By George Ofman-
(WBBM) “What about the pitching?”
I can never forget Harry Caray blurting out the question through his gravel filled voice. What he was doing at Tom Treblehorn’s introductory press conference as Cubs manager in 1994 and sitting with us media mopes still remains a mystery.
So is Cubs pitching today, and tomorrow, and next year and the year after that.
The question still stands. What about the pitching?
Any Cubs’ fan who watched Scott Feldman fumble a tapper which paved the way for Ryan (I never took any substance) Braun’s home-wrecking home run would cry out the same theme. The error was simply the capper. He walked three batters the previous inning.
If pitching is the name of the game, Theo and the boys need to buy into it. Not to worry though, once the boss refurbishes Wrigley Field, there will be trillions to spend on good arms and even bad ones. For now, Edwin Jackson is a $52 million dollar door jam expected mostly to provide stability, innings and something worthwhile in return once Theo and Jed find him a new home, whenever that is.
But other than Jeff Samardzija, can you identify one single pitcher on the current staff that could be part of a championship team? And don’t say Travis Wood. If you mention Carlos Villanueva, I’m gonna trade you.
Can you identify anyone in the minors who will hoist a World Series trophy in a Cubs uniform? Maybe Arodys Viscaino but he’s rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and he happens to be the top pitching prospect.
This is not a knock on the regime’s long range focus. Don’t think for a moment Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer aren’t aware there is a paucity of pitching in their house. This is very evident when Kevin Gregg is allowed to return to the scene of the crime. But when the day comes that Baez, Almora, Soler, Szczur, Jackson and potential others arrive (assuming one or more is not a bust and one or more is not traded for David Price), where will the mound stars be?
The aforementioned Price is a very interesting possibility and a pricey one the day the Rays decide he will bankrupt their vault. He’ll be 28 in August and very much on the Clark and Addison radar. And he should be. An ace is hard to find and the Rays will trade him whether it’s this offseason or next. The Cubs will have the ammunition both in physical and financial resources. Then there are the top two pitchers in the upcoming draft. If the Cubs could get their hands on Mark Appel, he could wind up in their rotation as fast as Chris Sale did with the White Sox. He turned down pitching for the Pirates last year to complete his senior season at Stanford. Problem is, the Cubs have the second pick. Jonathan Gray could be theirs and he throws nearly 100 miles per hour.
The Cubs are a work in progress. The pitching is a work in progress progressing a little slower than expected. If only Matt Garza could get healthy to showcase.
But these are just names for now, just as Feldman, Baker, Marmol and Cameron Loe are. But they are names Cubs fans must be forced to grasp because it’s all they really have for now.
George Ofman is a sports anchor and reporter for WBBM Newsradio 780 & 105.9FM. Look for him on Facebook and find him on Twitter at @georgeofman.