Cubs Mantra: Rotation, Rotation, Rotation

Samardzija, Marshall, Gaudin provide fifth-wheel potential

It's been a little while since any Jim-Hendry-still-loves-Jake-Peavy talk has made the rounds. That may mean Hendry has given up on luring the ace away from San Diego's tight clutches. Or it may mean that Hendry is still working behind the scenes, but is managing to do a better job of keeping this round of talks quiet.

Whichever it is, the baseball hot stove dust has largely wafted to the floor, and with it has been added time to consider just what the Cubs would be doing in acquiring Peavy. That is to say, they'd be creating one of the better Cubs rotations of all time, perhaps the best in the Major Leagues, and they'd be cementing their playoff chances almost before the season began. A rotation of Peavy, Carlos Zambrano, Rich Harden, Ted Lilly, Ryan Dempster would, without question, be the terror of the National League.

But the further we get from Peavy speculation, the more it seems to make sense to ignore the trade. Why? Quite simply, the Cubs have other options -- Jeff Samardzija, Sean Marshall, and Chad Gaudin.

Samardjiza and Marshall are the more promising of the three; both have the stuff to be middle-of-the-rotation pitchers. The nice thing is that, barring injuries, neither would have to carry such duty. Instead, they'd be pitching fifth, a spot in the lineup previously filled by Jason Marquis, an innings-eater with little effectiveness to speak of. None of the three have to be good for the Cubs next year. Even average performance would be a boon that low in the rotation.

So, obviously, if the Cubs can get Peavy without mortgaging the entire franchise, it's likely worth it to stack that rotation. But if they can't? If the asking price is too high? Hendry should wait and test his young pitchers first. 

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