How Does the Cubs’ Rotational Depth Look Right Now? And Other Bullets

edwin jackson cubsThe Little Girl remains obsessed with watching ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas.’ Do I tell her it’s January 5, or just roll with it? That is, of course, a rhetorical question. I roll with anything that isn’t the 500th viewing of ‘Cinderella.’

  • Jeff Sullivan writes at FanGraphs about the necessity (and unpredictability) of depth behind the “five-man rotation.” Getting quality sixth and seventh starters is usually very important to a successful season, but it’s hard to just go out an sign great sixth/seventh guys – since great pitchers tend to have starting rotation jobs elsewhere. Instead, you just kind of have to have that depth, either by way of internal development or stale contracts for guys who don’t mind a swing role. In Sullivan’s calculations, the average team had to rely on a non-starting-five arm for 32 of its starts in 2013. That’s 1/5 of all starts being made by a guy you didn’t expect to be in the rotation.
  • How do the Cubs stack up right now in this area? Well, assuming for the sake of argument that they do not sign another starter – I suspect one more is coming, be he in the form of Masahiro Tanaka or a lesser option like Jason Hammel or Scott Baker – and do not trade anyone, then the rotation stacks up thusly: Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood, Edwin Jackson, Jake Arrieta, Carlos Villanueva/Chris Rusin. There will be other guys competing for that fifth spot, but Villanueva and Rusin are obviously the top candidates. The one who doesn’t get the job is your de facto sixth starter, and the seventh comes from a group including Brooks Raley, Justin Grimm, Alberto Cabrera, Kyle Hendricks, Brett Marshall, Neil Ramirez, Eric Jokisch, Tsuyoshi Wada, and Dallas Beeler, among others. That’s a ton of depth – better than it’s been in recent years – but is it the kind of quality depth you want making 32 starts at the big league level? My gut says it’s slightly below average, with a rotation as a whole that is hovering right around average (but with nice upside).
  • Craig Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus chatted earlier in the week (with a fantasy bent), and offered many thoughts on Cubs players/prospects … (1) Craig is not high on Pierce Johnson, whom he sees as clearly behind C.J. Edwards (the latter being a future number 3, the former being a 4/5); (2) Craig really likes Arismendy Alcantara, who has made adjustments and improved as he’s climbed the ladder (a future .275/.340/.450 hitter, according to Craig, which you’d take in a heartbeat at second base); (3) Craig wonders if Justin Grimm could still be a good back-of-the-rotation starter; (4) Craig is not all that high on Kyle Hendricks, whom he calls a 5/6 and “a nice guy to have in the minors”; (5) Craig guesses an early June debut for Javier Baez in the bigs; (6) if Craig had to choose a future 3B for the Cubs between only Mike Olt and Christian Villanueva, he’d choose Olt; (7) Craig sees Anthony Rizzo as more of a .265 low-20s HR guy (remember, this is a fantasy bent where those are important things); and (8) a Jeff Samardzija extension that exceeds the Ricky Nolasco deal (4/$49M) is fair – Craig admits he’s more down on Samardzija than most.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

151 responses to “How Does the Cubs’ Rotational Depth Look Right Now? And Other Bullets”

  1. snakdad

    Any time you’re mentioning Brooks Raley as “depth”, then your depth sucks. And Rizzo is going to hit 30 homers by accident going forward.

    1. ssckelley

      It was just a couple of years ago that Raley was in the rotation. The fact he is only mentioned as depth shows how far this team has come. Raley still has upside in the bullpen.

      1. Jason P

        Not really. In 2012, he was our 8th/9th starter who got into the rotation after Maholm and Dempster were dealt, Garza got injured and Samardzija got shut down This year, he’s our 8th/9th starter again.

  2. Rizzo44

    He has Rizzo as a 265 and low 20s HR guy… come on really? Rizzo is going to be much better than that. I agree with him on Baez as long as he is killing it at AAA. I really believe he will be so early June sounds about right. So everyone still feels the Cubs don’t have a number one pitching prospect in the minors by the sounds of things. I still feel the Cubs will trade Shark either after Tanaka signs or by the deadline. I also believe it will be a very good deal when it happens for the Cubs. The Garza deal won’t even be close to as good a deal the Cubs will get for Shark. I’m still stunned at the projections on Rizzo. Nuts

    1. Ivy Walls

      Looking to change you handle? Rizzo must figure out LHP and actually hit above .750 OPS minimum, .800+ would be better otherwise he becomes a platoon candidate. Now as for Alcantara, he is saying the switch hitting converted SS is a potential .850 OPS + second baseman, that is a wow. As for Baez that would mean he is the 3B where Bryant moves to the OF (or 1B). The pitching, well that is crap shoot, pitchers suddenly learn new pitches and go from a marginal prospect to a surprise.

  3. Fastball

    Agree on the pitching. These bodies if only hoped to be 5,6 or 7 maybe. The veterans are what they are. The younger arms would project as back end rotation on a better team. Rizzo will be a 25 Hr, 85 rbi, .280 Ave guy in my opinion. That will be pretty damned good. He may a year or two where bumps up a little higher.
    Pitching is the weakness and I don’t expect the first wave of products from our brand new system to be anything more than back end rotation or bullpen guys. Pitching takes time probably 2 or 3 more years of waiting.

    1. CubFan Paul

      “Pitching takes time probably 2 or 3 more years of waiting”

      The Cubs had a whole slew of guys in Low A and Daytona that’ll progress to Daytona & Tennessee. It wont take 2 or 3 more years.

      1. Xruben31

        But, seriously, Pierce Johnson a 4/5?

        1. JeffR

          As much as we don’t want to hear it I don’t think that is that unreasonable. Hopefully turns into more of a 2/3 but I haven’t heard anyone say that he has a chance at being an Ace.

          1. JeffR

            From things I’ve read, Johnson seems to be more of a sure thing starter with a slightly higher floor than Edwards. But Edwards has a higher ceiling with maybe a small chance of being an Ace, depending on durability and ability to keep velocity into later innings.

      2. Jason P

        A pretty high percentage of 4/5′s at the ML level were expected to be 3′s or better coming up in the minors.

        1. DocPeterWimsey

          Not expected: that usually is a projected ceiling. (It’s better to write “a typical MLB starter”: all teams need 5 starters, so the “#3″ guys are those who rank between #61 – #90 from 150 ranked starters). The floor is bullpen. Similarly, most guys who do wind up in the 61-90 range had ceilings of being Top 30 pitchers, and floors in the 91-150 range (or bullpen).

          The problem is that we focus on the ceiling too much.

          1. Jason P

            I agree. That’s a better way to put it.

          2. EtotheR

            Precisely…besides…there’s an awful lot of 4/5s who get better and better, because they get smarter. While guys like Verlander and Lincecum break this rule, it still feels to me like most pitchers don’t really find their groove until they’re approaching 30.

  4. Fastball

    Rizzo hasn’t produced yet at the MLB level. He came up and looked real good for 45 days. Once the scouts at the ML had him in the book that success stopped. Then there was last season. He is the best defensive 12 since Grace. As much as I love Rizzo he has to start living up to the hype this season. What if he doesn’t. I’ll take .285 average 25 Hr and 85 Rbi because that will be a big improvement for him.

    1. DocPeterWimsey

      Actually, it wouldn’t be. The 25 HR is the only “real” number there, and that would not be a big improvement: he hit 23 last year. The 0.285 would require (largely) flukily high BABiP, albeit not as flukey as it was low for him last year. Remember, given his “true” numbers, Rizzo should have batted about 0.265 last year. Rizzo’s BABiP was a touch high in 2012, and that just shows you how variable this number is.

      Realistically, I could see Rizzo becoming a 30 HR guy: and given his K & BB rates, and given the correlation between HR & isoP and league-average BABiP, that would project to a 0.275/0.375/0.500 guy.

      (The improved BA would solely reflect a few extra batted balls getting into the seats where nobody can catch them.)

      1. cubmig

        Do you —-or anyone— know what Rizzo has been doing in the off season to meet the lofty expectations being talked about? I, for one, don’t share those views.

        1. fortyonenorth
          1. woody

            Just curious to know where his home is? I know he is from Florida. That article also said that Castro and Barney had open invitations to use the cage. All three of them have something to prove this year.

          2. DocPeterWimsey

            Cages are fine for swing mechanics. However, they cannot do anything for pitch recognition. That written, Rizzo has very good pitch recognition: it’s one of his most important tools.

            Rizzo’s K rates are not particularly bad for a power-hitter: this isn’t a case like Brett Jackson where Rizzo needs to find some way to increase his contact rates.

            1. woody

              There has been a lot of talk recently about pitch recognition. My question is whether or not it can be aquired or is more or less a talent that you either have or don’t have. Considering the amount of time that elapses from the time the ball leaves the pitchers hand, to the point where a swing needs to be initiated is very short. Just by hesitating for a slit second could put a hitter at a disadvantge. I think this was Castros problem last year. Theoretically you would think that a guy like Baez with very quick hands could get a little better look at a pitch. But really I don’t know. Seems to me like it all happens so fast that some players just have natural ability to identify and react. I have read comments by a few posters questioning Baez’s pitch recognition skills. His AA stats .294 .346 .638 .983 are better than what he did in A ball. Certainly there has to be some kind of a learning curve there. In closing I remember reading about Mueller’s comments that he worked very hard to become the hitter that he was. And that it was more than just natural ability that led to a batting title. And hopefully he can teach that skill. I think that the truth lies somewhere between.

              1. DocPeterWimsey

                If you use walk rates as a measure of pitch recognition, then the answer is that it rarely shifts. Most guys show the same walk rates throughout most of their careers (with a decline coming late due to deteriorating bat speed). Indeed, miLB walk rates are highly predictive of MLB walk rates.

                So, your opinion that it all happens too fast for guys that it really relies on natural ability is a sound one.

                That written, there is a partial correlation between BB rates and K rates. That is simply because as guys swing and miss more, they go deeper into counts. A guy who puts a 2-1 pitch into play does not get a walk. A guy who swings and misses now gets a 2-2 pitch: and there still is some probability of the pitcher throwing two bad pitches before he A) puts the ball into play or B) gets a 3rd strike.

                Baez’s (insignificant) increases in BB rates basically have tracked his (slightly more significant) increases in K rates. So, it is more probable that his greater number of walks reflects more PAs where he didn’t put a ball into play because of swinging and missing.

                1. JeffR

                  Surely there has been a few instances where a player has a good eye but just thinks he can hit everything and doesn’t want to take a walk, then as he matures realizes there is a lot of value in taking walks. Not that we can count on that happening, but it probably has happened. Right??? You look at a guy like Almora who everyone talks about his great approach and eye at the plate, but yet he has only taken 19 career minor league walks in 417 plate appearances. Could It be that he feels he is a superior hitter compared to the competition he is facing, so feels if he doesn’t get a hit it’s a failed at bat. Or am I just wishful thinking?

                  1. DocPeterWimsey

                    As Woody notes, this is too fast to be a cognitive process. A batter triggers “swing/don’t swing” (or, more appropriately, “Swing A/Swing B/Swing C/Don’t Swing” depending on how many swings a guy has) in about a 10th a second. Humans don’t think that fast!

                    Now, what you do get are guys who have huge “red” zones. (Almora currently is like that.) Part of this goes back to the issue of walk rates being partially dependent on how quickly a guy can put a ball into play. A guy with a big red zone (let’s say he can hit balls solidly in 2/3rds of the strike zone) are not going to get many walks because there is a really good chance that a pitch is going to wind up there before there are 4 non-strikes. This actually might be *exacerbated* by a guy having a good eye: if he does not chase pitches outside of his red zone, then he won’t prolong PAs by swinging and missing bad pitches.

                    The low BB, low K batter is unusual, but some very productive players (Tony Gwynn, Adrian Beltre, Vlad Guerrero, Yogi Berra) have fit this. I honestly don’t know if this is preferable to putting fewer balls into play but getting more walks: a single is worth more than a walk, after all, so the loss in OBP might be accommodated by the increase in slugging.

                    (The reason why I like guys who take walks is that the “huge red zone” guys seem to be very rare: you can find more guys with normal red zones and good batting eyes.)

                    1. woody

                      Thanks for your thoughts on that Doc. Speaking of Baez and Bryant I believe that Bryant is the more advanced hitter of the two. I am reminded of Holliday in his early days with the Rockies before he bulked up his body. In those days Holliday was contending for batting titles. Bryant has a very good chance of being a .300 career hitter. That rare combination of power and average. On the other hand Baez will probably be a .275 hitter with a higher than average strike out rate and impressive HR and RBI numbers.

                    2. DocPeterWimsey

                      I would caution against expecting so high a BA from Baez. His K-rates won’t just be higher than average: they are already much, much higher than average in AA, and they’ll only go up from there. Javier might easily K 30+% of his AB’s.

                      A guys BA is:
                      (HR/AB) + BABiP*(1-([K/AB] + [HR/AB])
                      The first term is just the part of the BA that comes from hits that are homers. The last term gives the proportion of AB’s that a ball is put into play but not into the seats. The proportion of hits is that times BABiP.

                      So, let’s say that Javier’s power is so great that he averages 40 HR in 600 AB (0.067). That would be good for 5th in MLB last year. Let’s go with a 30% K rate. That might sound like a lot, but it actually would have been only 9th in MLB last year. We now are looking at a BA of 0.067 + BABiP*(1-0.367). At MLB average BABiP (around 0.300 last year), we are talking about a BA of 0.255. To get up to 0.275, Javier would need a BABiP around 0.330. That’s obtainable, obviously, but it’s also a “good” year.

                      Now, I would caution that I actually might be optimistic on the K rates. Just looking at the miLB numbers of the guys with K’s / AB > 0.30 last year, none were K’ing appreciably more frequently than Javier is: and most were K’ing LESS often.

                      So, realistically, we might be looking at a baseline BA of about 0.240 or lower. (Think Chris Davis, but with even fewer walks.)

            2. cubmig

              Do you —-or anyone— know what Rizzo has been doing in the off season to meet the lofty expectations being talked about? I, for one, don’t share those views

              ……pitch recognition….that’s the key point Doc. I would also add “instinct” as a key point. In one approach the eyes predominate to inform; in the other, bodily cues predominate to inform. And by that, I am saying that responding instinctively to a pitch is a measure of the confidence factor at work. Think Castro. Rizzo may be adept at isolating a hittable pitch he VISUALLY recognizes, while Castro seems to exploit KINESTHETIC (bodily cues) to create hittable pitches.

              So……..I am wondering how and what Rizzo does to sharpen his seeing skills as a hitter and what permissive level will find approval as far as Castro is concerned. How do coaches design a methodology to help a player exploit the strengths he’s been successful with?

              Sorry about the analytical balderdash, but to me, hitting skills are uneven in a in.player, and finding and working with natural strengths and abilities must be a difficult task for coaches to map out and improve. We’ve seen what Castro’s situation has resulted in.

              1. DocPeterWimsey

                I would consider pitch recognition to basically be akin to instinct. Really, it’s a talent: some guys can do it and others cannot, just as most of us can see all the colors, a minority of us cannot, and a tiny fraction of people see colors in much more detail than normal.

                The big issue is, how can you create a situation where guys can actually work on it? Batting machines simply don’t cut it: as you note, the pitcher’s windup is much too important a part of pitch recognition. Batting machines cannot put MLB quality spin on pitches to emulate game-level curves, sliders, 2-seamers, 4-seamers, etc.

                That creates a problem: most of the game-level pitching that a player ever sees is in actual games. That makes it impossible (currently) to really *work* on it. (This is why I actually applaud the experiment with Castro last year: I don’t think it worked, but I would rather see a failed experiment than no experiment at all.) Quite frankly, we might need something like a Star Trek Holodeck to really do this. We actually are not too far from that: but we still are not there yet.

                1. cubmig

                  Your first sentence intrigues me: “I would consider pitch recognition to basically be akin to instinct.” It does so because I think you miss my point. I am talking about the hitter’s inner make-up he relies on in his approach to hitting. That is, some hitters rely on meeting a pitch based on visual judgments; others rely on feeling cues (body sensations) for putting the bat on a pitched ball. Castro, to me, is a prime example of the latter, while Rizzo may more aptly reflect the former approach.

                  In short, how a batter reads a pitch thrown is the issue.

        2. DocPeterWimsey

          I’m not sure how much a guy can do during the offseason. Remember, players used to do absolutely NOTHING in the offseason, but they still showed natural progress in things like power. Obviously, Rizzo is hitting the weights and the (still) legal supplements, but all players do: the guys who report to ST “out of shape” by today’s standards would have stunned coaches in 1974!

          However, and this is key: if Rizzo goes from 23 HR -> 30 HR, then the rest of those numbers follow that assuming that he keeps his walk & K rates.

        3. ClevelandCubsFan

          It’s just math (or, if you prefer, science): science.jpg

          1. ClevelandCubsFan

            Credit: XKCD,

            1. DocPeterWimsey

              I love them…..

  5. DarthHater

    The Grinch and Cinderella? Sounds to me like the Little Girl has pretty good taste.

  6. bushybrows74

    I think Alberto Cabrera as a guy who might be a pleasant surprise in the organization depth discussion.

    I think of Adam LaRoche is a good comparable to Rizzo.

  7. David

    I really I’m wrong…. but I’m not the biggest Rizzo fan. I think his swing is a bit long. I don’t see the quick hands necessary for a consistent guy hitting in the #3, 4 or 5 hole. Not to say he’s not a valuable player…. gold glove, good OBP. I agree with a .265/ 22 homer projection. Hopefully Baez, Bryant & others will produce more “superstar like” numbers and hit #3,4 & 5. Perhaps those guys will help improve Rizzo ‘ s production?????

    1. woody

      I agree that teams made an adjustment as to how they pitched Rizzo and in their infield positioning. But baseball is a game of adjustments. The jury is still out on Rizzo. But I am optomistic that Mueller can help Rizzo. My opinion all along has been that it wasn’t mere coincidence that three guys in our starting lineup last year regressed. There was a definate lack of comminication going on last year. I’ll use the Kevin Gregg incident as an example. Why wasn’t he pulled into the office and told that they were just wanting to give Stropp some time s closer for evaluation purposes (maybe they did)? I have to think that if Dale had called him into the office and said ” you did a great job this year, but we need to evaluate Stropp in a closer’s role” then everything would have been alright. There was a disconnect there for sure. Mueller seems like a perfect pick to help a guy like Rizzo. He was a career .300 hitter and good enough to win a batting championship. I think the odds of Rizzo improving his game are favorable this year.

  8. Cubsin

    How does the Cubs’ rotational depth look right now? Scary.

    I’m not worried about Samardzija, Wood or Jackson, aside from unexpected injuries and possible trades, Arrieta has a starting pitcher’s arm, so I’m hopeful that Bosio can help him become a decent fourth starter, All of the other candidates you named appear well-qualified to be a seventh or eighth starter, but none of them excite me as a fifth or sixth starter.

    We need Tanaka, but I doubt that we’ll get him.

  9. CubsFanFrank

    If we can get Tanaka, that would be awesome. If not, I’d just as soon cycle through Grimm, Cabrera, Marshall, of course Vizcaino if he’s ready, and later, Hendricks, depending on how AAA treats him.

  10. Kyle

    We do seem to have a pretty big pile of 6th and 7th starters, so hopefully we won’t have to get down to the Justin Germano tier again.

    Unfortunately, that pile seems to be extending a bit too far up our depth chart. I hate that Arrieta is just being gifted a spot. That feels Hendryish.

    1. SPWrigley


      Not sure Arrietta is just being given a spot- not a fan of that either. He did have a 3.66 ERA and 1.12 WHIP after coming over from the American League (relatively small sample size, I know).

      Not sure we have too many other options who have proven anything, let alone those numbers, at the MLB level who would be a better choice for a number 4.

      1. When The Musics Over

        I hope Arrietta figures it out this year, but call me skeptical given his track record of shittiness is far bigger than his track record of effectivness.

  11. Diehardthefirst

    Would like to see Cubs give Joel Hanrahan a look

    1. Sacko

      Can’t find him, who is he and from where?

      1. Diehardthefirst

        FA closer coming back from arm injury

    2. Voice of Reason

      Hanrahan is not going to come here to be a set up man. He will want to go to another shitty that.doesn’t have a closer songs can rebuild his value. Or go to a contending team as a set up man.

      We have veras.

  12. Blackhawks1963

    Pitching depth looks scary. I’m not completely sold on Samardzija, but obviously he is the best we have. Wood is likely due for some regression. Jackson should be okay and revert back to his 6 year norm prior to last season…30 starts, 190 plus innings. Rusin does nothing for me. Arrieta is the definite lpin the rotation…big time stuff, but his career has forever been plagued by inconsistency. There will be okay depth at Triple A in the form of the Texas Rangers gang of Grimm, Loux, Hendricks.

    The bullpen has to be better. Veres and Wright should definitely help. Russell is a good pitcher who has been overused. Strop is intriguing of course. Villenueva a good option as swingman. I like Rondon’s potential. Parker provides okay depth. Some okay bullpen options will be stashed at Triple A.

  13. CubFan Paul

    Grimm would be my #5 over Rusin/Villanueva

  14. Sacko

    I say FO get’s 2 more SP before ST. Shark I do not believe will be extended as I don’t think he wants to wait on us and inactivity so he could be traded in July. And do you guys really think Arrieta is dependable all season? I don’t, and see him in the BP eventually.

    1. When The Musics Over

      Maybe they do sign two more guys, but Tanaka isn’t one of them, you’re looking at more 4/5/6 starters, something the Cubs clearly don’t need anymore of. They simply won’t spend the money to get anything better, of course, excluding Tanaka.

      1. When The Musics Over

        *but if Tanaka isn’t one of them….

      2. Sacko

        no I’m not looking at 4,5,6 starters but thats what we might end up with. No I don’t think we get Tanaka.

  15. abe

    This guy is clearly low on all of the Cubs pitching prospects. I will defer to the cubs on this one and say he is probably wrong..

  16. 70's Cub

    If the Cubs lose out on Tank they will need to proceed and sign a quality starter 200 inning type. I agree with Kyle the Cubs won’t gift “Arrieta” the 4th spot.

    1. Voice of Reason

      70′s club:

      The cubs will not sign Tanaka and after that they will not sign a quality 200 inning starter.

      They need to start auditioning young pitchers like arrieta. He will have to pitch very poorly to not get a spotnin the rotation. 2014 is about buying time form the kids to get ready and to audition some players who might be ready.

      1. woody

        I tend to agree with you on the audition theory. Isn’t it funny how quickly the assumption that we had a young core all changed after last season. Since everybody is agreeble that this year is going to be a bust then we might as we’ll find out exactly where things stand. I have wondered what the affect of trading Sorino and DeJesus had on Castro and Rizzo. But they will have to put their big boy pants on this year. I like the fact that the club has assigned trainers to those two guys and I expect them to report to camp in very good shape.

  17. Diehardthefirst

    As I reported yesterday Tanaka has already pitched 7 seasons avg 200 innings per year- that could mean he is toast

    1. Jason P

      7 really isn’t all that many. Clayton Kershaw’s already pitched 6, and he looks to be just entering his prime.

  18. Cubbie in NC

    Arrieta makes me nervous.

    I like Villanueva as a swing guy to start the year and not as a starter.

    Hopefully in 2 years the 6 and 7 guys are young people breaking through the system and not cast offs from other organizations that we are hoping find lightening in a bottle.

    Not holding my breath on Tanaka, but I would feel much better about Arrieta as a 5 with Villanueva ready if he falters.

  19. woody

    Don’t forget about us cubs fans in Northern Indiana. It’s great because I can be a bear fan and a colts fan too. If you missed that game then shame on you. Having a glut of back end starters is good in the sense that some of those guys could transition into good bull pen pieces. I really think last year was the end of the pathetic bull pen days. With that number four pick this year we should be able to get an impact arm into the system. All this talk about Tanaka, but I wonder what plan B is? Certainly the FO has a plan B. I am of the opinion that for the money we would spend on Tanaka we could extend Shark and sign Jimenez. That would push Arrietta to the 5 slot in the rotation and those other guys would be insurance. If they don’t sign Tanaka and trade Samardzija for prospects I will be really disapointed. Beause IMO that puts 2015 in the toilet too. But if a team gets silly enough to give up a haul like we got with the Garza rental then I guess that’s the way it has to be. I know that it has been argued that if you can’t be a 90 game winner then you might as well not put the resources into the team to be at .500. Just keep losing and compete for the number one pick in 2015. But if you can’t bring the team to .500 and some level of respectability then how are we ever going to compete? Maybe that’s the plan for next year. If they don’t sign Tanaka and deal Shark then I think it will really be a nasty seaason. Lose another half a million in attendance and beer sales. I would have to think that would give management less leverage in TV negociations. Business decisions are based on performance and not on high hopes. With ST starting in about five more weeks I think that this is a make or break month for an FO that has sat on their hands to this point.

    1. JeffR

      I’m not sure if Jimenez is worth losing a draft pick for unless it’s a very reasonable deal. I realize a 2nd round pick is not that valuable but signing another pitcher that is a 3/4 is not what we need right now.

      1. blewett

        Bring back Garza instead and don’t lose the draft pick. There will be some good HS arms available with that high 2nd round pick.

        1. dunston donuts

          Isn’t it funny that just a year or two ago we really wanted to sign Garza to an extension. At the time the contract extension was being discussed the FO said he was the type of player they would like to build around. I wonder what the difference between the original extension contract from a few years ago and his current demands are.

          I wouldn’t do a long term deal with Garza but a short term deal for significant dollars should be considered. He be a great 2 or 3 in a rotation.

          1. Good Captain

            I suspect the FO either soured on him since or overstated their desire for him to return.

      2. Voice of Reason

        No sense in even speculating on Jimenez. The cubs are not investing the kind of many he will command. They’re just not in position to be bringing on a high priced #3 starter.

        Next question….

        1. When The Musics Over

          Agree he’s not coming to the Cubs.

          Disagree that Cubs aren’t in a position to invest in a starter. The Cubs need good players. On the other hand, if we’re talking about the Cubs being too poor/cheap to bring in a high priced starter, then I do agree with you.

        2. dunston donuts

          I agree that the Cubs won’t invest significant dollars on Jimenez. However, once his price falls is he worth the 2nd round pick? I think they will evaluate the worth of the 2nd round pick based on what they think they could flip him for.

    2. rcleven

      Plan B? Got to believe that is Baker at this point in time.
      He fall into the Cubs price range and did a fair job at the end of the season when he was able to pitch. Still scratching my head about how successful he was after not being able to get low A ball hitters out.

  20. ssckelley

    I would feel a lot more comfortable with the pitching rotation if Samardzija was extended. If the Cubs were to get Tanaka the rotation would look pretty good.

  21. 70's Cub

    Tanaka or bust..

  22. ruby2626

    Completely off topic but I was watching the movie Fever Pitch last night with my 10 and 8 year old sons who I’ve completely brainwashed to be huge Cub fans. They freak out my friends when they start naming Cub lower level minor leaguers. While watching the movie I told them to substitute the word Cubs for Red Sox and to enjoy the movie. The point is that when we do eventually win this thing it is going to be the biggest sports story for like the next 100 years and that the wait will be worth it. I think the movie is really underrated, I can do without the stupid ending with Drew Berrymore running on the field but I love the scene where the guys are heartbroken after a tough loss and drowning their sorrows in some beers. Across the room they see Johnny Damon and Veritek and another Red Sox drinking and laughing and stuffing their faces as if they hadn’t even played a game. I just think that’s a cool scene, sometimes I wonder after a tough loss whether it bothers me more than the players who then drive home in their $80,000 car as consolation. Sorry to ramble.

  23. Jason P

    Tanaka would boost this team’s projected WAR into the 32 range, which puts them right in line with the lower 10 percentile of playoff teams in the past decade. In other words, if the Cubs sign Tanaka, they’d have just enough to compete for a playoff spot if they’re 2014′s “lucky team” (a la 2012 Orioles, 2007 DBacks, etc.).

    1. Kyle

      That sounds pretty much dead on.

      1. When The Musics Over

        Just like last year, I still don’t know how this team is going to score runs. On paper, at the current moment, the penciled in offense is worse than last year.

      2. DarthHater


      3. Jason P

        Interestingly enough, the 2007 Diamondbacks — the team that won 90 games and swept us out of the playoffs — had a team WAR of 26.0. Our’s last year was 26.7, for reference.

        1. DocPeterWimsey

          The ’07 DBacks were an anomalous team in many ways. In particular, they were at least two different teams: the first half of the year, they got lucky and won a lot of close games despite playing pretty poorly. The DBacks were pretty good the last part of the season: they outperformed the Cubs in September, for example, and that is what predicts who wins the first round of the playoffs.

          (Of course, the ’07 Rox completely blew both teams out of the water in September: and that showed in the playoffs!)

  24. baldtaxguy

    To point out the obvious, this shows how valuable Tanaka is the Cubs now and the future. I’m not entirely sold Wood will have a similar season – I hope so, but I’m concerned he may not have similar success.

    1. Kyle

      It’s the same offense minus DeJesus and Soriano. Ick, ick, ick.

      Unless something drastic happens in the next six weeks, this will be the worst Epstein/Hoyer Cubs team to date on paper.

      1. Bret Epic

        I think it’s going to be miserable too. We’ve incrementally improved in very minimalistic ways while decreasing payrolls, but we have a very large void offensively that needs filling. Hopefully, some of that will occur when Alcantara, Baez, Bryant, Soler and Almora are called up, but since none of them will likely start the season with the big league club and some won’t even be called up this year, it will likely end up a painful season. I’m looking forward to seeing how well the RF platoon of Ruggiano and Schierholtz works, Rizzo’s bounce back, Castro’s bounce back and if Olt can come back from his eye issues and live up to the hype he once had.

        1. Bret Epic

          Oh and if Lake can defy the odds and if Vizcaino can throw a pitch for the big league club before his arm falls off.

  25. Kyle

    2013 xFIP of our current rotation (Arrieta and Villanueva at 4 and 5)


    (league average was 3.91)

  26. cavemancubbie

    Perhaps pitch recognition is just a matter of great eyesight. I seem to remember a story about Ted Williams, who was able to see the bat make contact with the ball. Certainly Williams was one of the greatest hitters of all time, but I’ve never heard other great hitters having the same ability, if in fact the story about Ted was true..

  27. Jr 25

    I know everyone is waiting to see what happens with a Tanaka but we should really be dangling Shark still. Once Tanaka signs Price still is the #1 guy to trade for (even though he will cost the farm). Still think we need to revisit with the Jays and choose either Sanchez (2yrs away) or Stroman (this yr) Nolin (this yr) Jiminez (catching prospect which we don’t have) and a flier like Drabek (25) or Hutchinson (23). That’s a pretty good hall for a number #2 or 3 pitcher. (Sorry Shark is no ace and not worth ace money).

  28. Voice of Reason

    We haven’t stopped dangling shark?

    The market for shark isn’t at the height of Tanaka.

    Just relax.

  29. Diehardthefirst

    If Olt starts and Barney hits then Cubs could have best infield defense in league which helps pitchers

  30. Blackhawks1963

    Samardzija and Price are doubtful to be traded this offseason. Nobody wants to make the asking price. David Price and Tampa had a great chance to win the World Series and I think they have decided to roll the dice and keep him one more season.

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