Jake Arrieta and the future Cubs rotation

We’ve discussed the pitching situation for the Cubs in a few blogs. I wrote a blog here, Cat Garcia wrote one here, and John has written several over the years on the subject. Pitching is definitely the less glamorous subject when it comes to Cubs’ prospects. There is a lack of impact starters in the Cubs system, and even the higher end guys like Tseng and Underwood have a lot of development time in front of them before they are ready to contribute.

It’s made the Jake Arrieta conversation an interesting one when trying to project the next competitive Cubs starting rotation. Arrieta came over from Baltimore as a prime change of scenery candidate as he struggled with consistency with the Orioles. He pitched well enough for the Cubs in 51.2 innings last year as he posted a 3.66 ERA but it came with an uninspiring 4.94 FIP.

We all know what has occurred this year. Arrieta is in the process of taking a massive leap forward in all things as he has pulled together his repertoire and found consistency with his stuff. He has a 2.12 ERA in 85 innings, a FIP that’s barely above his ERA at 2.14,  and  a 27.7 percent strike out rate and a 7.4 percent walk rate. There’s been a change in approach this year as he’s using his deadly slider more often and locating his stuff very well.

His breakout has prompted a discussion on where he fits with the Cubs long term. It’s certainly possible that he’s #1 on their depth charts when they’re competing for a playoff spot. That wouldn’t neccesarily reflect a failure by the Cubs to get a true ace, rather it could reflect on how far Arrieta has come in a Cubs uniform.

Arrieta’s gains seem more real with each start as he continues to clear hurdles with his performance. I think he can be the anchor for a future Cubs rotation if they don’t get a Jon Lester or a James Shields in free agency this year. There have been a few thoughts on trading him that I’ve seen. I don’t agree with this course of action as I don’t think the Cubs are able to get an equal return of a similar age for Arrieta.

The Cubs will have to fill in the slots behind Arrieta in the near future. It would seem, however, that they already added a top of the rotation arm in Arrieta.

Filed under: Analysis

Comments

Leave a comment
  • I'm really hoping they go after Shields. Shields and Arrieta would be a hell of a one-two punch and a good start at building the next rotation.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Chupacabra:

    Isn't Shields the oldest of the FA this offseason? I'd prefer Lester.

  • fb_avatar

    Like this a lot! I love Arrieta but I wonder if he will be able to be a true #1. I sure hope so!

  • In reply to Brandon Halford:

    Like Shark, he has the stuff to be a true Ace. But until now, consistency has eluded him. I'd feel a lot better if we had a Lester, etc to slot in at #1. If Jake beats him out for opening day nod so be it... but I'd really like someone to challenge Jake for those honors vs being handed them by default like we did with Shark.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I agree with everything you said.

  • In reply to JLynch2247:

    Ditto. I like Lester over Shields and Scherzer, but any of those three would make me happy with our 1-2. Wood, Hendricks, Jackson (ugh), and reclamation to fill out 3-4-5.

  • In reply to KC Cubs Fan:

    Id like BOTH Lester and Shields. Proven winners and have pitched well under playoff pressure. Imagine how nice if the Cubs O avgs 5 runs/gm and knowing your front 3 are Lester, Shields and Arrieta.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    I definitely wouldn't complain it they signed both. I would want to stay flexible enough for a run at Price in 2016 too. The nice thing about signing two FA this year is that we would lose a 2nd and 3rd round pick in the draft, where if we signed one this year and one next it would likely be a 2nd round then a 1st round pick.

    I 'm still kind of hoping that Boston tanks and sells off Lester. It would make it difficult for Boston to resign and remove the comp pick.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to KC Cubs Fan:

    I'd take Shark over Price in 2016. Less miles on the arm, and I think his stint with Oakland will do him some good developmentally. It'll be good to see how he does in a playoff race or two.

  • If the Cubs can get Jon Lester this offseason and Arrieta is the real deal then that gives the Cubs a very good 1-2 punch in the rotation. Wood hopefully will rebound next year and become a solid number 4. Hendricks looks like he can be a good number 4-5 guy. The only question mark will be the number 3 spot. Jackson will hopefully be gone or put into the bullpen (very unlikey), but even if Jackson stayed I would feel pretty comfortable with this rotation. With the additions of the prospects coming up and maybe a free agent position player acquisition I think this team could compete for a wild card spot. If the front office gets rid of Jackson, they have shown they could easily find a number 3 type pitcher for very cheap on a low risk/high reward type contract. I believe the Cubs have finally turned the corner from these horrendous seasons! Go Cubs!

  • In reply to JLynch2247:

    agree with all, basically - just don't count out straily. but since you can't count on him at this point, i am all for the cubs making a push to get two starting pitchers in free agency (lester and shields?!? - why not?), and maybe a lead-off/obp left fielder - they certainly would appear to have the money for it. i think that team could be fun to watch. maybe not win it all or anything, but certainly fan the flames a bit.

    but, i have high hopes that bosio can do with straily what he has done with maholm, dempster, garza, feldman, hammel, arrieta, samardzija. straily pitched well in his only playoff start, and as a rookie to boot. he has potential.

  • In reply to RizzowiththeStick:

    wait, when was bosio hired? did he work with maholm and dempster?

  • In reply to RizzowiththeStick:

    IIRC he came from Milwaukee with Sveum.

  • In reply to MoneyBoy:

    what does IIRC mean?

  • In reply to RizzowiththeStick:

    oh, nevermind. i found it. "if i recall correctly".

  • In reply to RizzowiththeStick:

    I completely forgot about Straily. He could potentially solve the number 3 type pitcher problem in my scenario.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to JLynch2247:

    Yes, a #3 could very likely be found, and I think the Cubs are starting to think in terms of not just "flipping" guys but actually signing them to succeed with the Cubs (not that they would turn down a really solid offer). These guys have signed Paul Maholm, Scott Feldman and Jason Hammel to very team friendly contracts. What if they signed a guy next year to a slightly different contract. What if they signed a player of similar quality in a similar situation (a "rebound" or "change-of-scenery" candidate) to a 1 year contract at $5-6M with a TEAM option for a second (and third?) year at $9M/year with a $1M buy out the first Option year (amounting to a worst case scenario $5-6M--fairly cheap for even a semi competent starter) and a $500K buyout the second year. This would give the Cubs a lot of payroll flexibility as well as some stability. It would also give them options with a player that would allow them to trade if he is too valuable and offer "team control" if that can add value (which it usually does). Further it buys them the ability to back out of the deal at almost any point if they acquire someone truly superior OR someone within the organization becomes "ready" to replace him.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Instead of "flipping" it would be nice to get into the comp pick market. I think Hammel would have warranted a qualifying offer this year, so if we could replicate the scenario we may still be able to use the comp pick to build on at the farm system level.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to KC Cubs Fan:

    Possible we get Hammel back next year - he seemed interested in coming back, and if he keeps playing like he did in the first half, I could see Theo and Jed making an offer.

  • In reply to JLynch2247:

    I agree. If we can snatch Lester from the BoSox, he and Arrieta would make a nice 1-2 punch. Jax has to go but if we can find another FA #3 that would be good. I think Wood is pitching hurt. He's not the same pitcher this year and something just doesn't seem right. If he can bounce back he would be a solid #4. And Hendricks reminds me in a very small way of Maddux. Not overpowering and he has been changing speeds and locations well. He would be a nice #5. I don't see Wada, Villaneuva or Rusin being slotted as a starter. Beeler ... maybe as the #5 in the scenario and that moves Wood and Hendricks up to 3 and 4, respectively. Jury is still out on Straily and Jokisch IMHO.

  • Cubs minor league pitching pipeline is less exciting than the hitters. Jake Arrieta is good. The FO may or may not be considering free agents. I hate to be critical but what is the point of this post?

  • In reply to CoolerbytheLake:

    it's work-appropriate porn?

  • It's been a great year for Jake but it's hard for me to think this is how he's going to be from now on.

    His career up until this year has been a huge question mark with wild inconsistencies. Jake looks like he has figured it out but you see established aces like Verlander/Cain etc take steps back, even in their prime years.

    I know Wood pitches differently as far as skillset but he's an example just from the current team. You don't know what to expect year in and out. We expected regression from his all-star season but Wood is 4/5 material right now.

    I'd be worried if Arrieta goes into next season as the ace. Very worried.

    Pitching is thin and I wouldn't be shocked to see a move made this off-season. Don't the Mets need a SS?

    Russell for Syndergaard? I'd go all in on Lester.

    Next year I'd like to see...
    1. Lester
    2. Arrieta
    3. Mid-rotation pick-up
    4. Syndergaard

    And let the rest fight it out.

  • fb_avatar

    Good article. I have to think the FO is going to try to trade for TOR pitching this offseason. That's very expensive, but we have the elite prospect depth to actually do it. The gap between our hitting and pitching prospects is stark; we'll probably have 7 hitters in BA top 100 easy, but not alot of close to the majors impact pitching, unless Edwards can get healthy and durable.

    Pitching is an organizational weakness right now. I think FO has attempted to address this, but so far none of the 2013 draft class of pitchers seems to be emerging (maybe Zastryzny, but he's 4/5 anyway). None of this is a criticism, just the way it's worked out so far.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    i really don't want them to trade the prospects away this offseason. let them grow and figure out who sticks and who won't. there are options available in free agency, and the cubs have around $50M coming off of the books. so, why trade when you can just buy?

  • In reply to RizzowiththeStick:

    I guess I would have to hear who the trade target would be, but I would agree with Rizzo. There seems to be decent players (a bit old) on the FA market, so why trade.

    Any rebuilding teams have a really promising 25 year old pitcher that they would sell for high end talent?

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Zonk... the recent post trade top 20 featured mostly position players in the top 10 and nearly all pitchers in the bottom 10.

    The pitching is gonna take time. The FO has loaded up with generally college arms, breaking the mold this year to go after 3 high HS picks who were all major overslots.

    And I'm *not* a fan of trading any of our prospects this year. I much prefer that they go hard after their #1 FA choice and sign another 1 yr flip guy.

  • Jackson alone makes me NOT want to watch a Cub game!!! I keep reading that Bosio is this great pitching GURU.., if true, what does that say about Jackson?

  • In reply to rakmessiah:

    It says that Jackson is either stubborn or has no clue how to pitch. I say a combination of both. He sucks.

  • In reply to JLynch2247:

    Does he ever. Ask why Bosio can work wonders with Arrieta, Feldman, Hammel and Maholm, but only EJacxka$$ sucks?

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    Coaching can be a very individual thing. A coach that can work wonders with one player can be totally useless with another. \no coach succeeds with everyone, through no fault of coach or player.

    The good coaches succeed with a greater percentage, but never 100 percent.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    As the dollar signs suggest; that's the difference between Jackson and the other guys. He's getting paid either way. The other guys are all trying to get a big pay day. Unfortunately I think it's that simple.

  • In reply to rakmessiah:

    Maybe that Jackson is not too coachable. In order to be a successful coach (teacher) you need a willing and cooperative student.

  • In reply to Moonlight:

    How hard is it to just pitch faster?
    BJax could just start with that... but for whatever reason he hasn't.

  • In reply to rakmessiah:

    Some styles work differently with some pitchers. Jackson is bad and the style Bosio has might not be enough to really bring him around.

  • Hopefully Jake can be that ace the Cubs need because it will be very expensive acquiring one on the open market. I really think Hendricks will be a solid part of the rotation and give the Cubs two very good starters to build upon.

    The large question mark relates to who fills the other spots. EJax is as good as done as a starter and certainly is not a part of the future. TWood looks like a back of rotation guy at this point By this time next season Corey Black and Pierce Johnson could be battling with Straily for positions... and I would not be opposed to stretching Ramirez out to see if he could start ala Samarzdija when Rivero and Vizcaino are promoted. All things considered it probably means the Cubs need a starter next year and maybe Jason Hammel could make a return visit.

  • fb_avatar

    A couple of good reclaim projects again next year works for me. Maybe 1 Lester type, but I really think that we are going to be in 2016 when the team starts being competitive.

  • I think you trade a SS/SS prospect for a ML or near ML ready starter and sign either Lester or Scherzer. If Jackson continues performing this poorly next year he goes to long relief.

    Lester/Scherzer
    Arrieta
    Wood
    Acquired player
    Jackson/Hendricks

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Hoosier Gus:

    I'm still on the fence about this.

    Is it worth it to trade a potential star infielder for starting pitching?

    If Tampa will take Baez + a few prospects outside of our top 10, is it worth losing what Baez could become for the next 10-15 years?

    Especially when this offseason has (potentially) a great selection of starters that we WON'T have to sacrifice prospects to acquire?

  • fb_avatar

    I'm ok if we spend big in the offseason, considering this might be the last year we have a protected pick. As little money as there is dedicated to 2015 payroll, we could probably sign Lester AND Scherzer and still be a sub 100 Million payroll.

    Waiting until 2016 would be pretty bad if we end up picking in the teens.

    I agree with those that said Straily could still mean a lot to this team, too. If he can be Arrieta-Lite, that's pretty valuable.

    I'd like to trade Ejax (for anything at all, really. screw "value") but if not, I just hope than maybe if we can improve on offense, he will pitch better if he has a lead. This season that probably hasn't happened much. He is 17th to last in the majors in run support.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Giffmo:

    Must've been eaten by the spam monster but I meant to add that we still have the annual reclamation project to expect for next year.

    My money is on Luke Hochevar.

  • fb_avatar

    Also, I still expecting the Cubs trademark reclamation Starting pitcher.

    My money is on Luke Hochevar.

  • Living in Kansas City and watching James Shields this season I would be very hesitant to pursue him. No doubt he is a great competitor and a good guy in the clubhouse. He has very little command of his pitches. Too many BB's and has gotten hit hard on many occasions.

  • In reply to MilwaukeeRoad:

    Wow!! Good to get 1st hand info. I've only seen him once and wasn't real impressed... but SSS.

  • In reply to MilwaukeeRoad:

    Milwaukee, James Shields does give up more hits than most TOR pitchers, for sure. But the BB info you are passing along is simply false and horribly misleading. He has given up 29 BB in 143 ip, or a 1.8 BB/9 rate. That isn't too many BB, in fact that is an excellent rate. His WHIP is 1.2 which is very good for a pitcher that gives up more hits than average.

    There are several reasons why I think Shields will be someone our FO looks closely at.

    1 because of his age he probably can be signed for around 4 years instead of a longer term our FO likes to stay away from.

    2 he has already learned to pitch and isn't subject to a performance fall like Verlander, Cain, and Sabbathia, when they lost their good stuff. Also, his style of pitching lends itself more to the NL where it is easier to pitch around good hitters with the pitcher in the lineup.

    3. His price tag will be expensive but not over the moon, so you have likely shorter term, less money, for a pitcher that knows how to pitch without elite stuff.

  • Maybe our PTBNL from the A's will come back from injury and be a guy.

  • In reply to HackWilson09:

    Neal Ramirez sure worked out well at the PTBNL in the Garza trade.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    Ramirez was a large part of the trade. \He was only a PTBNL because the Cubs wanted to see if his injury was severe.

    \i am interested to see who we get from Oakland, but there is no reason to think he will be at a level of Ramirez. Certainly not that close to the\mob.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    I think we get Raul Alcantara. I think this is a situation where they want to see how he comes out of the TJ Surgery he just had. The same is true of Ramirez....even though it was a lesser injury, they wanted to see how he was progressing from the injury. I think in September it will be announced. Alcantara has the highest ceiling of the three I have heard mentioned and being that they are all injured their floors are all in the Parisian Catacombs, which is very low.

  • This is definitely the elephant in the room in my opinion. Love all the bats in the pipeline, but if the pitching stays about the same as now we will have to win a lot of 10-9 games.

  • I am still up for converting Vizcaino & Ramirez to starters.

  • I think Arrieta is a #2. What I would like to see the Cubs do is to create a balanced 1 through 5. The issue with seeking a #1 starter is four fold: 1.) # 1 guys do not grow on trees. Maybe 1/2 the teams in the majors have a true #1 starter, is that to say that only those teams can be competitive? I think not. 2.) Usually you buy the number 1 high. You are going to pay a lot for that guy and you pay for past performance in baseball and most guys enter free agency right when age starts the process of the wheels falling off. I haven't seen too many $100 million dollar contracts that worked out well for the team. Plus money sometimes results in poor work ethics by the player. 3.) To create the value of being a #1, pitchers are generally overworked and have a lot of miles on their arms (especially true for relievers) which leads to 4.) The Johan Santana syndrome.....pitching is an unnatural movement. The likelihood of injury actuarially speaking are much higher and much more likely to be catestrophic career-wise. I think the wisest thing the Cubs can do is have 2 #2 starters (they have one with Arrieta) 2 solid # 3s who make a positive impact and eat innings and a # 5 who they fill internally. Getting these guys off the scrap heap like Hammel and Feldman has worked out and can fill that # 4 spot. Coaching guys who have always missed bats to coax batters to make soft contact is key and something that Bosio has really worked with pitchers to do.

  • In reply to Amazing Grace:

    BTW, I consider Wood a #4 at best. Hendricks, Beeler, Straily, Wada and most other Cubs pitching prospects # 5 starters.

    I am reserving judgment on Tseng, Underwood, Pierce Johnson and CJ Edwards though.

    Black I believe is a reliever at best.

  • First let me say I believe if any SS is traded, it is most likely to be Castro. And part of that reasoning is that it will be another year before Baez and Russell are competing on a playoff team; 2016. There is no rush! At this point I think it likely that Castro would bring the most return.

    But my main point is this. I agree with Rubio that Arrieta is too valuable to trade. Unless you got two top end MiLB arms that are a year away, how could you do it? What would it take to get a potential equal value to replace him? A major league ready SS? And consider signing 2 free agent pitchers, perhaps combined $40million plus AAV? Shark was about money/performance/value. He wanted no. 1 money for no. 1 potential. Arrieta is controlled for some years right? He could be willing to sign and incentive laden deal for his financial security. If I was Ricketts, I would hand his wife a nice bonus for being the good sport on a bad team so they can buy that house they have always wanted!

  • Someone help me out.
    Has the FO given us a specific plan of attack when it comes to acquiring TOR pitching ?
    From the time Theo was hired, has he or Jed, made it clear what the plan was/is to address this ?
    What is their MO ?

    We know what their MO is when it comes to drafting at the top of the draft board....Go after the best bat, good approach, good makeup etc.

    We know what their MO is when it comes to taking a MOR journey man pitcher that is having a down year or two, and giving him a short term deal, identifying qualities that can be refined, and heightened and then extracting maximum value from a mid-season trade.

    We know what their MO in developing minor league hitters (similar to their theory of drafting hitters), is that they must have a good approach, command the strike zone, and have a strong mental makeup.

    But unless I missed it, is there any precedence set yet, in this specific area ?

  • In reply to biittnersmustache:

    $$$: They've been willing to overspend on FAs, but it remains to be seen how much.

    Volume: If you sign a boatload of high risk, high ceiling prospects, some of them are bound to pan out. Young hotshots may not turn out and may get injured, so better to spend big on FAs or let a cheap prospect surprise you.

  • In reply to biittnersmustache:

    Theo's plan has been to attack pitching with volume. The system is filled with hard-throwing prospects with control issues, just as Arrieta was before the light bulb came on. Derek Johnson was hired to help more of those bulbs light up, but it's frustrating to watch until they do. I think they'll need to go after at least one FA this winter, and I'd feel better with two.

  • In reply to biittnersmustache:

    They haven't seemed to address it yet at Chicago. In Boston they seemed to attack it from many different angles. Shilling and Pedro were FA. Beckett came in a major trade. Dice K (thought of to be an ace) came throught the posting system. Lester (2nd round) and Buchholz (comp 1st round) were drafted and developed.

    You didn't see an Arrietta-type at Boston (probably because it doesn't happen often and very rare on good teams).

    So, in Chcago, you have really only seen them build one way... through the draft (or IFA). There may be one that bubbles up, but I think they will fill out the rotation through FAs and maybe a trade if the right player comes around. They won't sell the farm for a question mark.

  • Should't people on this board be happy with Jackson? I mean, the guy is basically a guaranteed loss every time he takes the mound. For all those 'lets stink for another year and get a top-5 draft pick..' folks out there, you should literally be happy when he pitches terribly.

    It seems crazy to me that so many people on this board complain about losing, yet dream about a top pick.

  • In reply to Roscoe Village:

    Maybe EJax just wants another top 5 pick too lol

  • I get frustrated with the description of pitchers as a "#1, or "#4" type etc. Aces make about as many starts in a season as a #5, so what you need is at least 5, great pitchers that perform in the aggregate. Then, for the playoffs, you need at least 3 ace types.

    Rankings are fun, but a contender needs at least 3 outstanding pitchers, and then a lot of depth that can cover the 4-5 spots, injuries, and middle relief. You need 3 aces, not one. If your #1 is significantly better than your #3, you're wasting resources.

  • In reply to bzalisko:

    this is what was wrong with the 2008 team, in my opinion. may have had the deepest rotation in baseball, but 1-3 they were just ok.

    2003 was a different story. that was a badass rotation.

  • In reply to bzalisko:

    although, what team can boast three aces? '01 a's; '03 cubs - maybe.

    i think a great 1-2 is more important than a very good 1-2-3 (obviously the 3 in the former would still need to be good, just not great.) again, something the '08 cubs proved. having rich harden pitch game 3 is kind of meaningless when you are down 0-2 and the game is on the road.

  • I hear people calling for a TOR trade a lot, but I don't think that I have yet to hear name thrown around. Price has been out there, but, in reality, he isn't much different than Lester, Scherzer or Shields, expect he would require a big trade then a big deal. Any thoughts on pitchers in their prime (24 to 28) with a few years of control and a years + of performance that could be legitimate trade targets?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to KC Cubs Fan:

    teams don't tend to trade those guys.

    Closest I've heard is the rumors of Castro for Wheeler + Thor, but those rumors were speculation, not anything that teams have actually discussed.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    That is kind of my point. I hear people suggesting a trade, but it doesn't sound like there are many real possibilities to get the Cubs ideal player. I wasn't sure if someone out there had a brilliant option that I was missing.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    On the Mets blogs most people don't want to even give up Wheeler alone for Castro.

    They love their prospects as much as we do.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    Yeah, understandable.

    I can't even figure out if that's a fair deal either way.

  • What Arrieta can be unfortunately is still wholly speculative. It's much like Shark. Until Arrieta can put together a full season as both a workhorse and a pitcher (versus thrower), it's hard to smartly project anything. He's 28, and because of arm issues and lack of command, he's never thrown more than 175 innings in a professional season. I'm very impressed this year with his ability to pitch more efficiently. But it's only an 85 inning sample with shoulder stiffness to start the season adding a big question mark moving forward. To contribute to a championship team, you need your No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 pitchers to each pitch at least 200 innings in the regular season and then counted on to pitch another 20 innings in the post-season. That's 220 to 240 innings in a single season. Even if he duplicates his first half with another 80 innings of quality throwing, you still don't know if his arm as a 29 yo and 30 yo and 31 yo can handle that workload. One hopes, but it is very hard to plan on it. Look at Travis Wood. Following his only 200-inning season, he now lacks the same velocity and command. Is that a mileage issue, a mental issue, returning to a statistical average as the amateur sabermetricians would have it, something else?

    Personally if Toronto will offer a package with either Sanchez or Norris, I would definitely consider moving Arrieta. Not because I don't appreciate what he's done this year in the first half, but because there's nothing in his history yet that tells you he'll be a major playoff contributor well into his 30s.

  • I often think "TOR STARTERS" are one of the biggest sunk costs in all of sports when you start looking around at the injuries and wild variance of performance at times.

    I would much rather be stacked with 10 "Number 3" starters and build from there. Wrigley often plays like a pitcher's ballpark anyhow, so I'm excited about the FO's strategy of attacking hitting volume.

    While I believe Bosio deserves all the credit in the world, so does the wind when it blows in. ;)

  • In reply to givejonadollar:

    Something I have been wondering about: How will Wrigley play when all the video boards and signage is up? Will the wind blowing in still make it a pitcher's park? Or would some of the signage negate that effect? I would guess the FO has models that they are using to plan for the future and the type if pitcher preferred. Does anyone know?

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Interesting thought. Could be some unintended consequences there. Is there a baseball physicist in the house?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Nope. But I am sleeping at a holiday inn express tonight...and you know what?...I got nothing.

  • In reply to RizzowiththeStick:

    Haha! I guess the Holiday Inn thing only goes so far. My neighbor is actually a physicist and he once told me if ever wanted to pose a question for him regarding baseball and physics, he would give it a whirl. Maybe I will give him a call.

  • I think a lot where the FO goes will depend on how much progress Baez, Bryant and Soler make now into September. When the judge and evaluate their progress. This off season will tell a lot. Will the cubs make a big run at the elite arms if not sure guys are ready or will they sit tight for the following year. But these next 2 months will be key !!

  • I'm late to this discussion, but I think it's still a year too early to go for Lester, Shields or Scherzer. All of them will be extremely expensive, wanting long-term deals. And the compensation pick we'd lose is not an insignificant consideration. (I suspect we'll finish in the middle of the pack in 2015, and if that's the case, we may lose a pick in the teens.)

    Plus, we're at the point now where we have more legitimate pitching prospects than we have slots in the rotation. I think we have to see what we have in Hendricks and Beeler. Hendricks could earn a place in the nucleus, while Beeler could be a very valuable trade chip if he can throw like a solid No. 4 starter. I would much rather develop Beeler's value than the value of some mid-career reclamation projects. We hit the jackpot on Feldman and Hammel, but I think it's time to take our winnings off the table rather than roll the dice again.

    No doubt we'll find a way to dump Jackson, but if we have another spot in the rotation, I would like to see that go to Grimm. He's following a career arc very similar to Shark: Got battered a bit as a rookie starter, then recaptured brilliance as a reliever (despite a few rocky appearances over the last four weeks), and now that he has the confidence to get big league hitters out, I think he could emerge as an excellent starter in 2015.

    If the 2015 Cubs turn out to be contenders -- and if the prospects above don't all pan out -- then we have plenty of depth in our farm system to acquire the best pitcher on the trade market. If the 2015 Cubs have another bad season, no big deal: We'll have another high first round pick in 2016, and we'll have a new crop of starting pitcher prospects to ogle: Pierce Johnson, C.J. Edwards and maybe even Jen Ho-Tseng.

    I know that Hendricks, Beeler and Grimm don't seem like elite pitching prospects, but each has come a long way, and each has a chance to have a good MLB career. It seems unwise to invest all this time in developing them, only to block their path to the majors.

  • In reply to Taft:

    If we sign Scherzer this off season (or some other compensatable FA), the draft pick we give up will be based on the 2014 team record not the 2015 record. So the Cubs are expected to get another Top 4 pick in the next draft; however, the first 10 picks in the draft are protected as compensation. If a team with a Top 10 pick signs a FA requiring compensation, that team gives up its 2nd round pick instead. So it actually makes better sense -- all things being equal player wise -- to lose a compensation pick this off-season than next.

  • In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    Oops, I totally misunderstood the compensation. Thanks for clearing that up for me! In that case, I'm on board with Scherzer / Lester, provided that the terms aren't completely insane. The cliche about never having enough pitching applies here.

  • Taft, I hope you will agree that the FO needs to at least kick the tires on Lester, Shields and Scherzer, but walk away if their demands are "organizationally irresponsible", if you get my meaning.

    I don't quite agree with your analogy, though. Feldman, Hammel, Maholm, and Baker were all simply one-time bets. We were able to cash in on 3 of the 4. Making another bet this winter does not diminish the winnings we have already pocketed. The FO clearly sees these pitching flips as a market inefficiency, and the cost of trying once again in only 5-6 mill. As was mentioned in earlier post above, maybe the FO signs one of these MOR, "reclamation" guys with the intent of keeping him, depending on how the season turns out.

    Anyway, I fully expect next year's rotation will have some sort of FA pitcher.

    If the FO feels that there is enought bullpen depth to stretch out Grimm, then there are indeed a lot of options for the bottom of the rotation. I would add Straily to your list, and maybe even give Wada and Rusin longshot chances. That also gives the starting pitching depth the FO clearly wants each year.

    I would like to know the FOs thinking wrt apparently giving Wada the first shot at the last rotation spot, over Beeler. Is that because they think Wada has a better shot at sticking? Or is it because of age, they need to find out about Wada as soon as possible?

  • fb_avatar

    I think despite the financial investment we have him in, Jackson would make a pretty dominant closer. He has two plus pitches and can often dominate hitters. He really seems to struggle with thinking too much out there. Limit his options to his two best pitches and we may actually have something, I know we pay him way above closer salary, but we just have to look at this as sunk costs and move on.

    I just don't see a spot in the rotation for him if he keeps pitching his current level, it is just painful to watch.

Leave a comment