Found December 20, 2012 on
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The Cubs finalized contracts with Edwin Jackson and Carlos Villanueva today, which gives the Cubs something like 18 starters. I lost count. The good news is that Edwin Jackson is actually good unlike the other 22 starters they signed this offseason. Jackson has been underrated for some time and that's in part to how miserably he performed when he reached the big leagues.
According to my count, the Cubs now have 31 starting pitchers on their active roster. I know, I told you I lost count. I lied.
If you want to feel old, Jackson reached the big leagues a decade ago. Seriously. He was 20 years old when he made his debut with the Dodgers and had superstar talent. He was one of the top ranked prospects in baseball and it did not go well. That happens and it's a sobering reminder to Cubs fans waiting for all the prospects to mature and become stars.
Jackson turned it around, but not with the Dodgers. Following the 2005 season he was traded to the Devil Rays where he would still not be any good. By this time it seemed like he had been around for a decade and there was nothing left.
The Tigers was his next destination and that's when the turnaround began. Since then he's been consistently above average in much the same way that Matt Garza had been consistently above average. Since 2008, Jackson has been worth 15.4 fWAR, 12.1 rWAR and 8 WARP while Garza has been worth 13.7 fWAR, 11.2 rWAR and 7.7 WARP.
Jackson is basically the same age as Garza (a month or so younger) and has been more valuable than Garza since 2008. Jackson has thrown 100 more innings since then, but that's not at all a bad thing.
The point I'm trying to make is that the Cubs essentially added another Matt Garza to their rotation and although neither of them are the typical number 1 starter that you'd like, both of them are, as I said, consistently above average. While we can expect both to get a little worse over the next few years, both are pretty good right now. Of course, Garza is a free agent after the 2013 season so beyond that is of little relevance to the Chicago Cubs at the moment.
The projections for the two are also very similar. Jackson's CAIRO is a 3.99 RA, 3.72 ERA, 3.61 FIP and 2.8 WAR over 192 innings (projected as a National). Garza's CAIRO is a 4.13 RA, 3.71 ERA, 3.69 FIP and 2.6 WAR over 150 innings. Put one at the top of the rotation and it's not what you'd want from a contending team, but not at all bad either.
Is Jackson worth $52 million over 4 years? Yeah, I'd say he is. If we use CAIRO's 2.6 WAR projection, factor in his age and the win value, we might come up with a projection over 4 years that looks something like this:
Total: 8.5, avg win value of $6.5 million, total value $55.3 million
You could fudge any of those numbers and make it look different. The win value could be even higher than that, but it's unknown and I'm not sure we think that teams (the Cubs) are expecting it to be that much higher, but I don't know. He might be closer to 7 WAR over 4 years and he could be projected closer to 10. Splitting things down the middle makes this a good deal for the Cubs.
Now, the other 36 starters.
Garza will probably get the nod on Opening Day since he did so last year and Jackson will follow him the next day. After him we'll see Jeff Samardzija, Scott Baker (if or when he's healthy) and then there's a number of options to fill that final spot. The Cubs have Travis Wood, Scott Feldman and Carlos Villanueva as options. More than likely all of them will see time in the rotation.
Jeff Samardzija's baseline projection is 2.0 WAR according to CAIRO (my WAR calculation though, CAIRO had him at 1.5), but keep in mind that includes some time as a reliever. This gives the Cubs 3 starters average or better.
The backend of the Cubs rotation looks like this:
Baker: 0.2 (only 30 innings)
Hoyer apparently did some promising to Feldman that he'd be in the rotation. I'm not sure he could have been more clear than this: "We certainly gave him the reassurance here: ‘You’re going to be a starting pitcher. You’re going to be in the rotation."
If the Cubs changed gears they certainly wouldn't be the first team to want a do-over on what was previous said. About all Feldman could say in response is "no take backs." Although Feldman may very well be the least impressive of the starters the Cubs have, I'm going to assume that Hoyer isn't going back on his word because, well, that just doesn't sit well with other players and free agents down the road. That's not to say that a few bad starts and we'll see Feldman in the bullpen, but I'm thinking right now that Feldman is in the opening day rotation.
Scott Baker will probably not be ready to start the season, but if all goes well he shouldn't be too far behind. If he doesn't have any setbacks, my guess at this early point would be that we'd see Baker at the very end of April or beginning of May. That leaves at least a few starts for Feldman to either solidify his role in the rotation or earn himself a trip to the bullpen.
Based on projections alone, Wood deserves to the 4th starter and considering how he pitched last year I'm going to guess he's going to be a part of the rotation, but I wouldn't bet any money on it. This would leave Villanueva as the odd man out.
A rotation of Garza, Jackson, Samardzija, Wood and Feldman isn't bad. It's not great, but it's definitely not bad. It's probably a bit better than last year's rotation entering the season, but only a shade better.
If there's anything we've learned this offseason it's that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer rightly believe that the Cubs pitching prospects are so far away from contending that they had to go outside the organization to fill some spots. They cobbled together a not-so-bad rotation without spending a ton of money.
BEST OF MAXIM
The Cubs have gone a little nutty in signing as many back-end of the rotation starters as they can find. They grabbed Scott Feldman who would be the worst starter in many rotations and the Cubs rotation is no different. They did sign Scott Baker though he's coming back from injury so we have temper expectations. Then they signed Carlos Villanueva, who hasn't been any good...
Dave Cameron wrote a bit about the Cubs signing of Edwin Jackson. Here's part of it.
But we should note that Edwin Jackson makes them better, and this price for Edwin Jackson is still completely reasonable based on his established performance level. That the Cubs aren’t yet obvious contenders shouldn’t cause us to tell them to stop trying to improve. By bringing in Jackson...
The Chicago Cubs announced Friday they have finalized a one-year, $2.25 million deal with outfielder Nate Schierholtz. Schierholtz, 28, batted .257 with six home runs for the Giants and Phillies in 2012. The Phillies decided to non-tender Schierholtz, who made $1.3 million last season. In other Cubs moves, left-handed pitcher Gerardo Concepcion cleared waivers and was assigned...
Assuming that the deal actually goes through as planned, which is easier said than done on the North Side these days, the Chicago Cubs will have made their most noteworthy signing of the offseason, in bringing in starter Edwin Jackson.
Jackson, who has become the very definition of a journeyman over the last several years, finally gets a home for more than a few months in agreeing...
Yesterday it was reported that free agent Edwin Jackson had
narrowed his list of suitors down to two teams; the Chicago Cubs and Texas
Rangers. Now, Jim Bowden of ESPN is saying that the Cubs are the frontrunner
Cubs now the front runner for Edwin Jackson as negotiations continue with both Cubs and Rangers..4 yrs and approx 52 m is ball park #source
— JIM BOWDEN...
The Chicago Cubs, continuing to add depth to their pitching staff, are close to signing free-agent right-hander Carlos Villanueva, according to a major-league source.
Villanueva, 29, spent the past two seasons as a swingman with the Toronto Blue Jays, contributing as both a starter and reliever.
The Cubs' rotation currently consists of Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood...
Jon Heyman (and others) are reporting that the Cubs have signed SP Carlos Villanueva, formerly of the Toronto Blue Jays. The 29-year old swingman ran up career highs in innings (125.1) and games started(16) last year for the Blue Jays. Depsite a fastball that won't get over 90 too often, he manages nearly 8 K/9(7.8 to be exact) for his career and a 3.1 BB/9. He's a bit prone...
The Texas Rangers temporarily filled their 40-man roster Friday by picking up left-hander Jeff Beliveau on a waiver claim from the Chicago Cubs.
Beliveau pitched in 22 games for the Cubs this year, going 1-0 with a 4.58 ERA. He was designated for assignment Dec. 12 to make room when the Cubs signed Ian Stewart.
Beliveau was the organization's minor league pitcher of the year...
A person familiar with the situation tells The Associated Press that the Chicago Cubs have agreed to a four-year, $52 million contract with right-hander Edwin Jackson.
The person spoke Thursday on the condition of anonymity because the deal had not been announced. Several outlets had previously reported the agreement.
The Cubs will be the eighth team in 11 years for the 29-year...
Edwin Jackson used to be the #4 prospect in baseball.
Getting his first taste of the bigs in 2003 (as a 19-year old, no less), Jackson had a huge reputation to live up to early on in his career. For a long, long time, he never lived up to it.
Edwin Jackson has chosen to sign with the Chicago Cubs. Four-years and $52 million are pretty good reasons. Multiple teams had interst in the 29-year-old but yesterday the bidding was between the Cubs and Texas Rangers.
In Chicago, Jackson will join a staff that includes Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija, Scott Feldman and Travis Wood. The team also has Scott Baker who should return in...
The Chicago Cubs have signed Carlos Villanueva to a two-year, $10mm deal, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports.
Villanueva spent the last two seasons in Toronto posting a combined 4.11 ERA, while splitting time in the rotation and the bullpen.
Last season in 38 games (16 starts) Villanueva went 7-7 with a 4.16 ERA with a 8.8 K/9.
Image taken by Keith Allison and used under the Creative...
I think George Carlin said it best:
“I’ve never ****** a 10, but one night I ****** 5 twos”
Which, you know, might be the perfect way to describe the Cubs 2013 rotation. The Cubs have handed out contracts to Edwin Jackson (4yrs, 52MM) and Carlos Villanueva (2yrs, 10MM), rounding out a rotation of not great but not quite awful starters.
MLB Depth Charts projects the starting...
The Chicago Cubs are closing in on four-year, $52 million deal with free-agent pitcher Edwin Jackson, according to an ESPN The Magazine report. Jackson, 29, went 10-11 with a 4.03 ERA in 189 2/3 innings with the Washington Nationals in 2012, after signing a one-year, $11-million deal with them. The Nationals didn't make a qualifying offer, so they won't receive draft-pick...
It`s the eve of armageddon and a major league manager controls the fate of the world.