The Cubs need pitching. Yes they added Scott Baker and Scott Feldman but those are still just short term assests. They need to build up their depth and bring in starters who can be on the team for the long haul. That is where Rick Porcello comes in. The Tigers have made it known that they are opening to trading their somewhat disappointing former top prospect this offseason and while I dont think he could be acquired for nothing, he should be fairly cheap considering the potential value he could bring. Lets look at what type of value he could provide.
An initial glance at his numbers and one might be inclined to dismiss him as being another back of the rotation starter. That is where I would have to disagree a bit. Before I even touch statistic lets first just look at the basics. Entering the 2013 season he will only be 24 with another 3 years of team control. He is arbitration eligible but due to his overall weak performance likely will remain fairly cheap. Considering his age, that he was a former top prospect in the Tigers organization and his experience relative to his age there is already reason to be intrigued. Now when looking at his stats there is even more to be interested in.
10- 4.92 ERA 4.31 FIP 4.65 K/9 2.10 BB/9 1.0 HR/9 65.9% LOB 50.3% GB
11- 4.75 ERA 4.06 FIP 5.14 K/9 2.27 BB/9 .89 HR/9 67.4% LOB 51.4% GB
12- 4.59 ERA 3.91 FIP 5.46 K/9 2.25 BB/9 .82 HR/9 69.0% LOB 53.2% GB
Looking at his performance over the past 3 seasons a clear trend can be noticed. He seems to be steadliy improving his peripheral stats as he learns how to pitch. When he first entered the league he was young relative to the league and he took his lumps but now has started to adjust. I also think that Detroit rushed him to the Major Leagues which has impacted his stuff, but he appears to be turning into a nice groundball pitcher and with a good infield defense (which Detroit is lacking) he could really improve.
That is partially why I think the Cubs would be a very good destination for him. The Cubs are puting a huge emphasis on improving defensively. The Cubs infield looks pretty good with Gold Glover Darwin Barney who was one of the best defensive players in baseball last season, Anthony Rizzo who looks to be a very good defensive first baseman, Starlin Castro who may be error prone but has all the range in the world and for the moment Luis Valbuena or Ian Stewart who are both solid to above average. If Rick Porcello had that behind him rather than the terrible defensive tandem of Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera he could see a nice improvement.
Porcello seems like he could be the perfect buy low candidate as he seems poised for a breakout given the right circumstances. Not only does he appear ready for a breakout but he is young enough to potentially be apart of the next good Cubs team. The real question is not should the Cubs go after Porcello but how can they acquire him? Would they be interested in Marmol for Porcello if we footed most of the bill? Could he be a piece in a larger Matt Garza trade (unlikely at this point) or Darwin Barney trade? I dont have the answer to that question but I do think that Rick Porcello is worth going hard after because despite the Cubs recent free agent signings, they still need long term pitching help.
-Chris "Da Franchize" Hart