The Cubs have been wise to stock pile starting pitching this offseason.
It only makes sense–winning baseball survives on good starting pitching–and the Cubs are clearly thin throughout its rotation.
What Epstein & Co. are playing this winter is a numbers game through free agent signings and trades–a roll of the dice on helter-skelter hurlers who may, or may not, return to their past successes on the mound.
We know it’s not the ideal way to staff a rotation, or the way Epstein and Hoyer will fill the void down the road.
But for the time being, it’s the most practical and affordable way to help mask the development of the Cubs’ soon-to-be youthful and inexperienced lineup.
Obviously, there’s no guarantee the newest additions of Travis Wood, Andy Sonnastine, Chris Volstad and now, Paul Maholm, will pan out.
In fact, it’s more than likely most of them won’t. But let’s say two of them do surprise us. Then what would happen?
Such a scenario could very well position the Cubs to regain its competitiveness lost during its past two seasons of fifth place finishes in the division.
Or perhaps, it may be enough to push the Cubs near or just above the .500-mark. (Wouldn’t that be nice).
Think of these signings and trades in those terms and it makes stomaching Paul Maholm’s career record of 20-games below .500 (53-73) more palatable, if even a little bit.
That’s not to say the Cubs won’t catch lightning in a bottle, say something in the nature of a 200-plus innings eater & 15-game winner (Travis Wood?), but just a spark from one or two of them will suffice.
At the very least, the Cubs’ 2012 rotation has added depth. It may not be the best of options, but I hope just enough to sustain some season-long competitiveness, nonetheless.