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A couple years ago, a number of pitchers were in Chicago Cubs’ camp with the express purpose of battling for a spot at the back end of the Cubs’ rotation. One of those pitchers was Jeff Samardzija, then a rising star in the Cubs’ organization.

He pitched poorly, and didn’t land a spot in the rotation. From there, Samardzija bounced back and forth between the bigs and the minors, between starting and relieving, and didn’t really come into his own until the second half of last season. He pitched well enough in the first half, mind you, but in the second half – out of the pen – Samardzija was excellent.

Now he wants another chance to make the rotation, and the Cubs are going to give it to him. Together with Chris Volstad, Randy Wells, Travis Wood, Andy Sonnanstine, and Casey Coleman, Samardzija will be trying to grab one of just two open spots in the Cubs’ rotation. It will be a tough fight, but Samardzija isn’t thinking about heading back to the bullpen.

From ESPN:

When it was noted that if the rotation doesn’t pan out there is always a relief role available, Samardzija stopped the comment in its tracks.

“The worst question I’ve ever heard,” Samardzija said.

Never mind that a question had yet to be asked. What didn’t have to be asked was how seriously the right-hander is taking his latest opportunity at becoming a starter in the Cubs rotation as he heads into his sixth spring training with the club.

He’s been so serious about it that he has essentially been in his own version of spring training since November.

“I’ve been here for about four months now working out for just that with the understanding from last year that that’s where I want to be and that’s what I want to do,” he said. “It’s all that has been on my mind since the end of the season last year and I haven’t worked for anything but that.

“I don’t have too many hobbies right now, I don’t have too many things on the side, it’s mostly just baseball and that’s all I’m worried about.”

Samardzija says he now has a better appreciation for just how important Spring Training is for a guy who’s trying to win a rotation spot, so he wanted to make sure he was in mid-season form.

At the same time, and despite his “worst question ever” comment, it’s not as though Samardzija doesn’t recognize the bullpen is a possibility. When it comes down to it, Samardzija wants to do what’s best for the team.

“It’s about the team first,” Samardzija said. “When it comes down to breaking for the season, you’re going to do what’s best for the team. Personally, I have my own goals and where I feel like I want to be but as a team, when it comes down to Game 1, it doesn’t matter. All that matters is what your role is that they gave you that day and you go from there.”

As I mentioned in the Bullets yesterday, Samardzija cannot be an effective starter in the big leagues unless his command improves (as it did in the second half last year), and he is able to throw three pitches that can get big league hitters out. Coming out of the pen, you can succeed – even thrive – on two pitches. But when you have to face guys three or four times in a game, you need something more.

But letting Samardzija have another go at the rotation is probably the right move. His upside as a starter is quite high, even if the probability he reaches it is low.

  • 2much2say

    Theo comp to be a Major League ready palyer.
    Mcnutt probable

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      If it is a major league ready player, it won’t be McNutt.  McNutt needs more time in the minors; he might get a September call-up, but anything more than that would be surprising.

  • WGNstatic

    I have seen Shark ragged on a bit for his terse response to the bullpen question. I like it. This is a guy who sees himself, not as a 5th starter, but as a front of the rotation guy. Is that accurate? Perhaps not, but I would rather see that attitude than have a guy who is “happy to be here, 5th starter, long reliever, whatever…”

    He doesn’t say anything about expecting to start, he isn’t asking for anything to be gifted to him, the comment says, to me, that he has expectations for himself. I like that.

  • ottoCub

    I think Samardzija is best suited to become a closer. He’s got the attitude. He’s got 2 excellent pitches. He’s got the stamina and strength to work 5 games a week, if needed. And he’s got that swagger and confident mound-presence a good closer needs to shut down the other team’s best hitters. I can easily imagine him trotting in from the bullpen in the 9th inning on a regular basis… Cubs fans standing and cheering like crazy for one of the best closers in the game.

  • WGNstatic

    Brett, I blame you.

    I want to know what kind loot guys like you and Tim Dierkes payed to MLB to get them to drag this compensation thing out. Keep stringing us along…

    It *might* be decided today… Better keep checking all day…

    you should be ashamed of yourself…

    ;)

  • 2much2say

    By Tim Dierkes [February 21 at 9:15am CST]
    9:15am: The Red Sox will receive a pitcher from the Cubs’ 40-man roster, tweets WEEI’s Alex Speier. That’d rule out McNutt. Rafael Dolis, Chris Carpenter, Jeff Beliveau, and Casey Weathers are on the Cubs’ 40-man and cracked Baseball America’s top 30 prospects for the team.

    • JB88

      If that is the case, that list includes:

      Jeff Beliveau
      Alberto Cabrera
      Chris Carpenter
      Lendy Castillo
      Casey Coleman
      Ryan Dempster
      Rafael Dolis
      Matt Garza
      John Gaub
      Paul Maholm
      Scott Maine
      Carlos Marmol
      Marcos Mateo
      James Russell
      Jeff Samardzija
      Andy Sonnanstine
      Chris Volstad
      Casey Weathers
      Randy Wells
      Kerry Wood
      Travis Wood
      Welington Castillo
      Steve Clevenger
      Geovany Soto
      Jeff Baker
      Darwin Barney
      Adrian Cardenas
      Starlin Castro
      Bryan LaHair
      Junior Lake
      Anthony Rizzo
      Ian Stewart
      Josh Vitters
      Marlon Byrd
      Tony Campana
      David DeJesus
      Reed Johnson
      Dave Sappelt
      Alfonso Soriano
      Matthew Szczur

      I’d bet it would be Rafael Dolis or Chris Carpenter. I just have a feeling it is going to be a pitcher, and a relief pitcher quality-prospect.

      • Kyle

        Chris Carpenter is the one that was rumored a few days ago, and subsequent news keeps pointing to him.

        I wouldn’t cry about Dolis. I’d rather it not be Beliveau.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          I’ve been thinking Carpenter makes the most sense since the compensation issue first arose.  If he has found his control the Red Sox would be getting a potential closer, but to be honest I won’t miss him if he goes.

          Dolis I’d rather keep around.

          • Cedlandrum

            I’d rather keep Dolis too. Carpenter would be a loss, but it isn’t one that would be a killer.

            • TWC

              Please be Marcos Mateo.  Please be Marcos Mateo.  Please be Marcos Mateo.

  • Andrew

    I don’t think Shark should be able to be in the rotation until he shaves that mustache and cuts his hair… he looks ridiculous like that lol

    • die hard

      unless the Samson effect will affect his strength….Kerry Wood had a walks problem early on and learned to conquer it which is one reason I believe Wood asked back so can mentor this kid

  • Edwin

    I see Samardzija as a good middle relief pitcher at best. He still walks too many batters, and I just don’t see him improving much in that department.

  • Spencer

    Chris Carpenter to Red Sox for comp.

  • Spencer

    @BruceMiles2112: It’s officially Carpenter and PTBNL for a PTBNL from Red Sox. #Cubs

    • Toosh

      Wait for the bitching from Red Sox fans to commence.

      • DocWimsey

        As a Sox fan, I say “meh: no minor leaguer is worth Theo.” However, as a Cubs fan (which is the 51% shareholder), I am happy that he’s in Chicago. So, I’m not a good example! :-)

    • ogyu

      *YAWN*

    • SirCub

      Curse words. Lots of curse words.

  • North Side Irish

    Definitely more than I thought was fair, but also less than I feared it would be…

    • die hard

      Carpenter has good stuff….should be no further players

      • ogyu

        I don’t think there’s any reason to be concerned about the PTBNLs. The teams finally resolved this themselves, so they undoubtedly already have an idea about the kinds of additional players they will exchange. In any event, that issue isn’t in Emperor Bud’s hands, so no worries.

  • TeddyBallGame

    Hey, at least we’re making progression over the last few days, FINALLY!!! I’m sick of hearing about it too, but in the end we have a new front office that is restructuring everything that was in place. All for an individual prospect?? Thanks BoSox!! I’m interested to see how Cherington does in charge because I think within a few years it’ll be evident the difference between him and Theo. I think the list of compensation players has been narrowed down to 4 or 5 players, all of which are fine by me. Of all I’ve heard, McNutt is the one I don’t want to give up, but I’m guessing it’ll be someone of lesser value. As for *Spell Check* (Samardzija’s nickname) I think he’s an asset whether he ends up being a 5th starter or in the ‘pen. Let’s see how this all shakes out. We’ll know before the end of business tomorrow…

  • Cheryl

    At least it’s over. With Carpenter gone from the 40 man roster they can announce the signing ot Concepcion, If they get Soler, hopefully it won’t require another move with the 40 man roster

  • ferrets_bueller

    A player to be named later?  ARE YOU F’N KIDDING ME, SELIG!!!! WERE YOU NOT SUPPOSED TO GET THIS S*** OVER WITH?

    • Kyle

      A PTBNL going both ways in the deal? Unreal. It will never, ever end.

      • JB88

        Who cares? Honestly, who cares if a PTBNL is going both ways? Especially if this was a negotiated deal.

    • Toosh

      My thoughts exactly. The situation still isn’t resolved. Supposedly the Cubs will receive a PTBNL from Boston as well.

      • ogyu

        A PTBNL from Boston? Great? Our opening suggestion is Ellsbury…

      • BetterNews

        A PTBNL? Are you kidding me Selig? What kind of resolution is this? What a joke!

  • Leo Deleon

    Theo compensation resolved. Chris Carpenter and a ptbn later.

    • die hard

      ptbnl tied to success of Cubs in 2012 or beyond?

  • polocubs

    how in the hell do they get two players out of the deal

    • King Jeff

      They get Carpenter and a pbtnl, Cubs get ptbnl because transaction had to be player for player. Red Sox do not net two players from this, and Epstein knows Boston’s system better than Cherington knows the Cubs, so it might work out in the Cubs favor.

  • Polar Bear

    MLBTR has a Epstein quote saying they resolved the issue not Selig. Seems a little odd that they would make the decision now to send Carpenter. That could have been decided months ago.

  • TWC

    I hear Boston expects the PTBNL to be “significant”.

    • ogyu

      LOL

    • SirCub

      I hate that word so much.

    • MichiganGoat

      They are asking for the DNA of Banks and Sandburg plus Sammy has to give his special secret potion. That or they expect to get Anthony Rizzo back, sigh

      • TWC

        Looks like it’s time to make a milkshake! </twins>

        • Cheryl

          Not a milkshake, probably a smoothie!

        • MichiganGoat

          I’m sure Larry Lou will insist on being part of that milkshake.

          • Cheryl

            Cubs might as well ask for the moon for the PTBNL. Boston sure has. Let’s see, we could ask for Matt Barnes or Blake Swihart or if we have to settle for a lesser pick maybe Noe Ramirez.

  • RoughRiider

    I don’t call this resolved. Selig is no Judge Landis. What a gutless way to do things.

  • Katie

    Selig didn’t decide compensation, Cubs and Sox did.

    • RoughRiider

      My comment still stands. He had it in his hands for a long time and did nothing.

      • CubFan Paul

        agreed RR.

      • TWC

        “He had it in his hands for a long time and did nothing.”

        That’s what she said.

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