A successful off-season for Theo Epstein and the Chicago Cubs’ front office is now turning into a dismal Spring Training. One of the main goals this past off-season for the Cubs’ front office was to acquire pitching depth for the starting rotation, which in turn, would figure to improve the starting rotation. That would be the reason why the Cubs’ acquired starting pitchers Edwin Jackson, Carlos Villanueva, Scott Baker, and Scott Feldman this 0ff-season. The Cubs’ front office did not want to be in the same position that the team was in last season when it seemed like the local deli guy from the grocery store was taking the mound for the team.
With added depth and quality to the starting rotation, that figured to protect the team in the chance that the front office was successful in trying to trade starting pitcher Matt Garza. The benefit to trading Garza would have been that the chances are the Cubs would have acquired a young third baseman to go along with an infield core that already includes first baseman Anthony Rizzo, second baseman Darwin Barney, and shortstop Starlin Castro. That would then allow the team to save money by cutting third baseman Ian Stewart, who signed a non-guaranteed contract in the off-season.
The Chicago Cubs plan is quickly crumbling to pieces.
Garza will start the season on the disabled list and the earliest he will make his season debut will be in May. Meaning the Cubs will not be able to trade the starting pitcher for a young third baseman. Stewart, who was considered to be a backup option in the event that the Cubs were unable to acquired a young third baseman, has also been injured for most of Spring Training. Though because the only other third base options for the Cubs are Brent Lillibridge and Luis Valbuena, the team will be unable to save the money that would result from cutting Stewart. In addition, Baker, who figured to replace Garza’s spot in the starting rotation, was shutdown indefinitely on Tuesday after suffering a setback in his rehab from Tommy John surgery last season. Baker was expected to make his season debut in Mid-April, though after this setback, the chances of Baker pitching at all during the first month of the regular season appear to be minimal. That would also put the chances of the Cubs being able to trade Baker at the trade deadline at minimal. Meaning the opportunity cost of the Garza and Baker injuries, is the long-term assets that would have been acquired had both pitchers been traded.
There is a silver lining in the midst of these injuries for the Cubs. That silver lining is that the Cubs prepared themselves for injuries to the starting rotation with the additions of Jackson, Villanueva, and Feldman. Meaning your local deli guy at the grocery store can keep his day job.