Turning the Tide

Posted by Lionel on June 18, 2009.

The man who will get the Cubs going is....Pedro Martinez? According to Pedro himself, the Cubs and the Rays have shown the most interest in Pedro and he is likely to sign a deal soon. There are so many angles to this story, but I'll try to cover them all.

First, let's remember that it's a report from the player, not from any other source. The Tribune is reporting that the Cubs sent a scout to watch Pedro work out, while the St. Petersburg Times says the Rays have talked to Pedro but nothing is remotely close. In other words, it sounds like Pedro either thinks he's closer to a deal than he is or he is floating teams out there to the media to try to drum up attention and his asking price.

Second, there's the issue of whether he would be a starter or reliever. People (and by people, I mean scouts and analysts) are split on the issue. Some think he doesn't have enough left in the tank to pitch 5-6 innings anymore, while others say he's too old to get warmed up quickly or pitch in back to back games. My guess is that if the Cubs are going to bring him in, it would be as a starter. Their bullpen has jelled with the additions of Ascanio and Guzman. It's not out of the realm of possibilities that they would bring him in as a reliever, but I am going to proceed as if the Cubs are looking to add him to the rotation.

Third, if this interest is genuine, what does this signal? Well, I think it could signal that the Cubs scouts don't believe that Randy Wells will continue his sterling season and that once teams (and scouts) see more of him, they will hit him. He has a 2.55 ERA in 7 starts and an impressive 3 to 1 K/W ratio. And yes, before his callup he had a similar 2.77 ERA and 3 to 1 K/W ratio in 5 starts for Iowa. But prior to this year, Wells had spent two full seasons at Iowa with a 4+ ERA and has a minor league career ERA of 3.74.

The other possibility is that the Cubs want to make a trade that will require the loss of some pitching (Wells, Sean Marshall, etc.). It would be a perfect time to trade Wells while the iron is hot. Even if the Cubs think Wells will continue to be as successful as he is now, it's still worth the risk, because his track record doesn't show this level of success. It may also be time to move Marshall, not because he doesn't have value to the Cubs as a swing man, but rather because he still figures to be a long-term starter and is value to another team may be higher.

Fourth, there's the issue of what the Cubs would do if they trade some pitching because they have Pedro and then watch their starting staff get hurt. Well, the AAA staff is full of potential emergency/short term starters, which could allow JH to be more aggressive. J.R. Mathes has been a left-handed swing man for the Iowa club, where he has a 3.25 ERA overall and an impressive 2.50 ERA as a starter. After struggling out the gates, Kevin Hart was moved from the 'pen to the rotation and has posted a 1.41 ERA in 6 starts. And there's always Jeff N.D., whose been up and down, but has a 3.91 ERA over 10 starts for Iowa.
Finally, maybe the Cubs think they need someone who can take down the oldest coach on the opponent's team if there is a brawl.

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