About that potential second starting pitcher acquisition...

I usually have a good feel for who the Cubs might be looking at as far as free agent starting pitchers.  We’ve been ahead of the game when it has come to pitchers like Chris Volstad, Carlos Villanueva, Scott Feldman, Scott Baker, and Jason Hammel.

This year I am going through the potential free agent list and I just don’t see anyone that jumps out as a buy low/flyer type candidate.

I believe the Cubs will pursue Jon Lester early and aggressively.  If they land him, I would expect the Cubs to wait and see how the rest of the market shakes out.  The Cubs have said multiple times that they do not believe they need to shore up all their weaknesses at once.

My guess is that most Cubs fans would love to see the Cubs bring in Brandon McCarthy as that secondary arm but a strong finish with the Yankees may make him too expensive for that second pitcher.  More importantly, I don’t think the Yankees will want to lose him,  They saw something in him they liked and he has met all of their expectations.  I also liked the idea of JA Happ, but a strong 2nd half and a reasonable club option likely means he won’t be available – and certainly not at the bargain rate he would have been had he not turned things around.

Here are some other names I took a look at…

Potential Free Agents

Patrick Mooney writes about Justin Masterson as a possible fit.  While Cubsfans may have liked this option early this season, things have changed for Masterson.  He has had a poor year and perhaps more of a concern, a significant drop in velocity across the board.  Yet that may be what becomes appealing.  He looked like he was going to be among that 1st tier of free agent pitchers, now he may be looking for a one year deal to reestablish his value.  The Cubs are familiar with Masterson and perhaps they see something they can fix.  He has also been one of the games biggest underperformers when using the xBABIP statistic, suggesting he could be in line for a bounce back.  I suspect that if the Cubs can get him to take a one year deal, then we may see them go take a flyer on their former prospect with the hopes that he can regain his form.  The Cubs have built up a reputation of bringing out the best in reclamation projects.  That, combined with his familiarity with the front office may appeal to Masterson if he doesn’t get a multi-year offer elsewhere.

The Cubs could also bring back Jason Hammel but despite his slow start after the trade, he may have put himself in line for a multi-year deal.  It will be interesting to see how the market plays out because Hammel’s value has certainly fallen since his move to the AL, but will it have fallen enough for the Cubs to get him on another short term deal.  I think that’s doubtful.  Feldman had so-so results after his trade, yet still parlayed that into a 3 year, $33M deal with the Astros.  Feldman is a year younger, so maybe Hammel takes a 2 year deal.  That could be a compromise both teams may be able to live with.

Colby Lewis has gotten caught up in a frustrating season with the Rangers.  Like Masterson, he has been one of the biggest underperformers when it comes to xBABIP (curiously, Jacob Turner is also on that list, so perhaps this is something the Cubs pay attention to).  He has the kind of numbers that would frighten some Cubs fans (10-14, 5.34 ERA) but a .340 BABIP and a low strand rate may have contributed to some of that.  He is also a flyball pitcher in the better hitting league while pitching in one of it’s most HR friendly ballparks.  He is 6’4″ and perhaps refining his two seamer and using it more often (12% usage as compared to 50% with his 4-seamer) might help.  I don’t think he has the velo to work up in the zone and perhaps a change in his approach could make him more effective.  He can certainly eat innings (163.1 IP which is right around his 4 year average).

Jake Peavy is another big name and, while his performance is declining over the years, he is still effective (3.78 ERA, 4.16 FIP) and could eat innings (197.2 this year) in the middle of a rotation.  He’ll keep the walks down and miss enough bats but the question will be of value.  He is still just 33, has played for 4 teams in 2 years, and may be looking for that last multi-year deal to give him some stability late in his career, but given his slow decline I think that makes him extremely risky.  If he is still around late in the process, I’d see if he’d be interested in returning to Chicago on a one year deal, perhaps one and an option.

Aaron Harang is now 37 and he has been pretty steady for most of his career.  He’ll give you innings (197.2 IP) and keep you in the game (3.60 ERA).  He has outperformed Peavy and his peripherals (3.53 FIP) don’t suggest a dropoff, but nothing is a guarantee when a pitcher enters his late 30s.   He took a one year deal at just $1M to sign with the Braves.  If the Cubs could get him for something similar, then the risk is minimal.  They could afford to release him at any point.

Tsuyoshi Wada has a $5M year option and has performed well for the Cubs.  His numbers are as good as any pitcher on this list (3.22 ERA; 3.67 FIP).  Despite his age — he will be 34 next year — Wada is not a proven pitcher in the MLB and is a candidate for regression as teams become familiar with him.  His stuff is fringy, his command is average — yet he has gotten away with working up in the zone.  A relatively low BABIP and HR/FB ratio may make it difficult for him to repeat his performance.  I think the  Cubs wouldn’t mind bringing Wada back, the question is whether they would want to bring him back at $5M and a guaranteed roster spot when he is basically an unproven 34 year old  5th starter with a history of injuries.

Franklin Morales has not been good.  But he is lefty, throws hard (90-94), and has been acquired by this front office in the past.  He showed some promise early on with a 3.73 ERA, while also showing career best control numbers (about a 9% walk rate or 3.5 walks per 9 IP) and nearly a strikeout per inning in 108.2 innings with the Red Sox between 2011-2012.  Like Lewis, he throws his 4-seamer a lot and gets hit hard, perhaps suggesting that it lacks movement or that it is being poorly located.  He is a former top prospect, is just 28, and still has raw ability, but the performance has been abysmal with no way to spin it.  I do think there is more talent here than with Felix Doubront with better potential to be effective out of the bullpen as a fallback.  He also has amassed enough innings to where he can be relied on to eat innings this year should he be a starter.  Maybe Chris Bosio can work his magic here but I certainly would prefer to look at him on a minor league deal where I could easily send him to the minors if he doesn’t perform in the spring.

Kenta Maeda doesn’t have the stuff or physical build of Yu Darvish or Masahiro Tanaka, but the 25 year old star RHP of the NPB has gotten results.  It’s a question of value here.  Will teams bid high based on the success of the aforementioned pitchers or will they bid something more appropriate of an unproven pitcher with a 4/5 profile.  If it’s the latter then I would kick the tires.

Trade Possibilities

The Diamondbacks put Trevor Cahill on waivers this year for the purpose of sending him to the minors.   He has ghastly numbers this year: 3-12 this year with a 5.55 ERA and it’s possible they could just give up on him this time around.  He will be just 27 next year, has shown no dip in his velocity, and yes…he is one of those pitchers who has vastly underperformed versus his xBABIP.  The traditional BABIP is .350 and the strand rate is at 63% — both are likely unsustainable.  As such, his FIP of 3.89 is substantially lower than his BABIP.  One culprit is a drop in his groundball rate so perhaps there is something they can fix with his approach.  He had been a groundball machine in the past and that style would suit him well at Wrigley.  I like his catcher Miguel Montero as a potential Cubs acquisition, maybe the Cubs can do some one-stop shopping in Arizona.

I like Jeremy Hellickson, yet another xBABIP underperformer, but I don’t like dealing with the Rays who always seem to extract surplus value.  One industry source suggested that the Rays would try to pull off a trade on par with the James Shields deal.  At that price I would say no thanks.  Like Cahill, he is in his prime (27 this year) and should be able to eat innings if he is healthy.  My problem is that Hellickson will likely be overvalued while Cahill will likely be undervalued.

Mike Leake is said to be available and fits the mold of athletic pitchers who throw strikes that this front office likes.  He will eat innings and give his offense a chance to win the game.  There is nothing flashy here but you know what you are getting.  Like Hellickson, my concern is whether the Cubs can get fair value here, especially considering they are dealing within their division.

Yes, Rick Porcello is the pitching version of Coco Crisp in that I mention him every year, but he is a luxury on a staff that is headed by 4 TORs in Max Scherzer, David Price, Justin Verlander, and Anibal Sanchez.  If the Tigers want to keep Scherzer and/or Price, then Porcello may become available.  Porcello throws a hard, heavy two seamer that generates ground balls and weak contact, though he doesn’t miss a lot of bats.  He will throw strikes (4.6% K rate 1.70 BB/9IP).  He would be more of a long term piece than a stopgap, as he is still pre-prime at 25 years old.  He’ll be expensive to pry lose and he has just one year of cost control.  If the Cubs think they can extend him, that could save them from having to get into a bidding war on the open market next year.

So yeah, I have been thinking about this a lot and I have considered all levels of signings, from the flyer to the stopgap to the potential long term solution.  We’ll probably revisit this and whittle down names from this list and perhaps adding another name or two as we know more.




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  • It's mentioned nearly every time a player leaves the Cubs, and it never happens, but if a departed guy was to ever return I think Hammel could be the one. He genuinely liked his time in Chicago, and from what we can tell, the front office likes him as well. I could see them offering EJax money at 2 or 3 years.

    I'm having a hard time seeing how, other than age, Maeda would be any better than Wada. Pass on both.

    For the reclamation projects, Masterson must be hurt, no thanks. Cahill is an interesting idea though. He seems like another Turner case, Bosio could maybe fix one of these two and we see a McCarthy-esque turnaround?

    So I'll vote for Hammel and Cahill as our possibles.

  • In reply to notcarlosdanger:

    Masterson is hurt, but it's his knee, not his arm. Could be a potential bargain there. I like Cahill as well. I think Masterson and Cahill are my prefernces, actually -- unless they can pry lose Porcello at reasonable cost, but I doubt it.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, on topic, I dont see the Tigers shopping Porcello. If anything, hes been there 2nd most effective starter and hes still under team control. The guy the Tigers might shop is Price.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    Maybe, but they certainly are going to have a hard time carrying that rotation. Someone has to go, whether it is letting Scherzer go, trading Price, or trading Porcello.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Theyll let Scherzer go. Theyve already offered him 6/144 and he turned them down(Mr Boras must be getting really greedy in his old age). Im betting trey trade Price next year if they cant compete. There getting real old real fast there. One minor thing, Hunter might also be let go this offseason. Any chance he might be a short-term fix for the Cubs?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Is the knee the culprit? People have been touting his GB% and low W%. He doesn't miss a lot of bats it seems. Would you sign him for a Hammel-like deal?

    Also, do you see any way the Cubs revisit the Cole Hamels deal?

  • In reply to MoneyBoy:

    I would definitely sign him to a Hammel deal.

    The knee had a similar affect on a prospect named Tyler Skulina, it affects there ability to land, which in turn can affect velocity and command.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I found it quite curious the way the Cubs handled Skulina's injury. I think all they did was push him back in the rotation a couple of times until Daytona banished him to Mesa.

    I thought the team was a lot more proactive with the injuries to Tseng, Johnson, Edwards, and Zastryzny that I can think of off the top of my head.

  • In reply to LOB8591:

    I think two things apply here: 1) the Cubs likely determined he couldn't make the injury worse and 2) the development was more important. Skulina is a rather raw pitcher for a college guy. Even if he took his lumps, he probably learned a few things about pitching, especially since he managed to battle and put up good numbers at Kane County.

  • Rocks have an expensivish option on Brett Anderson. He's a great option if available.

  • In reply to TheMightyGin:

    I like him if he's healthy, but he doesn't seem to be a guy you can rely on to give you innings -- and I think the Cubs need that.

  • In reply to TheMightyGin:

    $12m. No way they exercise it. Again, a ? of how healthy he can stay.

  • No pitcher over 30 yr to more than a 3 yr contract

  • xBABIP, that's a new one to me. How does that compare to FIP and xFIP?

  • In reply to Matt Mosconi:

    It's a complement to BABIP, which tries to eliminate bad luck. xBABIP considers the type of contact and tries to determine whether it's really bad luck or whether the hitter is making poor contact. You can learn more about it here.

  • Of the FAs mentioned, I like Masterson the best. Has age on his side and was a very good starter just last year. He was the Indians ace going into this season. Is there any explanation on why he had a decline this year? I know he spent some time on the DL, but don't really know why.

  • In reply to couch:

    Ok, I see above that it is a knee injury. This really seems like the kind of guy the Cubs are likely to sign to a 1 year deal.

  • What about Fransisco Liriano? Would he be too expensive?

  • In reply to Rudy:

    I think so. I think he is overvalued now, wanted to sign him in the past but he was undervalued then. Kind of expensive for your secondary option. I'd rather go with Masterson or Cahill. If they peform, great, you have that second spot on the cheap and you can re-sign them. If they fail, then they can easily cut ties and see what is available in 2015/2016.

  • In reply to Rudy:

    Liriano is likely going to want at least a 3 yr contract. I for one dont want to give it too him. Too inconsistent and injury-prone. Maybe for 2/15 Id consider him.

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    Nice overview john. Leake was the name that struck me, I mentioned him yesterday. Looks like he could be a pretty good #3. Reds need shortstop and OF help. Coghlan + valbuena for leake?

  • In reply to SKMD:

    I don't know what the Reds would take but I do know that kind of trade adds but also subtracts from the 2015 roster. I think they can get a similar upgrade without taking a chunk out of two guys who figure to add value/depth to Cubs chances in 2015. We keep talking about lengthening the roster, that move may actually shorten it and it certainly does for position players. I suspect the Cubs will try to acquire a pitcher either through free agency or a trade involving prospect depth.

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    On a completely different topic...did ya'll see that Gary Sheffield came out and said Baez needs to change his swing? And his situational hitting. He definitely needs some help. I hope it works! And don't trade Castro!!!

  • Brandon Morrow? I know there was some talk about him earlier in the season. I know he has been hurt (again) much of the season and has been somewhat iffy out of the Pen for the Jays this season.

    Definitely would be a flier and make-good kind of guy,.... but has been at least occasionally dominant as a starter when healthy.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    I second that on Brandon Morrow. Thought he might be on this list, John.

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    I am hoping for someone who can give you innings and consistency, that's not Morrow to me. Maybe if they get him very cheap and on a one year deal. They could always move him to the bullpen.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Not a bad choice, except hes been injury-prone ever since they moved him into the rotation. Toronto has already said hes a releif pitcher if they hang onto him.

  • I see this as a very different winter. Assume we get Lester... Why do more?

    The last few winters brought us reclamation projects. Well... Didn't we already find those guys? Wada is another Maholm. $5 mil is not bad. Turner is potentially another Arrieta. Dubront is potentially another Wood. And now the system is finally producing - after Hendricks, Beeler, Jokisch. CJ maybe mid-summer.

    I don't think we're in the same position where we gotta go drag the river for a guy who's barely breathing. And remember, those were "sign and flip" guys.

    Time for "Sign and Keep".

  • In reply to HackWilson09:

    CJ likely won't be ready mid season, but Pierce Johnson very well could be.

    But I agree with your sentiment overall. If they get a top end starter. I'd just rather put Wood, Wada, Doubront, Turner, Straily in a spring-training SP Thunderdome in which 5 SP enter, 2 SP leave.

  • In reply to SenatorMendoza:

    Be prepared to leave with two fairly bad SPs then. I do think this is a likely scenario (with the exception of Wada), but it shouldn't be the plan.

    First off, Straily is done. He is barely a candidate for the 5th starter in Iowa (I know it sounds like I am joking, but I am serious). Turner flashes but he does not have the ceiling that Arrieta had. None of those guys are innings eaters. They are all 5-6 inning, hold your breathe and hope they don't implode types. It is fine to have one of those guys in your rotation, but if you have two of them, the chances of fielding a competitive team next year go way down. So the team should at least explore the possibility of bringing in another arm.

    The other thing that needs to be considered is the losers from that list would need to be exposed to waivers or traded since there probably isn't going to be room in the bullpen which means you severely cut into your depth before the season starts.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Well said, mjvz. I think the Cubs need 2 viable arms this off season. Hopefully one TOR (Lester, Scherzer, Shields, etc.) and one 3/4 type who is more of a known quantity (Hammell, Peavy, Masterson?).

    Straily, Doubront and Turner all seem to me to be depth guys at best (i.e. 6, 7, 8 types) who you call up for a few emergency starts and to fill in gaps in case of injury and NOT guys you count on for a full year in the rotation. Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaybe Turner, but he has an awful lot of proving yet to do to even enter the conversation as a 5th starter.

  • In reply to Pura Vida:

    Well, I'm not quite as pessimistic as you. I do think every one of those guys would be fine as a 5th starter (other than Straily). A competition between some combo of Wood/Doubront/Turner for the 5th spot is fine with me. Although I do expect one of those three to be part of a trade this offseason.

    Lester is the only TOR starter I would consider this offseason. If they get him, I would hope they would pursue a second starter in FA or trade to shore up the rotation because bringing in Lester and one other MOR starter gives the team a chance to compete next season.

    If they are unable to land Lester, then adding one MOR and piecing together the back of the rotation with the guys listed above is fine with me. Competing for the playoffs should be the goal, but it shouldn't be the expectation, and I would not sacrifice long term flexibility on a plan B. Missing on Lester moves the timeline back a season, which isn't the end of the world to me.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    I probably wasn't as clear as I should have been. A Wood/Doubront/Turner competition for 5th starter is ok. But I can't see the Cubs going into ST with Lester, Arrieta, Hendricks and then letting the rest slug it out for 4th/5th. It would get ugly really fast if any one of the 1st 3 get injured in that scenario. You would have Straily types in there getting hammered every 5 days. I'm ok with the Cubs not making the playoffs. Not ok with them not building that SP depth that they've talked about in the past (i.e.--wanting to go 8-9 deep).

    All that being said, I am making the (rather large) assumption that any MOR pitcher added would be a 1-3 year deal at a pretty reasonable rate and not something that would bog down the payroll or clog up the rotation forever.

  • In reply to Pura Vida:

    We do seem to be on the same page then. Lester is the key to me. If Lester signs, make a push and bring in a second guy. Lester/Arrieta/2nd guy/Hendricks/Wood(or whoever) is good enough to compete.

    But if they miss on Lester I don't want them to just bring in 2 MORs starters as a plan B. Still bring in one guy, but then wait until next offseason and target Price or one of the other TOR starters that will be available at that point. Clogging the books with two MOR starters (plus still paying EJax MOR money) will limit their ability to pursue a TOR next year.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    I'm okay with that. I know everyone is stoked to see a competitive Cubs team, and they are getting closer. But I'm fully expecting to see some serious growing pains. Over the next year. I still want to see the Cubs add a TOR, preferably this off season, if not, then the next. As sick as I've been of Wood this season, I think he should be given the benefit of the doubt going into next season. It would have to take a craptastic spring for me to change my mind on that. Wood is still the same guy the team was looking at extending last offseason. So I'm looking more at a Wada, Doubront, Turner fight for the 5th spot. There is potential upside there. The other thing I'd give some serious consideration to stretching out Ramirez, or Grimm. With Straily in AAA for depth, and Pierce Johnson half a season a way, CJ, not too far behind. I feel like the Cubs have options. I don't see Cahill as an upgrade of Doubront or Turner (at least not much of one). Give Bosio a chance to work with some live arms over the offseason and spring.

  • In reply to HackWilson09:

    I like the optimism. I'm not as confident in our guys at this point. I would like to see them at least bring in a veteran arm to compete.

  • "Franklin Morales has not been good." Sounds like our guy John! I kid, I kid...

  • In reply to YouCannotBeSerious:

    Ha! Have to be honest. I wouldn't mind him on a non-roster/ST invite deal, though.

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    i'm hoping for Shields #1. McCarthy would be awesome for #2 or Ervin Santana and a reclamation project like Masterson would be fine by me. I'd also like to see a deal for Mike Minor or ML ready prospect. And imagine if Cliff Lee is possibly healthy next year come May/June? I dont even think it would take that much given his salary and phillies situation. That makes us contenders!

  • In reply to Niren Desai:

    Phillies will want the vault for Lee. Look what they asked for when the LAD inquired about him. Joc Peterson, Seager and Arias. Thats the equivalent of Bryant, Soler and Baez. Not for a late 30s starter whos beginning to break down physically.

  • In reply to Niren Desai:

    Unfortunately Ruben Amaro is delusional and completely overvalues his aging players....he would rather "ride it out" and continue to be a mediocre "also-ran" with absolutely no chance to contend for a World Series, but good enough to wallow in mediocrity which is a death sentence under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement.

  • what about Gavin Floyd?

  • In reply to TeddyBearTom:

    I don't think he can be relied upon to give you innings, Even if he's healthy he might be limited. Maybe as a flyer type but I think they need someone who they can count on to step in.

  • What if they can't sign Lester? Who's the second choice? Does there have to be a second choice?

  • In reply to bzalisko:

    The plan B if they miss on Lester should be waiting until next offseason for Price or one of the other TOR starters available at that point. They have to get someone this or next offseason, this offseason is not a make or break situation.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    after watching Price pitch for the tigers since the trade, I'm not sure he's the #1 most people think he is. He has alternated from very good to poor games in his 8/9 starts. Hendricks/Arrietta have been much more consistent.

  • In reply to stix:

    By the time he reaches FA that may be the case, I'm not going to write off a guy with his track record after a handful of shaky starts. Price isn't the only guy available next offseason though.

  • Anyone but Masterson. My dislike for him has probably bordered on the irrational, but given his recent performance it is becoming more and more rational.

    De La Rosa was a guy I was hoping for, but the Rocks extended him last month.

    Hammel, Lewis and Harang would all be acceptable options to me on 1-2 year contracts. I'd kick the tires on Morrow and Anderson depending on their health status. Of the trade candidates mentioned, Cahill is the only guy I'd consider. Cubs should only look at buy low candidates as trade possibilities at this point. Continue to horde the young talent until next offseason, they will have a better guage for where they are at as far as strengths and weaknesses at that point.

  • The benefit of getting guys coming off down seasons is u can get them for fewer years. Even if u are not looking to deal them, it gives u more options--u can extend them or give them a qo and collect extra draft picks. Cubs fo doesnt like overpaying for fas and will continue to look for value

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    No, no, no. A thousand times no on Porcello. Now in his 6th season, this is the first time he has had an ERA below 4.32. he has had three seasons of 4.59-4.92.
    In addition, this is the first year he thrown more than 182 innings, yet he's allowed 185-226 hits over five seasons.
    Porcello's WHIP is always higher than league average, although it has been respectable the past two years. His saving grace is that he doesn't walk a lot of hitters, just 2.2 BB/9IP over his career, and he keeps the ball in the park.
    I hear a chorus in my head chanting, "O-ver-ra-ted!"

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    I'm not a huge Porcello supporter but he has been made to look worse than he actually is because of the situation in Detroit. He is a groundball pitcher that has been cursed with one of the worst IF defenses in the league the past few years. That has undoubtedly added to the number of hits he has surrendered.

    Cabrera was a joke at 3B and Castellanos has actually been worse this year (worst metrics of all 3B in the league). Cabrera/Fielder are bad at 1B. Peralta was never better than average at SS and they have had to run through a bunch of replacement level guys at that spot this year.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    Before we discuss Porcello remember one thing. His left side of his infield last year was Jhonny Peralta and Miggy, niether one is known for great range or even passable infield defense. Ask the Cards all about Peralta right now, Theyd tell you hes about to become a LF before long. Porcello has a nice GB rate, and with an above average IF defense hes likely to improve. Also remember he had to learn to pitch at the MLB level, like Turner the Tigers rushed him to the majors before he was truly ready. No, hes not a TOR guy, but hes better than anything we have now not named Arrieta. Id at least ask the Tigers about him.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    According to the Detroit media, the Cubs could have had him for Garza two years ago.

    I think a rotation of Lester, Arrieta, Porcello and Hendricks would be pretty solid.

  • In reply to since1970:

    Consider what was acquired for garza though. Would you give up Ramirez, Grimm, Edwards, and Olt for porcello?

  • In light of the Cubs huge payroll flexibility, does the Cubs plan of attacking starting pitching with numbers, volume in the draft also translate at all to taking more chances on FA pitchers on 1 or 2 year deals. In other words, can we afford to eat more 1 or 2 year deals if they don't work out?

    Man, I'd love to get Peavy on a 1 or 2 year deal even if we have to overpay on $ per year. I've always liked his guts and competitive fire. And even though he's not a position player, he'd add some of that veteran leadership we're looking for.

  • I believe that the FO could decline the option on Wada and then turn around and sign him for a lower $$ amount, correct?

    Not that the Cubs can't afford the $5MM for one year, but could look to bring him back and save a couple of bucks if they would like.

  • As long as we are throwing names out there how about Kyle Kendricks of the Phillies. He might not have the prettiest numbers out there, but he can eat innings and if worse comes to worse he could be one of those mid season flips if things don't go well in 2015. I'm sure a one year deal would work .

  • In reply to kevie:

    That would get too confusing.

  • completely off topic but I saw where Castro's WAR was 2.0 this year. When John was trying to figure out what to do with Castillo a couple days back, he indicated a 2.0 WAR was what the average ML player was.

    If Castro's WAR is just average , how does he get voted into the All Star team by the players twice? Does that mean the NL shortstops are no better than his WAR ratings?

  • In reply to stix:

    With a weighted on base average of .341 Castro is ranked 3rd in the NL behind Ramirez (.362) and Peralta (.343 and just coming from the AL after a drug suspension). That is probably a better indication of the reason Castro was an AS this season instead of looking at his WAR value. He is still an above average SS and a borderline perennial all-star regardless of his 2012 season or other commonly perceived shortcomings.

  • In reply to Paulson:

    Thanks. I don't disagree with your thoughts on Castro but I'm new to this Saber stuff and am confused as to why an average player by WAR rating is considered good enough to be an all star. Does WAR really mean anything or does Castro's WAR indicate the Saber guys system for WAR needs fixing/tweaking?

  • In reply to stix:

    Castro gets into all star games because offense is weighted more heavily in that evaluation than defense. WAR tries (sometimes unsuccessfully) to balance both. There are a number of slick fielding, no hit SS so Castro generally above average offensively and below average defensively.

  • Looking at the second SP options and none looks real enticing- maybe Liriano but if he demands three years that would not work. With Turner, Doubront, Wada, Jokisch, and maybe Grimm the Cubs would have enough fringy guys to plug the #5 spot until Pierce Johnson is ready. They could live with those options IF they sign Lester. It is almost a given that they need to get one of the big three (Lester, Shields, Scherzer) to compete next year.

    I would like to see the Cubs get radical and go after two of the big three. They would likely have to commit $250M worth of contracts to make it happen but with the scoreboard renovations, TV contract talks, and young studs arriving soon the revenue will be taking a jump next season. There is enough payroll flexibility over the next five years to support such a strategy.

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    guess whos career stats these are?

    293 Inn

    327 Hits

    5.00 era

    Give up?

    Jacob Turner
    Hes bad stop putting him in the starting rotation.

  • In reply to deport soriano com:

    OK, let's do this some more....

    186 Inn

    225 Hits

    5.59 era

    Give up?

    Greg Maddux in his first two ML seasons.
    Turner is 23 y/o let's give him a little more time.

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    In reply to Paulson:

    *Slow clap*

  • In reply to deport soriano com:

    This is fun...let's do another one.....

    334 IP

    343 Hits

    5.33 ERA

    Give up?

    Jake Arrieta his first 3 seasons (ages 24-26)
    Arrieta also had an ERA of 7.23 before he came to the Cubs at age 27. Bosio simplified his delivery, tweeked his repertoire and sequencing, and now Arrieta looks like a new pitcher, but it didn't happen overnight with him either. When he came to the Cubs he was better than he was in Baltimore but he still had a FIP of 4.94 in his 9 starts last year.

    So don't be so quick to toss Turner on the scrap heap. He is still only 23 years old, was considered a top prospect just 2 years ago (#15 overall by BP & MLB), throws easy cheese at 93-96 mph, has a solid starters frame (6-5, 215 lbs), has good stuff in terms of movement, and a full repertoire (2-seamer, 4-seamer, cutter, curve, & change). If Bosio can simplify things for him in the same way he did for Arrieta, he could get a lot better quickly. Not saying he definitely will, but you don't throw out a 2 year old sports car because it's had some steering problems...at the very least you see if you your ace mechanic and his crew can fix it before sending it to the scrap yard.

  • It's interesting that you brought up Porcello. I live in the Detroit market and I know their pen is a mess and Strop would be a nice cheap fix. They play in a big park where Wood might look interesting and Sweeney is cheap enough for a year. I think the Tigers are actually a better trading partner than the Mets.

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    I think a nice sized trade for a young, talented kid is possible.
    But I think a trade for a veteran under contract is even more so.
    We've built quite a bit of depth in terms of trade chips.

    I do like the thought of Lester, Arrieta, Hamels, as a top 3.
    Or a young Mets pitcher. Or another rebuilding team lacking position prospects.
    What if we go after someone else's top pitching prospect?
    Then, go hard on Price/Cueto next offseason. 2016.
    We can offer some young, successful bullpen arms (Grimm/Strop/Rondon)
    It's not totally unheard to consider breaking apart some of these prospects for arms, either.
    McKinney/Almora/Vogelbach would be top 3 in some systems.
    Depending on strategy, we could listen on Alcantara or Castillo.
    We have reclamation projects in Olt or Wood. Or...Edwin?
    And the big one...Salary relief. We can take on money.

    I know the Phillies asked for the moon with the Dodgers.
    Maybe the Mets want to chat? How about the Royals?
    If you consider the real core this rebuild: Baez, Bryant. Soler, Alcantara/Almora, Castro, Rizzo, Schwarber and Russell- You don't necessarily need to stray from that plan.
    We can also wait again and utilize that strategy next offseason.
    Possible this offseason. More likely next.
    And maybe we trade Baez. Who knows?

  • If the reports are accurate that the Cubs will have about $42 million to spend this off season, then the Cubs basically have room to add two big contracts. I fully expect one of those contracts to be a pitcher (either Lester via free agency or Cole Hamels via trade). The other contract slot will go to a veteran bat from a team that wishes to move a big contract and either trades him on the cheap to free up full budget value, or throws in some cash in return for some extras on the talent side from the Cubs.

    I expect the 2nd pitcher to be a young cost-controlled TOR arm acquired in a Castro trade. But Jed/Theo won't be in a hurry to "jump the market" in this case. Even though there will be several SS options available this off-season, they know they have the most attractive in terms of age, bat and super-attractive contract in Castro. If the right package back (and it should be a package for Castro) is not available, they wait until spring training/trade deadline. They have no artificial deadline.

    I also see them bringing Wada back for $5 million as a mid-season trade asset. The Cubs always overpay on one-year contracts for the pitchers they flip midseason, and $5M is what Carlos Villaneuva now makes. So it's not a market-outrageous amount to pay Wada, who would be scooped up for multiple years and close to that annual salary by some contender. Plus if the Cubs didn't view Wada as a worthy investment, they would not be giving him so many late season starts with so many other young pitchers waiting in line.

    I like Porchello and his 30 DPs induced this year. It would play well in Wrigley, but you don't need two Hendricks-type pitchers in the middle of your rotation. Three in the whole rotation, including Wada. Also, much better to invest the trade assets it would take to get Porchello to get a veteran bat/leader with all the young bats needing guidance. Then you wait for after 2015 to get that second free agent arm.

  • Thank goodness for Jake! We Cubs fan should write that guy a thank-you note. Can you imagine how different this discussion and the Cubs future would be without a very solid #2 starter on staff?

  • In reply to carmonfanzone:

    So true. My biggest surprise this year.

    John, can you fire off a note on the Cubs Den letterhead from all the Denizens. I don't even know what a stamp looks like anymore.

  • When I think about a team with a young core of hitters that needed starting pitching help to take it to the next level, the 1983 Cubs come to mind. Though there were a few veterans in the lineup, the young core of Sandberg, Durham, Davis, Mel Hall, and September call-up Joe Carter were beginning to create some buzz around the team. However, the core starting staff was a less-than-exciting mix of Chuck Rainey, Steve Trout, Dick Ruthven, Dickie Noles, and a way-past-prime Fergie Jenkins, with no MLB-ready stud arms in the pipeline (in September, Fergie and Dickie were replaced in the rotation by the illustrious Don Schulze and Reggie Patterson). As we all know, between September 1983 and June 1984 the staff looked quite a bit different. Although the dynamic of free agency was much different then, Dallas Green and the front office went out and did what they had to do to acquire the 3 starters they needed to take the team to the next level. This included trading away some of the young core of hitters. You could debate the wisdom of giving up someone like Joe Carter, but the end result was a team that went from 71 wins to 96 wins and a play or two from the WS. Not saying this should be our expectation for 2015, but I suspect we may see Theo and Jed be similarly and surprisingly aggressive with the team over the next 8-9 months. (Though on a side note, for those who are nervous about giving up a 2nd-round pick to sign a FA this year, reminding ourselves about the Cubs' 1984 2nd-round pick won't help).

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