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Inbox: Comparing, contrasting rotation options

The Cubs' latest additions plus scheduling quirks are among the topics in this week's holiday mailbag. Got a question? Send it to, and please include your full name and hometown. Talk to you next year.

Do you think the Cubs dropped the ball by not signing Anibal Sanchez? He certainly would have been a great signing for the rotation going forward.
-- Jason C., Aurora, Colo.

Sanchez would've been a nice addition, but instead the Cubs have reportedly signed Edwin Jackson. Let's compare their stats. Since Jackson joined the White Sox at the July 31, 2010, Trade Deadline, he has gone 26-22 with a 3.80 ERA and 1.31 WHIP in 74 starts (464 1/3 innings, two complete games) and averaged 7.6 strikeouts per nine innings. Teams have hit .264 against him. In that same span, Sanchez has gone 22-28 with a 3.79 ERA and 1.28 WHIP in 75 starts (462 2/3 innings, four complete games) and averaged 8.5 strikeouts per nine for the Marlins and Tigers. Teams have hit .257 against him. Jackson turned 29; Sanchez turns 29 in February.

Very similar, right? Sanchez eventually signed with the Tigers for five years, $80 million. Jackson reportedly has agreed to a four-year, $52 million deal. It appears the Cubs did well. Jackson has played for six teams in the last five years, but he may have been a victim of circumstances. He changed agents last July, leaving Scott Boras for Legacy Sports. Perhaps teams felt he was difficult to sign.

With Scott Baker coming off Tommy John surgery, is he expected to be ready for Opening Day? If not, who are the options to hold his spot in the rotation? A free agent? Brooks Raley and Chris Rusin? Maybe Michael Bowden, who has been starting in the winter leagues?
-- Mike M., Rockville, Md.

Baker says he'll be ready, but the Cubs also have stocked up on extra arms in case he isn't. Besides Jackson, the Cubs have reportedly signed free agent Carlos Villanueva, which means the list of starting pitchers would include Baker, Jackson, Jeff Samardzija, Matt Garza, Scott Feldman, Travis Wood and possibly Arodys Vizcaino.

What are the Cubs going to do about the starting third baseman for Opening Day? Are they going to make a trade, and if so, who will they trade for?
-- Robert C., Huntington, Ind.

The Cubs are hoping Ian Stewart is healthy after undergoing wrist surgery last July and signed him Dec. 17 to a one-year deal. He felt good enough to work on his hitting with Hall of Famer Rod Carew recently and has continued his late-night Twitter conversations with fans.

Please explain why the Cubs do not play any home Friday night games when every other Major League team does. I am of the opinion this could be very helpful later in the season when the temperatures and humidity get very high.
-- James S., Amboy, Ill.

Wrigleyville residents have said no to Friday night games because of the potential traffic and parking conflict between Cubs fans and people returning to the neighborhood from work. The heat and humidity aren't the problem, it's lack of sleep when the players arrive in Chicago late Thursday from a road trip and have an early start Friday for a day game. In looking at the 2013 schedule, it appears that was taken into consideration. The only time it could be a problem is when the Cubs play in Oakland on July 4, then at Wrigley Field on July 5 vs. the Pirates.

Chicago Cubs, Scott Baker, Edwin Jackson, Anibal Sanchez, Ian Stewart