When word broke yesterday that the Cubs had agreed in principal to a deal with Anibal Sanchez for 5 years and $77 million dollars, Cub fans all over Chicago were scratching their heads. Sanchez was ready to become the highest paid pitcher on the Cubs staff and be the new “top dog” on the north side. At the last minute, the Tigers came back and offered $80 million, keeping Sanchez in their rotation. Let me be the first Cub fan to say…THANK GOD!
Sanchez is a middle of the road starter and will never be a top of the rotation pitcher. Sure, he had a nice run in the playoffs last year, but ask the Brewers how Jeff Suppan turned out for them after his run with the Cardinals in the 2006 playoffs. You can ask any White Sox fan out there, down the stretch run, Sox fans were circling the game that Anibal pitched as a possible win.
If we take a closer look at Anibal, he’s under .500 in his career, and never been a pitcher that anybody has feared. Sanchez doesn’t feature a dominant pitch. He a four pitch pitcher that throws strikes for the most part. His strike out to walk ratio have improved over the past few years, but his home run rate has also increased. That is a big red flag for a pitcher at Wrigley Field. Pitchers who are flyball pitchers have struggled in the past at Wrigley due to the short fences and the constant wind.
Now don’t get me wrong, Sanchez isn’t a terrible pitcher, but he’s not a 5 year $80 million dollar pitcher. He will fit in perfectly with the Tigers as their 3 or 4 starter, but he shouldn’t be a team’s ace. The Cubs feature a rotation of a bunch of 3 or 4 starters, and they didn’t need another one. Try and name the last World Series team that didn’t have a bona fide number 1 starter. That what champions have, and Anibal Sanchez isn’t that guy. Why overpay for a guy to try and force him to be your number one. Continue to stockpile the farm system and wait until you identify that true number one guy.
The Cubs are better off going after the Scott Feldmans and Bakers of the world. The Feldman signing in my opinion was a major win for the Cubs. Feldman comes from a Rangers team who plays in one of the toughest ball parks to pitch in baseball and the American league…..just ask Ryan Dempster. Feldman does a nice job mixing pitches and the move to the national league should improve his numbers greatly. He's got the potential to be very similar to Anibal, but at a fraction of the cost. Inking Feldman to a one year $6 million dollar deal was a steal for Epstein. He needs to continue to find the American league pitchers who can put up nice early numbers at a cold Wrigley Field that will return prospects (Paul Maholm).
So to our friends in Detroit, thank you for over paying a number four starter and making sure Anibal Sanchez doesn’t put on the Cubby blue. And to Theo, stay the course and continue to rebuild. Cub fans are in your corner and believe in you. Just because Northside Bob is angry the Cubs didn’t sign some overpriced veteran, doesn’t mean you should abandon your plan. Winning organizations build their team through the farm system and then use those prospects to compete and acquire big league contributors. It worked in Boston, why can’t it work here.