Should the Cubs Be in on John Smoltz?
A small blurb in the Boston Herald about the Red Sox going after John Smoltz made me wonder if Smoltz should be the Cubs top target. Oh sure, a 27-year old Jake Peavy not coming off arm surgery sure sounds swell, and the Sun-Times is stoking those fires again.
''Hopefully, we'll still add another pitcher before Opening Day.'' (Jim Hendry)
But the numerous roadblocks to that destination still make it highly unlikely that the Cubs will ever land on planet Peavy. If Hendry is intent on adding another pitcher, and I assume starting pitcher, I sure hope he's looking into John Smoltz over the normal grab bag that has produced Wade Miller, Jon Lieber and Glendon Rusch the last few years. But then of course, considering Smoltz just came off arthroscopic shoulder surgery to fix his labrum, sounds like Smoltz might fit the pattern.
Smoltz has been rehabbing since his surgery in July and reports are that he's throwing well and expects to be back in May. Considering the generous days off in April that allow for skipping the fifth starter and the fact that Rich Harden should have his season-ending injury by that point, sounds like the timing couldn't be anymore perfect. Despite pitching through a good deal of pain, Smoltz did put up a 2.56 ERA in his six games in 2008. Even if he's not 100% when he gets back, I think it's safe to assume he'll grin and bear it and can still be quite effective. Most importantly for the Cubs, he's still the proud owner of a 15-4 record in the playoffs with a 2.65 ERA.
If the Cubs aren't going after John Smoltz and this Peavy thing ends up just being another offseason foreplay, are there any other cost-efficient names on the market? As with Smoltz, I'll make a few assumptions that a pitcher is only coming if new ownership approves and the Cubs are probably not interested in a long-term contract. Peavy, rightfully so, is worth the exception. A look through the ESPN Free Agent tracker comes up with a few interesting names.
Curt Schilling - not sure if he's even planning to pitch this year
Pedro Martinez - awfully quiet on his front
Mark Prior - just seeing if you're paying attention
Orlando Hernandez - no idea what's up with him, but a 2.55 postseason ERA
Andy Petitte - turned down $10M from the Yanks, doubtful
There still some bigger names out there, but they should all get multi-year deals such as Lowe, Oliver Perez, Ben Sheets, Randy Wolf and Jon Garland. For a fifth starter though, and if the Cubs can fit it into their budget with a new owner being announced in the next week or so, I think I'd put their money on John Smoltz.