Cubs Working on the Pitching Staff as Spring Training Nears

The Cubs reportedly agreed to terms on contracts with Jason Hammel and James McDonald last Friday with both deals not expected to be announced until the pitchers passed physicals. The Cubs have not made either signing official yet and will have to make a 40-man roster move before announcing Hammel’s one-year contract. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer could be trying to sneak one of a handful of pitchers through waivers and still keep him in the system before making the signing of Jason Hammel official.

The addition of Hammel on a Major League deal and McDonald on a minor league contract gives the Cubs starting pitching depth with camp opening next Thursday. But the Cubs might not been done.

The Cubs were one of five teams connected to free agent RHP Suk-Min Yoon. The Orioles reportedly offered Yoon a contract and the Rangers are very interested in signing him according to multiple reports. The Cubs’ interest in Yoon surfaced earlier in the off-season as the front office explored ways to add pitching to the Major League roster. Could the Cubs look at another veteran starter that could provide them innings?

And the team finally acknowledged Chang-Yong Lim is still in the organization.

Chang-Yong Lim

The Cubs posted the signing of Chang-Yong Lim to the transactions page, so it is official he is still with the organization. Lim signed a two-year contract with the Cubs in December of 2012 that was reported as a minor league deal at the time. The Cubs decided to non-tender Lim last December, which caught many off guard. But the team retained the rights to Lim and he is under team control through the 2014 season. Lim said he felt good, despite the results, at the end of last season and is looking forward to pitching again without limitations.

According to multiple reports, Lim is supposed to be in big league camp this spring on a non-roster invite. The Cubs have not added him or James McDonald to the official list of non-roster invitees.

Suk-Min Yoon

According to reports out of Korea and from Jon Paul Morosi, the market for free agent right hander Suk-Min Yoon is heating up. The Orioles and Giants watched Yoon work out last week in California, and the Orioles have made an offer to Yoon according to the Baltimore Sun. If Yoon accepts the Orioles’ offer, it will be interesting to see if he passes their physical.

Suk-Min Yoon has received multiple offers after he showed teams he is healthy and ready to pitch. Scott Boras told Jon Paul Morosi that “six or seven teams are pursuing” Yoon.

The Cubs are believed to be in the mix for Yoon but it is unclear if they are one of the teams that have made an offer. Reports early in the off-season indicated the Cubs were interested in signing him but those rumors quieted as the team focused on Masahiro Tanaka.

The Twins were interested in Yoon but are not willing to meet Scott Boras’ asking price. And the same was reported about the Indians. Cleveland was in the mix until they found out what Boras was wanting for his client.

The Rangers and Red Sox are thought to be two of the teams and Texas has liked Yoon for several years. The Rangers might be looking at Yoon as a way to fill the void in their rotation left by Derek Holland, plus there is a connection between Yoon and Shin-Soo Choo. Yoon will reportedly throw for the Rangers at the team’s complex in Surprise on Tuesday.

Suk-Min Yoon has relocated to Arizona to continue preparing for Spring Training with reports from Korea suggesting he will remain in Arizona for the foreseeable future. Reports late last week indicated Yoon could sign with a team at some point this week. And Scott Boras told Morosi that he is “very close to deals for Oliver Perez, Jeff Baker, Francisco Rodriguez and Suk-Min Yoon.”

News, Notes and Rumors

Sam Hughes was named the Cubs’ Scout of the Year. Hughes is the son of former Cubs’ scout Gary Hughes and is a national crosschecker. Sam has been a scout for the Cubs for the last 17 years.

Peter Gammons provided more details on the Thoracic Outlet Surgery that Daniel Bard had in January. Bard had a part of a rib above his collar bone removed in the surgery and is expected to start throwing again in a couple of weeks. Bard signed a minor league contract with the Rangers that includes a non-roster invite to camp. Mike Reinold found the problem according to Gammons and “suggested that there had been evidence there may have been some deterioration in 2011 that could be related to Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.” And the deterioration of the left shoulder affected Bard’s delivery as well as the deliveries of Josh Beckett and Jonathan Papelbon. Beckett had the surgery last year and is feeling “really good.” Bard did not have the same problem with losing feeling in his hand like Beckett did but there were issues with his shoulder that led to problems with gripping the baseball.

There is a sleeper in the Cubs outfield according to FanGraphs.

According to Jim Bowden, the Rays will not be trading David Price until next off-season. And the former GM pegged the Cubs as one of the “early favorites” to trade for Price next winter along with the Braves, Nationals, Diamondbacks and Dodgers. It is too early to see a favorite in a possible market that is a year away.

Former Cubs’ reliever Kyle Farnsworth signed a minor league contract with the Mets that includes a non-roster invite to Spring Training. The Mets will pay Farnsworth $1 million for his services if he makes the team according to Jon Heyman.

Speaking of former Cubs’ relievers, Carlos Marmol is talking to three teams according to Jon Heyman and could sign a contract soon. The Brewers were connected to Marmol during the Winter Meetings.

And in more former Cubs’ news … Alfonso Soriano sold his River North condo for $2.9 million.

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  • Tony_Hall

    Hammel is nothing to get excited about, that is for sure. He is from the same script that the Cubs used for Maholm, Feldman and Baker. 2 out of 3 ain’t bad using this formula and Hammel could turn into Baker or he could turn into Feldman. What they have spent on these type of signing, versus the number of quality starts they have made has made these good signings, but when you then factor in the return in trade, these have been effective ways to fill a rotation spot for the 1st half of the season and get some players in return who could be part of the future of the MLB team.

    To me the pitching staff is all but set with the rotation looking like this:

    1 – Samardzija
    2.- Wood
    3 – E Jackson
    4 – Hammel
    5 – Arrieta

    Bullpen
    1. Veras
    2. Strop
    3. Russell
    4. Wright
    5. Villanueva
    6. Parker
    7. Cabrera or Rondon

    I expect the bullpen to be much better this year over last year, and there is depth behind this group that can fill spots during the year if needed. Of course, being better then last year, especially the first part of the season shouldn’t be too difficult.

    The rotation, I expect to see Samardzija take a step forward in his 3rd full year starting. Not to being an ACE, but more of a solid 2/3. Wood, I expect to be more of the 3/4 that he really is, versus last year, where he was much more effective. Jackson will be more along his career numbers, which makes him more of a 3/4 as well. Hammel should fill in the back of the rotation. To me the wild card is Arrieta. Is he the good Arrieta or the bad Arrieta. If he puts up more outings like he is capable of, the rotation will not be the reason this team doesn’t win more games then last year. I also expect that we will see some young arms come up from the minors this year. Grimm and Hendricks are both guys that I expect to get some starts this year and in September we could see some starts go to Neil Ramirez as he has to be on the 25 man roster in 2015.

    • Ripsnorter1

      I agree with you that Wood will likely regress in 2014. I expect Arrieta to be what he has always been: a walk machine with a 5.00+ ERA, especially once the league gets a look at him for a second time.

      I really think the Cubs will try to carry Cabrera on the ML roster, just because they will lose him if they do not.

      Parker deserves a spot on the ML roster. Rondon will likely be sent down, I think.

      • Tony_Hall

        Both Parker and Rondon can elect FA if they are sent down, because they have been outrighted before in their career. It doesn’t mean they will, but it is their option.

        • Ripsnorter1

          Then the Cubs may trade both Samardzija and some of their bullpen names before ST is over.

        • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

          Tony, if my count is correct both Rondon and Parker have options left. They can be sent down. You are right about Rondon and Parker choosing to elect for free agency if they are outrighted to the minors, but not if they are optioned.

          • Tony_Hall

            Yes, I see the option.

            So they can option them without consent, but if they want to remove them from the 40 man roster and outright them to Iowa, they would have to give permission?

          • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

            That’s correct. Did you happen to see the transactions glossary I added to the site over the weekend?

          • Tony_Hall

            Yes, very nice to have all that info in one place.

          • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

            Thanks man.

      • Roe Skidmore

        Heard they may try to stretch Rondon out and try him as a starter. Agree on Cabrera, hate to see his arm get away. Bosio has his hands full, but if he can work some magic, he has a lot of intriguing arms in camp.

    • cubtex

      Tony Hall. The eternal optimist. Lol. That starting rotation is awful and you are defending it? That rotation will be a huge reason this team gets a top 3 pick next year. I also have to give credit for the Cubs having the weakest 3,4,5 hitters in baseball.

      • Tony_Hall

        Please tell me which parts on the starting rotation, that I am overstating?

        • cubtex

          Do you really think ANY team in baseball could make the playoffs with this rotation? Carlos Villanueva’s arm will fall off since since they have a bunch of 4 and 5 inning starters.

          • 07GreyDigger

            When did he say they were making the playoffs? He just said they’d be better and more competitive. Slow your roll.

          • cubtex

            Slow your roll? The rotation this year is awful any way you slice it. These are Tony’s words.

            If he puts up more outings like he is capable of, the rotation will not
            be the reason this team doesn’t win more games then last year.

            To me…he is stating that he thinks the rotation is better than last years? I find it hard to believe that you can find a few who would agree with this.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            I think there is a good chance that Arietta and EJax are both better. And why will Wood regress? Why not improve? I think that is just as likely. An improved Shark as well. Hammel as a wild card. I believe the rotation has a shot to be much improved overall.

          • cubtex

            Of course you do Rider. I would not expect anything different from you :) Have a great year my man!

          • brent carmona

            And we have Bosio! Anxious to see what magic he can do in 2014 …

          • cubtex

            I wish he would start with EJax. Not much magic there in 2013

          • brent carmona

            His peripherals say he was a bit unlucky I n 2013. Besides he’s had some success as a pitching coach wouldn’t you agree?

            On another note, how about those horns basketball squad? Looking pretty darn good lately!

          • cubtex

            This is not a shot at you….I just hate that excuse that he was “unlucky” last year. I watched several of his starts and he was terrible. He got shelled. He deserved those numbers.

            Now about those Horns! They looked great against Kansas. Barnes has got them playing well!

          • brent carmona

            I feel you, but all signs point to ejax rebounding this upcoming season. He better at least! Lol

            You know what would’ve been awesome, if UT hired Jon Gruden as the next football coach. Man, that would’ve been sweet.

          • cubtex

            Agree on Gruden. Charlie Strong is coming in guns blazing. No football players allowed to live off campus until Junior year. He is requiring all of them to sit in 1st 2 rows of every class and making them meet every day at 6am.

          • brent carmona

            Wow, this guy isn’t messing around. I don’t know much about him, going to search google and read more about him now…Kind of gets me giddy for August/September already!

          • paulcatanese

            Sweet!

          • Roe Skidmore

            Bosio needs to work some magic with Arietta & EJax. Cubs have a lot of arms coming to camp, we need to get lucky on a couple and have them emerge. Hammel could be another Feldman, we can only hope he produces. If Bosio can find some “old fashioned” Billy Connors magic, we can be much improved.

          • 07GreyDigger

            I wouldn’t say awful. I would say average. The starters put up a 3.98 ERA last season. That’s far from awful.

          • cubtex

            Minus Garza. Minus a surprising Feldman and you replace them with an erratic Arrieta and a Hammel? Garza was the best pitcher on the staff and the leader of the rotation. You take him off and now you move up Shark to 1 and Wood to #2 with EJax #3 and you think will work? Imagine Travis Wood going against most teams #2 starter. It won’t be pretty.

          • 07GreyDigger

            Garza and Feldman were gone by August. You can’t really use them as examples anymore.

          • Tony_Hall

            That’s right Feldman only played for the Cubs for half a season for a total of 15 starts. Garza only made 11 starts for the Cubs or about 1/3 of a season. Total they made 26 starts, 6-7 starts short of 1 full rotation spot.

          • cubtex

            Ok. Take their numbers out of the ERA if you wish…See what that does to the starters team ERA

          • Tony_Hall

            TEAM ERA in 2013 4.00

            Take out Garza and Feldman and it skyrockets!

            4.08

          • cubtex

            Garza 3.17 ERA Feldman 3.46 ERA. Do you think Hammel or Arrieta will come close to that?

          • Tony_Hall

            LOL. If your first stat doesn’t work, try another one.

            And no, I don’t expect either to be below 3.50 ERA.

          • cubtex

            What are you talking about? This was their ERA as pitchers for the Cubs. Exactly what I have been saying

          • Tony_Hall

            You said to compare the ERA without them. I did. Not a huge difference. .08

          • cubtex

            Then don’t include them in starters ERA. Can’t have it both ways

          • Tony_Hall

            To me, I was saying that I believe Arrieta is the key to this staff and if he takes the next step in his development and can put up quality starts, that the rotation won’t be the reason we don’t win more games this year then last year. It will be the offense.

          • cubtex

            lol. Arrieta is the key to the staff? LOL. He is not good. He will not even be in the rotation after the all star break. imo

          • Tony_Hall

            Then the rotation will be an issue, that is why I think he is the key. If he pitches like he did last year in his good starts, the rotation is going to be fine. If not, well, we may see your guy Villanueva starting showing us why he is better than Feldman.

          • cubtex

            Just like your guy Hellickson turned out to be a better starter than Garza :) Anyway…Villanueva will be in the pen since he will get a ton of work on days that EJax,Arrieta and Hammels start. This rotation is by far the worst in the division if not in all of baseball. That is why I would rather see Grimm or Cabrera start instead(unless Shark is traded) Theo is tanking another year. Don’t you see this? The rotation sucks. The lineup sucks. Terrible 3,4,5. Why defend it? You can’t honestly believe this team is any good.

          • Tony_Hall

            WOW!!!

            Where have I called this a playoff team?

            Where have I said this team will be even 500?

            All I said was IF Arrieta pitches well, the SP will not be the reason it doesn’t win more than 66 games.

            66 WINS. Not exactly defending the 2014 team, except in your world, where anything that is even remotely worded positive is considered wrong.

          • cubtex

            so you are hoping to win 1 more game than last year by all your “keys to the season” that is a lot of IF’s for a 1 game improvement.

          • cubtex

            hell. I’ll go along with that if you are trying to give us hope for a 1 game improvement. Count me in. I’m on the Tony Hall bandwagon for 66 wins this year!

          • Tony_Hall

            My reply is not fit for the CCO! But you can use your imagination.

          • cubtex

            hahaha

          • Tony_Hall

            Once again. I never said that, that is you taking what I and others say and adding more to it.

            The OFFENSE is going to be why this team doesn’t win more. I have made no mention of the offense and any “keys to the season” from the offense. All I said was IF Arrieta pitches like the good Arrieta that we all saw last year in many of his starts, that the rotation won’t be the reason this team doesn’t win more games then last year.

            Nothing more, no grand comparisons to other rotations, or thinking that means they will make the playoffs. I believe that all are capable of keeping the Cubs in games enough to win games, IF Arrieta pitches well.

          • cubtex

            I would like to see you name a team that you would take this rotation over.

          • Tony_Hall

            Really don’t want to dig in deep, but at first glance the following teams would be in the discussion.

            Houston Astros
            Miami Marlins
            Colorado Rockies
            New York Mets
            Chicago White Sox
            Cleveland Indians
            Minnesota Twins.

          • cubtex

            Are you kidding? Dig deeper. Look at the aces on those staffs. To say the Marlins, I don’t know how you even could type that

          • Tony_Hall

            “The following teams would be in the discussion”

            If you are comparing the whole rotation, you would have to include them in the discussion. Without spending way more time than I want to, would I actually determine a ranking of rotations for a list.

          • cubtex

            Cubs rotation 1 thru 5 is not even in discussion. I don’t think any opposing gm would trade rotations.

          • Tony_Hall

            “Don’t think, it can only hurt the team.”

          • Tony_Hall

            Not at all. Don’t believe you can find anywhere I said anything close to that.

            Not really too worried about Villanueva’s arm.

    • mutantbeast

      Agreed Tony, Hammel is nothing to be overjoyed about. If we get the 2012 Hammel, we can do the Maholm/Feldman type flip and get something useful for him. As for Arrieta, when her was on last year he was really good, when he was bad he was disgraceful. If hes around .500 with a low 4 ERA then hes probably useful. Heres to hoping he can breakout.

  • raymondrobertkoenig

    The team is “kicking the tires” on Bronson Arroyo.

    • mutantbeast

      Frankly, Id rather take Maholm. Hes at least proven he can pitch here if healthy. Arroyo and his 80 “fastball” will end up over our lovely new scoreboard all too often.

      • raymondrobertkoenig

        Excellent points.

  • cubtex

    This is the deal with the pitching staff. IF Wood,EJax or Shark miss any time whatsoever with an injury….this bullpen will not making it through the year. Expect countless call ups during the season. Countless. Jake Arrieta has never thrown more than 119 IP in a season(mostly because of ineffectiveness) and Hammel has thrown 139.1 IP and 118 IP the last 2 years. Villanueva better invest in a lot of ice.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    There are 23 Cubs loses in 2013 from players that are no longer with the club…..majority of those was from the bullpen…..if the Cubs can cut down half those bullpen loses, and if Jackson & Shark can get their act together, we might see a 500 club………..but if Shark & Jackson get traded with a few other players, we will then see another 90 plus loss season………by the All-Star Break, we should know the answers on many issues……..Rizzo, Castro, Shark, Bullpen, third base, team hitting, and Renteria.

    • cubtex

      and how many wins are you subtracting from pitchers no longer with the Cubs? :)

      • CubbyDenCritic

        I like this question from you Tex…..there are 21 wins that we lost…..13 of those were from Feldman & Garza……I do believe we can regain those 13 wins and more from either Arietta & Hammel ……as long they stay off the DL……23 of those losses, mostly came from blown saves from our relievers……7 losses were from starters Garza & Feldman…….combine, Garza & Feldman were 13-7 for this team…..either Arietta or Hammel can match that total alone………now Villanuava, Jackson & Rusin was a combine 17-32……good chance all three could be gone by August…I like to see that group combine for 25 wins min…..that is 8 plus wins for 2014 from that three alone…….I have more faith Jackson winning 10 games for us by All Star Break than Rusin winning 3 games for us as a starter the whole year……Rusin era is almost over…..there are other players waiting to take his spot……I rather go with Hendricks & Cabrera then with Rusin……those extra 8 bull pen wins can also be matched by Grimm, Wright, Russell & Strop…better group then what we saw out of Camp, Bowden, Rusin & Marmol in 2013…..I saw an article a few months ago that E Jax had the most blown strike calls by Umps in 2013…..I will even say that EJax will out shine Shark in 2014……..so its not subtracting, but matching those wins and going beyond……believe me, Renteria will not hesitate replacing Bosio, who he inherited, and getting his own pitching coach to turn this pitching staff around if the pitching SUCKS in April & May……..having a bad MLB pitching coach is no help to the pitching prospects you have coming up in the minors…….Bosio has to prove his weight to Renteria.

  • Roe Skidmore

    We would have to trade away the farm for David Price, which doesn’t help. Doesn’t make sense to pay a high price for any FA’s that require draft compensation. If we can sign more arms to compete at a low cost, then go ahead. Then let the best arms win.

    • CubbyDenCritic

      Don’t worry Texas or D-Backs will send a better package to the Rays then Theo will……the Rays would ask for
      Baez
      Bryant
      P Johnson
      Almora

  • Eugene Debs

    Where’s a George Bell and Danny Jackson when you need them? Maybe a Dave Smith?

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