MESA, Ariz. The front office must be prepared for disaster. So while it seems like a surplus, just remember the mood 12 months ago, long before sweeping changes hit Clark and Addison.
Last year the Cubs felt pretty good about the rotation at this point, general manager Jed Hoyer said this week during a session with beat writers. It kind of blew up.
The Cubs were toast once Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner were injured during the first week of last season. Braden Looper, Todd Wellemeyer and Carlos Silva (blah, blah, blah) turned out to be nonfactors.
So you can analyze what the Cubs might do at the crossroads with Matt Garza trade him or extend him and wonder if Wells or Chris Volstad will be a long man making around 2.7 million.
Travis Wood appears ticketed for Triple-A Iowa, and Rodrigo Lopez has quietly put together a nice spring that has kept him in the picture. It doesnt necessarily mean the Cubs will make a deal.
I feel like whenever you think you have pitching depth dont ever really talk about it out loud, because you dont, Hoyer said. So, yeah, in theory, on paper (thats) right. But things usually have a way of working out.
Nothings guaranteed two weeks from Opening Day. But Jeff Samardzija looks like a lock for the rotation. In Hoyers words, hes grabbed that competition by the throat.
Decision time is coming soon, particularly for the final spots in the bullpen, and things will begin to come into focus after Wednesdays off-day. The Cubs will have to listen and see whats out there.
For the most part, GMs dont call around too much until the end, because they realize everyones assessing, Hoyer said. There will be a lot of phone calls made around the next 10 days or so, because I think everyone has an area or two theyd look to improve or a guy (who) they liked in the offseason (now becomes) available.
I wouldnt be surprised if we made a move, but I also think we have the pieces in place that we wouldnt need to. But, yes, well certainly be active in those conversations and I dont think wed be doing our job if we werent.
The Cubs have room in the budget to add an impact player or two, and Theo Epstein has said that he hopes to be buyers, not sellers, at the trade deadline.
The president scaled back spending on the on-field product and invested in technology and expanding what had been perhaps the smallest front office in baseball. The baseball operations department has gone from around 90 employees to more than 120.
Our total major-league payroll will be a little under where it was last year, Hoyer acknowledged. But we sort of left some flexibility so we can make some moves over the course of the season if we need to.
The bill for the big-league team will be around 112 million, according to sources, and include the roughly 15 million the Cubs are paying the Miami Marlins to take on Carlos Zambrano, the 5 million payment on Carlos Penas pillow contract and Silvas 2 million buyout.
The projected Opening Day roster will cost around 90 million, a relatively modest amount for a franchise that Forbes found has risen 14 percent in value during the past year to 879 million.
In its annual Major League Baseball survey released on Wednesday, Forbes ranked only the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox ahead of the Cubs in terms of overall worth.
Epsteins explicit goal is to build a sustainable team that will be playing deep into October every year. So the Cubs arent going to rush top prospects Anthony Rizzo and Brett Jackson to Wrigley Field. They will take the long view and place a high value on years of club control.
But the Arizona sunshine fuels optimism, and Hoyers anything can happen attitude can be traced back to rotation depth. At the moment, the Cubs dont seem to be inclined to take away from this strength and be exposed to a potentially huge weakness.
Were going to throw a good starting pitcher at the other team every night, Hoyer said. When you break camp every year, you want to win the World Series. Obviously, thats your goal. But I dont see any reason why we cant be incredibly competitive this year.