Edwin Jackson was drawing interest from other teams
BY GORDON WITTENMYER Staff Reporter May 24, 2014 12:07AM
Updated: June 25, 2014 6:17AM
SAN DIEGO — A few miles up the highway from Petco Park, in Hollywood, is Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museum, where most things Cub in 2014 belong.
And where the team might feel more welcomed once they leave San Diego than in San Francisco against the first-place Giants.
Consider the oddities and curiosities they could leave behind, assuming they could find enough formaldehyde-filled specimen jars.
Start with $52 million pitcher Edwin Jackson’s last four starts — three of which began to raise faint hope that the Cubs might find a taker by the trade deadline — and the last of which, Friday against the Padres, obliterated the notion.
Until Jackson got pummeled for four innings by the worst-hitting team in the majors in one of the most pitcher-friendly ballparks, in an 11-1 loss, sources say Jackson was starting to draw interest from teams preparing their lists of available pitchers to target ahead of the July 31 trade deadline. Believe it or not.
For a front office that admitted last winter it got ahead of the business plan’s snail pace by signing a long-term free-agent pitcher a year or two early, the prospects of moving the $11 million-a-year contract evoked visions of a 2014-15 winter flush with payroll flexibility. Another $15 million in commitments to ex-Cubs comes off the books after this season, and the brass is carrying over about that much more in unspent money from this year’s budget.
But in one night, Jackson went from a guy who seemed to have it figured out with a 1.80 ERA and only three walks in three May starts to a guy who looked a lot like the righty who went 8-18 with a 4.98 ERA in his debut Cubs season a year ago.
While that’s not exactly Ripley-worthy, consider that Jackson, who gave up eight runs and nine hits, was opposed by a reliever making an emergency start after going no more than three innings and 52 pitches in a game this year.
Tim Stauffer then blanked the Cubs for five innings on two hits.
Just another jar of formaldehyde in a long row that includes:
◆ Jeff Samardzija producing the top ERA in the majors at 1.46 and remaining the only Cub who has started a game without getting a win. He’s the first pitcher in major-league history to have an ERA of 1.50 or lower through 10 starts and not have a win.
◆ Until Friday, the Cubs had scored four more runs than their opponents in 45 games, which supposedly should mean a winning record. Yet they have the worst record in the National League.
◆ The Cubs crossed their fingers in hopes of rebound seasons for cornerstone players Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro and have gotten more than they could’ve expected from both. They also added a leadoff man (Emilio Bonifacio) early in spring training who got off to a torrid start in April and through Thursday was hitting .291 with 11 walks and 11 stolen bases. And they’ve scored the fifth-fewest runs in the league.
◆ They’re the only team to beat Masahiro Tanaka. And the only team to lose to Mike Bolsinger.
What could possibly be next? A bobblehead promotion championing a guy who beat them in two World Series? The Wrigley marquee suddenly turning green? Celebrating Wrigley’s 100th anniversary with a mural of Comiskey Park?
Believe it or not.