Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Cubs: Not Rebuilding

Sep 27 The Chicago Tribune's Paul Sullivan reports Chicago Cubs SP Rich Hill and SP Sean Marshall won't be in the rotation at the same time if manager Dusty Baker can help it, because Baker believes it would signal the club is in rebuilding mode. "Right now Hill has pitched better," he said. "It depends on whether you want to develop, or do you want to win the pennant? That's the first thing you have to make up your mind on, or who's out there that's going to help you get over the hump, or who's here that you were counting to come back who wasn't here."

What sort of mode should you be in after a season in which you have lost 95+ games?

First of all, he's under the impression that he has any sort of control over what will happen with next year's starting rotation, which is either stupid of him or betrays some sort of secret pact that he has with Hendry (which scares the hell out of me). Secondly, this is classic Dusty Baker.

The reason the Cubs are so bad now is that their manager refuses to allow his younger talent to develop, so that when an Alou or a Grudzielanek leaves or is traded, the only thing the Cubs can do is find another veteran like Neifi Perez, because Baker has not prepared the replacements to play.

Here is a look at what might be the Cubs' starting rotation next year:

Carlos Zambrano - There's nothing anyone needs to say about this one.
Rich Hill - I still feel that if Dusty's around, this guy doesn't have a sure shot to make the rotation in 2007. Maybe he'll have a bad spring training and Dusty will send him to the minors. This guy has led baseball in strikeouts two years in a row.
Mark Prior - For about 23 starts. Prior has stated that in the event that he doesn't make a start for the Cubs this year, he'll consider pitching in the Cubs developmental league in Mesa or the Arizona Fall League, which is encouraging, I guess. Please don't do this again, Mark, it's been three years.
Wade Miller - He's been decent and will only get better. The Cubs had better offer him a contract now. He's healthy, undervalued, and so overlooked that MLB Trade Rumors missed him in suggesting a fourth or fifth starter for the Cubs' 2007 rotation. (Nor did they mention Eric Patterson as a replacement for Theriot/Cedeno)
Anyone - I wanted to suggest somebody here but the Cubs gave him away. More on that later.

As much as I'd love to see a Barry Zito-type starter added to the Cubs rotation, this team has so many holes right now. Either they'll focus on getting a real shortstop and second baseman and think about who is going to play center field next year, or overspend on another starter. Either way, the Cubs will not go into spring training as any real threat to contend for the division.

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