Weekend Update … Andrew Cashner and the Cubs Search for Starting Pitching

The Cubs are still looking at starting pitching options and possibly adding another piece to the bullpen … even with the addition of Kerry Wood.

Randy Bush spent a little time Saturday morning on Talkin’ Baseball. The Cubs’ Assistant GM discussed the Cubs’ off-season and said Andrew Cashner will get the opportunity to start next season.

Here is the update … including tidbits from Bruce Levine about Brandon Webb, Tom Gorzelanny and confirmation on the way Carlos Pena’s contract was structured.

Randy Bush on Talkin’ Baseball
The Cubs Assistant General Manager joined Bruce Levine and Fred Huebner on Saturday morning. Randy Bush discussed a variety of topics … including the Cubs’ plans for Andrew Cashner.

The interview began with a discussion about Kerry Wood’s return to the North Side. Bush sounded extremely happy with the signing and said the first thing the Cubs have to do is figure out how adding Wood will impact the rest of the team.

Wood fills several needs for the Cubs … a solid bullpen guy that brings leadership into the clubhouse. Wood will also mentor the young guys in the pen as well.

Bush jokingly brought up what Wood said about Mike Quade on Friday and mentioned it is good Wood said nice things about his new manager.

As been discussed over the last three days, Kerry Wood’s heart has always been with the Chicago Cubs and he never wanted to leave. Bush discussed the phone call he received from Jim Hendry on Monday about Wood wanting to come back. Bush said it was fun the way it all came together … everyone in the organization is glad to have Kerry back in the fold.

The Cubs have taken a different approach to the off-season. Jim Hendry is a very aggressive person according to Randy Bush and he’s had to slow down this winter.

The Cubs feel Carlos Pena is a great fit. They wanted to add a left-handed power bat at first base but also wanted to make sure the player was very good defensively. The Cubs know they have young players in the infield that require a better than average first baseman.

Carlos Pena was at the top of the Cubs list. The Cubs feel he will be a great fit … plus he is a great person and a great clubhouse guy.

The Cubs are still looking at starting pitching options … and if something becomes available, they could add a piece to the bullpen as well.

Randy Bush said that Andrew Cashner will get the opportunity to start next season. (again, Andrew Cashner will get the opportunity to start next season) Cashner has been told to come to camp ready to compete for a spot in the rotation and he will be stretched out as a starter this spring.

Mark Riggins (Cubs new pitching coach, previously the Cubs Minor League Pitching Coordinator) felt Cashner’s change-up was coming a long last year when he was starting in Iowa. The Cubs feel Cashner has three solid pitches and he has a chance to be an impact starter at the Major League level. Bush said these types of arms are hard to find … and when they hit the open market, they can become very expensive.

The Cubs feel Andrew Cashner has a great upside and they are excited about giving him the opportunity to be a starter at the big league level.

Bush continued discussing the farm system and brought up how it has improved. Brett Jackson, Chris Carpenter, Trey McNutt are homegrown and several teams have asked about their availability. Chris Archer (Bush pointed out he came to the Cubs in the Mark DeRosa trade) is very close to contributing to the big league club and Robinson Chirinos is very close as well.

Bruce Levine asked about what they plan to do at second base next year.

The Cubs were very, very happy when they acquired Blake DeWitt. They feel DeWitt is still learning and has a huge upside. Jeff Baker and Darwin Barney will also be in the mix at second base.

Jeff Baker will compete for time at second base but he can play other positions as well. Bush pointed out how well he hit lefties last season and brought up Baker’s versatility.

Darwin Barney opened a lot of eyes last year. He is a good defensive player and is a winning player.

As for who will leadoff for the Cubs next season, Bush said that would work itself out. Bush thinks Mike Quade will figure out where Starlin Castro will hit then go from there … Castro could leadoff or hit out of the two-hole.

Randy Bush finished by saying the Cubs will keep working on adding a starting pitcher.

Tidbits from Bruce Levine
Bruce Levine passed on several nuggets during Talkin’ Baseball (ESPN 1000) on Saturday morning. Here are the highlights:

Bruce Levine confirmed the Sun-Times report on Friday concerning the structure of Carlos Pena’s contract. Carlos Pena was paid a $2 million signing bonus, which went on the 2010 books. Pena will be paid $3 million in 2011 with the remaining $5 million paid in January of 2012 … only $3 million of his $10 million contract will be counted on the 2011 payroll.

There is a chance the Cubs could go the trade route to add another arm to the bullpen.

The Cubs checked out Brandon Webb and they still might take a flyer on him. Levine is not sure the Cubs are still excited about signing him after looking at the medicals. Levine said if the Cubs sign Brandon Webb, he will be a project.

In order for the Cubs to trade Tom Gorzelanny, they would have to have another arm first … and more than likely that starter would have to be left-handed.

The Cubs need another starting pitcher. According to Levine, the Cubs are not sure what they will get out of Carlos Silva next season … Levine said, “Nobody knows” and “Silva could be in the rotation or released by spring.”

As of this writing, the Cubs have not announced the roster move necessary in the wake of signing Kerry Wood … stay tuned.

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Well, that’s the update … and I’m sticking to it.

Quote of the Day

"From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life." – Arthur Ashe