Another fan's take on the Cubs' 2012 rotation

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Another fan's take on the Cubs' 2012 rotation

It's been a very busy offseason so far for the Cubs as they locked up their dream front office, a group that has stressed run prevention above all else.

To this point, however, that front office has yet to make any changes to the team's pitching staff.

In a conversation last week with my friend Cubs Enthusiast Billy, we were discussing the potential starting rotation for the Cubs next year and it gave me an idea: I wonder how all the fans think the rotation will shake out next season.

Theo Epstein has already said he wants to have as many as nine starting pitcher options, which makes the five-man rotation hard to predict. Throw in injuries and potential ineffectiveness and it's near impossible.

But we can have fun anyways and still throw out our projections.

We've already examined Cubs Enthusiast Billy's guess for the rotation. Now let's take a look at the first commenter's rotation.

Here is my cousin Matt's projected starting five:

1. Matt Garza
2. Ryan Dempster
3. Yu Darvish
4. Joe Saunders
5. Tim Wakefield

This is Matt's best-case scenario and if things shake out like this, he believes Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner will just miss out on the rotation.

It's a really interest starting five. Garza and Dempster are shoe-ins as long as they're healthy and still on the roster.

The Cubs definitely bid on Yu Darvish but their level of interest in, as Patrick Mooney called him, baseball's international man of mystery is still unknown.

Let's just pretend he comes to the Cubs. A four or five-year deal would be pretty likely. While Darvish may be projected more as a No. 2 (or No. 1 on some teams), he could slot in behind Garza and Dempster in the Cubs' rotation and could ease the transition into the American game. If Darvish is as successful as some people think, that'd be a heck of a No. 3.

Saunders would also be a very good No. 4. He's consistent and reliable and would provide the rotation with a left-handed arm.

Wakefield is old and at the end of a great career, but he's shown he could still be effective, even in the AL East. Imagine a move to the NL Central that just lost Albert Pujols and may be without Prince Fielder as well as Ryan Braun if he serves a 50-game suspension.

Old man Wakefield could also find himself in the bullpen and the Cubs could give Wells another chance or give Cashner a shot to strut his stuff after his attempt at the rotation was muffed last year with a bad shoulder injury.

The Cubs may still be far away from a playoff team, but a rotation like this would put them a lot closer. Adding Darvish, Saunders and Wakefield to the slew of starting options they already have would be a welcome addition, even if Wakefield made his professional debut before Matt was even born.

Do 'Yu' (sorry, had to be done) have a prediction for the Cubs' 2012 starting rotation? Comment in the section below with your projection of the five Opening Day predictions and I'll discuss each and every rotation comment here on CubsTalk.

[PHOTO] Joe Maddon, Miguel Montero patch things up over a drink

[PHOTO] Joe Maddon, Miguel Montero patch things up over a drink

Despite the Cubs ending their 108-year World Series drought, Miguel Montero made offseason headlines for all the wrong reasons when he complained about his role in the Cubs' 2017 championship campaign.

Montero criticized Maddon's communication skills, catching rotation and bullpen decision-making after the team's Grant Park celebration. Maddon brushed off the criticism, and last week at spring training Montero said he hadn't spoke with the Cubs' skipper.

That tension appears to be all but a thing of the past, as Montero posted this picture of him and his manager sharing a drink together sporting nothing but smiles.

It's safe to say Montero would describe his relationship with Maddon now as: #WeAreGood.

Addison Russell planning to become next Cubs superstar

Addison Russell planning to become next Cubs superstar

MESA, Ariz. – Addison Russell earned his manager’s trust by playing “boring” defense, always making the routine plays at shortstop with textbook fundamentals. Even Russell’s agent called him an “old soul,” already serious about his craft and driven by quiet determination and husband-and-father responsibilities.

But the Cubs also know Russell as a moonwalking showman with the freaky athleticism to do Ozzie Smith backflips and make spectacular highlight-reel plays. And you could see the vroom-vroom, fist-pumping celebrations after yet another clutch hit.

“Ever since I was a little kid,” Russell said, “I always wanted to be on the big screen.”

Now Russell will try to make the leap to superstar, as one of the many personalities on a Cubs team that can crossover nationally and live forever in Chicago, just like the ’85 Bears, the way Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo have built their brands.

“We got great ballplayers, beautiful faces on this team,” Russell said. “Just talent galore in this clubhouse, and that’s really cool to see, because these guys handle themselves like real, true professionals.”

The start of spring training is a reminder that Russell has still only spent one wire-to-wire season in The Show. He turned 23 last month and has already become a World Series champion, the youngest player in franchise history to start an All-Star Game and the first Cub shortstop to reach 95 RBI since Ernie Banks in 1960.

Russell’s World Series grand slam helped him accumulate the most postseason RBI (14) in club history – after putting up 11 game-winning RBI for a 103-win team. FanGraphs also had Russell tying San Francisco’s Brandon Crawford for the major-league lead with 19 defensive runs saved at shortstop.

“Really, the sky’s the limit,” manager Joe Maddon said. “This guy is scratching the surface. He is that good. Know thyself – I think that’s what’s happening with a lot of our young guys. They’re understanding themselves better. And as they do, their game’s going to continue to improve.

“So with Addie, listen, he could be an annual All-Star, there’s no question. Beyond that, he’s just such a gifted athlete, so quick, and he cares so much. And he’s really turned out to be a good self-evaluator, so all those are components to creating a superstar.”

Russell said he’s working with Boras Corp. on potential endorsements with Pepsi and Audi. He visited a Nike headquarters in Oregon to help design his custom cleats and custom glove. He also posted images from the White House on his social-media accounts, which have nearly 549,000 followers combined between Twitter and Instagram.

“The opportunities are coming, which is great,” Russell said. “It’s a whole new playing field. I’m glad that I’m getting to see a different side of baseball, where I can actually find a couple talents off the baseball field. It’s all interesting stuff.”

It’s also taken some getting used to, as he almost had trouble remembering how many “Addison Russell Days” there were in Florida, between events at Pace High School and with the Santa Rosa Board of County Commissioners.

“This whole fame thing is really new to me,” Russell said. “Walking everywhere, people want autographs and stuff. Different airports, different cities, it’s very humbling. It’s a great blessing. I’m just a small-town guy, so it hit me pretty hard.”

Like the moment Russell realized what the Cubs just did, after the whirlwind of riding in the championship parade down Lake Shore Drive and Michigan Avenue, standing on stage in front of millions at the Grant Park rally and going to Disney World.

“I remember this past offseason, going into my mom’s room and laying down on her bed,” Russell said. “That’s when all the memories of this past year – all the way from spring training (to) the All-Star Game and then the World Series run – it all hit me at once. It was overbearing, kind of, and I started crying.

“That’s when it sunk in. It was just a magical moment.”