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  1. You have a misused “they’re” in there.

    “but it’s quite possible that their** aggressive moves to improve this winter will have laid the foundation”

    Comment by Hank — December 20, 2012 @ 4:10 pm

  2. Ah, you caught it. Nevermind.

    Comment by Hank — December 20, 2012 @ 4:11 pm

  3. Very interesting rotation for the Cubs. Garza, Jackson and Baker basically have the same FIP and xFIP from 2010-2012: http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=sta&lg=all&qual=0&type=8&season=2012&month=0&season1=2010&ind=0&team=0&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=1841,3340,9884,6176,6283,4138

    Comment by Mark Reynolds — December 20, 2012 @ 4:17 pm

  4. As I listened to the local radio boobs ballast this signing this morning on the way to work, I was saying all these things to myself.

    Comment by Eminor3rd — December 20, 2012 @ 4:17 pm

  5. I think the Cubs’ ceiling just hit wild-card breakout, and that is a refreshing change of pace after three years of nothing to look forward to.

    Comment by Brett W — December 20, 2012 @ 4:19 pm

  6. Wait, I thought you didn’t read any of Carson’s work.

    Comment by Ryan — December 20, 2012 @ 4:21 pm

  7. I forgot to include Samardzija in there. That’s a pretty good rotation.

    Comment by Mark Reynolds — December 20, 2012 @ 4:22 pm

  8. For all the “Nats are the best team in baseball talk,” how much less WAR should you expect from that trio is 2013? Everyone seems to focus on how they will be better in 2013, not that there are not plenty of pieces to be optimistic about.

    Another point – I was surprised by a few non-QA guys and most of them have signed deals that suggest a QA would have been turned down.

    Jackson, Pagan, and Napoli all did not recieve QAs, and all signed multi-year deals that are better than 1/$13.3 million. Soriano, on the other hand, may end up wishing he’d taken his.

    Comment by TKDC — December 20, 2012 @ 4:26 pm

  9. And Torii Hunter

    Comment by TKDC — December 20, 2012 @ 4:26 pm

  10. Cubs gave 46 starts to pitchers with an ERA > 6.30 last year.

    Forty six starts. > 6.3 ERA.

    FORTY SIX.

    Cubs have done a very good job assembling a rotation that should correct that situation.

    Comment by Dave S — December 20, 2012 @ 4:29 pm

  11. Maybe Jackson is a genius; knowing that if he waited another year for the new national TV deal, he could get an extra 18%.

    Comment by Sean — December 20, 2012 @ 4:33 pm

  12. That’s a clown question Bro.

    I will have a 15 WAR season to make all of that moot. Trout had 10, I can do 15.

    Comment by Bryce Harper — December 20, 2012 @ 4:37 pm

  13. Somebody seriously screwed up here. Nats didn’t make him a qualifying 1/13.x offer and then Cubs signed him for 4 years at basically the same AAV. Makes you wonder what Washington (thinks it) knows, because his performances in each of the last 4 years are all worth the offer.

    Comment by Calvin — December 20, 2012 @ 4:44 pm

  14. And pigs will fly out of my butt Bryce.

    Comment by Hurtlockertwo — December 20, 2012 @ 4:59 pm

  15. Also of note, Jackson put up 5.2 WAR over 30 starts when he was based out of Chicago… I expect his performance to improve with some stability, espectically if he’s paired with a good pitching coach. I was hoping he’d sign with the Padres, just to see what would happen pitching in Petco with Black/Balsley keeping an eye on his mechanics.

    Comment by James — December 20, 2012 @ 5:04 pm

  16. My co-worker was complaining that the Cubs are wasting their money on a guy with a losing record. I didn’t have the energy to get into a debate about why it doesn’t work like that.

    Comment by cubfan131 — December 20, 2012 @ 5:04 pm

  17. Morse/LaRoche will likely be a small drop at 1st. (-)
    Desmond will likely produce less WAR (-)
    Bernadina won’t be starting for any period of time. (++)
    The catcher position will not be held by a 3rd string guy for 1/2 the season (+)
    Drew Storen will be in the ‘pen most the year (+)
    My point is…yes those three players may account for less WAR…but there are other players on the team that will likely perform as they did last year. And in some case we can reasonably project others to do better. Questioning a team based on only three players (one of whom has been replaced by a much better player) just seems a little silly.

    Comment by KDL — December 20, 2012 @ 5:09 pm

  18. Add 40 innings of Stephen Strasburg and subtract Chien-Ming Wang, too.

    Comment by Well-Beered Englishman — December 20, 2012 @ 5:12 pm

  19. Speculation the Nationals had an under-the-table agreement with Boras to let him go at the end of the year.

    Comment by Well-Beered Englishman — December 20, 2012 @ 5:13 pm

  20. Don’t teams have a responsibility to their fans to present the best product they can on the field?
    It is one thing to rebuild and play prospects where you have ready or near ready prospects but something else to play known-bad or non-ready players just because you’re “rebuilding”.
    The cubs have the money and no ML-ready pitchers so why not get a competent placeholder? They can afford Jackson. And if he helps them not lose 100+ again, maybe helps them get to respectabiity before the contract runs out, why not?
    It’s better than the Cubs just pocketting the money.
    There’s plenty of fans in Cleveland wishing *their* owner were willing to put up something even vaguely like that money for even *one* a not-awful pitcher…

    Comment by fjtorres — December 20, 2012 @ 5:14 pm

  21. My response is always to spell the stat out. “X amount of times he left the game after at least 5 innings in which other players scored enough runs to give his team the lead and other players pitched well enough to maintain that lead”. Shows just how highly dependent the stat is on everyone else.

    Comment by Antonio bananas — December 20, 2012 @ 5:14 pm

  22. They probably knew that with Stras, ZNN, Gio, Detweiler already on the team and other pitchers on the market…it made more sense to make a run at better pitchers with that $13 million. Going after a better pitcher doesn’t mean they thought EJax was/would be bad…It could simply mean they were hoping to land someone better than a good #3.

    Comment by KDL — December 20, 2012 @ 5:14 pm

  23. I admire the quixotic nature of Cubs fans.

    Comment by Gregory — December 20, 2012 @ 5:22 pm

  24. I started enjoying baseball a lot more once I gave up on the fairytale/myth of your first sentence. I highly recommend trying this.
    I agree with the rest of what you say, though. Any player going for at or below his projected worth should be snapped up by just about any team.

    Comment by KDL — December 20, 2012 @ 5:25 pm

  25. Danny Espinosa developing and having a better year or getting traded (+)
    development by Bryce Harper (+++)
    Jordan Zimmermann development (+)
    Ryan Zimmerman after shoulder surgery maybe hitting all year like he did after the cortisone shot (++)
    healthy Morse (+)
    Span over Rick Ankiel in center for a third of the year (+)

    Comment by PMac — December 20, 2012 @ 5:33 pm

  26. Only been worth 10 rWAR over the past four years.

    Comment by Jack — December 20, 2012 @ 5:34 pm

  27. I know Zimmermann is young yet but what further development do people expect out of him? He is what he is – a very good #2.

    Comment by Matt — December 20, 2012 @ 5:39 pm

  28. Not wanting to play him doesn’t make sense if they think he’s worth the qualifying offer in a vacuum. If he accepted, which he probably wouldn’t have, you can just flip him for some C-level doofus you want to take a flier on (or worst case just give him away), and if he declines, you get a free draft pick when somebody else signs him. Colluding with Boras makes more sense since not having to give up a draft pick makes EJax worth more on the open market.

    Comment by Calvin — December 20, 2012 @ 5:43 pm

  29. Higher replacement level, no? That would matter a lot for a guy with a lot of innings and average-ish performance.

    Comment by Ivan Grushenko — December 20, 2012 @ 6:13 pm

  30. Joey Votto had more WAR than Laroche in 2012.

    Comment by Brandon — December 20, 2012 @ 6:28 pm

  31. So if every player on the Cubs meets their WAR, and some exceed it, you don’t think this team can play in the Wild Card game? 86 wins, or 88 maybe? It’s a stretch, but that’s what “best-case scenario” means.

    Comment by Brett W — December 20, 2012 @ 6:29 pm

  32. There’s no such word as “nevermind”.

    Comment by fawcettb13 — December 20, 2012 @ 7:13 pm

  33. Dave,

    I think the more telling quote from Jeff’s piece is this one:

    “…there’s the matter of the potential 2014 free-agent starting pitcher class… the Cubs might’ve looked forward and identified Sanchez as a better bet now. That’s the thing about multi-year contracts — they cover multiple years.”

    A four year contract for Jackson represents the same line of thinking. Even if you don’t believe in the Cubs’ chances over the next season or two, they are ostensibly rebuilding, and don’t have as far to go as a a team like Houston. Competing while Jackson is still under contract, and a cost-efficient asset, is likely in the Cubs’ plans.

    Comment by brunoneptune — December 20, 2012 @ 7:17 pm

  34. Good deal. E-Jax will be able to be let go at Age 33 and is right now a good just-turned-29, so he can go right through and provide some value while rebuilding and maybe help a WC run. Why didn’t anyone else really go for him?

    Comment by Ruki Motomiya — December 20, 2012 @ 7:26 pm

  35. Another key note being avoided is that fact that Jackson did not receive a no-trade clause with this deal. The Cubs did pay a nice amount of cash for Edwin, but they do have several years to recoup their investment with a trade.

    Comment by Northsider — December 20, 2012 @ 8:16 pm

  36. we’re talking WINS on Fangraphs? WINS?

    Comment by Cidron — December 20, 2012 @ 8:27 pm

  37. of course they have that responsibility.. ask Jeff Loria aka the man most hated in Miami

    Comment by Cidron — December 20, 2012 @ 8:29 pm

  38. You put poor Carson on blast, I’m ashamed.

    Comment by Pat — December 20, 2012 @ 10:50 pm

  39. Anyone concerned with Jackson’s lack of success at Wrigley?

    Comment by pepe — December 21, 2012 @ 12:19 am

  40. Eh, his declining fastball speed is a bigger concern. I doubt he’s got some strange anti-Wrigley skillset. It is, we must remember, a pitcher’s park some days, a hitter’s park others.

    Comment by Bradley Woodrum — December 21, 2012 @ 1:39 am

  41. Lots of people fail to live up to their responsibilities; doesn’t mean they go away. Loria is despised for not even pretending he is trying to compete. In cleveland Dolan at least gives lip-service to the “fairytale”. But otherwise? No interest in winning either…

    Comment by fjtorres — December 21, 2012 @ 7:07 am

  42. That’s a pretty big error, claiming that LaRoche led all NL first basemen in WAR. Joey Votto, despite missing several weeks with two knee surgeries, and being at less than full strength when he came back, racked up 5.9 WAR. LaRoche wasn’t even close with 3.8 WAR.

    Comment by rdtobias — December 21, 2012 @ 8:36 am

  43. Bullcrap

    Comment by Kurt Cobain's Ghost — December 21, 2012 @ 8:39 am

  44. I’m still flummoxed by how much evidence it took for Fangraphs to change their views on Edwin Jackson.

    Don;t get me wrong, he drives me crazy with his ability to miss his location in the strike zone …. and gets a way with a good amount of time, but for a site that is always looking for the Scott Bakers of the world, EJax has been a good value for a few years now, yet much of the commentary was as if he was trash.

    I’m glad to see him finally get a good contract. That he had to take a 1y/11M was surprising given what some older, yet less effective, pitchers received.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — December 21, 2012 @ 10:04 am

  45. I don’t get it. This guy got a 1 year, $11M deal last winter, pitched worse than he did the year before, and now when he gets a 4 year, $52M deal, that’s supposed to be decent value? Even with inflation this is a massive overpay.

    Comment by stan — December 21, 2012 @ 10:14 am

  46. How do you figure he’s going to have any value in a trade? The Cubs massively overpaid for him. In his last year he could be traded, but he’s going to be a lead balloon for you for the first three years of that deal. I don’t get how the Cubs could make smart deals for Feldman and Baker and then throw all their savings away on a pitcher who is only marginally better.

    Comment by stan — December 21, 2012 @ 10:16 am

  47. There’s been a lot of grumbling from Cubs fans about ticket prices for how bad the product was. Tickets were dirt cheap on Stubhub and there were a ton of no-shows this season. Putting together something that at least has a chance to be watchable makes sense. If the guys are healthy, they actually have a decent rotation, so while they’re not likely to be contenders they shouldn’t be so bad that their fans don’t want to watch.

    So while I don’t know that they have a “responsibility” in the abstract, from a long-term business standpoint it’s usually a good idea not to piss off your fans/customers.

    Comment by Yinka Double Dare — December 21, 2012 @ 10:24 am

  48. I assume Dave forgot to turn the “Qualified” filter off when looking at the WAR leaders.

    Comment by DavidJ — December 21, 2012 @ 10:26 am

  49. And some players will inevitably get hurt and miss extended stretches of time. (—)

    (i.e., let’s dispense with this “hey everyone will be super healthy this year! All of the everyday starters will play 162, all the starters will start 35 games!” notion.)

    Comment by Jason B — December 21, 2012 @ 11:08 am

  50. I thought WAR is a cumulative stat. How did Votto accumulate 2+ WAR more than ALR in about 200 less PA? Geez, is that how good Joey is?

    Comment by binqasim — December 21, 2012 @ 11:11 am

  51. In a market giving 2 years/14 million to Liriano, I’d say this deal is right where it should be. Jackson has 3.6,3.9,3.9, and 2.7 WAR the last 4 years.

    Comment by Ben — December 21, 2012 @ 11:19 am

  52. Dave correctly commends mediocre teams that better themselves for various reasons including a longshot at the playoffs, unless they’re Kansas City.

    Comment by Baltar — December 21, 2012 @ 12:12 pm

  53. Good article. It does make sense that the rebuilding approach for a club like the Cubs ought to be different than the approach for the Rays.

    Comment by Mike Green — December 21, 2012 @ 12:18 pm

  54. I really like this signing for the Cubs. This gives them an above average, and deep, starting rotation. As far as position players go, they have guys that are league average or better at every position but third and center. They have improved the bullpen some, though I’d like to see them add some more depth there. All together though, I think that they are in a good position to be an above .500 team. And if last year showed us anything, it’s that any decent team has a chance to sneak into the playoffs.

    Comment by JayT — December 21, 2012 @ 1:05 pm

  55. no, it was just an underpay last season.

    Comment by Sleight of Hand Pro — December 21, 2012 @ 1:26 pm

  56. Contrary to the “bad-to-mediocre” argument above, I don’t think the signing has anything to do with trying to win a few more games this season. I actually view the E-Jax signing as a shrewd maneuver in the Cubs rebuilding process. As mentioned, the addition frees them up to deal Garza for prospects. E-Jax didn’t get a no-trade clause either.

    My point is, rebuilding a team isn’t just about saving draft picks and dumping bad contracts on older players. It’s about adding value at any given opportunity (e.g. good contracts, even on players on the other side of 30) and later redistributing those assets in return for young talent.

    Comment by Brian — December 21, 2012 @ 1:34 pm

  57. Kansas City gave up the Minor League Player of the Year to get Shields. The Cubs gave up money to get Jackson. Maybe it works out for KC, but there’s a very good chance they hamstrung their rebuilding efforts to make a Quixotic run at the playoffs. The Cubs didn’t mortgage the future to get Jackson.

    Seriously, the way some people talk about the Cubs’ rebuilding efforts, it makes them sound like they’re the Tampa Bay Cubs.

    The Cubs have a quite a bit of money. And when the Soriano, Zambrano, and whatever other bad contracts are up in a few years, they’ll have even more money. They will be fine.

    Comment by Dasein — December 21, 2012 @ 1:58 pm

  58. Lucky.

    Comment by Dan O'Dowd — December 22, 2012 @ 1:30 am

  59. Exactly. The cubs Minor league system is full of position player talent but they really lack upcoming pitching talent. This is a move to solidify the rotation in anticipation of that minor league talent’s arrival.

    Comment by pb&j — December 22, 2012 @ 4:38 pm

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