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Cubs 2015 Rotation Options, Part 2: The new wave of depth

Cubs 2015 Rotation Options, Part 2: The new wave of depth
Chris Bosio (photo: BoysofSpring.com)

We have seen the rotation options and the depth the Cubs have compiled over the course of this season, but this front office apparently wasn't quite satisfied.  Perhaps the old adage that "You can never have enough pitching" applies.  Perhaps it was just opportunity.  It's probably both.

It started with the Dan Straily acquisition, though he was considered more of a throw in to help the Cubs depth and to even out the roster exchange at the time.  Since then he has pitched extremely well and has put himself in the picture to compete for a spot.  The Cubs followed up over the next 30 days with the acquisitions of LHP Felix Doubront and RHP Jacob Turner,  Both were acquisitions of opportunity, talented former prospects who have exhausted the patience of their former organizations.  The Cubs picked them both up at low cost (though the compensation for Doubront has yet to be determined) with the hopes that a new environment and a fresh pair of eyes can help them reach the potential many observers think they have.

Dan Straily

Straily burst on the scene in 2012.  He basically came out of nowhere.  He was a 24th round pick who signed for $12,500.  There is nothing that stands out about Straily.  He's a 4 pitch guy with average command and control.  He gets some swings and misses with his slider, which he uses primarily vs. RH hitters and has an effective change that has some tail to it, making it a useful weapon vs. LH hitters.  He uses the 4 seam FB as his primary pitch but he also features a 2 seamer, neither is more than an average pitch at best, though he does generate more swings and misses from the 2 seamer, so perhaps there is greater potential there.  He is durable and he does hold his velocity late into games, so there is potential for an innings eater if he can throw strikes and work efficiently.  Perhaps Chris Bosio could add a wrinkle somewhere and find a way to keep hitters from sitting on his fastball, but until then he looks a lot like a 5th starter and with the Cubs having a few pitchers fitting that profile, he could find himself as the 6th man.

Felix Doubront

Doubront pitched last night and like Straily, he has a high 80s/low 90s fastball and a full repertoire (Fastball, Change, Curve, Cutter).  The curve is an effective pitch, one that he uses against lefties and he uses his good change and a cutter to combat RH hitters.  The change is more effective, more of a swing and miss type while the cutter is one he uses to try to draw weak contact.

If there is criticism of Doubront, it's that he doesn't always trust his stuff and starts to nibble and either starts walking hitters or falls behind and then has to come in with his fastball and gets hit hard.  Bosio's task here is to get Doubront to attack the strike zone so that he can limit getting himself into fastball counts.

Doubront is basically a bottom of the rotation type who has the ceiling of a 4 starter considering his stuff and command.  The Red Sox had him in the bullpen where he could potentially be very effective because he can use his curve to neutralize lefties, but he definitely has the profile to start.  He will get a second chance with the Cubs.

Jacob Turner

Turner is perhaps the biggest enigma of the three mentioned so far.  The Marlins have developed talented pitchers in the past but they have been unable to get Turner over the hump.  He has the best fastball of the group, working in the 92-95 range and maxing around 97 mph, but curiously doesn't get many swings and misses from it.  The two-seamer may be the better pitch as he is able to generate groundballs consistently, something that should play well at Wrigley, especially on a Cubs team with a good infield defense.

Turner's primary breaking pitch as a prospect was a 12 to 6 curve but he has favored a slider of late, which has been an effective pitch for him this year, generating more swings and misses and weak contact than his other offerings.  On the other hand, his curveball was a tough pitch for hitters in 2013, though he has more trouble throwing it for strikes.

There's been some bad luck with Turner this year as he has yielded a .368 BABIP despite a line drive rate that has remained constant.  His groundball rate has increased however and perhaps that number should go down with the Cubs infield.  The strand rate has been unusually low as well at 64%.

The Cubs believe they saw something with Turner that they can tweak and it will be interesting to see what that is.  We will follow the pitch usage and movement to see whether that is a change they want to make to his overall approach or to an individual pitch.  It's also possible he's tipping off pitches or is easy to pick up when it comes to his delivery (which might explain why his good fastball is so hittable).

It's difficult to project where Turner fits in a rotation but my guess is his ceiling right now is more mid-rotation than top of the rotation while his floor would be a bullpen arm.  In that role he could increase his velo and perhaps make that fastball a little tougher to hit.  Bosio will need to work his magic here and see if he can get Turner to get his results to match his stuff.  If so, the Cubs will have themselves a steal and be one starting pitcher closer to filling out the rotation.

Eric Jokisch

Jokisch isn't a newcomer but he is definitely on the outside looking in because at this point he lacks a roster spot.  Jokisch is cut along the lines of Chris Rusin and Brooks Raley in that he complements an average fastball (88-91) with a very good change-up, in Jokisch's case it is a circle change, notable in that it will break down and away from opposite hand hitters.

Because of that pitch, Jokisch projects more as a starter than a reliever because he is able to work with 3 pitches effectively and with good command.  He can attack lefties with the breaking ball and righties with the circle change.  He can work inside and out to either side hitter, setting up hitters to either chase or make weak contact on pitches off the outside corner.

He's a fifth starter type but this rotation will be tough to break, especially if the Cubs acquire a starter from outside the organization this offseason.

Jokisch is rule 5 eligible, posing an interesting dilemma for the Cubs.  He isn't a high ceiling guy but he is productive at the highest minor league level and he is lefty.  It seems certain the Cubs will lose him if they leave him unprotected.  Given that they have openly said they like Jokisch and have protected lefties like Jeff Beliveau, Brooks Raley, Chris Rusin, and Zac Rosscup in recent years, it seems like a pretty good bet they will protect Jokisch despite the deeper roster.  The guess here is that he will stay within the organization and provide depth in AAA, but that will depend on how well the other pitchers we've talked about the last two days work out.

Others

  • Pierce Johnson is making progress in the 2nd half and has a shot to open next season in AAA but given his low innings count, he may not be of much help late in the season when we expect he would be ready.
  • CJ Edwards is in the same boat though he hasn't made the same kind of progress.  I consider him behind Johnson in terms of proximity to the major leagues.

Additional info from Brooks Baseball and Fangraphs.

 

Filed under: Analysis, Starting rotation

Comments

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  • Enough of the 4s and 5s, bring on the 1s and 2s!!!!

  • In reply to Average Samaritan:

    Going to have to get one of those from the outside. Arrieta has a shot, though, at being a TOR guy.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Absolutely. I think he could be an excellent #2 or perhaps #3 depending on who else fills out the rotation.

    It's inevitable the likes of Lester/Scherzer/Hamels are going to be pursued this off-season, but what I think could make for an interesting option are the potential trade options/secondary targets that are not mentioned as often.

    I have some candidates that could make for interesting targets: i.e Gallardo (who has a $13 mil option that might not be picked up), Jordan Zimmerman, etc.

  • In reply to Average Samaritan:

    Zimmerman would be an interesting add. He's been generally healthy and very consistent with the Nats.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    He has the stuff, John. Still would like to sign Lester, tho, an experienced winner and a lefty to boot. His stuff would play well even within our own division , The Cards(Taveras/Adams) Pittspuke(Polanco) The Reds(Votto, Bruce) all tough lefty hitters a Lester would nuetralize.

  • One or two of these guys is going to land in a BP/Swing man role by default and one or two will be sent to Iowa for depth as well... It's the best possible situation for us.

    I think Turner could be a legit, solid #3, right behind Arrieta as our #2. If we don't sign a BIG $$$ FA Ace, then everybody is bumped up one role by default.

    We have some depth and lots of variables/options going into the winter meetings. It'll be interesting to see what the FO does over the winter.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I agree with your thinking on Arrieta & Turner, with Hendricks at the back end, while the rest fight for #5, long relief, and AAA swing men. I definitely see us signing at least one free agent pitcher.

  • In reply to Andrue Weber:

    It could come down to service time/options available, assuming performances are even. I don't think they'll send Hendricks down, even though he has options. But Starily, Beeler, Wada, jokish, and Rusin all have options. So they are the best candidates for AAA depth/BP transition.

    Turner & Doubront are out of options. They will make the 25 man or out of ST or be sent away. So in a perfect world, this is how I'd love to see it take shape:
    1). (Lester) - though I'm not holding my breath
    2). Arrieta
    3). Turner
    4). T Wood
    5) Hendricks
    (BP/Swingman - Doubront)

    AAA
    Straily, Beeler, Jokish, P Johnson, Grimm (SP conversion)

    Notice that means E Jax, Wada, & Rusin are dealt... which may or may not happen

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I agree with this, but not so sure about EJax cause he's tougher to move... Would love for it to happen though. I think Wood gets moved. More value, easier contract, younger. Hinging on signing Lester of course, as well. I think that's their thinking with the Doubront trade, plus Jokisch being a lefty as well, suddenly there's not the need for him to stay unless they can move EJax.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I'd be okay with this plan.
    Can't say I'm super confident Turner would actually pitch better than Wood or Hendricks, but I think he easily beats out Straily. Straily is just blah for me. He's filler like Beeler when they run into injuries. I actually like Jokisch better than either of those two.

    Doubront can function as the second lefty behind Wright (not confident Rosscup can be that guy like I hoped coming into the season).

    EJax, Wada and Rusin are all expendable to me. Ejax is sunk cost. Wada might be able to be a decent 5th starter, but I don't see enough that would make me miss him or dread him coming back to haunt us. Rusin served his purpose, doubt we could get anything in trade but worth a try, otherwise I think they just lose him on waivers and clear the 40 man spot since Jokisch is a better version of him.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    My only nitpick would be to not even bother with the Grimm conversion. He is barely a competent middle reliever. He is never going to be of any use in the rotation. Leave him in the pen and let him be the guy that can be used and abused to protect the higher upside guys.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    We're not in a position to protect BP arms and limit them to mop up duty after this year. Grimm actually has a MOR SP repertoire. His command sucks. It hasn't improved any with his move to the BP.

    I say stretch him out this winter. Let him compete with the masses in ST. If he can command his stuff and execute his pitches, he will win a job. If not, send him to AAA for depth and hope he can figure it out. His spot on the 25 is easily replaced with Rivero/Vizcaino.

  • Or they fill the rotation with one or two 2's and a bunch of 3's and 4's. It seems that if they go from outside, Lester is best option because of his knowledge of this front office and not needing to give up a 1st round pick, otherwise they will field a bunch of the best of whats around along with another year for Arrieta to excel and see what they actually have in the system to be better informed prior to the 2016 run.

  • In reply to npinzur:

    I think a guy like Lester completely changes complexion of the rotation. To me they have to take that shot.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Absolutely agree.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I agree as well, John. The Cubs are a big market team and can afford to go out there and pay a big time free agent. After that, not sure if they then should lay low and see how the rest of the players pan out, or maybe pacakge together some players for a trade. I like how the A's did it: become an obvious contender, and then push the chips forward and go for it.

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    I think you have to be careful with big market thinking because that can get teams into trouble too. I would like them to be selective and keep themselves flexibible and see how it pans out. If the team looks good and needs an upgrade, then they can add salary midseason.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    But to upgrade midseason would cost prospects

  • In reply to Burns0128:

    If you have a chance to win, that's what you do. The Cubs have plenty of depth to get a quality #3 without giving up the farm.

  • In reply to Burns0128:

    The Tigers acquired Price and they gave up relatively nothing for him.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I think we're actually in agreement. I definitely don't want them to go crazy. But I do think it makes sense to target one TOR pitcher (e.g., Lester) this offseason. A team like the A's, for example, wouldn't be able to go out and do that.

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    Oh yeah, we're definitely in agreement. Just saying in general. Want them to get a couple of key pieces but I don't want them to go crazy. Save some space for now for when they'll need it.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    One reason you have to be careful with "big market" thinking is that they have a "small market" revenue.

    According to Fortune, the Yankees had almost three times as much revenue last year than the Cubs did. Once they play in a big market ball park, perhaps they can have a big market payroll.

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    In reply to DaveP:

    The Cubs have, always have had, and always will have more revenue than any team in THEIR division. Those are the only teams they have to finish ahead of to win their division and reach the postseason.

  • In reply to Ray:

    I am not sure how much revenue the Cards have. It may not be lower than the Cubs. Do you know what their revenue is?

  • In reply to Ray:

    Actually per Forbes list that came out just 3 months ago, the Cardinals had Revenue last year of $283 Million with Operating Income of $65.2 Million

    The Cubs had Revenue of $266 Million ($17 Million Less) and Operating Income of only $27.3 Million ($37.9 Million Less) but here is the MAJOR kicker, Operating Income according to Forbes is defined as Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA)

    So that $27.3 Million of "income" that the Cubs made does NOT even include the the interest payments on the $900+ Million in Debt that the Cubs had to take on (and must hold for years) as a requirement of the Rickett's initial Cubs "purchase" from Sam Zell....Now when the Cubs renegotiate the TV deals, renovate the park, pay off the debt, etc. they should eventually come out way ahead of the Cardinals....but we are probably 5 years away from all those things coming together to their full extent.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:
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    I see the cubs go all out on the kid from Japan this off season and one more big time arm like lester or Scherzer or even James Shields but I kinda like the kid from Milwaukee more he pictures will at Wrigley!!

  • I've been a Jokisch fan for awhile and he has been pitching better than ever. I watched him pitch 8 shutout innings the other day that were impressive. He has had some guys in front of him so he has had to wait his turn, but I see him as kind off a left handed Hendricks as cerebral, consistent, and fearless, but little margin for error. I have no idea what his future is with Cubs, but if Kyle is Greg maybe Eric will be Glavin. We can hope.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I wouldn't be surprised to see Jokisch our #5 starter by late next or the year after.

  • Nice read John. Is there any way to capture a pitcher's effectiveness at hiding the baseball during his delivery? Turner's issues with hittability remind me of George? Fraisier who I remember having good movement and stuff but too many hitters just saw the ball real well against him and he never amounted to much.

  • In reply to Bilbo161:

    Yes, but it is hard to reinvent deliveries. Maybe tweak a little. Tsuyoshi Wada and Zac Rosscup are examples of pitchers who hide the ball well, makes it harder for hitters to pick up their fastball. You don't want it to get too complicated because you want to keep a repeatable delivery.

  • fb_avatar

    John, could Neil Ramirez be a candidate for a rotation spot next year (with Bosio potentially incorporating a cutter into his repertoire)? Vizcaino and Rivero are on the doorstep, so I think the pen would be able to take that type of hit and not miss a beat.

  • In reply to Steve Kermath:

    I don't think so. I think there are still concerns about his durability.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Good, I hate trying to turn dominant bullpen arms into average starters. There is a ton of value if you can find 2 or 3 shut down arms to end every game.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm curious what your projected rotation looks like john. Assume 1 free agent and who you think rounds it out?

  • In reply to marcf:

    I can tell you what I'd like it to be...Lester, Arrieta, Turner, Wood, Hendricks. That would mean the Cubs figured out Turner and that Wood bounced back to some degree. I like the stuff in the top 3 and the righty/lefty mix and some change of pace at the bottom, so I might switch Wood and Turner to keep it off balance. Also leaves you payroll flexibility and then if you contend and need to upgrade, you can easily add salary.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I love the idea of lester but I just cant see the cubs being the highest bidder. I think Masterson is a better bet. I just dont see our front office putting up enough money and years for lester. Masterson could be a better value. All signs last offseason were us not being outbid for tanaka and nyy got crazy. I just cant see us going all out on lester when tanaka whom was younger and cost about what lester will cost.

    Iam trying to picture a scenario where jackson isnt in the cubs riotation next year but i just dont see it.

    My best guess would be masterson arrieta wood jackson turner

  • In reply to marcf:

    Why not? The cubs have plenty of payroll flexibility and they have shown they are willing to be the highest bidders in the past on premium pitchers (Anibal Sanchez). This time, however, the Cubs have some intangibles and a prior relationship on their side. I think they have to be considered one of the favorites on Lester, actually.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    The bidding on Sanchez was not close to what it will be for lester. Can you really see 7/150 coming from this front office? Anibal Sanchez got very realistic dollars over a reasonable term, no way lester doesn't almost double what he got and I just don't see Theo/Jed being the ones to do it.

  • In reply to marcf:

    You're making a lot of assumptions here. We'll see.

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    In reply to marcf:

    Scherzer turned down 6/144. Lester and scherzer are comparable in value but scherzer will have draft pick compensation and lester has the longer track record.of success as a starter. I think 6/144 is a very reasonable framework. Judging by their past moves and comments from the front office I think 6/144 is out of character for them

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I could certainly go along with that rotation. Here's a question for you, John. Do you see similarities between Turner and Arrieta in terms of "stuff" and how their careers have gone? IOW, are they comparable-type projects for Bosio? It appears Bosio has gotten Arrieta to turn the proverbial corner, so do you think the odds are good he will do the same with Turner?

  • 1. Lester
    2. Arrieta
    3. FA?
    4. Hendricks
    5. Turner/Wood/Strailey/Dourbont

    Thats a pretty solid starting staff to go with a good bullpen. If the kids can play at all next year, Cubs could legitimately challenge for a wild card spot.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    I agree 100% with that rotation looking like they can compete,

    But the rotation looks pretty darn crappy if they don't add in Lester.

  • In reply to J Quinn:

    I don't know if I agree with that. It is essentially our rotation now and they are not doing badly. In fact they are doing pretty well.

  • In reply to John57:

    Cubs starters currently rated #3 in WAR value... best ranking since 1984. This rotation can already compete with a subpar Wood and EJax in it, just need the bats to continue progressing.

  • Given the plethora of back of the rotation guys, do you think there is a possibility the cubs may employ piggy backing in the rotation? It didn't work for the Rockies a couple of years ago, but with both Turner and Dubront out of options, it might be their best bet rather than assigning one to be the long reliever.

  • I wonder, with what seems a pretty aggressive transition by the front office towards building a rotation that pitches to contact, has their been any indication that they've altered the length of the infield grass at Wrigley? As some of you may recall Wrigley was infamous for having very high infield grass all throughout the '80s and '90s to take advantage of the strong arms of Dunston, Sandberg and whoever was manning the turnstile at 3rd base (Vance Law, Steve Buechle, Kevin Orie, Garry Gaetti, etc). That changed in 2002 with the rotation being setup to be more strikeout oriented with Wood, Zambrano, Prior and then Clement. I think it was '02 or '03 when they decided to lower the height of the infield grass as it was hurting the offense more that it was helping the defense at that point.

  • Not sure why everyone expects Lester or Scherzer to be an easy sign. The 600 pound gorilla (yanks) will be looking for a bunch of things next year and I would speculate that those two pitchers might be on their shopping list. How much and how long do you sign either or both for? Scherzer turned down $144M over 6 years from the tigers last year, he surely would want more next yr.

    Hamels is better cost controlled for a shorter time but probably costs a bunch of the top prospects but the cubs probably have the better prospects than the yanks.

    Red sox would probably be in the picture for all 3 and they have prospects close to the cub levels to trade.

    So how much do you spend for your #1?

  • In reply to stix:

    The Yankees suck. As in they are old and not likely to be overly competitive in the near future. Yes the Yankees could offer Lester a mountain of money but the fact still exists that they are not going to be a good team anytime soon. As we've all observed their are nary a decent free agent position player on this off seasons market. How will the Yankees replace all the massive holes in their future lineup if there isn't anyone of talent to sign on the market and they have a threadbare farm system. If the dollars are in the same ball park whose future would you hitch your wagon too?

  • In reply to stix:

    I haven't seen ANYone, let alone "everyone," state anything about Lester or Scherzer being an easy sign. There will be multiple bidders and the Cubs will need to be ready to compete. On the other hand, the Cubs have more payroll flexibility than most of the competing teams and offer a chance to participate in what could be the most exciting World Series run in many, many years. They should have a decent chance of landing a TOR starter.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Don't think you or anyone else answered the real question. How long, how much, and who would you give up for Hamels. Generalities are nice but is any bid for any of them acceptable or do you have ranges of offers they could/should make.

  • In reply to stix:

    To me, it doesn't make sense to spend years building a top farm system and then trade it off when there's money available to spend on FAs without giving up anyone (other than, maybe, a draft pick.) If Hamels could be had for Olt and a couple of other minor pieces, sure, but Philly wants a lot more than that. Right now, it's a lot easier for the Cubs to come up with money than it is to get another Addison Russell.

  • In reply to stix:

    Who said it would be easy? It's never easy.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John thanks for the response. Just curious is just getting the #1 key or is there a cost that would be unacceptable? Seems as if everyone wants a #1 and that no one puts any limits on the cost, just get him is the nature of the comments. Obviously there must be some limits but no comments about that. Is that just muddying the waters or is that a topic for later when/if they acquire a #1?

  • We all have to ask ourselves, are the combinations in our heads or that we are placing here in the comments section better than what the Cardinals will put out there? We should hit well but young hitters have to adjust to the league.

    The playoffs for the NLC typically goes thru STL. Is there a combo that can get it done?

  • In reply to Gator:

    Part 2 - who do you want in a seven game series? What's your rotation?

    If this team is to compete, you have to be cognizant of how you would set this up for a tight series.

  • In reply to Gator:

    Honestly the playoffs next season is a pipe dream. These players need time to adjust and get used to the travel, longer seasons, and the pressure of playing in front of 40k fans. Signing a lone TOR arm like Lester should really be all they do at this point. I like that Lester isn't a overthrowing power arm, it makes me feel a bit less nervous giving him a huge contract. After observing the trade deadline this season it makes a lot more sense to buy a big arm when we need it rather than tying ourselves up with two huge long term deals that carry enormous risk. The Tigers got David Price for a song and frankly the A's giving up Cespedes isn't that big a deal in my opinion. He's a good player but I don't think he's a superstar. We need to keep are payroll powder dry and not overspend until the time is right.

  • In reply to Gator:

    Depends completely on the kind of guys you have. Ace level guys go that's a 3 man gig. With our guys? Probably 4 right now. With a lester maybe 3 if Arietta and Hendricks are dealing.

  • If eh came at a decent price would anyone have any interest in bringing back Jason Hamel as a free agent?

  • In reply to Behn Wilson:

    I think this is more possible now that Hammel has struggled mightily since the trade. If he was still as effective before the trade as after his price would skyrocket out of Cubs range. (By Cubs range I mean the point where they don't deem Hammel valuable anymore)

  • In reply to Behn Wilson:

    What would be the point? If they sign Lester you have 7 or 8 guys competing for the 4th & 5th spots in the rotation if you bring back Hammel. One of those 7 can replace Hammel's 2014 numbers. And whose to say Hammel will ever produce those numbers again at his age.

  • When you mentioned Turners fastball I immediately thought of Rafael Dolis. He had a big fastball that should have been a swing and miss pitch but wasn't. What ever happened to him? Do they compare at all? If they do, I guess I should temper my enthusiasm for Turner and be thankful they didn't trade Garza for him.

  • In reply to lets go cubs:

    Dolis got hurt and I think he was picked up by the Giants at some point. Dolis had long arm action and it was easy to pick up the ball. His secondaries weren't as good as Turner, but I suppose there are some similarities in that both are guys who can throw hard yet can get hit hard.

  • I think Scherzer ends up with the Yankees who will give him the kind of crazy money he wants. I think Lester either goes back to Boston or comes to the Cubs... i just hope we have a good backup plan for if Lester doesn't come. For some reason I don't see the front office going that hard after Shields or him coming to the Cubs...

  • In reply to Cubswin2015:

    Masterson is a guy they are familiar with, seems like a logical backup plan.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Thats pretty much what I was thinking about for backup plan also. I'm just nervous the Cardinals are going to re-sign him now that they have him

  • I think Jokisch is a half-step above Raley and Rusin at the same stage. He's a touch competitor, and his K/BB rates have been nice. He really fought his way up from his days as a piggy-back starter mopping up after Hayden Simpson.

    And...

    I saw him strike out Paul Janish in Colorado Springs.

    Jokisch beat Janish.

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    Some people are arguing that they can't just dfn Ejax in the offseason, but his salary is a sunk cost. Would you rather see him trotted out every fifth day next year, or traded for a bucket of balls or dfn-ed? All it would cost is his salary, which they have to pay him anyway, plus the cost of a rookie minimum salary to replace him in the rotation.

    My dream is still: Lester, Hamels, Arrieta, Hendricks, Wood.

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    In reply to Glen Krisch:

    There is at least a 50/50 chance that Jackson performs better than Hendricks and pitch more innings. Don't know that guys who are proven 175 innings are a sunk cost. I understand the problems with him but I don't think eating the 22(?) million owed to him is the best answer. Especially for Hendricks and his stuff that may or may not play at mlb level over the course of a full mlb season.

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    In reply to marcf:

    I don't see where your 50/50 chance comes from.

    Jackson is trending in the wrong direction across the spectrum of stats and has been for a number of years. Even if he were to improve to his 2013 era of 4.98, is that better than what an unproven rookie would provide? He's averaging less than 5.5 innings a start this year. He's not an innings-eating #4/5. It's practically an automatic loss when he starts.

    They have to pay him regardless, that's what a sunk cost is. If they get the rest of the rotation squared away, I'd rather see an unproven rookie with upside on a minimum salary than Ejax. If it's Hendricks or someone else, their stuff would play better than Jackson's at this point in his career.

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    After looking at the past few years of what it takes to make the play-offs, I think the Cubs would need 92 wins to make it. They are on pace to get 70 (69.9) wins this season. So that's a 22 game swing.

    I'm on record as to saying the Cubs do in fact make the play-offs. But that prediction is going to need a lot of help. We need Lester as the main part of that plan. If we don't get Lester but could land Masterson then although the Cubs make strides next year it may be tough to get those 92 wins.

    Then we'd have to hope for Price in 2016.

    Unless of course,

    wait for it......... wait for it.......wait for it.......

    we trade for that #1 type of guy. Hmmmmm who would I be willing to trade? You guys know who I'm on record to trade. It's Castro.

    Then Baez plays SS until Russell is ready. Then Russell goes to SS and Baez plays 2B. It is an option folks and one that I know leaves you guys cursing me out.....lol

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    I'd trade Castro but only for two stud pitching prospects (Giolito and Cole, Bundy and Harvey) and a few other prospects.

    I wouldn't trade Castro for a 31 year old pitcher...what if Russell doesn't make it? What if Baez falters? Getting multiple young options seems better to me.

  • In reply to springs:

    I don't think you will get either Giolito and Cole or Bundy and Harvey for Castro. Teams really value their TOR SP prospects and Castro is not enough to get two of them. We will just have to leave it up to Theo and Jed.

  • I wouldn't trade any of the Cubs top prospects or Castro for Hamels or any pitcher. Too much chance of career ending injury.

  • My only concerns with all the pitchers the cubs have or are developing is that we seem to have an abundance of 4's and 5's. That's fine and all for an average team, but as you can see with the Tigers and A's this year and typically all the teams that are serious contenders every year, they have atleast 1 or 2 TOR arms, and then the rotation is filled with guys who would typically be considered 2's and 3's. I believe Arrieta and possibly Hendricks, if his hot start is a true indicator of things to come, could be part of a world series contending rotation, along with maybe Turner if he becomes the pitcher he was supposed to be. That leaves at a minimum 2, more likely three spots in the rotation to fill. I am definitely onboard with bringing in Lester next year, but who else fills those spots? Price? Scherzer? Masterson? I truly believe that we would need three pitchers of that caliber to go with arrieta and Hendricks to seriously compete for a World Series title.

  • I remember listening to a podcast interview back on the off season, wish I could remember which one, where they interview Theo. Lester's name came up, along with other RSox players Theo had a hand in drafting, and Theo made a comment that he hoped Lester made it to free agency.

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