My favorite animals are coyotes. I like the way they're used in Native American folklore to blow up our assumptions and allow us to see things in a different way. And I like their gritty penchant for survival. They are misunderstood and plucky, but smart, even if rough around the edges. And, like it or not, to be a Cubs fan somehow makes me think of this guy:
That is why I've adopted our wiley friend as the official sponsor of this fanpost, which should probably actually be titled:
"Why top of the rotation pitching matters even more than any of our top 4 current prospects"
The last time the Cubs sniffed competitiveness in the post-season (i.e. actually won a game) was in 2003, which I would argue was the Prior/Wood era. Otherwise, this franchise has won all of zero post-season games (at the Division series or above) since 1989. What was special about that year, and about any year that any team gets to the world series, was not great hitters, but great pitchers.
Looking at the history of the Fall Classic, the thing that really stands out is those starting pitching matchups, like the Tudor vs Saberhagen game 7 of 1985; The perennial contenders in Atlanta provided by the core of Glavine, Maddux, and Smoltz; The Curt Schillings, and John Lesters, and Justin Verlanders and Lincecums and Cains. The Cardinals - damn them - who always have 2 guys healthy enough to pitch like aces when it matters. Even if it's only because Tony La Russa sold his soul to the devil, we're always chasing teams like the Cardinals.
This is why I look at the current Cubs and wonder what it would take to be that team with Ace pitchers, no offense to Jeff Samardzija (who is not one, currently, despite what his contract desires might say). For awhile, I thought that maybe we just sign free agents when we're ready to compete, salivating over the 2015 free agent class. But as quickly as Homer Bailey and Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw emerge as possibilities, they get resigned by their own teams (even though I still hold out hope we can go this route if the front office isn't cheap). So, how desperate are we?
There's been all this talk about whether Arizona trades pitching for Shark, and how Archie Bradley is off the table, but what about Javier Baez for Bradley ? Or Baez for Noah Syndergaard (I think actually a better fit because he's a ground ball pitcher with good control)? How about one or more of the other 4 for any of these guys?
Yes, I understand that hopes about Baez are sky-high right now, and my even mentioning this is going to set off a good deal of "Hell no!"s. But how are we going to get pitching?
I think one tool in our ACME toolbox of ideas should be trading Javier Baez, or Kris Bryant, if it means getting a solid TOR pitching prospect in return. In my humble opinion, good starting pitching is actually that important.