrades but if the trend continues and you throw in a couple of bigger-splash players eventually we’ll be in good shape.

  • Mike F

    Saunders and Maholm one or the other are very solid moves, throw in Jackson and you are adding wins, getting closer with each to being competitive. There not the big moves necessary, but the part of the larger picture.

  • die hard

    Eric Bedard redux….more time on DL than on the rubber..but indicates Darvish flew the coop….

    • SirCub

      Yea… I don’t think the Cubs targetting Paul Maholm is a sign of them being out on Yu Darvish…

  • ReiCow

    I actually would like to see more ground ball pitchers with the Cubs, so long as we get some great defensive infielders. Would help ameliorate the Jekyll & Hyde of wind blowing in & out at Wrigley.

  • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

    Maholm was on my preseason shopping list. The Cubs can probably land him on a two or three year deal at a good price. Whether they land Cespedes, Darvish, and Fielder or not, this kind of move just makes sense.

  • mister_rob

    Last 4 years –
    Maholm — 748inn….4.23era…1.396whip…9.7h/9….2.8bb/9….5.5k/9
    Saunders – 799inn….4.03era…1.350whip…9.4h/9…2.8bb/9….4.8k/9

    and maholm gives up less homers and is one year younger

    so i guess Im trying to figure out why everyone would be more excited about a Saunders signing. They look like pretty much the same pitcher to me

    • Rick Vaughn

      Good stats. Thanks. I’m with you.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      They are very similar, though Saunders doesn’t have a shoulder injury to come back from. Neither excites me much as more than a 5th starter.

      • Brian

        Well, if you look at their numbers, either guy could be the #4 or #5 starter (depending on the Randy Wells we see who’s numbers have been similar as well). That being stated, this looks like a scenario where you probably know what you get.. where as Zambrano (Temper), Randy Wells (Inconsistency) and Dempster (Age x ERA going up the last 3 years) could all either excel or totally collapse… and it’s unrealistic to think all 3 will perform and stay healthy.

        So, it’s about semi-inexpensive pitching depth.

      • Larry

        Brett,

        Assuming that Yu is on his way to Toronto, what free agent pitchers, besides Jackson and possibly Kiroda are available that are not 4 or 5 guys right now? I know you have got to do the best you can with what is available, but adding a ton of #5s doesn’t really inspire a lot of confidence for the next few years.

      • Lou

        A shoulder injury is an important factor to consider with this signing.

      • MoneyBoy

        9th starter Brett …9th starter

        oh wait … we have the option of Lopez & Coleman for that … never mind

      • ottoCub

        … nothing wrong with a solid 4th or 5th starter who can eat up innings and pitch occasional long-relief if needed. Even better if he’s left-handed. This is the kind of pitcher the Cubs have sorely lacked in the last couple years, and signing Maholm and/or Saunders would fill a big hole in the roster. Because of Maholm’s shoulder injury, it seems like Saunders would be less risky. But Saunders is also likely getting bids from more teams, so will be more expensive.

  • cubsklm

    Good move. Need a lefty. Been saying Maholm for awhile now.
    Get a good crop of arms at little expense.
    I’d like to see them get Jackson.
    Still holding out hope for Darvish.

  • Deer

    the exciting moves continue..he better be cheap coming off a shoulder injury

    • Eric

      I think that’s why Ep and Hoy are going after him. Because he WILL be cheap (give more WAR than they are paying him).

      • Lou

        As long as he can play and that injury doesn’t come back to bite us ala Cashner.

  • Jonski

    Shoulder injury worries me I say 1 year with club option on 2 years let him earn it .Was really hoping Darvis too,but looks like Jays might have been top bit .Not sure about Prince if its more then 6 I personally would pass.If we lose out on those 2 I would hope we get Cepede and Solar.

    • paul

      really?? why are we all saying jays’ won the bidding? No one knows yet. Let’s be patient before we start acting like babbies.

  • http://Bleachernation Bric

    Even better, let’s not get all hot and bothered it at all. This really reminds me of when Fuk signed with the Cubs over a couple of other teams offers.
    What Japanese pitcher has ever come over and made that big an impact in the NL? Anybody? In fact, what Japanese player in any position other than Ichiro has? Hideo Nomo? Godzilla? Matzuzaka? Over hyped and way overpaid.

    • John

      Here we go, another post based purely on ignorance and race. Lets stop being so close-minded and look at the skill set as opposed to his race people. Stupidest thing ever.

      • JulioZuleta

        How is that racist at all? He’s just saying that numbers in Japan don’t translate to numbers here. The only thing more ignorant than being racist is accusing someone of being racist who clearly is not.

        • CubSouth

          I totally agree JZ. Maybe John can explain his reasoning because I’m really lost on how u can deduct racism and ignorance from what Bric wrote. He has a point that the talent over in Japan hasnt really panned out over here in the U.S.

        • CubFan Paul

          yea… there was nothing ‘racist’ about Jz, u misread that

        • John

          I see nothing in that post about “numbers translating”. It says “what Japanese player has made an impact in the NL? ” is that not asking a question based solely on race? ummmm… yes.

          BTW: guys, Fukudome was worth $39.5M the last four years and paid $48M, under $2M a year “overpaid”.
          Godzilla has been worth $76.05M and paid $83M over tha last nine. Less than $1M a year “overpaid”.
          Nomo was worth $82.4M and paid $34.2M over his career.
          Dice-K has been worth $43.2M and paid $41M thus far.

          Remeber the posting fee and system has nothing to do with the player.

          So defend who you like, but the comments were based on race (notice I never called him a ‘racist’) and little to no research.

          • Pat

            No, it’s a question based on league. Players who ae stars over there are not as good over here. That’s why a crappy player like Matt Murton can lead the league in hits over there.

            • John

              I just made the point in dollar values that, that is not true.

          • http://casualcubsfan.blogger.com hansman1982

            Using my Super Grover-esque powers of deduction I assumed that he was saying something along the lines of this:

            “What player from the Japanese Baseball Leauge has come over and lived up to the hype?”

            Absolutely you have to factor in the posting fee.  Sure the player was not paid that fee but it was still a cost to the team above and beyond normal costs to acquire a player.  Lets say we spend $50M to talk to Darvish and another $60M paying him.  That is a cost of $110M.  Whether it is paid to the player or not, were there better, more productive assets that we could have spent that $110M on.  History has shown us that players who have come from the Japanese baseball leagues have not been worth the investment.

            Look at Matsuzaka, you said he has been worth $43.2M but so far the Red Sox have spent $92M to have him on their roster.  That means they lost out on $50M in potential production.

            • John

              Dice-K is the most extreme case then. And Ichiro has been worth $245.25M and paid $142M for huge profit for the Mariners. I’d say one out of every two $100M dollar contracts don’t work out, so Japanese players are really no different.
              Lets use Soriano our favorite Cub, worth $35M since his contract and paid $62M thus for for a loss of $27M and that number will only get bigger. So should I say Dominican Players should never be paid $100M?

              And your Super-Grover skills are impressive!! lol

              • http://Bleachernation Bric

                Hey fellow Cub fan and member of the nation, I appologize if I offended your delicate sensibilities regarding my previous statement.

                I didn’t intend it to be racist and don’t think it was.But I agree you can say it was predjusticed toward the Japanese leagues because it’s true I haven’t seen him play and haven’t even ever watched a full Japaense game so I don’t really know much about it. But I do know that the only player coming over that has lived up to the hype and been worth the huge amout paid has been Ichiro. And that’s all I said. It’s just my opinion. If you think otherwise, we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

                But as far as the other responses about the money, they’re absolutely right. And you’re right about most 100 mil contracts being a waste of money. Sori, just like you said, Werth, and soon to be Pujols, too. So why the F would you want the Cubs to make another 100 mil. mistake? As far as the Dominican players go, I don’t think the Cubs should be shelling out 100 mil contracts to anyone right now. Dominican, Japanese, Icelandic, Libyan, Martian- anybody. So just stop for a second and think about what you’re arguing about. C’mon, it’s Christmas, bro.

      • BAMF

        For more ultrasensitive, estrogen charged discussions on race and everything else nobody cares about, post a comment here and let Barbara Walters and her pack of hyenas tackle the issue.

        http://theview.abc.go.com/forums/message-boards

        Let’s not forget that this is a baseball board, not a political forum for regurgitated, over played self righteousness.

  • EtotheR

    I like it…always got the sense that Maholm had a brain out there.

    A little guile will help him push past the arm…

    • Fishin Phil

      He always looked like Cy Young when he pitched against the Cubs.

  • R.I.P. Santo

    I like this signing but my thinking is all these minor type signings are geared towards trading them at the deadline for prospects ……..a different way to rebuild the lower levels

  • ferrets_bueller

    Is….is it snowing in that picture of Maholm?

  • Dumpman

    Mmmm. Another low risk high reward. Like it, Backend starter.

  • john

    At some point you have to have 5 reliable starters. Last year we lost Cashner and Wells out of Spring Training. We never recovered. If Garza is gone. Darvish? Dempster, Zambrano, then who? Wells? Maholm? Jeff Z? Seems like Garza is a big piece to keep.

    • BetterNews

      Garza is not going anywhere. Theo has made that quite clear.

      • Toosh

        He’d trade him if he could get the right pieces back.

        • Lou

          Depends also on how much Theo is willing to accept back. If he “shoots for the moon” I don’t think he’ll be able to trade Garza.

  • Tom

    Gio Gonzales is a better fit.

  • jim

    IT’S “time’ for EPSTEIN to go out there & sign
    PRINCE FIELDER, otherwise the TEXAS RANGERS
    are going to get him! It looks like the CUBS are
    NOT going to even get DARVISH. SO far, the CUBS
    have obtained players that are “coming off injuries”
    mistake????????? AND by the way my fellow CUBS
    FANS, check it out, “starting pitchers” are being
    gobbled up, so our CUBS had better, put the
    “pedal to the metal”. WE don’t need to wait for
    another 3 years to compete! LETS GO CUBBIES!

  • Robbo

    Lefty, former Pirate, injury prone…..Gorzelanny the sequel??

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