In my first installment of seven where I’m going to look at the outlook of the Cubs 2012 season. I’ll examine the options the Cubs have for their starting rotation
Carlos Zambrano: Good riddance. He was a cancer on the team and major distraction. Anything they would get in return for him, Chris Volstad in this case, makes me view this as a positive deal for the Cubs.
Andrew Cashner: I’ve been vocal about liking this kid, and I still like the kid a lot, but when you can single-handily flip him into Anthony Rizzo you have to take that opportunity. I like Cashner pitching in San Diego.
Realistic Rotation Options
Matt Garza: The man acquired from the Rays prior to last season has been amidst a flurry of trade rumors. We’ve heard “done deal”, “real close” and “kicking the tires”. I wouldn’t mind if he was traded, as long as they get a good haul in return as Hendry traded the farm for him. He’ll start the season with the Cubs, and pitch opening day, but I would look for him to be moved at the trade deadline if he’s having a good season.
Projected Stats: 13-9 3.50 ERA
Ryan Dempster: The native Canadian that channels Harry Caray for one of the best non Will Ferrel impersonations is locked on behind Garza. He had a rough go of things last season, but has been the Cubs most consistent starter in terms of innings pitched on a yearly basis. It’s a contract year for him, so look to for him to have a new fire in him.
Projected Stats: 10-15 4.50 ERA
Randy Wells: The remaining starter from last season is converted catcher, Randy Wells. He ran into arm issues early in the season, and did not pitch very well the rest of the way. Unless he dominates in spring, I would look for him to transition to the bullpen and spot start when needed.
Projected Stats: 4-7 4.75 ERA
Paul Maholm: The only new free agent acquisition is former first-round pick. I’ve always thought pretty highly of him, and hoped he’d find a home on a better team than the Pirates. He pitched for so many bad, bad teams. Last year, they were dramatically better, and he pitched better with a 3.66 ERA. He win games in Chicago albeit with an ERA over 5, but hopefully being a groundball pitcher (52.3% for his career), that will translate into better success in Wrigley over a full season. He should start behind Dempster.
Projected Stats: 7-10 4.00 ERA
Chris Volstad: Acquired in the Zambrano trade. He’s a big kid, and under team control for another four season. He’s been injury free, and a workhorse for the Marlins thus far, but with out major success. Hopefully fresh scenery can help him get back to something closer to his rookie campaign. I like him behind Maholm.
Projected Stats 10-15 4.25 ERA
Travis Wood: The second round pick in 2005 was involved in the Sean Marshall Deal and is under team control for five seasons. He had a great rookie season, but took a serious step back last season. Many Reds fans think the team gave up on him too fast and see him as potential super star. He could develop into a solid third or fourth pitcher in a rotation. I like him in the rotation behind Volstad giving the Cubs two lefties.
Projected Stats: 7-10 5.00 ERA
Casey Coleman: Here’s another young kid I like in the Cubs organization. He hasn’t made the transition from AAA to the big leagues very well thus far. He’s pitched relatively well in the minors in his career up to this point with a sub 4.00 ERA to go with a 33-18 record. He’s actually the first 3rd generation pitcher in the Majors. His grandfather and father, Joe and Joe Jr. respectively, were both MLB pitchers. He’ll continue to hone his craft in the minors and be one of the first injury replacements.
Jeff Samardzija: Mardz just hasn’t developed like the Cubs would have liked him to, but with that said, he’s pitched well out of the pen. He’ll get some looks starting this spring, but he’s best utilized at the back end of the pen. He won’t ever close, but could be a good 7th or 8th inning man. I look for him to pitch the 7th before Kerry Wood in the 8th.
Andy Sonnanstine: Sonnanstine signed a non-guaranteed split contract earlier this winter with the Cubs. If he ends up on the active roster, it will be as a reliever, possibly competing with Wells for the long relief role.
Rodrigo Lopez: “Organizational depth”. End of story. Will be at AAA if he accepts until injuries/ineffectiveness/trades occur.
Jay Jackson: Hard to believe he just turned 24 in October and he has two full seasons at AAA already. He pitched great up until the last two seasons, where he’s struggled. If he pitches better look for him to get a shot or be a trading chip.
From the Camp: The pitching prospects are few and far between right now. They have a core of early 20′s pitchers that could develop into decent pitchers. I like Nick Struck, Trey McNutt, and Robert Whitenack. Whitenack; however, just had Tommy John surgery near the end of last season, so his road the majors could take longer. Dillion Maples, last season’s draft pick, is already a top 10 prospect. They had to toss a huge signing bonus at him to keep him from going to college.
1. Matt Garza
2. Ryan Dempster
3. Paul Maholm
4. Chris Volstad
5. Travis Wood
Spot Start/Long Relief
Filed under: Digging Deep - Analysis Tagged: | Andrew Cashner, Andy Sonnanstine, Carlos Zambrano, Casey Coleman, Chicago Cubs, Chris Volstad, Dillon Maples, Jay Jackson, Matt Garza, Nick Struck, Paul Maholm, Randy Wells, Robert Whitenack, Rodrigo Lopez, Ryan Dempster, Sean Marshall, Trades, Travis Wood, Trey McNutt