In case you hadn’t noticed, most of the rumors surrounding the Chicago Cubs this offseason have concerned pitching. Whether it’s the possible trade of Jeff Samardzija, the posting of Masahiro Tanaka or the now shot-down reports about Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard. Comments yesterday from Jed Hoyer confirm that pitching will continue to be a focus, especially finding starters.
“In general, we only need one starter in theory,” Hoyer said, “but we know we’ll go through a lot more starters. We’re in on a lot of starting pitchers and we could well sign more than one starter. That’s a possibility. Someone is going to be hurt, someone could go to the bullpen for a short amount of time. I feel it’s a dangerous game playing that ‘just enough’ starting pitcher game. Could we add more than one starting pitcher this winter? Absolutely.”
The posting of Tanaka still isn’t a sure thing, so the Cubs are beating the bushes, trying to flush out more starters. Some names being floated around include Scott Baker (you might remember the Cubs paying him to rehab for most of 2013, then making three starts in September) and free agent starter Jason Hammel. From across the Pacific, they’re considering another Kenta Maeda (another Japanese starter) and Suk-Min Yoon from Korea. Maeda would have to be posted, but Yoon is a free agent. While they focus on starting pitching, they’ll still be on the hunt for bullpen help as well.
“In theory we can,” Hoyer said. “I think we have people on the roster who can certainly hold down that job. At that point, it would be on [manager Rick Renteria] to name a closer in Spring Training. I’m not sure that will happen or not. I think we have more power arms on the roster and we feel better about our bullpen. We do still want to add to it.”
The media also got another crack at Rick Renteria yesterday. He talked about a few things, including communication.
“The reality is, beyond speaking a different language, the message has to be clean and concise, clear,” Renteria said Tuesday at the winter meetings. “I can speak both languages but if I don’t articulate an idea or concept the right way it doesn’t matter how many languages I speak.”
He’s also mentioned motivation and discipline:
“When we were kids and you’re playing in the neighborhood and the older kids are out there playing you want to play with the older kids,” Renteria said in talking about a tough Central Division. “I see us as guys that want to play with the older kids. It can only make us better, if, if we don’t make excuses.
“They shouldn’t be surprised if we don’t execute one (drill in spring training) they’re going to do it again. … If you can’t do in practice what makes you think you’re going to do in front of 35,000-40,00 people when it matters?”
And Starlin Castro as a potential leadoff hitter:
“I know over the course of his career Starlin (Castro) has led off quite a bit and has some significantly decent numbers in that spot, but as we put together the club … we’ll see where we’re at with that,” Renteria said.
I’m not sure what significantly decent numbers are. If anyone has any ideas, please include them in the comments.