WARR baseball writer Kevin Luchansky writes about the Cubs and the White Sox weekly for WARR.com.
Check out Kevin’s daily baseball betting picks on NorthSideWire.
Don’t look now, but the Chicago Cubs have either won or split every series they’ve played in the month of June. Actually, go ahead and look, for two reasons. One, you likely don’t believe me. Two, this doesn’t happen often. You may even want to screenshot it and turn it into your desktop wallpaper.
The Cubs are only 5-5 in their last 10 games, but winning (and splitting) each series is a nice confidence boost in the clubhouse and certainly a step in the right direction. All things considered and relative to their recent lack of success, the Cubs 30-40 overall record isn’t terrible. They haven’t been a doormat team for visiting clubs to walk all over when they step inside the Friendly Confines, where the Cubs can “boast” an above .500 record, albeit just barely at 15-14.
The numbers suggest the Cubs really enjoy playing at home, and the good news is that their home stand, which begun today with Pittsburgh, is of the 10-game variety, with the first two series against division rivals in the Pirates and Cincinnati Reds, before finishing up with the Washington Nationals in a four-game set.
Pay Up for Shark? Not So Fast…
On the Jeff Samardzija front, I have to say that I disagree with the takes from a lot of Chicago newspaper columnists that I’ve read, generally suggesting that the club’s inability to sign The Shark to a long-term deal will haunt the Cubs, his refusing to sign a prosperous extension this week prompting the sky-is-falling ideas. Just not buying that.
Sure he’s developed and grown comfortable over past few years since moving to becoming a starter, but we are talking about a guy with a career ERA of 3.96. Take out his shiny 2.60 ERA from this season, and that number balloons to over 4 easily. Chicago columnists clamoring for Samardzija to command a contract to rival the likes of Justin Verlander, Jon Lester and Max Scherzer are out of their minds.
Why? Well, for starters, Samardzija isn’t an ace. Yes, he is the Cubs’ top of the rotation guy, but that doesn’t automatically make him an ace. Ace and front-end rotation starter are not synonymous. Not every team has an ace. Every team has a number one starter. Let’s not use the “ace” term so lightly, please.
In addition to that, Samardzija turns 30 this offseason. Over the hill? Not by any stretch, but if I am Jed Hoyer, there is no way I can throw $100 million-plus at a guy that has just one half-season of stellar pitching under his belt.
Spread the Wealth
With the talent they’ve aligned in the minors, it’s pretty clear the Cubs’ front office executives have re-focused their efforts on offense. Certainly, they are going to need better rotation guys if they want to be contenders when the likes of Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, Javier Baez, Kyle Schwarber and company reach the majors, but is throwing $100 million at a guy and committing to him into his 35th year of age a smart idea? Hardly.
It goes against the master plan to re-tool the club with the type of hitters and fielders that can make Wrigley look like a Little League diamond with the power and range they’ve got. I’m a firm believer in sticking with the plan, and to follow up going “all-in” on offensive guys in the draft the past few years with a $100 million dollar deal to an aging, true No. 2 starter isn’t in the cards.
That’s just my take. Samardzija has been great this season. I’m not trying to knock him down. He has good stuff, a strong build that suggests he could pitch into his late 30s, and he seems like the kind of teammate I’d want on my team.
That being said, I think Jed and Theo Epstein made the offer they made just to appease the fans and media. I don’t think Samardzija fits into the front office plans and I also think if Jeff had accepted the deal that was rumored to be in the ballpark of 5 years, $85 million, he was still hoping to be moved at the trade deadline with his new, team-friendly contract freshly inked.