With all the Hub Bub going on with the Cubs failed effort to acquire Gil Meche, it might very well be a blessing in disguise.
The only two superior starting pitchers available through free agency this off season were Jason Schmidt and Barry Zito. The Cubs were almost forced to pay for one of the other starters available, that you could be considered serviceable but hardly top of the order starters. When you consider Meche got $55 million for 5 years, the price that was paid for last years the top free agent starter AJ Burnett, you have to consider the Cubs made the most of the $10 million per they spent to acquire Ted Lilly.
So who should the Cubs train their radar on now? It looks as if they are taking a hard look at Jason Marquis, http://www.baseball-reference.com/friv/scomp2.cgi?I=marquja01:Jason+Marquis&st=career. As you can tell from this link, Gil Meche and Jason Marquis have similar numbers but Meche was coming off his best year and Marquis off his worst. Strike out the last year for them both and Marquis has better numbers.
Do I advocate going after these alsorans instead of an ace? Certainly not, but their is only one free agent starter Zito, who in my humble opinion is even close to being considered an ace, and his price tag will be from another planet.
You'll notice a couple of other starters names that have been mentioned as possibly available through trades, most notably Jake Westbrook and Jason Jennings.
It looks as if Westbrook's Indians, have done some solid work this off season already to address their sieve like bullpen, a major problem for them last year. Therefore the one position of strength that the Cubs could've bargained with is no longer a need for the Indians.
Jason Jennings Rockies, need a center fielder and young arms. The Cubs are going to have a hard sell to convince them that Super Jock is an everyday center fielder. A trade with the Rockies seems remote at best.
So who's left? Jeff Suppan and Jeff Weaver are available from the Redbirds.
Suppan is 31, with a career 4.67 ERA and 1.41 WHIP.
Weaver is 30, with a career 4.58 ERA and 1.34 WHIP.
Both of these free agents are going to be commanding big paydays after their 2006 post season performances and like the others mentioned above, don't distinguish themselves other than that.
All things considered, Marquis would probably come at the most reasonable price and has comparable numbers. If the Cubs do acquire him, he could very well be a diamond, though somewhat flawed, in the rough.