How Cubs might be forced to win arms race

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Theo Epstein

Chicago Cubs President of Player operations Theo Epstein is rebuilding the team's farm system. (Phil Velasquez / Chicago Tribune / September 30, 2013)

In their season-opening series, the Cubs improved from 1-for-lordtheystink with runners in scoring position to 3-for-omigawd.

In the final game of a series they just lost to the Phillies at home, they improved from 4-for-lordtheystink to 8-for-omigawd for the season.

That’s one of baseball’s many new metrics -- the lordtheystink. I believe the Theo Epstein’s Cubs forced its invention.

That’s why nobody wants to pitch for the Cubs. Nobody who’s a top-of-the-rotation arm, anyway.

And it might force the Cubs to part with some of those marquee prospects -- Javier Baez, Albert Almora, Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler -- that everyone at Wrigley Field is drooling over.

In Epstein’s rush to raze the organization and build up the system with high draft picks, he has dumped a pathetic roster at Wrigley the last three years. Epstein’s Cubs were built to lose, and the team president has made sure they reached that goal.

Nothing against building up the system. It’s a good idea. Long overdue there. But in the course of that, Epstein has cobbled together such an embarrassing roster that nobody who can pitch wants anything to do with it.

Pitchers want to win. Pitchers want to pitch for organizations that want to win, and you shouldn’t want anybody who wants to pitch for an organization that tanks like the Cubs.

Even if wins are an outdated measure of a pitcher’s value, they still count. It still matters to pitchers. They want something to reflect the effort.

But Epstein’s roster gives Cubs pitchers bupkis. You’ll get nothing and like it.

I realize the Cubs scored eight runs against the Phillies on Sunday, doubling their season total.

I also realize the Cubs have gotten good starting pitching the first week of the season.

Spoiler alert: It won’t last.

If past performance is a prediction of future returns, the rotation will stumble and the lineup will flail the way the back of their baseball cards and the front of their baseball-reference.com pages detail.

As the Cubs struggle to develop potentially great arms in their system, their lousy major league performance will exacerbate their issue with attracting quality arms.

There’s already evidence that these bad Cubs will not be able to buy good pitching. Anibal Sanchez didn’t take the Cubs’ money. Masahiro Tanaka didn’t take the Cubs’ money. Both pitchers went to teams that valued winning at the major league level.

And so, for the Cubs it was “Edwin Jackson, come on down.’’

Jason Hammel, how you feelin’?

Carlos Villanueva, doing anything this month?

In accomplishing the goal of stinking it up, the Cubs have suffered some collateral damage. Maybe Epstein is smart enough to correct it, but there’s a chance it will cost him some of the prized prospects we’ve all heard about, and here’s why:

Instead of waiting until a player like, say, David Price, Max Scherzer or James Shields reaches free agency, the Cubs might have to aggressively pursue trades for those arms that undoubtedly will cost them some of those top prospects.

And then the Cubs would still have to work deals to keep those arms, which might not happen if the Cubs are wrong about which prospects they kept and which they were willing to deal.

Epstein knows not every prospect will make it. He knows those are the first ones he would want to deal. It appears he will have to deal one or more. Be right, Theo. You promised to make the Cubs as excellent as you’ve already made them horrible.

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