Cubs rotation may lack ace but solid from top to bottom

Cubs rotation may lack ace but solid from top to bottom

The Cubs aren't going to have the most glamorous rotation in the National League, but it doesn't necessarily mean they won't have the arms to compete game in and game out.  In fact, they have 7 starting pitchers who've already shown various degrees of success in the majors.

The team went after the rotation from two directions.  One was to bring in some flyers who have shown better peripherals than results, with the idea being that you surround them with the best defense possible and try to at least match those solid FIP/xFIPs, perhaps even outperform them if the Cubs defense comes up big this year.  The other was to get that one reliable veteran who could replace Ryan Dempster, if not in 2012 performance, then at least in terms of innings and durabiity.

In no particular order here is the Cubs expected "7-man" rotation and a quick look at how they may project for next season.  We'll only look at things the pitcher can control (FIP, xFIP, walks, strikeouts) and how they project ERA for 2013.  Wins are too unpredictable and a factor of how good the team is and how much run support the pitcher receives when he's on the mound.  All statistics projections via Bill James and ZiPS.

Scott Baker

2011 FIP/xFIP: 3.45/3.61 (missed most of 2012)

2013 Projected ERA: 3.86 (James), 3.91 (ZiPS)

Baker probably won't be fully healthy until May but when he is ready, the Cubs can expect a pretty good pitcher who controls the strike zone about as well as Paul Maholm did last season.  In fact, if anything, Baker has shown better control throughout his career, though we must make some allowance for a pitcher coming off of Tommy John surgery.  It may take some time for his command to come back, but as a veteran control pitcher, I wouldn't expect that to be long, if there's any wait at all.

Baker projects to a 3.86 ERA in 2013 with 7.34 strikeouts and 2.20 walks per 9 IP, in some ways better than what Maholm did last year.  The Cubs would be thrilled if he performed as well as the lefty did last season for 4 months last season.

Matt Garza

2012 FIP/xFIP: 4.17/3.59

2013 Projected ERA: 3.68 (James), 3.68 (ZiPS)

Garza projects to have the best ERA of all the Cubs pitchers at 3.68.  You'll notice there's a rather large dispariy between Garza's FIP and xFIP.  That is due to a huge uptick in the amount of flyballs that left the yard (16.3%) well above his previous career high and nearly double his previous career rate.  With that rate dropping back down to something closer to his norm, we can expect his FIP to drop and with it his ERA for 2013.

Garza is a power pitcher who has tinkered with his approach and it has led to some of his best pitched games the past two seasons.  His command/control continues to improve (sub 3 walks/9 IP rate the past 3 seasons).  He's also emerging into a leader, albeit an unorthodox one, channeling his passion for the game into support for this teammates while keeping his cool on the mound.

We'd be remiss to discuss Garza without bringing up the fact that he is on the last year of his contract and has yet to sign an extension.  Part of that is probably both sides wanting to make sure he's healthy, but if the Cubs hang on to Garza for 2013 and even beyond, he'd be a big boost for the rotation as the Cubs scratch their way to contention over the next few years.  If not, a trade looms sometime between now and the deadline.

Jeff Samardzija

2012 FIP/xFIP: .55/3.38

2013 Projected ERA: 3.78 (James), 3.62 (ZiPS)

Samardzija went from middle relief man in early 2011 to the Cubs best starter by the end of the 2012 season.  He projects for another solid season as James projects him for a solid 3.78 ERA though he also predicts a decrease in his strikeout rate.  Samardzija is a tough guy to project.  He is two years removed from being a reliever struggling to stay afloat in the big leagues and has only really had a half season of being a consistently good starter.

The Cubs are confident Samardzija will continue to improve and surpass projections.  They consider him the only pitcher among their core players right now and the reason is a fastball that can reach 98 mph late in games and a split-finger that is his primary out pitch.  As he developed consistency with his slider, Samardzija looked dominant at times late last season, though the first two pitches along are good enough for him to win ball games even when the slider isn't there.  While he turns 28 next week, Samardzija has low mileage on his lightening bolt of an arm, and as long as he maintains his improvements in his command, there is every reason to expect he'll continue to pitch at a high level for the next several years.

Edwin Jackson

2012 FIP/xFIP:  3.85/3.79

2013 Projected ERA: 3.98 (James), 3.91 (ZiPS)

The Cubs were comfortable giving Jackson 4 years because of his age and track record and he figures to offer stability in the middle of the rotation.  He hasn't quite reached the potential teams once thought he had as a Dodgers and Rays prospect, but Jackson has shown considerable improvement the past few years with his command and approach on the mound.  The Cubs think there's a chance he can still get better, but even if he doesn't, he still gives the team a solid mid-rotation starter.  Jackson throws hard. leading with a mid 90s fastball and a mid to high 80s slider.  He is able to sustain it in games, at times reaching the high 90s late in games last season, but he did lose a tick overall as compared to previous seasons.  Whether that was a blip or the start of a new trend remains to be seen.

Jackson figures to stick around for awhile as the Cubs lack upper level pitching prospects and he and Samardzija are the two SPs the Cubs have under control over the next few years.  At the very least, you can expect Jackson to put up an ERA in the 3.60-4.00 and put up wins (and losses) around the double digit range, which should help replace the loss of Ryan Dempster.

Travis Wood

2012 FIP/xFIP: 4.84/4.62

2013 Projected ERA: 3.90 (James), 4.53 (ZiPS)

Wood is the only LHP in the top 7 and as a pitcher out of options, he will have a spot on the team, likely battling with Scott Feldman and Carlos Villanueva for 2 of the last 3 spots to open the season with the odd man out moving to the bullpen.  Wood was the worst pitcher in terms of FIP last season yet James projects to improve on next season with a sub 4 ERA, about a half strikeout more per 9 innings (up to 7.3) and slight decrease in walks.  ZiPS is less optimistic.

Wood showed flashes last year, incuding a 2.27 ERA in June and 3.05 overall in the first half before struggling in July (7.36 ERA) and finishing with a 5.07 ERA in the 2nd half.  The Cubs need better consistency out of Wood this year if he hopes to retain his slot as the only lefty in the rotation, especially when Scott Baker returns from the DL.

Scott Feldman

2012 FIP/xFIP: 3.81/3.87

2013 Projected ERA: 4.19 (James), 4.31 (ZiPS)

Feldman put up a 5.48 ERA as a starter while posting a 1.98 ERA in relief (13.2 IP), so he could go either way.  The peripherals for Feldman look very good and removing him from a notorious hitters AL ballpark and into the NL could prove to be a big boost for the former Ranger.  He is similar to Brandon McCarthy in terms of stuff, approach. and fielding independent numbers, so the Cubs are hoping they can find themselves a bargain.  

On the mound, Feldman is going to throw strikes and showed some ability to miss bats last season, striking out 7 batters per 9 IP.  I'd consider he and Wood the early favorites to land a starting spot out of spring training.

Carlos Villanueva

2012 FIP/xFIP: 4.71/4.09

2013 Projected ERA: 4.01 (James), 3.98 (ZiPS)

Villanueva filled in ably as a starter in the tough AL East last year.  Like Feldman, he was better as  a reliever (3.24 ERA) than a starter (4.50 ERA), but the Cubs likely lured him with the promise of an opportunity to start.  Stamina has been an issue with Villanueva and he finished the year with an ERA of 8.10 ERA in September after a solid 3.41 mark in August.  We'll likely see him split time between the rotation and bullpen as the Cubs attempt to mix and match to cover injuries and trades.

Villanueva's biggest strides the past two years have been in terms of control.  Although he doesn't have overpowering stuff, he can miss bats (8.76 per 9 IP) last year, mostly on the strength of his plus slider.


Barring a trade, by May the Cubs should have a strong rotation led by Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija, Edwin Jackson, and Scott Baker which really stacks up well in the NL Central as long as everyone is healthy.  The Cubs will have the benefit of letting the other 3 pitchers compete during the season for that 5th spot with the others moving to the bullpen and ready to start if needed.

If the Cubs are going to compete this season, it's going to be on the backs of their pitching staff and while they may not have an ace in that bunch, they'll be able to run out a good pitcher on any given day, even if they aren't 100% healthy.

Next up:

The upper level pitching prospects








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  • i really like the way our rotation was built this offseason. im very pleased that many of the pitchers we picked up (baker, feldman, villanueva) are coming over from the AL so there stuff will play up against the weaker NL teams. my hope is that if the cubs are out of contention at the deadline, that they'll keep 1 and flip 3 of garza, feldman, baker and villanueva for pitching prospects. im really counting on the pirates being in the playoff hunt and with their gm being under a lot pressure he makes the mistake of trading taillon for garza and one of the other 3.

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    I have to think that they'll deal again if out of contention. Garza and Baker are the only two guys who can potentially bring back something worthwhile. But I'm always skeptical of deadline deals, especially for pitching prospects. More often than not, you don't wind up with a whole lot. Really interested to see how this all plays out, especially with Garza and to a lesser extent, Baker.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I believe Garza will not be pitching for the Cubs in 2014.

  • You're probably right.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    What do you think the odds are he pitches for the Cubs in 2013?

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    History suggests Villanueva, when he was with the Brewers, was better as a reliever. Hes never seemed to pitch well beyond about 125 innings or so. Baker was solid in the AL, has always had a goodK/bb ratio, so if hes healthy like in 2009 he likely will pitch like Maholm did last year. Id personally keep Baker if healthy for about another 2-3 years. Id trade Feldman before anyone.

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    Nice article ....I really like the looks of the pitching staff this year.

  • In reply to freeagent24:

    Thanks! Me too!

  • What makes one optimistic about the Cubs rotation is the dismissive tone that the baseball writers have given the FO about these moves. I especially liked the Morrissey article yesterday. The blog writers like John and others are so far ahead of the print guys now it's remarkable. The fact is that Apr and May are pitching dependent in the NL Central, the weather is cold and there is only 1 indoor field now, and the wind blows in a lot at Wrigley then. Pitching and defense are key in those months and the Cubs might just start out ok this year.

  • In reply to Cuyler:

    Thanks. There are a few sportswriters out there who get it, but too many are still just looking for big names to write about, regardless of whether they present a long term fit.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I find this very interesting. I expect sports writers to focus on paper on the big league club and the "sexy" free agents and so on. But that doesn't mean that they have to be so badly informed on prospects and statistics. But it seems like these guys are, for the most part, completely unaware of the way thinking on the game has changed.

    Hey, I think we've stumbled on a new market inefficiency!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Keep in mind that the main job of sports writers is not to inform, but to sell papers, that is sell advertising space. That's why they prefer a well known free agent signing rather than a smart signing. They have only been trained in diagramming a sentence, not sports management or playing a sport, with certain exceptions. Sports writers are also by and large, lazy people, which is why they chose a career that mandates they watch games for a living which is further evidenced by the increasing use of their smart phone's video cameras substituting for time and effort at a keyboard.

    Sports writers are, by and large, slugs, and should be completely ignored beyond reporting the score of a sporting event.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    Wow, Toby...Some of these guys work pretty hard. There's a few that take the easy way out in terms of legwork and thought process but there's a lot of guys out there I respect too.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    You're right, some of them do work hard, and they are the exceptional ones. I used to work in a business where I was at a newspaper for 8 to 12 hours a day, sometimes 7 days a week and if there is one thing I learned is that the main business of newspapers is selling ad space, because at 2 bits a pop they would lose money otherwise. That's why sensationalism sells. The more copies they sell the more they charge for the ads within that issue.

    The good ones get awards, the bad ones take the easy way out. You'll notice very few ever end up with awards. Look at the Manti Teo story, every news outlet in the country reported on the death of his supposed girlfriend, but only Deadspin checked it out. Doesn't that surprise you that nobody wanted to do a backstory on her at all?

  • In reply to SFToby:

    Unfortunately, that "conventional" journalists missed the story is not all surprising. I'm unsure whether its a cause or more a result in the decline of conventional media, but it demonstrates the critical need for new media to fill in the ever increasing gaps or "blind spots" of coverage the public both wants to see (in the case of sports) and what it needs to see IMO.

    Thanks John!

  • In reply to Good Captain:

    Here's hoping "3 card" Manti's NFL draft stock continues to plummet.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    Watch it!

  • In reply to Cuyler:

    The same wonderful sports media who never checked out Manti Teos story or whether Lance Armstrong was using PEDs or not. To them, the story is more important than the facts. Best way to show them wrong is to pitch well. Dont you just love all these media "experts"?

  • Theo said he thinks we have a chance of making the playoffs this year, but I hope he's not holding Sveum to that in year 2.

    Off topic - I see in Crane's that Ricketts said his family has agreed to develop a Sheraton across the street from Wrigley. I'm guessing that's going into the triangle lot. Anyone have more on this?

  • In reply to SFToby:

    Optimism reigns early! I don't think they'll hold him to that, though.

    Don't know on the Sheration/triangle lot...anyone?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    It looks like it'll be built on the McDonald property

  • Sounds like Baker should be ready to go in April. From Epstein (and BN):

    "“Both guys should be ready to start the year,” Epstein said Wednesday, per Jesse Rogers. “Garza we expect to be full go in Spring Training and ready to start the year. And Baker, if he stays on schedule that’s laid out for him now – he’s up to about 75 pitches by the end of March. So we’ll just make a call from there. Both guys are on a nice timetable for the start of the season.”

    Half the fun is making predictions so here goes: I think Baker's gonna be great. I think Feldman will be a bust as a starter, but good out of the bullpen. I think Feldman will win the 5th spot over Wood initially, despite Wood being the better pitcher, because they see Feldman as more of a flippable piece and want to maximize his value. (Unlike Baker, who I believe they genuinely do have some interest in extending.) I'm kind of 50/50 on whether Garza will be extended but I'll go with him coming back healthy and being dealt for prospects (probably at the deadline, but maybe before the season starts), but then we'll still pursue him as a FA next offseason. I think Villanueva will start the year in the pen but be one of our best starters the second half.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    Baker sounds less certain than Garza. It still sounds similar to what they said when they first signed him. We'll see. I think that's offseason optimism talking. A return in less than a year would be unusual.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    Feldmans numbers in Texas seem to suggest hes better as a starter and seems to pitch better the more work he gets.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    The FO also thinks he'll play well in the National League. I just don't see it, but I'll be happy to be proven wrong.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    I agree with you on Baker. Have a good feeling on him. Predictions look pretty reasonable to me!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Thanks for indulging me! That really is half the fun of the offseason for me.

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    John. Your next article on the upper level pitching prospects should be the easiest article you have ever written. You only have to write about one guy!

  • In reply to Demarrer:

    I'm going to stretch it out to include Raley, Rusin, Vizcaino, Cabrera, Loux, and Struck.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Desmoines welcomes you!

  • In reply to eddie35:

    That could be their staff.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Of that group I think Cabrera and Loux can hit that top prospect status this year if they preform. Also whats the prognosis on Hendricks? Is he a fringe 4/5 guy like Rusin/Raley or possibly more?

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I would place Hendricks' ceiling at a good 4th starter. His likelihood of reaching that ceiling...? Not so much. That could change, though. Let's see how he does in AA for the first time.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    One guy I talked to called him a 4/5, another thought he was a middle reliever. I'd say he's similar to those guys you mention.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Honestly, I don't recall him being previously discussed (as a relative newbie to this site and renewed Cubs fan) and I have no expectations of him, but a year + ago, how many people here anticipated the Shark arguably becoming the Ace of this staff. I assume that the talent difference b/n the two pitchers has always been quite distinct so this in no way is an "apples to apples" comparison. Still things change and hopefully they will for Hendricks (and for the better). Until then, pass the popcorn.

  • The rotation is improved from last year, even though I like Wood and Villanueva better in the pen. Villanueva was always a better bullpen arm than starter and Woods can become Sean Marshall 2.0 if he can develop and out pitch, like Marshall did with his curveball. Vizcaiano to me is the long term key. If he can develop into a TOR arm, the rest of the rotation falls into place. Or Spellcheck takes the next step forward.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    Sean Marshall is a curious case with me because he completely revamped his approach as a reliever, throwing a much higher percentage of curves than anyone else in baseball. He pitches backwards, so to speak, in that he leads with his curve instead of his fastball. After setting hitters up with big looping curveballs, he can blow that 88 mph FB by people.

    I don't think Wood or any of the other Cubs lefties have that kind of breaking ball where they can lead with it that way. I think it's more realistic to hope that someone like Raley or Rusin can be more like James Russell.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Indeed he does John. Because he can throw quality strikes with his breaking ball, both to righties and lefties. Maybe Marshall may not be the best comp to Wood. Paul Assemacher might be a better comp in terms of stuff.

  • Kind of off topic once again - I see that MLB is going to allow interpreters to visit the mound along with a manager or coach. Since Daisuke Matsuzaka is considering a minor league job with the Indians, I wonder if he'd be interested in becoming our interpreter? We could then have another pitching coach with the club as well as possible depth.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    I like it!

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    We had some stretches of excellent starting pitching last year before July, but aside from that I think we'll improve this year because of the lack of Volstad, and also because we have more depth.

    Still, our biggest problem is that Vizcaino is the only good young starter close to ML-ready. Any other arms we have are pure projection. Jim Callis says our farm system only ranks 12th in his book despite all the promising bats, and that is the reason why.

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    In reply to Zonk:

    12th, when you consider where we came from, isn't all that bad. And we do have the potential impact pitching prospects to match most teams, the difference is all of ours are unproven and at the lower levels. As soon as some of those guys like Johnson, Maples, Underwood, Panigua etc start to hit AA we will see a huge jolt in our ranking.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    If the Cubs get a couple of pitching prospects to emerge outside of Vizcaino, that could put the Cubs in the top 10 heading into next year. Especially if they land a top college arm in this draft.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    No reason we can't land more than one top college pitcher in the 2013 draft. I,really want Appel for our 1st. Rd. pick at 6' 5" and a fastball clocked at 98 MPH, he would likely be ready by 2015 when we're making the big push for a deep playoff run.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I see Panigua more as a closer, doesn't seem to sustain his stuff deep into games. Havent seen enough of the others yet, even though scouts say Maples in an arm surgery waiting to happen. Stuff wise, Johnson seems to have a high ceiling, as does Maples, providing they can stay healthy. Kid Ill be watching is there 4th round pick 2 years ago, Conway. He looks like if healthy he can make a giant leap.

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    In reply to mutant beast:

    Yea, it's a big wait and see game with the guys you mentioned. Also watch out for Ryan McNeil. He was drafted before or after Conway and has a big arm as well.

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    Cubs are certainly taking their time adding Carlos Villanueava to 40-man, aren't they?

    I assume it's because we want to wait until everyone's 40-man is full before trying to sneak Campana or someone through waivers, and not some Napoli-esque problem in T and Cs.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I agree that they're trying to sneak someone through and maybe trying to time this so that it makes it difficult for a team to pick him up.

  • Hey John,

    Hope the flu is a thing of the past, if not, a strong scotch before bedtime, or anytime for that matter, might hasten your recovery now.

    Just saw an interesting article in the Trib about the Cubs bringing in prospects to Chicago and Wrigley Field, teaching them how to handle the pressure of MLB, the media and living in a city like Chicago. They had Kerry Wood and Mark Prior talk to them about the pressure of being the next big thing for the Cubs. A great way to not only acclimate the kids to the Cubs Way, but also show them the city and plans for expansion at Wrigley.

    Out in the Valley of the Sun now. Let me know if you're coming out for spring training.

  • In reply to AZBOB:

    Scotch is a philosophical drink, brandy is, I think, more medicinal. Not long until spring training time to get plans made, how far along is the new field? Will that be ready for this season?

    Also brandy works well for pickling and discarding some lingering stomach bugs, Its not exactly an antibiotic but it can help, give it a try, worse thing happens you sleep better!

  • In reply to eddie35:

    I've always bee something of a philospher :)

    Didn't know that about brandy and stomach bugs. You have me tempted!

  • In reply to AZBOB:

    Hey Bob, I would definitely try a scotch if it were just respiratory but it seems to have affected my stomach as well. Not sure I can handle one right now :)

    The Cubs do have a program like that and I think it's great. Chicago can be a tough town and a lot of these players are from smaller towns. It's a good experience.

    I'd like to get to AZ any chance I get. Will see if I can work it in the schedule this year. I will let you know.

  • In reply to AZBOB:

    Nice to also see the Cubs getting Prior and Wood involved with the team, especially Prior.

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    Is there any way we can expect say a .750 OPS and about 18 HR's on offense from this bunch? That would help out a lot.

  • In reply to Mike Mayberry:

    Haha! We need all the help we can get. Travis Wood is a good hitter, as is Edwin Jackson, I believe. The rest of the guys...probably not so much.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    We need to bring back Big Z, okay,okay, I was just joking sort of,lol. I always liked to see him at the plate,he never got cheated nor of course did the Gatorade cooler. :)

  • In reply to TheRiot2:

    Riot-too bad Z cant play 3b. Hed likely hit more HRs than Vallbuena would.

  • Just curious -- at this point, what's the biggest reason everyone believes that Garza will be traded? A lot of stuff has been thrown around, so I'm not really sure the leading idea anymore. Is it that he got too expensive and won't re-sign at good value? The Cubs value the prospects return more than him as a player? Other?

    I guess I'm a little surprised we haven't heard any dialogue on any attempts to extend him at a better value due to the injury risk. It seems as if superior medical records could be a new Theo market inefficiency, so I'd have to think the front office has a good guess as to how Garza will turn out.

  • In reply to mosconml:

    At this point, I believe Theo will extend Garza to 2014......if not, Garza will get a $100 million / 5 year contract from some team after 2013.....if the Cubs are in the race in July, Garza is staying.......I don't believe any team will give up top prospects after the season starts for Garza....if Garza leaves, we get a draft pick.....a player that Theo can mold over in his own system.

  • In reply to mosconml:

    First, there is a good chance that he doesn't get traded, I would put it at 40%. But the main reason people think he will get moved is because it almost happened back in July. They were all set to do it, everyone assumed it would happen and then the elbow put all that off for a while. Now that he's throwing again, the trade talk is heating up again.

    As far as the reasons to trade him? Ideally, he would bring back a couple of high-end prospects. The Cubs window of being in contention realistically is 2015 with 2014 a possibility depending on trades, free agent signings and the development of certain prospects. Garza will be 31 on opening day of 2015. That's not too old to be good at all which is why there's a good chance he could be extended. But a much more ideal situation would be to trade him for a 21 or 22 year old high-end arm now that will be 23 or 24 at the point when the Cubs could be getting really good. That prospect would be just entering his peak years at that time while Garza would still be good, but beginning the downside of his career.

    To me, those are the reasons for wanting to trade Garza and trade him now. The sooner you trade him, the more value he has and the better prospect you can ask for in return.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Makes sense, and thanks for the insightful response. I guess more than anything, pitching prospects scare me (see John's article from a while back highlighting the prime prospects we wanted from last year, and it doesn't look so good today). So long as we can get someone with some likelihood to getting near Garza's ceiling (I'm willing to concede some talent for age), then I'll be OK with it. Otherwise I'd rather have a 31 - 36 year old guy with #2 talent at his early contract stages.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    A bit off topic,but when it comes to pitchers 31 and older I checked to see what teams # 1 Aces did at that age, I found that they were still pitching at a high rate of effectiveness.One startling fact was the Giants starting 5 made 160 reg. season starts,quite amazing but I will be waiting to see the drop off this coming season. Vogelsong at his age coming off a career year will fall the furthest at age of 35,ditto for Zito at 35 using up his 2012 rebound luck.

    Garza would look good as a Giant, in exchange for Bumgarner of course I'm dreaming big.

  • US roster for World Classic

    2013 Team USA roster

    Player Pos. Team

    Mark Teixeira 1B Yankees
    Brandon Phillips 2B Reds
    Jimmy Rollins SS Phillies
    David Wright 3B Mets
    Joe Mauer C Twins
    Ryan Braun LF Brewers
    Adam Jones CF Orioles
    Giancarlo Stanton RF Marlins
    Ben Zobrist INF Rays
    Willie Bloomquist INF D-backs
    Shane Victorino OF Red Sox
    Jonathan Lucroy C Brewers
    J.P. Arencibia C Blue Jays
    R.A. Dickey SP Blue Jays
    Ryan Vogelsong SP Giants
    Derek Holland SP Rangers
    Kris Medlen SP Braves
    Craig Kimbrel RP Braves
    Heath Bell RP D-backs
    Chris Perez RP Indians
    Vinnie Pestano RP Indians
    Luke Gregerson RP Padres
    Glen Perkins RP Twins
    Steve Cishek RP Marlins
    Jeremy Affeldt RP Giants
    Tim Collins RP Royals
    Mitchell Boggs RP Cardinals

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    Cubs signed Garza, 1 year, 10.25 mil, avoid arb.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    Well, Garza's injury really hurt his trade value. But on the bright side, that's less than an eight percent increase from the $9.5M he earned last year.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    Surprisingly small raise, could have gotten more had he gone through the process.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    W/ this, I believe we have substantially lost whatever leverage we may have otherwise had to extend him by a year. Oh we'll, lets see what happens next.

  • John, I want to toss you a couple ideas for you to consider for possible future articles. First, how about a top ten list Letterman style of your favorite Cub transactions from 2012? Let us know how Arguello would rank them in terms of how much you expect each move will positively impact the organization. How would you rank the signing of Soler, the selection of Almora with their top pick, the acquisition of Vizcaino in the Maholm trade, and the signing of free agents Baker and Jackson? Obviously, the FO has made some key additions to the coaching and scouting staffs, and Ricketts has had an absolutely huge impact in bringing in Theo. But where would you rank the player moves specifically?

    The second article I'd really like to read would take more research but it's something every MLB organization tries to get a handle on and something every baseball fan wonders about. Just how high are the odds stacked against players selected in the first round of the amateur draft? And how much more likely is a top five or ten overall selection to make it to the majors if any, compared to players selected later in the first round? What percentage of first round picks ever reach the majors? And how many of those become stars? What about the second, third, or subsequent rounds? The answers to these questions would really bring to light the true value of those draft selections with which teams are so reluctant to part.

    Maybe we don't want to know the answer to this question, but how have the Cubs compared to other organizations over the past ten or twenty years in their drafts? I'd have to attribute much of their failure to poor player development, and fortunately they have made key additions to improve upon that area of weakness.

    This would involve a great deal of fact finding and analysis, but might help answer the questions Cubs fans have asked such as "would the Cubs be that much better off drafting second this year than they would be drafting fifteen or thirty?" Was it really worth it to watch the Cubs falter to nab the second overall pick, or would they have done just as well winning more games and drafting later in each round?

    John, thanks for all the work you do in making this blog interesting and fun, not to mention a learning experience. The only thing I'd like to see would be a way to quickly view all unread posts rather than having to wade through each post again to find any new comments. That would be a big time saver and make it easier not to miss all the great posts. Would it be possible to search for posts by composer and quickly view responses to our own comments? Maybe there is a way and I'm not aware of it?

  • In reply to WSorBust:

    Thanks for the ideas and the kind words! Top 10 sounds fun. The second idea is also good but you're right, it will take some work. I have some of the info somewhere so I'll have to dig it up.

    I don't think there's a way other than the recent comments box on the right hand rail. I'll look into it.

  • John i'm curious how you would rank the starting staff to the rest of the league. I think if you assume that the Baker and Garza are ready to go then the Rotation has a strong pitcher almost every day. The 5th starter between Wood, Feldman, and Villanueva should be pretty decent.

    I think they have chance as a whole staff to be better than the Cardinals. I don't think the Cardinals can expect a lot of innings from Garcia and Chris Carpenter,

  • In reply to Mitchener:

    Im also going to include Wainwright in your lack of innings talk of the Cardinals. The reason hes had two surgeries is because he throws too many breaking balls, and he did it last year. One thing Ive seen with 2ndtime TJ surgeries is pitchers are not as effective after the 2nd one(Wainwright last year was a good example-highly inconsistent last year). Cards do have Shelby Miller and Rosenthal who will be on the ML club this yr, tho I expect Rosenthal will stay in the pen.

  • John, what about Whitenack in your next article? He should be better in his second year back from TJ surgery.

  • In reply to ddbennett34:

    Possibly. He's got a longer way to go in terms of establishing himself again, but he does have a roster spot, so a big year (similar to 2011) could see him in Chicago as early as this season.

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