Epstein: We need top of rotation starter

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Today, Theo Epstein talked to Chicago Cubs season ticket holders, telling them that the goal for 2015 was to contend for the National League Central division crown. In order to do this, the Chicago Cubs have to do some serious work on their team, because as things stand, the 2014 Cubs are a long way off to contend for anything more than a .500 record. Sure, they finished 74-88 on the season, which is 14 games under the .record, but they finished strong. The team as is has a legitimate shot at finishing .500 in 2015, but that was not the goal Epstein promised; Epstein promised the 2015 Cubs would contend for the divisional crown.

In order to compete for the divisional crown, the Cubs are going to have to add some talent in free agency to close the gaps. Doing that will cost the Cubs a lot of money, as impact talent does not come cheap. Thankfully, the Cubs have more than enough money to go into the free agent market and buy whatever free agents they feel fit their needs the most.

Having a tremendous amount of payroll flexibility will come in handy with the Cubs plan to add to the team. At the moment, the greatest need is adding starting pitching. Even though the Cubs had a “valuable” pitching staff in 2014, there is always a need to get better. Yes, by the numbers, the Cubs had a very valuable pitching staff even though they were stuck with Edwin Jackson.

When you have pitchers like Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks pitching the way they did this season, along with Tsuyoshi Wada pitching as he did, you can see how the Cubs could be ranked as high as they were. Those three pitched amazing nearly every time out, and did more than enough to cover for the bleakness that Jackson threw every fifth day. But since Wada might not be brought back, Travis Wood was shelled more often than not and everyone would be happy if Jackson disappeared and never came back, the Cubs do have some openings in their rotation.

Adding impactful starting rotation is an absolute must if the Cubs want to contend, Epstein knows this.

Epstein has his sights set on some top notch pitchers, he knows that the Cubs need them, and that they are a must. With Epstein saying he would be disappointed if they are not added, you know he is making them his number one target in free agency. Of course, you have heard the name Jon Lester thrown around more than anyone. He fits the bill of the number one, top of the rotation pitcher that Epstein knows the Cubs need.

Epstein also knows that the Cubs need more than just one starting pitcher. He knows that in an ideal world the Cubs would add two

If Lester is the primary target, and I have no reason to believe that he is not, we can wonder who the other targets are.

Other than Lester, the top pitchers hitting the free agent market this year are Max Scherzer, James Shields and Justin Masterson. If they do not go all out to get two top of the rotation starting pitchers, other targets might be Brandon McCarthy, Ervin Santana or Francisco Liriano.

Adding any of them to go along with Lester and Arrieta would be amazing; especially if Hendricks is able to pitch the way that he did in 2014. Being a soft tossing pitcher who relies on location, that will not be an easy goal. But in the fourth slot in the rotation, that is defiantly something would would take a chance on.

However, he said in an ideal world, and how often is anything ever ideal? Especially for the Cubs? To me, Epstein sounds like he wants to land two, but will settle for one of the big fish if he can only land one. Hopefully the ideal world comes to fruition because with a starting rotation with two of them combined with what the Cubs already have, and you have a pitching rotation which is ready to compete for the divisional crown that Epstein said he felt the Cubs could contend for in 2015.

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