Kap: Carpenter for Theo worth it

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Kap: Carpenter for Theo worth it

With the Theo Epstein compensation saga finally about done, it is time to evaluate where the Cubs are now vs. where they were prior to Epsteins hiring.

First, and foremost they have tremendous stability in their front office after spending the 2011 season with then-GM Jim Hendrys job status in doubt.

Adding Epstein as well as Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod gives the Cubs a talented triumvirate that has a proven track record of success and should translate to major improvement for the Cubs.

A look at the major league team at the start of spring training is most definitely a cause for concern when you factor in the departures of some of the teams best offensive players from 2011 in Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena.

However, when you factor in the lackadaisical approach that Ramirez played with and Penas substandard numbers in certain key offensive categories (.175 average with runners in scoring position and .133 against left handed pitchers) you realize that the Cubs may not have lost as much as some people might want to believe.

The 2012 Cubs are a long way from being a contending team. However, they do have improved starting pitching depth, should be a better defensive team and are starting to incorporate younger players into the mix, which should help the rebuilding process.

They have several big question marks, starting with Alfonso Soriano in left field, Ian Stewart at third base and Bryan LaHair at first base. Can those three put up decent numbers?

How about the closers role? Is Carlos Marmol going to be the dominant force that he was prior to 2011? Or will he be the pitcher who imploded last season when he put up a 5.00 ERA in the second half of a 91-loss season?

In addition, the Cubs' minor league system is better than it was a year ago. With the addition of a heralded 2011 draft class, several prospects obtained in trades -- including touted first baseman Anthony Rizzo who came over from San Diego in the Andrew Cashner deal -- and a revamped scouting department, good times could be ahead on the North side.

No matter how the 2012 season turns out, the Cubs have a much brighter future than they had a year ago at this time when they were hoping that underperforming veterans would play back to form and that they would catch lightning in a bottle with a very suspect starting rotation.

While no one is predicting greatness this season, most around the club believe that they will see a better result through improved efforts, improved defense and an infusion of optimism throughout the organization.

So when you look at what the Cubs gave up for Epstein, it really doesnt matter how Chris Carpenter performs in Boston. He is a talented reliever with an injury history and should he go to Beantown and become an All-Star it will still be a small price to pay for a front office team that is among baseballs best and have been charged with the mission of ending a 104-year period of losing.

Should Theo Epstein and Co. win a World Series on the North Side of Chicago it wont matter if Chris Carpenter wins the Cy Young Award. Everyone in Cubs Nation will be too busy wiping champagne from their eyes to notice.

Report: Cubs preparing to roll the dice with Brett Anderson

Report: Cubs preparing to roll the dice with Brett Anderson

The Cubs are preparing to roll the dice with Brett Anderson, hoping the talented, frequently injured pitcher can stay healthy and provide insurance for their rotation.

Anderson posted a telling message on his Twitter account on Monday night, hinting at what would be another offseason check mark for the defending World Series champs.

The physical for the agreement — first reported by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports and MLB Network — won't just be a formality as Anderson underwent back surgery last March and appeared in only four games for the Los Angeles Dodgers last season.

But Anderson fits on paper as a left-hander who will turn only 29 on Feb. 1 and won't have to carry front-of-the-rotation responsibilities or feel Opening Day urgency on a team with five projected starters.

The Cubs had been willing to gamble around $6 million on Tyson Ross, who recently signed a similarly structured one-year deal with the Texas Rangers as he recovers from surgery to address thoracic outlet syndrome.

The calculus would essentially be the same with Anderson. The Cubs have to factor in last year's grueling playoff run into early November, this season's sky-high expectations, the organization's lack of high-end, upper-level pitching prospects and the uncertainty surrounding the 2018 rotation.

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Anderson finished sixth in the 2009 American League Rookie of the Year voting with the Oakland A's, but he's reached the 30-start mark only one other time and never accounted for 200 innings in a single season.

Anderson underwent Tommy John surgery in the middle of the 2011 season, and the injuries piled up from there, dealing with a strained right oblique, a stress fracture in his right foot and a broken left index finger.

Anderson had such a fragile reputation that he accepted the one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Dodgers after a strong platform year in 2015 (10-9, 3.69 ERA). The Dodgers only got 11 1/3 innings out of Anderson, who didn't pitch during a playoff run that ended at Wrigley Field in the National League Championship Series.

The Cubs stayed exceptionally healthy while winning 200 games across the last two seasons and need to be prepared in case John Lackey sharply declines at the age of 38 or Mike Montgomery experiences growing pains while transitioning from the bullpen.

Whether or not Anderson is ultimately the answer, the Cubs will be looking to place a sixth starter into their plans.

"I don't know if a six-man rotation on a permanent basis is the wave of the future," team president Theo Epstein said earlier this winter. "But we certainly endorse it on a temporary basis as a nice way to pace guys for the whole season.

"We can get them some rest, whether you do it in April to preserve depth and ease guys into the season, especially after a deep October and November run. Or after the All-Star break in the summer to kind of get through the dog days and give guys a little bit of a breather as you ramp up for the stretch run.

"I think it would be tough to pull off all season long. But it's something that (could certainly work) in the right spot."

Report: Cubs have a deal with free-agent starting pitcher Brett Anderson

Report: Cubs have a deal with free-agent starting pitcher Brett Anderson

The Cubs are reportedly adding another pitcher to their 2017 mix.

According to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, the Cubs have agreed to a deal with veteran left-hander Brett Anderson.

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Anderson started his career with a bang back in 2009, starting 30 games and striking out 150 batters for the Oakland A's and finishing in the top 10 in American League Rookie of the Year voting. But while he pitched well in some of the years that followed, staying healthy has been a consistent challenge.

After making those 30 starts in 2009, he started 19 games in 2010, then 13 in 2011, then a total of just 19 over the next three seasons, the third coming with the Colorado Rockies.

He burst back onto the scene with 31 starts (and a 3.69 ERA) with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2015. But last season with the Dodgers, he appeared in only four games, making just three starts.

All in all, Anderson has a 3.86 career ERA in 685 2/3 innings over 127 appearances, 115 of which have been starts.

While the Cubs' rotation is packed at the top with Cy Young contenders Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks — and John Lackey has the No. 4 spot nailed down — the fifth spot is a bit more of an uncertainty. Mike Montgomery figures to be the favorite, but perhaps Anderson could get himself into the mix.

Regardless, he's en route to the Windy City.