It goes without saying that the 2011 Cubs were starting-pitching challenged. Assuming the new GM won’t get suckered into the C.J. Wilson bidding war, where can the Northsiders find help on the mound?

One intriguing option is free agent starter Javier Vazquez. 2011 was a tale of two seasons for the 35-year-old Vazquez.  His first half numbers were dreadful: 18 starts, 5-8 (if you care about record), 5.23 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 1.94 K/BB ratio.

I watched more than my share of Marlins games last year, and Vazquez looked like he was done from April to July.  His missing velocity returned in the second half, and the results followed: 14 starts, 8-3 (again, if you care about record), 2.15 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 6.00 K/BB ratio.

The current rumor is that Vazquez plans to retire, but could he be enticed by a one-year pay raise? He made $7 million in 2011, so it might take $8 to $10 million to bring the veteran righty to Chicago. Will that be too rich for the Cubs’ blood?

Vazquez is under appreciated in my humble opinion. Early in his career he racked up impressive “under-the-radar” numbers in Montreal. A couple forgettable campaigns for the Yankees and White Sox tagged him with the label of “choker.” Former White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen went out of his way to publicly rip Vazquez. Classy!

Is Vazquez a Hall of Famer? Of course not. But he’s racked up 2,800 respectable big-league innings during his 14-year career. Vazquez is a strike-throwing machine who always takes the ball (he’s never made less than 26 starts in a season). Not too shabby for a potential third or fourth starter.

The next GM has many important decisions to make. From a philosophical standpoint, he has to decide if 2012 is a complete rebuilding year or a quick-fix opportunity. If he goes with option B, a pitcher like Vazquez could be the perfect fit.

I’m certainly not smart enough to predict the future, but I’m willing to bet that the Cubs new GM won’t sit on the sidelines this off season. Prince Fielder is almost certainly leaving Milwaukee, which obviously weakens the NL Central. Albert Pujols could leave St. Louis, but I honestly don’t see that happening. The Cardinals should be competitive either way. The Reds could be in the hunt, but Dusty’s team has plenty of weaknesses. The Pirates and Astros? Well, they’re the Pirates and Astros.

In this era of baseball parity, the Cubs are unlikely to give away the 2012 season. In order to compete, they have to drastically improve the starting rotation. Signing the under appreciated Javier Vazquez to a club-friendly deal could be a big step in that direction.

Javier Vazquez Career Numbers

Year Age Tm W L ERA GS IP SO ERA+ WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
1994 17 WSN-min 5 2 2.53 11 67.2 56 0.768 4.9 0.0 2.0 7.4 3.73
1995 18 WSN-min 6 6 5.08 21 102.2 87 1.519 9.6 0.7 4.1 7.6 1.85
1996 19 WSN-min 14 3 2.68 27 164.1 173 1.187 7.6 0.7 3.1 9.5 3.04
1997 20 WSN-min 10 3 1.86 25 154.2 147 0.989 6.6 0.6 2.3 8.6 3.68
1998 21 MON 5 15 6.06 32 172.1 139 69 1.532 10.2 1.6 3.6 7.3 2.04
1999 22 WSN-min 4 2 4.85 7 42.2 46 1.430 9.5 1.5 3.4 9.7 2.88
1999 22 MON 9 8 5.00 26 154.2 113 90 1.332 9.0 1.2 3.0 6.6 2.17
2000 23 MON 11 9 4.05 33 217.2 196 119 1.415 10.2 1.0 2.5 8.1 3.21
2001 24 MON 16 11 3.42 32 223.2 208 130 1.077 7.9 1.0 1.8 8.4 4.73
2002 25 MON 10 13 3.91 34 230.1 179 109 1.268 9.5 1.1 1.9 7.0 3.65
2003 26 MON 13 12 3.24 34 230.2 241 139 1.105 7.7 1.1 2.2 9.4 4.23
2004 27 NYY 14 10 4.91 32 198.0 150 92 1.288 8.9 1.5 2.7 6.8 2.50
2005 28 ARI 11 15 4.42 33 215.2 192 101 1.247 9.3 1.5 1.9 8.0 4.17
2006 29 CHW 11 12 4.84 32 202.2 184 98 1.293 9.1 1.0 2.5 8.2 3.29
2007 30 CHW 15 8 3.74 32 216.2 213 126 1.140 8.2 1.2 2.1 8.8 4.26
2008 31 CHW 12 16 4.67 33 208.1 200 98 1.320 9.2 1.1 2.6 8.6 3.28
2009 32 ATL 15 10 2.87 32 219.1 238 143 1.026 7.4 0.8 1.8 9.8 5.41
2010 33 NYY 10 10 5.32 26 157.1 121 81 1.398 8.9 1.8 3.7 6.9 1.86
2011 34 FLA 13 11 3.69 32 192.2 162 106 1.183 8.3 1.0 2.3 7.6 3.24
14 Seasons 165 160 4.22 443 2840.0 2536 105 1.249 8.8 1.2 2.4 8.0 3.32
Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us:
Share