5 Reasons Chicago Cubs Should Keep Signing Free-Agent Pitching
Look folks, we are all confident the Cubs are going to be rebuilding for the next year or two. The lineup and overall roster is dwindling in age, which is a great thing. But that decrease in age is being matched inversely with an increase in talent. Most of that talent resides in the lineup, however, not the with the pitching staff.
Though the Cubs may be rebuilding with young talented players like Starlin Castro, Darwin Barney and Anthony Rizzo at the Major League level, and the likes of Javier Baez, Albert Almora and Jorge Soler coming up through the system, these guys do not pitch.
Let's look at why the Cubs need to retool the pitching staff with some free-agent arms.
To Put a Winning Team on the Field Sooner Rather Than Later
Let's be honest with ourselves. Are fans really going to be OK with a four- to five-year rebuilding process? I would venture to think not.
Pitching can help nearly any team win now. Reliever Kyuji Fujikawa and his 220 saves for the Hanshin Tigers was a great signing for this club. But he alone does not correct the 4.51 team ERA from 2012.
The Cubs need to be investigating each and every free-agent pitcher out there and seriously considering sinking some money into many of them.
The pitching woes are not going to be solved from within.
To Take Advantage of the Current Market
You may be asking yourself, "what the H E double-hockey-sticks is he talking about?" Even though the market has seemed to be severely inflated in recent years ($100 million-plus contracts for Cole Hamels, Johan Santana and Matt Cain to name a few), it is only going to be getting worse.
A pitcher like Zack Greinke or Kyle Lohse is going to cost a few million dollars less per year now than he will in two years. So, why not lock talented young pitchers down now and save a few bucks?
That extra money could help you maintain some of those talented hitters later on down the road.
The Kids Need a Veteran Ace to Lead the Way
With the departure of Ryan Dempster the Cubs staff was left without a true veteran leader who can pave the way for the kids. Yes it's possible to develop without the veteran, but pitchers are extremely competitive people.
Travis Wood and Jeff Samardzija may benefit from a more competitive and successful pitcher in the rotation.
A veteran setting the stage is going to set the competitive tone for the rest of the staff. With Zack Greinke and Kyle Lohse still on the market the Cubs have a couple of great options to start with.
While they are at it, why not attempt to lock up another veteran bullpen guy. A guy like Jose Valverde could bring a passion and a winning attitude along with him. Not to mention he could come relatively cheap and be primed for a bounce-back year after a subpar 2012.
The Well Looks Rich in Offense but Dry of Pitching
The biggest and most logical reason probably rests here. We briefly mentioned it earlier in a round-about-way, but the pitching is severely lagging behind the offensive lineup projections.
The tools are in place with the young talent in the field to progress offensively over the next few years. But the same cannot be said for the pitching.
Therefor the team needs to find a way to address said issue. Filling that void by using the saved dollars from their young lineup to pump into talented pitchers only seems logical.
Because It's Not in Theo Epstein's Bones to Not Go for the Big Names
Jed Hoyer may be the GM, but he shares a philosophy with his boss.
Theo Epstein's teams have been known to throw money at big names in the past. The Red Sox weren't afraid to bring in Brad Penny, John Smoltz, John Lackey, Carl Crawford, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Adrian Beltre to name a few.
Some worked out and well, some didn't. But, that is the nature of the game. Don't think Epstein will be afraid to turn Hoyer loose. The money is there and is secretly burning a hole in their pockets.
Let's Sum Things Up
Is it the right thing for the Cubs to do right now? Maybe it is and maybe it isn't. But some of these reasons make perfect sense.
They may be able to cure portions of their ill-fated lineup in house. But, right now it looks as though they don't have the assets to cure them all. They are going to have to search abroad for pitching help.
If they play their cards right and can find pitchers that fit their needs, they need to pounce on it. The fans aren't going to wait four to five years to win.
Neither will the Cubs.