Russell isn't the answer, but who is?
April, 13, 2011
By Bruce Levine
Knowing that lefty James Russell is not the temporary answer to the Cubs' fifth starter spot, the team must fill that position again on April 19.
Thomas Campbell/US PresswireJames Russell's struggle Tuesday illustrated the Cubs' need for rotation help.
General manager Jim Hendry has addressed the need for temporary veteran presence by signing right-hander Ramon Ortiz and lefty Doug Davis over the past 10 days.
But the question remains: Will the Cubs add more free-agent veterans?
"Haven't really looked at anyone else," Hendry said. "The Ramon Ortiz thing we did right away after [Carlos] Silva left. Then Steve Cantor, Doug Davis' agent, was trying all along to get him to come with us, even when he was a free agent last time. We've been kind of monitoring his rehab [elbow surgery], he lives [near the Cubs' spring training complex]."
Hendry was on top of adding veterans even before he lost Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner to injuries on April 6.
"When camp ended before Cashner and Wells went down, we would have done this with [Ortiz and Davis]," Hendry said. "There wasn't any rush.
"Doug Davis isn't going to be ready in the big leagues until the end of the month. I thought we could use one or two more guys in Triple-A anyhow."
Triple-A right-hander Jay Jackson is rehabbing elbow tendinitis, so there isn't much depth at that level for the Cubs to call on.
The strength of the Cubs' minor league system is at Double-A Tennessee.
"We have so many good prospects at Double-A that you don't want to rush them along in the rotation," Hendry said. "[Ortiz and Davis] would probably solidify the [Triple-A] Iowa staff with more experience than what we have now."
The Cubs' chances of making a trade for a pitcher are remote. Every major league team is looking to add a reliable starter or bullpen pitcher. The Yankees have stockpiled former Chicago pitchers and have assigned Silva to a minor league contract.
The Cubs offered Silva the same opportunity to go to the minors when he missed out on a rotation spot. He declined the offer. Hendry at the time told Silva that he had to go to some team's minor league in order to make good, so why not stay with the Cubs?