Friday, December 21, 2012

Edwin Jackson/Carlos Villanueva to the Cubs

Today I'll continue with the third and fourth starting pitchers that the Cubs have added this off-season.  I was extremely disappointed when the Cubs missed out on Anibal Sanchez last week, but the Cubs answered quickly by picking up two more quality pitchers.  I love the Cubs continuing to add pitching depth, especially because the rotation last year had players like Justin Germano, Brooks Raley, Chris Rusin, and Jason Berken.  It is also good to see the Cubs willing to spend money on players that help them now, as well as players that could help them in the future (Jackson).  Here are how the contracts look for the two players.

Carlos Villanueva-2 years, 10 million
Edwin Jackson-4 years, 52 million

Now let's take a look at the two players individually:

Carlos Villanueva-Carlos Villanueva gives the Cubs another quality arm to compete for the rotation.  He has spent time as both a starter and a long reliever, but he spent the majority of his time last year in Toronto starting due to injuries to the rest of the rotation.  In 2012, Villanueva was okay as a starter, but he was very effective as a reliever.  He tends to be a fly ball pitcher, but his ground ball percentage was very good as a reliever in 2012.  This should help him out in April and May at Wrigley, but it might make him susceptible to the long ball once the wind starts blowing out.  He is very much a strike thrower and should be effective for the Cubs in 2013.  

Edwin Jackson-Jackson has gotten the reputation of being a journeyman in his young career, and he definitely deserves that title.  The Cubs will be his 8th team before he turns 30.  Jackson is an inning eater, as he has thrown at least 180 innings the past 5 seasons.  Last season, a lot of Jackson's success was due to his raised strikeout rate and lowered walk rate.  Both of these totals were a career high for him, as he appears to be entering his prime.  Jackson is definitely a ground ball pitcher, which is always a positive at Wrigley Field, especially with decent infield defense, which could be well above average if Starlin Castro continues to improve at shortstop.  

Jackson loved his time with the crosstown White Sox

The Verdict-I love what the Cubs have continued to do in adding depth to their pitching staff.  Villanueva provides a quality swing man at a cheap cost.  He might earn a spot in the rotation or he might improve the bullpen, but given the rising costs of bullpen arms, Villanueva is well worth the money.  After missing out on Anibal Sanchez, the Cubs signed the next best starter available in Edwin Jackson.  Nothing about Jackson jumps off the page at you, but he is a solid low end number 3 or high end number 4 starter.  He might not have the stuff that Sanchez does, but he is not far behind him.  The Cubs paid 30 million less for Jackson, which is good because there is no way that Sanchez is that much better than Jackson.  E-Jax is also in his prime at age 29 and adds a good building block to the rotation with Matt Garza and Jeff Samardzija.  The club is still missing an ace, but with a lot of dependable arms, the Cubs might surprise in 2013.  This move is definitely for beyond that, but if the Cubs can over-achieve a bit on offense, there is a small chance that they could be the Orioles of 2013.

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