Hey, maybe 'W' was wrong all along. Instead of raiding Iraq in search of WMDs, perhaps he should just take a look at what Jim Hendry has done as Cubs GM recently. He might find a stockpile of arms just waiting to be unloaded for the right price.
Many of Hendry's moves this offseason have resulted in young pitchers coming in return. The most notable exception, allowing the Cubs most senior player, and one of our leaders, Kerry Wood, to walk away and sign with the Cleveland Indians, could have also netted a young player in the form of a future draft pick. But Hendry didn't have the guts to offer arbitration to the longtime Cub pitcher, who would have declined anyway.
However, some of his next moves do seem curious, in that they appear to follow the original script that was outlined in the Jake Peavy trade. For Hendry sends perhaps the Cubs most valuable player to the same Tribe ballclub, only to get three marginal young pitchers back. It had been rumored that Mark DeRosa would be on the move if the Cubs had acquired Jake Peavy from the San Diego Padres.
(By the way, am I the only one here thinking that if the Indians make the playoffs, they should cut the Cubs a share of the money?)
And then, even more curiously, Hendry sends former uber prospect Felix Pie, who was out of options, to the Baltimore Orioles for two pitchers. Now Pie is but one in a long line of "can't miss" Cubs centerfielders, following Jerome Walton and Corey Patterson. Those guys could miss and, in fact, did miss.
Now, one of the pitchers they got for Pie is Garrett Olson, also a failed former prospect. But the difference is he's older than Pie and has less upside. He was, however, known to have been wanted by Padres GM Kevin Towers at one time during the Peavy talks. Again, very curious.
So are these moves designed to net the veteran pitcher the Cubs need? If not, they are moves that have not made the Cubs any better. In fact, the team isn't necessarily any closer to winning a playoff game than they were last year. To be truthful, it is arguable that guys like Kevin Gregg, who has never sniffed the postseason, make the Cubs even greener behind the ears when it comes to facing playoff pressure.
And while the Cubs need starting pitching (I'll explain in a minute), why Olson? He certainly doesn't look to be ready to jump into a contending team's rotation, even in the fifth spot. Not based on how he looked last year anyway. Scouts say he has nothing left to prove at the minor league level, yet he may be the pitcher's equivalent of the 4-A player, someone who dominates in the minors but can't do it at the major league level.
And even if he will be major league caliber at some point, why take a chance on him if you want to win now? Jim Callis of Baseball America likes Sean Marshall better and says Olson lacks aggressiveness and says his velocity has dropped to about 88-89mph. A finesse lefty who can maybe help out in the bullpen, but I wouldn't stick him in the rotation.
Just like I wouldn't trust Gregg in a leveraged situation. This is the same guy who blew more save chances than any reliever in baseball last year. That's the guy you acquired to make you better? Um, based on what?
And before you say we can use Marshall as the fifth starter and Olson in the pen, consider this. The Cubs know that Rich Harden will only be able to start about 25 games at the max. Less, in all probability. So they need a pitcher to serve as a swing-man, at the ready for whenever Harden decides his cranky shoulder won't let him go.
That swing-man is supposed to be Sean Marshall.
So, even with perfect health from the other Cubs starters, including the always questionable Carlos Zambrano, the Cubs need six starters. At the minimum.
Some of you have encouraged Hendry to sign a guy like Andy Pettitte. While I don't think it's in the plans, that is exactly the right thinking. We need someone who has experience, can still pitch, and even better if that man has previous playoff experience.
So, just what is the plan that Jim Hendry has in mind? Hope for the best? Well, I wouldn't do that if I was the GM, especially when both he and head bossman Crane Kenney have assured us that payroll won't stand in the way of winning.
The Cubs have made lots of moves this offseason and I understand the desire to get more left-handed. But they need more pitching; starters and relievers are welcome to apply. Hopefully we're stockpiling for a future arms shipment from another country, er, I mean, baseball club. Yeah, that's it, baseball club. It doesn't have to be Peavy; in fact, I think he carries too much risk. But a vet wouldn't hurt.
Sorry, Mr. Hendry, but you're not done yet. Not if you're serious about winning, come to think of it