Clock Ticking On Cubs and Edwin Jackson

Clock Ticking On Cubs and Edwin Jackson

Time may be running out on the Cubs and this front office's biggest free agency investment to date. 

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer made Annibal Sanchez their offseason priority a couple of years ago. They whiffed, regrouped, and went to Plan B in Edwin Jackson.

At the time, some were just happy the Cubs were investing money in an actual premier major-league free-agent.  You can count me among those, as I always thought Jackson was at least a reliable inning eating commodity. Not to mention that the arm and stuff has always been so tantalizing to so many clubs.

Unfortunately, many clubs had also figured out that Jackson is a bit of an enigma. He has even been enough of a puzzle to escape the reclamation magic of pitching coaches like Dave Duncan, Don Cooper, and now even Chris Bosio.

His skipper Rick Renteria however, isn't ready to give up just yet on trying to solve that puzzle, he told Gordon Wittenmyer.

“We have to try to put our finger on whatever it is that’s the stumbling block,” manager Rick Renteria said. “[With pitching coach Chris Bosio] and [assistant pitching coach] Lester [Strode] and just in general conversations, we’ll see if we can get to the crux of it with him.”

At some point, maybe soon, the Cubs will have to face the music and swallow hard here. This front office has had to absorb plenty of the previous regime's mistakes, but this time they are staring their own down.

The remaining $22 million over the next two years is a lot to choke down, but if the Cubs plan on being competitive or even respectable  next year, it's hard to imagine Jackson as a part of the rotation right now. It is even more of a stretch to imagine the Cubs finding any takers for Jackson this summer.

Our own Gunther Dabynksy wondered aloud if Jackson could be salvaged with a bullpen role. He also gave some more thought as to why EJax has struggled so mightily.

The reason for this loss of effectiveness might be a decreasing gap in velocity between the change and fastball. The fastball velocity has been declining for several seasons with a major drop occurring in 2012 but continuing steadily through this year. The changeup has also increased slightly in velocity to the point where the average gap in velocity is down to 6 mph from the 8 mph in 2011.

Edwin Jackson has tried to compensate for the lack of a changeup by throwing more curveballs than ever in his career, and it is not working. Left-handed bats are torching him for a .906 OPS compared to .700 OPS of right handers. His career numbers against left-handed versus right-handed bats: .787 to .751.

For many, this front office can do no wrong. Some of the fan base or local bloggers may even view them as somewhat infallible. However, even the Cubs front office boy wonders or supporters would admit that Jackson is their biggest mistake so far during their Chicago tenure.

What makes all of this extra difficult is the fact that Jackson from all accounts, is a good clubhouse guy and teammate. I can also add from my experiences, the guy is a class act no matter how he poorly he has pitched.

However, business is business and the Cubs must now be getting to the business of getting better, no matter what that takes. Even if it means eating the money left on the deal or using Jackson in a lesser role.

Jackson (5-11, 5.79 ERA) has only five quality starts in 22 outings. He hasn’t pitched more than 51/3 innings in any of his last four outings and his first inning struggles are becoming painfully predictable.

“It’s been a tough stretch for me lately,” said Jackson, who’s 13-29 with a 5.31 ERA in 53 starts since signing a four-year deal with the Cubs in 2013. “Whatever the case may be, it seems like anything that can happen does happen. It’s even more frustrating when you feel good and nice and strong, and you continue to have outings like this.”

He simply can not continue to have outings like this much longer. If he does, someone should pass the front office the Tabasco sauce.


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  • He would be really expensive for a bullpen role, but that role might be what it takes to get him back on track.

  • In reply to JLynch2247:

    I am not sure the bull pen role is a good idea, considering his first inning troubles. I liked the signing when it happened (although I was really excited about the idea of Annibal Sanchez), a nice consolation prize. I have always liked his stuff. It just hasn't worked out. I think it is time cut him loose.

  • I was under the impression his contract was structured so there's only 22 mil left on the deal....that the contract was structured 19-11-11-11. Not that it means all that much.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    You are correct. He has an annual salary of 11 million but received an 8 million signing bonus.

  • In reply to Gunther Dabynsky:

    I will fix.

  • Put him on the DL for a couple of weeks, and then see if he has all the ailments Nate Jones does, or otherwise put him on a rehab assignment in Kane County. Then see if you have anything.

  • Eh. He wasn't a mistake at the time of the signing. He hasn't turned out to be a successful signing, however. I don't see any reason why he has to be moved to the bullpen or cut now. There's still a couple months of baseball to play. I see no reason for the coaches and EJax to not use those two months to try to "fix" him, if possible. Why are we hitting the panic button right now? We're acting like this team is going to the world series next year...

  • In reply to cubbie steve:

    Somewhat disagree. If he can't go more than 5 innings, he's killing your pen. I would like to see him get straightened out and get some more value.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Baker needs some innings every 5th day to build up his value ;) Just let him keep taking the mound.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    But in all seriousness, we're talking what, maybe 4-6 more starts before the roster expands and there are plenty of relievers who'll get a shot to gain experience during his starts? I don't see this as a problem come September. The price they have committed to him and the need they have in the rotation seem important enough that the best solution for the time being is to continue working with him if he is still amenable.

  • Here's my take on how long Jackson is with the Cubs: he stays with the Cubs until 1.) he blocks the ascension of a quality potential long-term rotation piece, 2.) he finally "fixes" whatever isn't working and gets traded (which could be a possibility next year as his contract year gets closer. After all he'll only be 32 in 2016) or 3.) he blows up and becomes a bad clubhouse presence like Zambrano or Stewart. Then the Cubs cut their losses by dumping or DFAing him.

    Ideally the Cubs FO want him to recoup some value before moving him. So I see them (unfortunately) being patient in 2015. Since they don't expect to compete for the playoffs next year, there's no reason to not hope for a turn around. We saw this with Stewart and Marmol. No reason to not expect the same with Jackson provided he doesn't go nuclear in the clubhouse.

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