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Can Cubs Re-Tool Their Rotation in Time for 2013 Season?


The Chicago Cubs have a long and torturous history over the course of the last few seasons. But when new general manager Theo Epstein took over, he vowed to make the Cubs a playoff contender again.

So where does the ball club sit as of now?

It won’t be easy to overhaul a club in steep decline overnight. In fact, there doesn’t seem to be any short term answer to the Cubs dreadfully desperate woes this offseason. But Epstein wasn’t brought in to make Chicago an instant contender in the AL-Central. He’s in it for the long haul.

If that means a sub-.500 season in 2013, than so be it. But Epstein has vowed to piece together a ball club that can compete in the long-term and make them one of the most improved teams in the majors at season’s end. At least, that’s the goal in sight.

In just the span of 15 months, Epstein has already upgraded the team’s starting rotation, which up until now, was bursting with holes. And they’re doing that as they simultaneously build the team’s core.

“It’s a line we’re committed to walking,” said Cubs’ vice president and general manager Jed Hoyer. “Our goal here is to build a consistently good team … and hopefully a team that wins a championship. In order to do that, we’re not going to sacrifice the future now for wins. But at the same time, every season is precious, and you never know when that team might catch lightning in a bottle. You never want to sacrifice that season entirely.”

His first acquisitions came in the shrewd offseason signings of Scott Baker and Scott Feldman (both thrifty one-year deals), two solid end-of-the-rotation players that have the potential to rack up wins. Also, the Cubs have reportedly agreed to terms with Carlos Villanueva, who may just be one of the better bargains in this season’s winter meetings. And finally, they secured a long-relief pitcher in Edwin Jackson, who signed a four-year deal and could compete for the fifth starting rotation spot if all goes according to plan.

What’s special about these offseason signings is that it doesn’t dip into their pockets too much. Couple that with a young pitching base of Jeff Samardzija and Matt Garza (solid rotation fills) and you’re looking at an upgraded pitching core that will drastically improve upon last year’s starting ERA, which finished dead-last in the NL.

Though the idea of chasing 80 wins this season isn’t too far-fetched, it’s best not to lose sight of building a championship-caliber team over the course of a few years at the sake of short-term success.

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