Epstein says Cubs could surprise with pitching depth

Epstein says Cubs could surprise with pitching depth

Theo Epstein says the Cubs may have a weapon that not many teams in the NL Central have.

Pitching depth.

 “In baseball, anything can happen,” Epstein said. “We might not have the most talent in the division, but I know we’re going to play hard, and we have young players with upside, (several) entering their prime or pre-prime years. When you have that, you can surprise a little bit.

“We have one advantage over some of the opponents we might face, in that we can withstand an injury or two and still throw a very reputable starting pitcher out there every day, five days around the rotation. And if our opponents in the division can’t – because of injuries or attrition or poor performance – then we might surprise some people.”

Epstein also says the Cubs could surprise if they get some quick progress from some of their younger players.

 “If we stay healthy – and one or two or three or four of the players we have actually takes a big developmental step forward – I think you might look up and be surprised in the middle of the summer. Especially with the depth of the starting pitching we have now."

For starters, the Cubs president is probably expecting a jump in production form Starlin Castro. The young shortstop could be a prime candidate to make the ascension to an all-star caliber player.

Then you have young players like Brett Jackson and Anthony Rizzo that could make their moves into the starting line up before the all star break and make an impact.

These are ifs that we are all well aware of.

It is interesting to see Epstein pointing to pitching depth as something of a Cubs strength. I wonder how deep it would be if the Cubs pull the trigger on a Matt Garza trade?

A lack of pitching depth alone made the Cubs unwatchable last season.

Here is hoping I don't have to see guys like Doug Davis, Russ Ortiz, and Rodrigo Lopez on my television much anymore.

Overall, I'm not expecting a contending team this year. However, if some of these factors that Epstein mentioned come to fruition, we could see a .500 team with a bullet.

Now that would be something we can all tune into.



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    Good article. I agree 100%. I just have this feeling that we are going to surprise people. I don't know why, but i think it is because we picked up a few pieces that were undervalued. So i think they have something to prove, and they are going to give it there best shot.

  • In reply to Larry:

    Me too Larry, I feel this could be a plucky .500 bunch and I would be excited. One of my favorite Cub teams was the 1988 team, we didn't have a great record but you had an infusion of guys like Grace, Maddux, Dunston, Palmeiro, Berryhill, Martinez, Moyer, Lancaster, etc. It was exciting to see the farm put some players on the roster I really liked, if only Frey hadn't f'd it all up :(.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    I know a lot of people don't like Hendry (with good reason), but Jim Frey was the worst GM I have ever seen. Ed Lynch and Larry Himes are also in the running.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    As much as i hate to admit, Hendry did have a pretty good run. in 03, 04 and 07 he had three teams that had a pretty good chance to get deep into the playoffs. His problem was a lack of foresight, because he believed he had the makings of a world series team. He went all in and lost.

  • In reply to Andrew:

    Agreed. He was a mixed bag, in my opinion. The other guys I mentioned were flat out horrible, particularly Frey and Lynch.

  • In reply to Andrew:

    Just imagine if the Tribune hadn't gotten all cheap on Hendry in 2003 and they had signed Pudge to back stop that rotation? Plus the swap of Hundley for Grudz and Karros was in hindsight a huge trade that never gets talked about enough from the stand point of, those players we got back were actually pretty damn good.

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    I think they'll be a little less frustrating to watch because the defense should be markedly improved and there will be some kids sprinkled in here and there as the season goes along. And we at least have some actual big league pitching depth, not that anyone is expecting Volstad or Wood to turn into aces.

    I think the biggest question is, what is Sveum going to be like as manager? Can he handle a pitching staff? Will Bosio be a good pitching coach?

    I think Bosio is as big of a question mark as anything, and since we are rebuilding with youth we need solid coaches up and down the organization. I wasn't a fan of Mark Riggins at all. I think it would be an interesting bet to see if Riggins made the fewest trips to the mound of any pitching coach in the majors last year. He certainly seemed to make fewer visits to the mound than any other Cubs PC in recent memory, and in a very tough season for Cubs pitchers.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    I am REALLY looking forward to improved defense. I have always loved good defense and the Cubs have rarely had it. I am anxious to see Stewart play third and hope we see some improvement from Castro.

  • Compared to the last 2 years, where this team was out of it by the end of May (actually sooner), and just plain un-watchable most of the year. This team has the chance to be fun to watch as players on the early parts of their career, hopefully on the way up, versus players on the back side of their career, on the way down. By mid-season the additions of young guys like Jackson and Rizzo will make this team, a team we set our calendars to, because you want to watch them play and don't want to miss an AB or an outing by a young pitcher.

  • In reply to tony h:

    I think the young players and improved pitching and defense will make this team bearable to watch. Really was bad watching an aging team getting steadily worse over the past 3 years.

    There will be lots of new faces, players in their prime or earlier -- even the same exact record would be encouraging because at least you'd know they're going to get better. I do think they'll improve 5-10 games, though.

  • I agree with the way they acquired their new pitcher. It's better
    than signing middle aged pitchers to big long term contracts.
    I still think trading Graza is best for the Cubs overall future.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Trading Garza is a good thing only if the Cubs get a great offer. That hasn't happened to this point.

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    There is no doubt in my mind that Garza is gone when some team meets the Cubs demands and eventually that will happen..Hopefully sooner rather than later..A large haul for Garza would catapult the farm system into top 10 status and the guys aquired would be near ready to contribute... I'm so glad Hendry and bullshit patch jobs are gone...These guys mean business..

  • In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    No doubt Luigi, I think that deal has the chance to do just that. That is why they can't settle for less. We need a couple of arms to go with some of the young hitters John is always talking about.

  • The February issue of Vine Line is out, and it’s the Minor League Prospectus issue, featuring in-depth looks at prospects like Maples, Tony Zych, Brett Jackson and Javier Baez. There’s also an interview with Scouting Chief Jason McLeod.

  • Any idea how long until Selig decides on the compensation issues? I figured he would make the announcement this week. I can't imagine it being announced after players start to report to spring training.

  • In reply to supercapo:

    I thought there was a chance for this week as well, but ST starts in a little over a week, so you would think something would get done before that.

  • One more compensation question. Have the Cubs and Padres agreed to a player or even to a couple so that can be completed soon after Boston finally gets their player.

  • In reply to supercapo:

    I don't know but my sense is that they have at least agreed on the parameters and are waiting for Boston.

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    I think it's gonna be a low level guy...the two teams are on good terms and consumated a solid 4 player deal with no ramifications..I really think if the Red Sox werent so stubborn about the compensation, they would have probably aquired Garza earlier this offseason before any of their other moves...I would have loved Jed Lowrie at 2b for the Cubs plus the kid outfielder Reddick they sent to the A's plus some arms but that's all water under the bridge now...I hope someone gets desperate for Garza soon

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