Its been quite a while since I have written on this blog and I doubt there are many people who will read this that remember me, so I guess I will essentially be starting over. So just a quick statement, this is a blog that is 90 percent dedicated to writing about the Cubs but I will also spend a some time analyzing MLB and other teams occasionally (Primarily when it gets time to do Team Previews). Anyways lets start breaking down this Scott Baker deal.
The Cubs enter the 2012 season a full season into the all out rebuilding mode instituted by Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer. They have already brought in a huge wave of new talent at the low levels of the minors but are still a while a way from contention at the Major League level. That being said they still need to field a "Competitive" team for the 2013 season and this signing was the first step in doing that. At the trade deadline last year the Rotation was decimated by trades as we lost both Ryan Dempster and Paul Maholm who had helped put together a farily decent Cubs rotation up to that point. So coming into the 2013 season Starting Pitching will be the Cubs primary focus along with another OF and a 3B. With the addition of Scott Baker the Cubs rotation for 2013 looks like this.
1. Jeff Samardzija-R
2. Matt Garza-R
3. Travis Wood-L
4. Scott Baker-R
5. Minor Leaguers.......
Obviously there is still work to be done but on paper it is not as bad of a rotation as the Cubs were fielding at the end of the 2012 season. Now we have discussed how the rotation looks but we really need to focus on what Scott Baker brings to the table and what are the problems with this deal. Lets start with the good stuff first.
Looking at his numbers on Fangraphs.com there are several things to take away about Scott Baker. First he is a Flyball pitcher that is going to give up some Home Runs, that is not a terrible thing as Wrigley can both hurt and help you there depending on the weather (think Ted Lilly). He posts solid strikeout rates ( 7.23 k/9 career) along with solid walk rates ( 2.1 bb/9 carrer). Also an interesting factor to watch will be how he adjusts to the National League. He has pitched his entire career with the Twins so he could see a boost in numbers due to change in leagues.
The problem is he has not pitched since 2011 due to an elbow injury. If he sufers a setback in his rehab we may have to wait to see him till later in the season. He has also only pitched 200 IP once in his career so that coinciding with the Injury makes me ask questions about his durability. The flyball tendencys are a bit concerning as well but I think the major issue is injury concern.
So for $5.5 mill the Cubs have brought on a buy low candidate who has the potential to be a solid middle/back of the rotation option. This is a smart move for the Cubs because worst case scenario he dosnt pitch and you lose 5 mill this year and thats it, but if he is succesfull he could be a solid starter on a weak pitching staff and could even fetch some good prospects in a trade. This is the kind of deal that will likely summarize this offseason for the Cubs. Dont expect them to sign Josh Hamilton but they should be very active this winter picking up lots of buy low candidates that could surprise us.