Considering the Cubs' Pitching Depth After Last Night's Move and Other Bullets

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Considering the Cubs’ Pitching Depth After Last Night’s Move and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

The Littlest Girl has been home with me this month, as I’ve mentioned before, but thankfully I’ve had some tremendous help from The Grandparents, making it much easier to do my job mostly as normal. This week will be a little tougher, as the schedules don’t quite work out for as much help, so it’ll mostly just be me with her during the day. I would guess that, for the most part, you won’t notice too much difference around here, but, to the extent you do, apologies in advance.

  • The big news last night was the Cubs’ reported agreement with lefty Brett Anderson, who would provide significant upside for the rotation if he’s healthy. Jeff Passan reported that the deal – if Anderson passes his physical! – is a one-year agreement for $3.5 million, with incentives that could take it up to $10 million. We’ll have to see how early the incentives kick in (presumably they’ll be based on starts), but it’s hard not to be happy about that contract for the Cubs. The downside risk is sufficiently minimal that if Anderson is hopelessly broken in Spring Training, or, more unlikely, if he simply isn’t looking good enough to crack the Cubs’ roster, the total loss is manageable. And, even if he makes only 10 or 15 starts, a $10 million commitment to a guy who figures to be a league-average starter (at worst (again, this is in the starts he’s healthy enough to make)) is worth it to a playoff-hoping team like the Cubs.
  • I’ve been straining a bit to decide how much he actually helps with the Cubs’ starting depth problems, because of that big health question. As with Tyson Ross, the value here is less about insuring the Cubs against injury to their other starting pitchers (which is the primary purpose of quality depth), and is more about hitting the reclamation jackpot and landing a mid-rotation starter. Certainly, not having to count on Anderson as an every-five-days starter could/should help with his injury issues, and the Cubs’ otherwise full rotation could allow them to proceed with a six-ish-man rotation, as they did in the second half last year (which thus does help overall depth). If you can get buy-in from the other starting pitchers, and accommodate their throwing schedules so that they don’t get too off course (and without wrecking the bullpen by having six of your pitchers earmarked exclusively as starters), I’m super-duper in on the Cubs going with a six-man rotation for much of the season. The benefits to health and production are simply too much to ignore. (Why don’t all teams do it, then, Mr. Smartypants? Well, not all teams have six quality starting pitchers like the Cubs now project to have.)
  • The previous Bullet notwithstanding, it’s only fair that I say again what I said yesterday, before the Anderson signing broke: even with “six MLB starting pitchers” now coming to Spring Training for the Cubs, the odds that all six are perfectly healthy and ready to go when camp breaks is probably a 50/50 proposition, at best. We see it all around baseball every year: guys show up for Spring Training, they get throwing, they feel a little something, they slow it down, and they end up not making their debut until late April or May. By then, other things have gone sideways in the rotation, and it’s all sorted out. Hopefully that doesn’t happen for the Cubs, and hopefully they can proceed however they’d optimally prefer … but you can’t count on that, especially when one of your starters is not yet definitively established (Montgomery), one is coming off an injury-lost season (Anderson), and another is 38 and had a shoulder injury last year (Lackey). So, then, if the Cubs want to add another back-end-type starting pitcher on a minor league deal, that sure would make me happy.
  • (I don’t mean to act as if guys like Rob Zastryzny, Caleb Smith, Jake Buchanan, Seth Frankoff, and Aaron Brooks don’t exist. Should one or all of them be called upon to fill in as starters this year, here’s hoping they break out. It’s just that, in a year that the Cubs figure to be especially competitive – with a big question mark thereafter – you want to make sure every contingency is covered with as much established big league talent as possible.)
  • I know many Cubs fans still have beef with him about “that one tweet,” but mostly, I think you’re going to like Anderson on Twitter:

  • A wedding video teaser from the newly-married MVP:

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.