Feldman signing helps Cubs settle rotation
The Cubs are wrapping up a good bit of their holiday shopping before the winter meetings.
That doesn't mean they'll stop looking, though.
General manager Jed Hoyer added a fifth piece to the starting rotation Tuesday by signing former Texas Rangers right-hander Scott Feldman to a one-year deal worth $6 million with up to another $1 million possible in incentives.
Feldman's addition gives the Cubs a starting rotation of Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija and Travis Wood to go along with new additions Feldman and Scott Baker, who signed earlier this month.
"We really felt like we had to add at least two starting pitchers going into the winter, and we've done that already," Hoyer said Tuesday in a conference call. "We're still going to look for talent. If that talent is in the rotation, then we wouldn't consider ourselves done and we'd certainly add someone else.
"We're excited about the two guys we've added so far and believe they'll provide quality innings for us. As far as where the rotation stands now, we're still looking to get better and add talent."
Feldman, who turns 30 in February, pitched eight seasons for the Rangers, going 39-44 with a 4.81 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP (walks plus hits per 1 inning pitched). He was 6-11 this season with a 5.09 ERA and a WHIP of 1.38 and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 3.00 (96 strikeouts and 32 walks). He enjoyed his best season in 2009, when he was 17-8 with a 4.08 ERA for the Rangers.
"I'm pretty confident I can get back to that level of success," Feldman said. "That was the year when everything started clicking for me. It was the first time in my career I was getting regular work in the starting rotation and got into a groove.
"I think judging from that season compared to the season I went through, I feel I'm a better pitcher now. The results were a mixed bag for me. I had some good, some bad. I think confidence wise in all my pitches, I'm able to do more now than I was in 2009. I hope the results will show that."
Feldman spent the first half of the 2011 season recovering from surgery to his right knee. He also has spent significant time as a reliever, appearing in 73 games out of the bullpen over his first three seasons before becoming a starter.
Hoyer said the Cubs plan to use Feldman as a starter. With Baker coming off Tommy John surgery and Feldman's won-loss record what it is, Hoyer was asked how he would sell those two signings to the fans with the Cubs coming off a 101-loss season.
"They're both really good pitchers," Hoyer said. "We're certainly not done with our off-season. This is the kind of signing, whether we're coming off a 101-loss season or a 90-plus win season, I think you're always trying to find value in the free-agent market.
"We feel both Baker and Feldman provide a lot of value in the free-agent market. Our approach is not going to change based on the previous years. You're always looking to find guys who can outperform their contracts and guys who can really provide value."
Love them tender:
The deadline to tender contracts to players is Friday. The biggest question among the Cubs' arbitration-eligible players is third baseman Ian Stewart, who missed most of last season after going down with a wrist injury in June and having surgery in July.
"We're still talking to Ian," Hoyer said. "We got a report today on his wrist and how he's doing. He's taking light batting practice, hitting balls off a tee and it seems like the wrist is progressing nicely.
"There's a decision to be made at the end of the week. We've had a good dialogue with Ian and Larry Reynolds, his agent, and we'll continue to do that for the next three or four days."
The other arbitration-eligibles are Garza, Samardzija, infielder Luis Valbuena and reliever James Russell.
No Deer hunting:
The Cubs on Monday hired former big-leaguer Rob Deer as assistant hitting coach. Deer had a lifetime batting average of .220 with 230 home runs and 1,409 strikeouts. Hoyer contends concern over Deer's batting average and strikeout numbers is foolish.
"Mentioning a coach's stats as a player is one of the least useful things you can imagine," Hoyer said. "No one ever mentions Jim Leyland's numbers or Tony La Russa's numbers. I think coaching and playing are two very separate things.
"I also would note he was a guy who did get on base and had a lot of power. I don't think a coach's playing background says how he coaches and how he teaches."