Starting pitchers Javier Vazquez, Brandon Webb and Scott Kazmir all remain unsigned this offseason.
Any one could be a nice addition to the Cubs rotation, which to this point, is only three deep in certainty–Dempster, Garza & Moholm.
With the Cubs keeping a heavy focus on signing starting pitching depth this offseason, there’s little reason to believe Vazquez, Webb or Kazmir wouldn’t be any less capable of winning one of the final two rotation spots than Randy Wells, Travis Wood, Andy Sonnastine, Chris Volstad or Jeff Samardzija.
The greater risk, however, is money. The collection of new Cubs arms this winter was done on the cheap.
Vazquez, Webb & Kazmir are hardly penny-wise investments, but presumably have an equal, if not greater chance of not only making the rotation, but of also making a difference once there.
Here’s why it may not be as dollar-foolish as you think for the Cubs to sign one of these three free agents:
JAVIER VAZQUEZ: More than anything the Cubs need innings eaters in its final two rotation spots; and that exactly what Vazquez, 34, is all about.
Only once has Javier made less than 31 starts in a season since 1999; when he was then a baby faced 22-year-old in Montreal.
During his past 12 seasons he’s pitched 200.00 or more innings 10 times with the exceptions being a 198.0 IP season in 2004 with the Yankees and a 157.1 IP season with the White Sox in 2010.
Otherwise, you can count on him for 30-plus starts and 200.00 IP. Not to mention, he’s won double digit games in 12 consecutive seasons.
BRANDON WEBB: Webb, 33, hasn’t pitched since Opening Day 2009 because of a shoulder injury. But his track record is brilliant having won 14, 16, 18 & 22 games since 2005.
That includes the 2006 Cy Young Award and top-three finishes for the award in 2007-08.
The Cubs won’t get him on the cheap, but it’s possible Webb would sign for a short-term, incentive laden deal. If so, I think it’s in the Cubs favor to take a risk on a guy who’s well worth the dough should he find his old form.
SCOTT KAZMIR: At 28-years-old, this lefty has already spent eight full seasons in the big leagues.
Trouble is, his last three season have been pitiful. Since joining the Angels late in 2009, Kazmir has started just 35 games winning only 11 of them.
His ERA during this span is an unsightly 5.31 along with horrific walk totals that have remained a constant throughout his career, and in turn led to his release last June.
That said, the guy has a ton of experience for his age (179 starts) while putting together several strong seasons in the past including a 12-win/3.49 ERA season in 2008 and a 13-win/3.48 ERA season in 2007 with a league leading 239 strikeouts; all of which came pitching in the AL East, no less.
The injury bug seems to have slowed his game more than anything, including elbow, arm and leg aliments, but to the point, however, where a team like Chicago could find him both an affordable and attractive roll of the dice.