Edwin Jackson has something to prove with Cubs

Edwin Jackson has something to prove with Cubs
January 30, 2014, 5:15 pm
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Tony Andracki

Edwin Jackson hoped Chicago would be something like home.

As the son of a retired U.S. Army sergeant first class, Jackson is used to moving around. The 30-year-old pitcher was born in Germany, finished high school in Georgia and got drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers as an outfielder in 2001.

So a guy used to making adjustments is angling for a fresh start with new Cubs manager Rick Renteria.

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"I've changed a lot of teams, so I hope change can be good," Jackson said. "Sometimes, change doesn't hurt.

"We have a great team. We have a great manager that's eager to get out, be with the team and eager to help the team learn and teach us different things. We're ready to go."

In his first 10 big-league seasons, Jackson split his time between seven different teams. He got some security when he signed a four-year, $52 million deal. But his first season on the North Side was a forgettable one.

Jackson led the majors with 18 losses and posted a 4.98 ERA, his highest mark since 2007, when he pitched in the unforgiving American League East.

There was some bad luck involved -- his FIP (Fielder Independent Pitching) and xFIP (Expected FIP) sat at 3.79 and 3.86, right around his career norms. That creates some optimism for a bounce-back season in 2014.

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"I'm definitely hoping for better results," Jackson said. "As an athlete, when you have a season like I had last year, if anything it makes you way more eager to start the next season.

"That itch comes quicker and you're more ready and more excited to go out and perform the way you know you can perform."

Jackson carried a career 70-71 record and a 4.40 ERA into the 2013 season. He’s made at least 31 starts in every season since 2007.

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The Cubs hope he can find that consistency again. Renteria met with Jackson earlier this month before the Cubs Convention.

"We're talking about not looking in the past," Renteria said. "Learn from what happened in the past, but we're looking forward. That's the only way we're going to move the club in the particular direction that we'd like to have it go."

A frontloaded contract means Jackson will make $11 million annually for the next three seasons, which looks somewhat reasonable given the price of pitching in today’s game. By comparison, Masahiro Tanaka's average annual salary is twice that after inking a seven-year, $155 million deal with the New York Yankees.

All eyes will be on Jackson when pitchers and catchers officially report to Mesa, Ariz., on Feb. 13. Without Tanaka, and with all the uncertainty surrounding Jeff Samardzija's future in Chicago, can Jackson live up to his contract?