Chicago Cubs: Carter Hawkins hire could be a total game-changer

(Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
(Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

In the midst of a wild October, the Chicago Cubs finally concluded their search for a new general manager, with Jed Hoyer hiring Carter Hawkins from Cleveland. The Cubs spent nearly a full year without a GM after Theo Epstein stepped down so it’s great to see the position filled. Furthermore, it’s encouraging to see Hawkins bring a history of success in an area Chicago hasn’t been successful: pitching.

Hawkins had been with the Indians for 14 seasons and spent the last five as their Assistant General Manager. The Indians have, for years now, maintained a strong reputation for their ability to develop pitching. Names like Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco, Corey Kluber, Mike Clevinger and Shane Bieber are all big names to come through Cleveland. Their ability to locate and develop pitching is an area the Cubs have missed the mark for quite some time.

Since 2014, Cleveland pitchers have three Cy Young awards (Kluber with two and Bieber with one) and they’ve finished top 10 in ERA in six out of the past eight seasons with six straight from 2015-2020. During Hawkins’ time as assistant GM, they’ve shown nothing but consistency and excellence in the pitching department and is a key reason to why they’ve been to the postseason four times since 2014.

This past season, the Cubs faced an identity crisis with their pitching. They finished the season 27th in baseball with a 4.87 team ERA and 27th with a 5.27 starter ERA. While Kyle Hendricks posted 14 wins, he gave up a league-worst 200 hits along with a 4.77 ERA and showed that he may not be the team’s number one moving forward. Even with decent contributions from Justin Steele, Adbert Alzolay and Keegan Thompson, the Cubs have far more questions than answers when it comes to the pitching staff heading into the offseason.

Pitching is going to make or break this team in 2022. Even after the sell-off, during the second half, the Cubs’ offense was second in the NL in OPS at .780 and fourth in runs per game at 4.91.

Chicago Cubs: Developing homegrown arms is critical for long-term success

The front office has done a solid job of adding pitching to the pipeline over the past few years. Steele, Thompson, Brailyn Marquez and Jordan Wicks are some names that present young upside we may see at the big league level over the course of the next few years.

That being said, this rotation needs a near top-to-bottom overhaul. Hendricks and Alzolay are the two for sure names we’ll see next year but it’s about how this front office rounds it out that will determine if this team can contend or not.

Having a pitching mind in Hawkins come in to run the show will be huge. Utilizing his time with Cleveland to help develop the young talent and fill out this rotation will be a big benefit to this team and organization as a whole.

Next. Chicago Cubs: Evaluating the catching position moving forward. dark

I believe Hoyer made a great move in his GM hire and I feel confident that the pitching questions will be solved with great time, effort and care. This team has the resources to compete in 2022 and we’ve got a good decision maker in charge to lead the way.