The Chicago Cubs continue to swing and miss. Such futility would appear to makes sense for a franchise that last won a World Series in 1908. But these are different times and Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer likely care little about that or the William Taft/William Bryan presidential election that happened shortly thereafter. What is on their plates however is turning around a club that lost 96 games last season en route to scoring the second fewest runs in all of the National League.
The road to that success was supposed to start with Japanese superstar Masahiro Tanaka. Problem is, someone forget to tell him that. The 25-year-old signed with the New York Yankees and the Cubs were left wondering if Paul Assenmacher still has any zip left on the old fastball. Tanaka’s stiff is even more severe for Cubbie Nation because their starting pitching at the major and minor league levels is dreadfully shallow. If the rebuilding plan is to ever reach fruition, priority one needs to be to add some quality arms. Here are a few ways to replenish the cabinets at 1060 W. Addison:
Trade Starlin Castro – I’m not a believer that this 23-year-old will ever put things together. Defensively he’s a mess and many scouts believe you either have it or don’t in the field. You might be selling for seventy-five cents on the dollar here considering the .631 OPS in 2013, but there has to be a GM out there who still thinks he’ll project into the 3,000 hit player we were promised.
Draft the best starter at #4 in 2014 – I’m more of a value than need guy when it comes to selecting players, but the Cubs seem to have painted themselves into a corner here. The top pitching prospect in the organization is CJ Edwards and he’s pitched in exactly 0 games above A ball. Sadly NC State product Carlos Rodon will likely be gone, but either Jeff Hoffman or Tyler Kolek would be nice consolation prizes.
Sign Sherzer/Shields/Lester – Time for owner Tom Ricketts to open the wallet in 2015. While none of these three might hit the open market, if any of them should it is time to pay up. Scherzer is the best and youngest option, but even the duo of Shields/Lester will likely be around when the future (Beaz/Bryant/Soler/Almora) arrive in the big leagues.
Exploit foreign markets – Get ready, the next big name in Japan is Tomohiro Anraku. While he might be a few years away too, the Cubs have done a nice job in the international market. Teams only have so many dollars they can spend, but the focus needs to be placed on the top SP’s available.