Blog Entry

Cubs to allow Archer to contend for starting spot

Posted on: November 20, 2010 10:47 am
Padilla With only Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano and Randy Wells certain to be part of the Cubs' rotation, that leaves two wide-open spots for competition.

If the Cubs get their way, one such spot will be filled by a veteran free-agent who wants to fill innings (in other news, 29 other teams would like the same) while the final spot will be battled out between internal candidates.

Of those there are plenty what with Carlos Silva and Tom Gorzelanny drawing starts over the course of the past season. Chicago also has rookies Casey Coleman and Thomas Diamond who will battle for a starting spot along with top rookie prospect Chris Archer as reports.

The 22-year-old finished up a sterling campaign in 2010, posting a 15-3 record and 2.34 ERA between high-Class A and Double A, hurling 142 1/3 innings with 149 whiffs and 65 walks and was just added to the 40-man roster to be protected from the Rule 5 draft.

Archer, who was acquired in the Mark DeRosa trade with St. Louis two years ago, is long on potential but asking someone to pitch in a big-league bullpen who has yet to pitch above Double-A (without a full season there, no less) and has shaky control problems is asking a lot. While Archer's future absolutely belongs in the rotation, the Cubs are likely giving his contention mere lip service unless he arrives in spring training having learned a lesson or two from Silva and starts pumping strikes. With so much competition for a starting spot, there's no reason for the Cubs to start Archer's service-time clock if he's not head and shoulders over every other contender.

One contender Archer would have to get past could be one of Javier Vazquez, Aaron Harang or Vincente Padilla. These names are courtesy of the Chicago Sun-Times , which reported that GM Jim Hendry met with the agents of these three pitchers at the GM meetings.

Vazquez is receiving heavy attention from several teams and the Cubs could be such a team that has already offered a lucrative deal , kicking the Marlins out of contention.

Meanwhile, the other two names that the Cubs contacted aren't exactly known for their durability, but Chicago may be viewing Harang as a reclamation project that would cost less dollars and allow the Cubs to spend more money elsewhere. Harang's innings and games started have decreased five years in a row (although the first two years were negligible in difference), hitting 20 starts and 111 2/3 innings this past season for the Reds.

Padilla (pictured), meanwhile, has rehabbed his image in Chavez Ravine, but is far from a durable pitcher. He pitched 200 innings exactly in 2006, making 33 starts. He also cracked the 200-inning barrier from 2002-03, but over the last four years has shown no indication he can ever get back to that barrier. What he could do is give the team 180 quality innings (assuming he does not get hurt) -- and sometimes, 180 quality innings is better than 200 "pretty good" innings.

Brandon Guyer, Kyle Smits and Alberto Cabrera were also added to Chicago's 40-man roster and cannot be selected in the Rule 5 draft.

-- Evan Brunell

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