Among the many ills of the 2011 Chicago Cubs was the lack of quality starting pitching. Short outings ate up the bullpen and left the Cubs trying to dig from a hole with an anemic offense. So how does this get better in 2012?
After the Cubs made their singular trade of the winter meetings, swapping Tyler Colvin and DJ LeMahieu for Ian Stewart, the message from the front office was that the next step was to look at non-tendered players and other free agents.
The Japanese star Yu Darvish is supposedly one chance the Cubs have to shore up a rotation that was tied for last in average Game Score, and had less quality starts than every staff but Colorado.
The posting process is a crap shoot though, and while Theo Epstein has some history with it, you get one shot to throw what amounts to $100 million total at the player. That seems more like a move from the old Cubs regime rather than the new Cubs. Chances are that the Cubs are not going to be the team that is chosen by the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters (and the rumors are that Toronto has already sealed this up).
If the season started today, the Cubs would throw out a rotation that looks very similar to last season. Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano would lead out, with Randy Wells returning in the No. 4 spot. Andrew Cashner should return from his arm troubles, and be in contention for the fifth spot if the Cubs don't make a move, although rumor has it that a return to the bullpen -- probably permanently -- is in order.
With starting pitching depth a concern, the team should be looking at realistic choices on the market. While Tim Wakefield has been rumored to be of interest, you don't need stats breakdown why a 45-year-old knuckleballer shouldn't be (Neither should his favorite catcher Jason Varitek).
Instead, today begins a series of articles looking at the potential choices the Cubs have for the rotation.
To begin, Joe Saunders.