Chicago Cubs need to be buyers in order to really contend


The Chicago Cubs just had a great April. The fans that had high hopes have their hopes even higher now. The team is still missing a part to be a real contender, so they need to be buyers on the open trade market.

Chicago Cubs
Chicago Cubs /

Chicago Cubs

Chicago Cubs fans came into the season with high hopes, even though the team spent much of the last four seasons in the cellar of the National League Central.

With a 12-8 start, those hopes are riding even higher now. Of course, many Cubs fans are dreaming sky-high now.

That was just one month, however, and there are still five more to go.

The Cubs did start well, but they need more reinforcements to keep it going. As you can see from Monday’s debacle in St. Louis, the pitching will be a question mark this season.

Yes, the bullpen is a mess at the moment, but they are getting hit hard by injuries, and once their arms come back, things will settle down.

My primary concern is the starting rotation.

Jake Arrieta is pitching like an ace, and Jason Hammel has been solid. Jon Lester struggled early, but he has been excellent the last two outings. Also, he has a track record so I am not worried about him yet.

Then there are Kyle Hendricks and Travis Wood.

In five games, Wood has a 4.40 ERA, allowing 25 hits in 28 2/3 innings. He has looked very good in some outings, and very bad in others. In Monday night’s game against the Cardinals, he struggled after he was given a 5-0 lead in the first inning.

Ever since his excellent 2013 season, Wood has struggled. In 202 1/3 innings in 2014 and this season, Wood has a 4.94 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP.

Hendricks was one of the pitchers many had hopes of having a good season. He was solid last season, but is struggling this season. Last year, in 13 games, he had a 2.46 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP. This season, in four games before Tuesday’s game, he has a 5.23 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP.

This is why the Cubs need to be buyers on the trade market.

There will be some familiar names on the market. Cole Hamels of the Philadelphia Phillies will probably be the most popular name, and the Cubs have been linked to him since last season, when they claimed him on the waiver wire.

There is also the Washington Nationals’ Jordan Zimmermann, who could be on the block even if the Nationals contend. They may not be able to afford him, and they need some offense, so maybe a deal can be made.

Those are probably the top two available, but there may be some others who may really help the Cubs. The Oakland Athletics have Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir, and they are always looking for young talent, something the Cubs have in spades.

There will be, of course, others who will become available between now and the non-waiver trade deadline on July 31.

Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer says the team is thinking about moves. Every good front office should.

“You’re always thinking about that stuff,” Hoyer said. “You’re at a stage where a two- or three-game winning streak or losing streak really changes your outlook in a hurry.

“But certainly we’re hopeful that we’re in that position. And we’re obviously going to prepare as if that’s the case.”

In order for the Cubs to be true contenders, they will need to swing a deal. A front-line starter will settle the rotation, and give them a solid shot at a playoff berth.

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