A conundrum for the Chicago Cubs

Could contending actually hurt the team's massive rebuilding effort?

Originally Published: March 10, 2013
By Paul Swydan | FanGraphs

RizzoAP Photo/Paul BeatyThe Chicago Cubs are excited to see what Anthony Rizzo can do in a full season in 2013.

The Chicago Cubs had an eventful offseason, and will sport an Opening Day lineup that features as many as five new faces. In all likelihood, more than half of the team's games will be started by pitchers who were not members of the organization at this time last year. Chicago isn't anyone's idea of a division favorite in 2013, but this team can still contend for the National League Central crown. If that happens, will that affect its long-term plan?

Last season, the Cubs received plenty of bottom-barrel performances from their pitching staff. In 54 starts -- or a full one-third of the season -- Justin Germano, Chris Volstad, Chris Rusin, Jason Berken, Casey Coleman, Randy Wells and Brooks Raley combined for just 0.3 WAR. This season, the number of such poor starts should dwindle. Berken, Germano, Volstad and Wells have moved on, and thanks to the additions made to the pitching staff, Coleman, Raley and Rusin are locked in a three-way battle for eighth starter. Or at least, they will be until touted prospect Arodys Vizcaino returns to full health. Then they may be tied for ninth on the depth chart. Travis Wood may still weigh down the back of the rotation, but once either Scott Baker or Matt Garza returns to action, he should lose his rotation spot.


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