The Chicago Cubs signed their ace this off-season in Jon Lester, but do we have a true number two in Jake Arrieta? If you look at the history of World Series, there are a lot of similarities in the winners. Look at their starting pitching staff and what do you see? Usually they have two pitchers who could be number one starters on most other teams.
Great examples that come to mind are the 2004 Red Sox and 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks. The Red Sox had Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling. Who was the number one and two? It really didn’t matter because both guys were aces on any other team.
And when you look at Arizona’s 2001 team, you have Schilling and Randy Johnson. In both situations these guys were the anchors that helped win the championship for their teams.
The Washington Nationals are currently built that way – they are actually four deep. I truly feel the Cubs need to do something to get that next level starter to compliment Lester.
It’s not a knock on Arrieta – he was great last year, but I think he is best suited to be a No. 3 starter and a strong one at that. With then having Jason Hammel and Kyle Hendricks following – that is a rotation built to take a championship home.
Now the question is how, or when do the Chicago Cubs make that move for the other arm?
The Cubs could gamble and wait till free agency next season, see if one of the prized free agents sign with them like Lester did. There are a number of great pitchers who potentially will be available to sign.
Names like Jordan Zimmerman, Zack Greinke, Jeff Samardzija, David Price, and Johnny Cueto are slated to be free agents. The problem is they are going to want a figure north of $125 million at the very least. Since the Chicago Cubs already dished out $155 million to Lester – you’ve helped set the bar high for this next crop of players.
Not only will the price have to be right, but the contract length as well. For guys like Price and Samardzija, this may be their one and only shot at a big pay-day so they will be looking to cash in, and rightfully so.
You also have to expect a bidding war for many of these names. Teams like the Dodgers, Red Sox, Yankees, White Sox and maybe the Padres – you will have competition to sign these players.
Are the Cubs an attractive enough option for one of those pitchers to give up $10-$15 million to sign here instead of somewhere else? Could be, but do we take that chance.
Maybe calling the Phillies and offering up a package consisting of Dan Vogelbach, Pierce Johnson, and C.J. Edwards could get Cole Hamels. They want to rebuild and slash their payroll – offering up three of your top 20 prospects will at least get the discussion going.
You have to ask yourself if you can win next year without another ace on the staff. Can you win with Arrieta, Jason Hammel, and Kyle Hendricks as your back-up to Lester? Are these prospects really going to be what we expected? If any of these answers are no, then you have to move and make sure you get another arm.
This Cubs team will put up runs – I have no doubt about that. But can they prevent runs from scoring too? I’m not as confident about that as I’d like to be.
With the Chicago winds in Wrigley Field – you’re going to have days when you just can’t score. Those are the games you need to be positive that you have the arms to win. I like Arrieta – but to me he’s more of a middle of the rotation guy on a contending team.