For weeks, it’s been a forgone conclusion that the Cubs would be after free agent starter Shaun Marcum. He’s 30, coming off an injury-filled season, and effective when he’s healthy. Check, check, check. Marcum, for better or worse, is exactly the kind of pitcher the Cubs are looking for. Throw in the Milwaukee connection to the Cubs’ current manager and pitching coach, and you’ve got a near cinch.

So it’s no surprise that Gordon Wittenmyer hears the Cubs are “eyeing” Marcum already, as well as similarly-situated free agent starter Brandon McCarthy, whom we discussed earlier this week.

Marcum, who turns 31 in December, hasn’t had an ERA over 3.70 in his last four seasons, and his still-decent 1.266 WHIP last year was his highest since 2007. He’s got a career ERA+ of 111, and a K/BB of 2.65. His post-Tommy John surgery WARs are 3.6, 2.8, and 1.4. There’s talent there, even if it is belied by his 85 MPH fastball.

But he managed just 124 innings in 2012, missing a couple months with elbow tightness, and his FIP was 4.10. Given that he’s a previous Tommy John surgery recipient, that’ll be enough to shrink his market, and knock him down into the Cubs’ primary target range.

Opinions are split on whether Marcum can get a two year deal, or whether he’ll have to settle for a one-year “prove it” type deal. It probably depends on how that elbow’s looking (he did appear to be healthy at the end of the year). Ideally, the Cubs could land him on a one-year-plus-option year deal, like the one they gave Paul Maholm last year ($4.75 million plus $6.5 million team option), but I suspect Marcum will cost a little more.

Garza, Samardzija, McCarthy, Marcum, Wood? It’s early, and odds never favor the first guesses you see at a rotation (I’d be surprised if even three of those names are correct come April), but that’s a good rotation with several excellent potential trade chips.

… if everyone is perfectly healthy. Which, with that group, is far from a lock. It might be the best we can realistically hope for, though.

  • Brian Peters

    Again with players who are injured? Wow! This IS better than the Hendry administration (I say sarcastically).

    • willis

      It bugs me too. But in this case, with Marcum, he’s been very succesful in both leagues, giving him a shot doesn’t bother me at all.

    • Cyranojoe

      Depends. We gonna pay the guy way above market and give him an NTC? Orrrrr… not.

    • Brian

      Was injured, now is not, Seems worth taking a look at.

    • sclem21

      how else to you suggest the team acquire X amount of talent for less $ than is normally required to obtain X talent? this is the way.

      • ColoCubFan

        I understand the reasoning, just getting a little frustrated with the “let’s try him, he’s been hurt” philsophy.

  • CubFan Paul

    Bosio was never the pitching coach in Milwaukee, was he? Just the AAA coach?

    • Cyranojoe

      He was pitching coach for the Brewers very briefly:
      “On August 12, 2009, he replaced Bill Castro as pitching coach for the Milwaukee Brewers. In October 2009 he was named Major League Advanced scout for the Milwaukee Brewers.”

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Mostly AAA, but he did have a brief stint as the pitching coach on the big club. So there’s a connection there, if that’s what you mean.

      • CubFan Paul

        Marcum had a good 2011. I was hoping Bosio had something to do with that

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Possibly. But his 2011 was pretty consistent with his final year in Toronto, and his pre-TJS years, too. I think he’s probably just always been a good pitcher.

  • cubsin

    There are about 10-12 starting pitchers whom the Cubs will pursue, and probably at least 10 teams looking for starting pitchers in that price range. The good news is that the Cubs have plenty of money to throw around and are more likely than most to pick the right two or three of them.

  • Kyle

    Pretty much the same thing as always this offseason: I like Marcum if he’s the second-best starting pitcher we acquire this offseason. If he’s the primary rotation move, I’m very disappointed.

    • Mick

      Is that according to your plan or Theo’s? Because according to Theo’s plan, we should be in the market for the best SHORT-TERMED contracts available to be flipped for really good prospects.

      • Kyle

        Well, let’s see.

        I’m not Theo Epstein.

        I used to the phrase “I” as the subject of both sentences.

        So I think there’s a pretty good chance that I was referring to my own frame of reference and not Theo Epstein’s.

        • Mick

          Kyle, I was asking because I was interested in hearing what better options would be out there for SP’s that wouldn’t require a long-term commitment and could be flipped at the deadline for the best prospects.

          But, since we’re talking about your offseason plan, you’ve previously stated that your first choice would be Greinke and now you’re saying your second choice would be Marcum? Not Sanchez, Kuroda, Jackson, Haren or Lohse if we’re following the “Kyle” plan on fielding the best team possible right now with nothing else considered? I just thought choosing Marcum who is a high injury risk as your 2nd choice was inconsistent with everything else you’ve ever said as to how this team should be constructed.

          • willis

            But why do they have to be non long term commitments and simply good to flip? Why the hell not start building your rotation now, seeing that there is no ready pitching in this system other than maybe a dude coming off of TJ surgery who none of us should be counting on for more than…maybe 100 total innings this year?

            If this team ever wants to win, there has to be a pitching foundation. Just signing crap to eventually flip does nothing but make this team the continued door mat of a winnable division.

            • Mick

              From what I’ve read of Theo/Hoyer’s plan is that signing long-term deals for pitchers at this stage in the game is fruitless unless we have a core of positiion players to go with it. Like the Maholm trade, they were able to bring in Vizcaino (now our top pitching prospect) which better aligns with our positional prosects in the system. What would you rather have a few #3 pitchers right now or a few #1 pitchers in 2 years?

              • Jeff

                Yeah, our top pitching prospect is a TJ surgery recovery who won’t pitch more than 100 innings in the minors. Their is no guarantee that he will stick in the majors so it is too premature to even question if he’s a potential 1 or 3 or 5.

                Theo’s strategy is flawed. The truth is that we have no decent pitching prospects in the minors and very little trade material to get any pitchers.

                If we sign some of these names to flip at a deadline deal we are extremely short sighted. We must build the team not to tear it down.

                Pick one guy and sign him to compete, not trade. Whether it’s a Liriano or a Lohse or a Marcum.

                I’m extremely disappointed in this front office for their continued ineptness, from failed trade negotiations, to Theo’s apparent ambivalence to lay out a road map. Whether you liked or agreed with the last GM, he never had two failed trades put egg all over his face.

                • Kyle

                  It is quite intriguing that our front office keeps insisting Vizcaino can be a starter when essentially nobody else sees him that way.

                  I like that we’re willing to go against the grain, but we’ll see how it turns out.

                  • ETS


                • Mick

                  Signing flippable assets is a creative way to add top-flight talent in today’s CBA. By doing so the Cubs are accelerating their farm system’s development thus shortening the time to completion. If the plan is to rebuild, then let’s hurry up and do it. Signing medicore free agents and hoping to be competitive while only drafting in line with other franchises isn’t going to put us ahead. We might as well go all in on this rebuild in the hopes it will get us to a championship sooner.

                  • Kyle

                    If our front office isn’t capable of drafting better than other organizations, then why did we hire them and how are they going to sustain success once the rebuild is complete?

          • Kyle

            Ok, I see where you’re going.

            In this case, my idea and Theo’s idea sort of dovetail, because outside of Grienke (who even we can’t afford to outbid the LA teams for), there’s not much pitching out there worth giving a long-term contract too.

            Of course, that’s kind of a loaded phrase, because I don’t consider a 3-year high money deal or a 4-year medium money deal to be a long-term commitment, but some here probably do.

            Lohse, McCarthy, Sanchez and Jackson are all probably better options than Marcum for the “short-term and hope to flip” strategy. I’d put Marcum roughly even with Haren and Dempster.

            • Mick

              Lohse, Sanchez, and Jackson will all require a contract of at least 3 years and the Cubs will be looking for candidates to flip this tradeline or next at the latest. Trading any of these guys with 2 1/2 years and beaucoup bucks is improbable, that’s why I wouldn’t consider these good options. That’s why I was curious how you could rank Marcum as your #2 option. McCarthy and Marcum seem like the 2 best short-term (1-2 year contracts at the most) that could yield us the greatest returns on a tradedealine deal. My top-5 would be:


              • Drew7

                I didn’t interpret what he said to mean Marcum would be his #2 option. I read it as, if he were the 2nd-best pitcher they *signed* this offseason, he would be happy.

                I think he was going back to the debate with BetterJoeGoldDouble – you can’t judge the FO’s intentions for ’13 by looking at one particular signing in a vacuum.

              • CubFan Paul

                why are you so low on Liriano? i’d want him over McCarthy (health) & Marcum (unimpressive stuff)

                • BT

                  Because Liriano has been pretty awful the last 2 years?

                  • CubFan Paul

                    well duh…i wanted a more thoughtful answer than awful

                    Marmol has been awful but had a pretty good 2nd half that makes him attractive

                    • BT

                      Why do you need a more thoughtful answer than that? I’m down on Liriano because he stinks. He stunk last year. He was good in 2010, but he stunk in 2009. That’s a bad trend. It seems like more than enough evidence to discard him as a candidate though. McCarthy and Marcum don’t stink. Would adding stats to the post make you feel better?

                    • cubchymyst

                      Liriano walks to many batters. He has averaged 5W/9IP the past 2 years.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      i know Liriano walks a lot of guys. I was just wondering why from someone who’s seen him pitch. because it could be ‘fixable’ especially if its something he wasnt doing when he was successfull

                    • BT

                      If Don Cooper couldn’t fix it, I’m not sure who is going to.

  • Stevie B

    People, ugh, I’ll say this one more time.

    This is going to be a PROCESS. This organization, player wise, was in SHAMBLES when the Ricketts took over.
    Let this FO carry out their plan….or go away!!!!! I’m sick of hearing about it.

    • Kyle

      “This organization, player wise, was in SHAMBLES when the Ricketts took over.”

      That’s really not true. It was a little below average, at worst.

      • ColoCubFan

        That’s painting a pretty rosey picture of a train wreck, IMHO.

      • Stevie B

        Kyle, I have to disagree. Crappy farm, aged MLB roster, SUPER high payroll, and remember Rizzo came afterwards.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          Farm system wasn’t that bad. It was extremely deep, but thin on very high end talent. It was easily a top 12-15 system when Theo got here.

          • Stevie B

            I’ll upgrade crappy to below average, because I like you…Betty.

        • Kyle

          Heading into Epstein’s first offseason, there was roughly $90 million in commitments (right? I’m going off of memory here and working backwards from the current roster).

          It was a smidge aged, but that’s not a bad thing and it wasn’t quite as bad as people like to portray.

  • ihop

    Best part about marcum is that the brewers traded future all star brett lawrie for him!

  • Patrick G

    Call me crazy, but would it make sense for the Cubs to go after Jason Bay? Mets just released him and must be cheap after his horrific past few seasons, but if cheap he could fill our outfield spot needed. Or with the past few terrible seasons, will GMs not give much up if the cubs try to flip him if he has a comeback type year?

  • terencemann

    I think he might not get anything more than minor league deals with an NRI at this point.

  • terencemann

    Don’t feed the trolls, guys.

  • Dustin

    I would really like to see a rotation of Garza,Liriano,Samardzija,McCarthy,Wood

    Might sound crazy but I wouldn’t mind them going after Melky Cabrera on a one year deal. A player that is trying to rebuild his value.

  • william

    i would also like to see a rotation like that i cant see liriano not get checked out by the front office he fits in their mold also and he is a lefty i could see the fo go after and sign mccarthy,marcum,and liriano along with the likes of melky and now bay and keppinger , theriot,or derosa

  • http://bleachernation.com lou brock lives

    Besides Vizcaino is there any SP in the Cub system we can be relatively sure will be ready to start for them any earlier than 2015 ? So why the focus on a 1 year or two year fix when it would be nice to have a strong foundation of a Samardzija, Garza, Wood, with A. Sanchez & E. Jackson and we have more than enough money to sign them. Why go after these sore armed , semi washed out , soft tossers ? We need guys who can throw hard & eat up 200 innings each & make it worth our while to spend $ 75 per ticket .
    Marcum pitches like he is waiting for paint to dry – in other words he is pitching in pain & waiting for it to subside & throw his next 87 mph heater.

  • Brian cubs fan

    Heard cubs will sign haren if the price is right so that would eliminate either marcum or mcarthy unless the cubs move wood to the pen or have him pitch in triple A and the cubs would have a dominating rotation if we put wood in the pen or triple garza Haren Mcarthey Marcum Samardzja

  • Mike

    I’m a cubs fan from wi,marcum sucks and every brewer fan I know and fans I’ve heard on talk radio show couldn’t wait for him to get out of Milwaukee. I’m frustrated with what theo is owing with the cubs. Why can’t he go after a top free agent every year to start building in the right direction and have good vets to go along with the young guys we bring up in the next few years? If they would have signed prince last year at least there would be someone to enjoy going to the games to watch. Intend we get Stewart to play third,who is not good at all. We are on the road to 100+ losses for the next 2 or 3 years at least. I hated Hendry,but at least we had our chances to win with him. Right now we just keep going more in the wrong direction. Ill miss seeing Houston below us next year. They will be able to remodel wrigley field during the season because there won’t be any fans in the seats anyways. Way to go theo and Jed!! Keep up the good work……..uh……or non work!!!!

  • Serious Cubs Fan


    Do you see the Cubs taking a chance on Scott Baker? I know he’s coming off TJ surgery but the guy has great stuff and they probably could get him for Paul Maholm deal for sure. They might pay an extra mil or so, but he has such a boom/bust factor.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      See the latest Lukewarm Stove – he comes up, and there’s a link back to when he was discussed.

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    I would love to see a Garza, Samardzija, McCarthy, Marcum, Baker rotation. That makes 4 great trade chips and then when the Cubs flip 1 or 2 of them for prospects plug in T. Wood, and some up and then bring up a prospect Nick Struck from the minors after a trade. Also once Vizciano is healthy and ready to be brought up you call him up also.

    • DoubleDown

      No way!

    • Drew7

      I’m still on the fence regarding the rebuilding method, but it does make me sad to see so many people getting excited about a potential rotation because over it’s “flip-ability”.

      Not that I don’t get what you’re saying, I’m just ready for the phrase “that rotation looks like it could help us make a run!”

      • DoubleDown

        Yes. I love the phrase “flip-ability” because it portends to the fact the Cubs acually would be conceding 2013 season. Good or bad, that would be a fact.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Yes. I love the phrase “flip-ability” because it portends to the fact the Cubs acually would be conceding 2013 season.

          Realistically, the best for which the Cubs can hope is to cobble together a team where “if everything goes right,” then they contend. That would be swell. However, it’s pretty rare for everything to go right. So, as a contingency plan, it’s good if you can cannibalize the parts for potentially better parts quickly.

    • jt

      Pitchers worst starts at a 25% rate; best starts at the other 75% rate.
      example: 28 starts -> 7 worst starts and 21 best starts:
      Pitcher ERA/bad ERA/good ERA
      Cain 6.57 1.69 2.79
      Verlander 6.84 1.39 2.64
      Shields 9.00 2.21 3.52
      A. Sanchez 9.14 2.38 3.86
      E. Jackson 11.00 2.54 4.03
      Wood 11.47 2.51 4.27
      Doubront 10.74 3.46 4.86
      Liriano 12.52 4.17 5.34

      When Liriano was good, he was bad
      Wood was not that much different than E. Jackson.

      • jt

        sorry, seems columns don’t line up

      • DoubleDown


        • jt

          Great pitchers have their “good stuff” about 90% of the time.
          Good pitchers have it 80 to 85%
          Middle of the rotation and back of the rotation guys about 70 to 75%.
          Using the lower standard of 75%
          Great pitchers have an ERA of about 6.5 when they are “off” and less than 2.00 when then are “on”.
          Some, like Shields, have and ERA of about 9 when they suck. That is about 6 runs in 6 IP or 5 runs in 5 innings. A decent team can still come back some of the time. However they are close to the 2.00 ERA when they are on. They are good.
          Others like E. Jackson and T. Wood suck when they are bad. A team will have a hard time over coming 7 or 8 runs during such a start. However, the 75% of the time they are good, they are very good. Not the sub 2.00 but around 2.50. That gives a team a good shot at winning.
          If the FO sees Wood as improving his good starts to 80% or lowering his ERA during his bad starts then becomes more valuable. I hardly expect anyone would expect him to improve to the James Shields level. In fact they may expect him to regress. But, if he repeats his 2012 stats, he has quite a bit of value.
          Liriano, on the other hand, was awful when he was bad and bad when he was good.

  • Mike

    I’m with ya drew7, lets make a run, I hate losing!!! At least compete and give us hope!!

    • DoubleDown


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