Cubs RoundTable: How would you fix the 2012 Rotation?

Cubs RoundTable: How would you fix the 2012 Rotation?






This is the final installment of our roundtable series on the 2012 early previews.  It will be on the 2012 Cubs starting rotation.  We thank you for your great response and we certainly will have more in the future.  Thanks also to the great bloggers who participated.

I would also like to personally take a moment to thank John Arguello of "Cubs Den". Not only have I been inspired by his Cubs analysis, but honored to be apart of these roundtable discussions put together by him.

Make sure you all check out both "Cubs Insider" by Tom Loxas, and "Cubs Den" with John and Cameron Macpherson this summer for the best coverage of the Cubs GM search and major moves on all levels of the Chicago Cubs ballclub. And also check out "The Locker Room" by Gabe Salgado for great sports coverage at all levels!


The round table panelists are:

Curtis Shaw Flagg - Yours truly.

Tom Loxas - Tom writes "Cubs Insider", a blog with Cubs news, rumors, and analysis

Cameron Macpherson -  Cameron is a part-time contributor at "Cubs Den".  He specializes in statistical analysis.

John Arguello - John writes,  "Cubs Den" where I try to bring back old school baseball writing while trying to keep up with the latest statistical trends.

Gabe Salgado- Gabe writes, "The Locker Room", a blog on local amateur and professional sports teams


The question we are posing today is...

How would you fix the Cubs rotation for 2012?

CURTIS: The same way I would fix Wrigley Field. Blow it up and start fresh.

Take a look at the rotation we have currently, Carlos Zambrano ( 9-7, no longer with ballclub), Randy Wells (7-6, went nine consecutive starts without a win), Matt Garza (10-10, performed well below expectations, but did hold the teams lowest ERA with 3.32), and Ryan Dempster ( 10-14, mainly a result of a lack of run production, Dempster held a 4.80ERA). On the outside looking in is Rodrigo Lopez (6-6, in only 16 starts) and the disappointing Casey Coleman ( 3-9, 6.40ERA, highest on the rotation.)

Blow it up.

The Bullpen may be the most bitter of casualties this offseason. With players such as Carlos Marmol, Jeff Samardzija, and Sean Marshall all quality products to stay next season, the Cubs desperation to fill other positions may lead to their exit.

“As I See It," this may be the most perplexing position on the new GM's plate, as there are a few different types of options that could viable. Not to mention the free agent and trade market. So in my foremost assessment...

Blow it up.

TOM:  I’m going to assume that CC Sabathia stays in New York. Even if he didn’t, I would think if the Cubs are going to make a splash in FA it would be on Prince Fielder. I also don’t see them going after CJ Wilson, but again it’s hard to say without knowing what Theo -- I mean the new GM--will do.

If I’m the GM I’m trying to make another deal for a Garza type. A pitcher who is about to become pricey for a small market club maybe.

Some names like Geo Gonzalez, James Shields, and Brandon McCarthy could be available. Not sure if Anibal Sanchez will be in play now that the Marlins are trying to make some waves in their new stadium.

There is talk the White Sox will deal either Jon Danks or Gavin Floyd. I would be very interested in either but I doubt highly they would be moved to the Cubs. JA Happ and Wandy Rodriguez could also be options.

I would think that Ryan Dempster would look for a longer term deal than the one year option he has coming up. He would be wise to try and get one more multi-year deal before he falls off. My gut says he is back.

I would make a strong play for Geo Gonzales and James Shields but also take a lower cost option in Ricky Nolasco as well. Pat Maholm would be a nice addition if the Pirates don’t lock him up.

I would think that Andrew Cashner is one of my starters and I would let Jeff Samrdzija battle it out with Randy Wells for the fifth spot.

You could have something like this:






 CAMERON: As it stands, the current rotation candidates within the system are Garza, Dempster, Wells, Cashner, Samardzija, Coleman,  Rusin, Struck, and McNutt.  There are likely to be some injuries, so there’s a decent chance that a number of guys who have yet to get to the majors get a chance next season.

With the rumblings of Dempster not wanting to come back, I’m willing to let him walk.  But it all comes down to Cashner in my mind.  He needs to be a starter for the team to move forward.  Wells has shown flashes and deserves to be the #4 next season.  With the season Samardzija has had and his continued development, I would greenlight him to get himself into starting shape in the offseason and have that mindset.

If the rotation is shaping up as Garza, Cashner, Samardzija, and Wells, I would be willing to bring in a bargain free agent to help protect the rotation.  However, I do expect Struck and Rusin to at least get a shot in the majors next season.  Casey Coleman likely figures in as the 6th guy.  All I can hope for is no more 35+ bandaid signings.

JOHN: Going into next season, the only certainty on the staff is Matt Garza.   Carlos Zambrano is certain to be dealt and Ryan Dempster is uncertain to return, as he holds a player option that would pay him $14M next season.  For what it’s worth, I believe Dempster will exercise his option in the end .

The Cubs should look for an outside pitcher to fill one of the top 3 spots.  They’re going to need someone who can handled a workload of 180-200 innings, especially if they go with a couple of young pitchers.  I’ve suggested a trade for Annibal Sanchez.  Gio Gonzalez would be another consideration.

On the free agent market, I like Chris Capuano as an undervalued pitcher – though I would like to see if the Cubs might be interested in Yu Darvish as someone who’s still young but can still contribute big innings.  However, posting a large posting fee might not be financially feasible for the Cubs, who are expected to eat big money.  I think the Cubs would have to overbid to get CJ Wilson.  At the very least, the Cubs may just get themselves a stopgap  whom they can get on a 2 year deal to eat innings.

The Cubs may have to go young in the 4th and 5thspots, which has the potential to put some strain on the bullpen.  Ideally you want Cashner to stay in that rotation because he has top of the rotation potential.  Other guys who could compete for a sport are Randy Wells, Casey Coleman, Jeff Samardzija, Trey McNutt, Chris Rusin, and Nick Struck.

Really tough to predict this one but I’ll go…

Garza, Dempster, Capuano, Cashner/Samardzija, and Rusin…not a huge change, but 2013 is the year to watch.

 GABE: The Cubs rotation needs a complete overhaul. Carlos Zambrano will most likely end up with Ozzie Guillen in Miami. I'm really not much of a believer in Ryan Dempster anymore. He's a sub .500 pitcher in his career {112 wins 116 losses, 10 wins 14 losses in 2011}, he gives up a lot of walks, he gives up a lot of hits, and he constantly pitches himself into bad situations. Matt Garza eventually got himself together, but by then it was too little too late. Matt Garza needs to be solid in April and May as well. Randy Wells was actually ok before he got injured. Casey Coleman was thrown into the rotation when Wells went down and wasn't that great. Andrew Cashner could have been something special but then he got injured.

I say for 2012 keep Cashner, give Garza another chance, and maybe Wells. But I think it's time for Jeff Samardzija to get his shot. I know he's been solid out of the bullpen, but that's only when they don't shove him down to AAA. Samardzjia could be a star if he's put in the rotation. Rodrigo Lopez would also be a good guy to keep around. With Ryan Dempster holding a player option he can choose to stay and thus be kept in the rotation. If he choose to bcome a free agent, I say let him go and move on.

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