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   101. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 06, 2018 at 07:56 PM (#5634718)
Ha - thanks. One can hope Joe will be the change he apparently wants to see, but I'm not holding my breath. He never once unleashed a wolverine on Willson last year.
   102. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 06, 2018 at 09:38 PM (#5634737)
Jed gets no respect.
   103. Zonk qualifies as an invasive species Posted: March 07, 2018 at 09:38 AM (#5634803)
In ex-Cub news...

Travis Wood blew up his knee and is done for the year - the Tigers have released him (he signed a minor league deal with them). Seems like there's a good chance he's done.

Man... From Cubs lone all-star to WS champ to San Diego to a Royals team on the downside to a minor league deal with the likely bad Tigers to potentially done?
   104. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 07, 2018 at 10:34 AM (#5634821)
It’s roughly 40 steps from RESERVED spots 12 and 13 — where Cubs executives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer park a Range Rover SUV and a Tesla sedan — to the front doors of the Under Armour Performance Center in Mesa.

It’s another universe from the summer of 2016, when La Stella refused to report to Triple-A Iowa and took some “me time” back home in New Jersey, an act of insubordination that probably would have gotten him released from the other 29 Major League Baseball franchises.

But the Cubs vibrate on a different frequency, as manager Joe Maddon likes to say, so there was La Stella on Tuesday morning, hanging out at his locker and declaring a ceasefire that may or may not happen.

“Theodore’s spot was first, just to see what would happen,” La Stella said. “He didn’t even bat an eye, man. I heard nothing.

“And then the next day was Jed.”

The bosses responded by leaving La Stella a striped polo shirt and a pair of Hoyer’s khakis to wear during Monday’s workout at the Sloan Park complex.

They were a little too tight,” La Stella said. “I took scissors to the back. I think my glutes are a little too big for the pants. It was definitely a little snug in the back. I’d like to blame it on my package, but that’s not true. It’s got to be my glutes.”
   105. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 07, 2018 at 11:37 AM (#5634877)
It’s roughly 40 steps from RESERVED spots 12 and 13 — where Cubs executives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer park a Range Rover SUV and a Tesla sedan — to the front doors of the Under Armour Performance Center in Mesa.

It’s another universe from the summer of 2016, when La Stella refused to report to Triple-A Iowa and took some “me time” back home in New Jersey, an act of insubordination that probably would have gotten him released from the other 29 Major League Baseball franchises.

Holy tortured intros, Batman!
   106. Walt Davis Posted: March 07, 2018 at 04:33 PM (#5635069)
#103 ... minor detail but Wood is still on the 2/$12 contract he signed with KC last year. So he was never going to get more than a minor-league deal this spring (becoming a guaranteed minimum if he made the roster, but no extra money to him). Falling to the Tigers obviously wasn't a good sign but neither was being traded from KC to SD with KC picking up the entire salary, then getting released by SD. He was probably broken last year and now has blown out his knee.

And looks like he went out on a high note -- in SD, 4 for 17 with 2 HR and 6 RBI! :-)
   107. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 07, 2018 at 04:45 PM (#5635072)
Even if Wood makes it back, his outfield defense will probably never be the same.
   108. Walt Davis Posted: March 07, 2018 at 06:02 PM (#5635087)
On Mr. Happ ... I recall a few years ago somebody did a study and found that spring stats did have a small predictive effect and my memory is that it was mostly about ISO. I don't remember if it was before or after HRs starting going up again, before or after folks started talking about exit velocities and launch angles but it does make at least superficial sense that what the study was picking up on was guys changing the angle of their swing to produce more FBs and HRs. (And possibly adding strength to generate velocity.)

Of course Happ was already HR/FB heavy so I'm not sure there's much room for improvement in those areas for him so still plenty of reason to think this won't translate to the regular season but what is spring without hope. Like hopefully Joe has learned how to spell his name so he can write him into the lineup.
   109. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 07, 2018 at 06:24 PM (#5635095)
Like hopefully Joe has learned how to spell his name so he can write him into the lineup.

Hey, it's easier to spell than "Caratini."
   110. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 07, 2018 at 07:02 PM (#5635116)
Travis also almost cut off a finger (non pitching hand) this off-season with a hunting knife.
   111. Zonk qualifies as an invasive species Posted: March 08, 2018 at 09:48 AM (#5635296)
Travis also almost cut off a finger (non pitching hand) this off-season with a hunting knife.


I vaguely recall that Wood did the 2016 parade and really in fatigues and said he was going hunting afterwards or somesuch... you'd think he'd be better with a hunting knife.

EDIT: Oops yeah to Walt... I flip-flopped part of Wood's journey to the memory hole.
   112. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 08, 2018 at 11:28 AM (#5635384)
The Astros are getting asked about the WS hangover:

"We're not the Cubs," Keuchel fired back when presented with that example. "I firmly believe we have better players."
   113. Zonk qualifies as an invasive species Posted: March 08, 2018 at 11:36 AM (#5635389)
"We're not the Cubs," Keuchel fired back when presented with that example. "I firmly believe we have better players."


Ahhhh.... this brings back memories of hating the Astros, before the league switch.

I mean, if a Cubs hangover means a threepeat/return trip to the LCS? We should drink more, not less.

   114. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 08, 2018 at 02:27 PM (#5635545)
   115. Styles P. Deadball Posted: March 08, 2018 at 02:45 PM (#5635561)
That is a long neck


He wears the beard for the same reason I do: so people can tell where the impossibly long neck ends and the weak jawline begins.

/sigh
   116. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 08, 2018 at 04:04 PM (#5635622)
Mark Gonzales @MDGonzales 25m25 minutes ago

Javy limps into 2nd after hitting 2-run 2b

Mark Gonzales @MDGonzales 24m24 minutes ago

Baez reached for hamstring while rounding 1st. Hit a low pitch into LC.

Mark Gonzales @MDGonzales 52s52 seconds ago

Rizzo clipped by Chesny Young while trying to catch foul pop. Young hurt.


Young replaced Baez at 2b.

Cancel ST.
   117. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 08, 2018 at 05:23 PM (#5635655)
Mark Gonzales @MDGonzales 48s48 seconds ago

Javy said he’s “100 percent,” just needs to hydrate, will get scheduled day off Friday

Mark Gonzales @MDGonzales 27s27 seconds ago

Javy said he felt tightness three steps out of box, tightness resurfaced while rounding first base


ST is back on!
   118. Zonk qualifies as an invasive species Posted: March 09, 2018 at 09:06 AM (#5635861)
I'm trying to decide if I should adopt Chesny Young as my new super utility pet project to develop an irrational zonk-crush on, given that Happ seems on his way to earning the CF job.

He's got the positional flexibility... but no power and he doesn't switch-hit.
   119. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 09, 2018 at 10:07 AM (#5635904)
I went back and looked at my notes from my ST trip last year and this is what I wrote about Young: "Chesney Young played 3rd and looked terrible, no range, poor reactions." Maybe I caught him at a bad game, because he looked really good at SS the other night.

An odd thing is that the Cubs have allowed an inside the park HR 2 of the last 3 games. I don't know about the first one, but the one yesterday didn't involve any regular OFers.
   120. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 09, 2018 at 10:10 AM (#5635907)
   121. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 09, 2018 at 01:00 PM (#5636070)
Patrick Mooney @PJ_Mooney 57m57 minutes ago

Theo responds to latest Tommy La Stella Production -- a bounce house blown up in #Cubs executive parking spots: "I don't know why he put that there. He's not tall enough to bounce in it...neither is Jed though."
   122. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 12, 2018 at 01:54 PM (#5636978)
Although we knew it was coming for some time, there still was a twinge of sadness when Arrieta's deal with the Phillies broke yesterday. He's deal is probably better for the Phillies than Darvish's is for the Cubs, but that's probably because of when he signed more than anything. I'm completely fine from a baseball standpoint with Darvish over Jake - I'm pretty confident Yu will be better at least the first 2 years; maybe Jake's conditioning/lack of milage helps him later in the deal, I dunno. Jake wasn't great with the bat last year, but that's another thing that I'll miss.

I'm also really glad he didn't go to MIL or STL or WSH. If the Phillies surprise and the Cubs see them in the playoffs, so be it, but I'd rather not have to face him regularly.
   123. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 14, 2018 at 10:41 AM (#5637752)
Apply all necessary spring training stats caveats here....

....all good? Ok. Chatwood was really, really good last night against the Giants - 5 innings, 1 hit, 2 walks, and 9 strikeouts. Since he signed so early, and got a bit more $/years than any of the other SP this offseason (basically only Darvish and Arrieta got more), I'm sure there will be a temptation all season to compare him against guys like Lynn (yuck) or Cobb or whomever. Personally, I'm going to try and avoid doing that.

Happ hit his 5th HR yesterday, 3 of which have been leadoff HRs, and it was his 2nd HR off Bumgarner this ST. He's just been really great overall, and while there really isn't truly a race for CF or leadoff hitter, it's hard not to think he's pushing to see the majority of time there (I don't think he's played anywhere but CF, but I can't say with absolute certainty). I'm sure I'm overthinking this (I did the same thing last year), but considering Almora hasn't been very good and still has options, I wonder if there's any chance Almora starts in Iowa with Bourjos making the 25. Bourjos is what he is, and that's pretty much just a defensive replacement/pinch runner; so that's not at all my preference but it would be one way to relieve some of the PT questions (again, that's not really a negative for a Maddon team).

I have no idea how the backup catcher race is going, but Caratini isn't exactly demanding the job with his offense. Obviously the bigger knock on him is his defense, and there's really no way to know how the Cubs feel about any progress he's made there. In the off chance the Cubs do get crazy with Almora/Bourjos, I think that would have to be a good sign for Caratini since he'd be the much better bench bat. If I had to guess right now, I'd guess Giminez is the backup C with the Cubs wanting Caratini to focus on defense in Iowa (for real) and Almora still makes the team.

Lastly, the last bullpen slot is the only other potential question mark. Grimm has the obvious inside track since he's out of options, but he hasn't been good. On the other hand, neither has anyone else that could realistically take the spot from him (Maples, Alvarez, Butler). I'd guess Grimm makes the team, but might not last until the end of April.
   124. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: March 14, 2018 at 10:56 AM (#5637765)
I agree with you across the board, Moses. I think the Cubs signed Gimenez with the intention of putting him on the roster and Caratini needs reps, not to rot on the bench in MLB again.

And with the lack of overall track record I suppose a bad spring is enough to send Maples back to Iowa. Butler's value is as emergency starter so no reason to put him on the roster now. I see no reason to believe Alvarez won't survive waivers.

Plus, it would be cool to see an Almora/Bourjos/Happ defensive outfield in the late innings.
   125. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 14, 2018 at 11:03 AM (#5637770)
My entire post is based on the assumption of a 13 man pitching staff. I guess there's a small chance the Cubs go with a smaller pen because of the more off days this season, but I'd be surprised. In that case, Bourjos is the obvious guy to make the team.

I read elsewhere Butler is also out of options, so if he doesn't make the team he might get traded; he's probably the most likely to be claimed because he costs so little and could still have a little prospect/stuff luster while Grimm probably would clear waivers because he's making some money (though he could refuse to go to Iowa and become a FA).
   126. Red Voodooin Posted: March 14, 2018 at 12:52 PM (#5637848)
I'm definitely not complaining about it now, and I trust Theo and Jed to have made the right call no matter how it ends up, but at the beginning of the off-season if I would have seen the deals that Yu and Jake were going to get, I would have instantly picked Jake's deal without question. I'm really not so confident that Darvish will be better than Arietta in the next couple years, mostly because it just seems really difficult to project what Arietta.

I'm also a bit sad to see him go, and like Moses, glad that he didn't end up in Milwaukee or Washington.

I predict that Grimm is gone before season starts and I won't miss him.

Happ looks good so far this spring, but I'm not sure I'm buying him in an everyday CF role. I may just be saying that because I have a big man-crush on Almora and I want him to win the job by taking a step forward with the bat. That may never happen...
   127. Zonk qualifies as an invasive species Posted: March 14, 2018 at 01:32 PM (#5637890)
Thanks for the reports Moses...

Both Happ and Chatwood make me extremely happy.

I know, I know on Chatwood's early contract... but I remain as thrilled as ever that the Cubs nabbed him and I have irrationally high hopes for him. Like, unreasonably, this guy is gonna be our Chris Carpenter high hopes.
   128. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 14, 2018 at 03:58 PM (#5638031)
I really don't know how to feel about the Chatwood and Darvish contracts in light of how FA played out. I think the Darvish contract is fine - and I've said before I like him and think he'll be better than Jake at least this year; we also know Jake turned that same deal down. So if the Cubs waited, could they have gotten Darvish for less? Or gotten Jake for his Phils deal? Obviously we'll never know, and if Darvish pitches great we probably won't care. Considering there really aren't any holes to fill on the roster right now, spending more than needed on him (or Chatwood, but more on him below) probably isn't going to negatively affect this year as they're still under the tax and still will have room to add at midseason (it also won't be enough of a difference next year staying out of the tax or not for any add'l FA). I'm also on record for saying the Cubs should be throwing their money around, that doesn't mean wasting it, but it also doesn't mean overpaying everyone.

For the Chatwood deal and that level of FA, all of the guys in that price range has pluses and minuses and I could be swayed to agree with any one over another. The benefits of Chatwood also have to include his age and not costing a pick, so that should also be considered. I am not a Lynn fan, so I guess we'll see where Cobb actually lands to know how big of an overpay Chatwood might have been due to timing.

The Cubs definitely paid retail for the RPs, but appeared to get the guys they wanted/targeted.

So big picture, just repeating myself, I don't see any of these deals turning into problems - or at least bigger problems - than had the Cubs saved a little money here and there. That's not to say Darvish couldn't go all Heyward on us, but that still would be a problem if he were signed for a little less.
   129. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 14, 2018 at 05:13 PM (#5638074)
That's not to say Darvish couldn't go all Heyward on us
OK, just stop it right there. Back slowly away from the keyboard.
   130. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 14, 2018 at 05:57 PM (#5638118)
Heyward is hitting a robust .154/.267/.234 this spring so far.
   131. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 14, 2018 at 06:01 PM (#5638122)
Well, now that you mention it, I suppose you're right. Darvish might put up a similar line.
   132. Walt Davis Posted: March 14, 2018 at 10:01 PM (#5638215)
I have no idea how the backup catcher race is going, but Caratini isn't exactly demanding the job with his offense. Obviously the bigger knock on him is his defense, and there's really no way to know how the Cubs feel about any progress he's made there. In the off chance the Cubs do get crazy with Almora/Bourjos, I think that would have to be a good sign for Caratini since he'd be the much better bench bat. If I had to guess right now, I'd guess Giminez is the backup C with the Cubs wanting Caratini to focus on defense in Iowa (for real) and Almora still makes the team.

You may be under-rating Joe's 3rd catcher fetish. :-)
   133. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 15, 2018 at 11:29 AM (#5638387)
I briefly considered how the Cubs would look with 3 catchers - I guess that's the smaller pen one without Borjous - but dismissed that. Probably shouldn't have.
   134. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 15, 2018 at 12:31 PM (#5638434)
I just saw ol' Federowicz playing for someone else in ST...Houston maybe? So at least he's out.
   135. Zonk qualifies as an invasive species Posted: March 15, 2018 at 01:06 PM (#5638457)
You may be under-rating Joe's 3rd catcher fetish. :-)


Schwarber no longer counts?

I just saw ol' Federowicz playing for someone else in ST...Houston maybe? So at least he's out.


He was with SF last year, I think...
   136. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 15, 2018 at 01:09 PM (#5638462)
And didn't Steve Clevenger get blackballed for being a religious conservative white guy (the truly oppressed in our society) or some such? The options are narrow. How are Henry Blanco's knees these days?
   137. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 15, 2018 at 01:21 PM (#5638474)
Hank White was some sort coaching/video analyst role for the Cubs last year, but Davey took him to DC and now Hank is the Nats's bullpen coach.

Schwarber caught a few innings in ST last year, IIRC. Nothing this year, and I haven't seen anyone mention that as a possibility at all.
   138. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 15, 2018 at 01:22 PM (#5638476)
OK, so Hank is out...Paul Bako? Hector Villanueva?
   139. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 15, 2018 at 01:29 PM (#5638481)
David Ross is already on the payroll and in AZ - he's a spring instructor. So is John Baker. Mark Johnson is the AA manager.

The other former players around camp as instructors include Youkilis, Ryno, Ted Lilly, Jon Lieber, Kerry Wood, Sutcliffe, Dempster and Doug Dascenzo.
   140. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 15, 2018 at 01:32 PM (#5638484)
Mark Gonzales @MDGonzales 10m10 minutes ago

Crane said construction a few days ahead of schedule


Anyone been by Wrigley lately? I've only seen the overhead pics that show the dugouts and field still under construction.

Another sign of spring is upon us.
   141. Zonk qualifies as an invasive species Posted: March 15, 2018 at 01:35 PM (#5638486)
And didn't Steve Clevenger get blackballed for being a religious conservative white guy (the truly oppressed in our society) or some such? The options are narrow. How are Henry Blanco's knees these days?


I thought he got blackballed because he REALLY really sucks... I mean, if you're an "offense first" sort of catcher with a noodle arm - you probably cannot hit 227/284/324 and count on many jobs.

I would welcome back Hector Villanueva...

With Big Z gone, maybe it's safe for Michael Barrett to come back.
   142. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 15, 2018 at 01:45 PM (#5638500)
I've only seen the overhead pics that show the dugouts and field still under construction.
Probably from the same crane that said it was ahead of schedule.
   143. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 15, 2018 at 01:46 PM (#5638502)
I mean, if you're an "offense first" sort of catcher with a noodle arm - you probably cannot hit 227/284/324 and count on many jobs.
I think he was "offense first," just not that type.

With Big Z gone, maybe it's safe for Michael Barrett to come back.
I dunno, have they also gotten rid of foul balls square to the nuts?
   144. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: March 15, 2018 at 02:27 PM (#5638536)
I dunno, have they also gotten rid of foul balls square to the nuts?

Ugh. I still remember that play. Vividly.
   145. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 15, 2018 at 02:48 PM (#5638561)
Testicular torsion. Words you never wanna hear.
   146. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 15, 2018 at 02:50 PM (#5638566)
I also vividly recall the phrase "intrascrotal hematoma".
   147. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 15, 2018 at 04:01 PM (#5638630)
Cubs released Grimm today, so faster than I expected.

There isn't a clear favorite now for the 25th spot, IMO.
   148. Zonk qualifies as an invasive species Posted: March 15, 2018 at 05:59 PM (#5638716)
Cubs released Grimm today, so faster than I expected.


To the Courtney Duncan all-star bullpen he goes!

Even though it actually comes out to something like -0.2 WAR, the Cubs got 235 bullpen innings of 3.69 FIP/106 ERA+ ball out of him. That's not bad.

Another 65 IP of 3.09/177 ERA+ bullpen work from Neil Rameriz...

Edwards still in-house... let us never speak of Mike Olt again, though.

Not bad for 13 starts/84 IP (at 3.96 FIP/94 ERA+, -0.1 WAR) of Matt Garza.
   149. Zonk qualifies as an invasive species Posted: March 15, 2018 at 06:09 PM (#5638721)
Just for giggles, went back and looked at the 2014 draft (let's assume they keep him, do a QO, he declines, and still signs with Milwaukee).

I think the Brewers first rounder was protected -- in the 2nd, they took Monte Harrison, a toolsy HS OFer who is still a bit of a prospect thanks to finally getting the hang of A ball..

Some sandwich picks that still look like nice prospects, though - Justus Sheffield, Derek Fisher, Jack Flaherty, Braxton Davidson, Mike Kopech, and Forest Wall were all HS draftees and all of whom still have varying degrees of prospectdom to them.
   150. Zonk qualifies as an invasive species Posted: March 15, 2018 at 06:14 PM (#5638722)
Also - I presume the cut came today rather than later this spring because the Cubs save a bigger chunk of his 2.2 million.
   151. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 15, 2018 at 06:19 PM (#5638725)
Yes, I think I saw the Cubs owe him a little over $500k and save about $1.6mil. Wonder if there's another veteran arm out there floating around that might be ready to accept an NRI...not sure who that'd be though.
   152. Zonk qualifies as an invasive species Posted: March 15, 2018 at 06:36 PM (#5638731)
Yes, I think I saw the Cubs owe him a little over $500k and save about $1.6mil. Wonder if there's another veteran arm out there floating around that might be ready to accept an NRI...not sure who that'd be though.


Assuming MLBTR is still keeping its list current - Arismendy Alcantara remains jobless! Brett Anderson, too! And Matt Garza. And Scott Feldman. And Trevor Cahill.

In seriousness though - Holland is still out there... but I doubt he's lowered his expectations to NRI level (nor, I'm guessing, is Cobb).

Without looking up how much they sucked last year, other recognizable FA pitchers still jobless:

Clay Bucholtz, Joe Blanton, Jason Grilli, Chad Qualls, Drew Storen, Huston Street -- but the name that jumps out at me (though, he's probably also not interested in an NRI) is Trevor Rosenthal.
   153. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 15, 2018 at 07:10 PM (#5638735)
And Matt Garza. And Scott Feldman. And Trevor Cahill.

And Mike Crudale!






Sorry.
   154. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 15, 2018 at 10:33 PM (#5638790)
Sahadev Sharma thinks Anthony Bass might be the current favorite for the last pen spot:

That leaves a sleeper candidate emerging as a strong possibility to open the season in the Cubs bullpen: Anthony Bass. Bass’ career numbers in the big leagues aren’t all that pretty. However, the Cubs saw something with him they felt could help him get better results.

“They want me to let my fastball go in and up in the zone,” Bass told The Athletic. “They also want me to utilize my slider more because it’s a good weapon for me. I haven’t utilized it enough in the past. So far, that’s what I’ve been doing and had success doing it.”

When he's gotten innings in the big leagues, Bass has used his slider about 30-35 percent of the time. If given the chance in the regular season, it'll be interesting to see just how much Bass uses the pitch in 2018 and in what situations he decides to unleash it. Bass has struck out five, walked none and allowed no runs in his four innings of Cactus League work this spring. The Cubs believe if he leans more on his slider, he’ll miss more bats and significantly up his career 15.4 percent strikeout rate. The same scouting department that found a diamond in the rough with Brian Duensing last season is hoping to do the same this season.

Along with changing how he attacks hitters, Bass also said he learned a lot and grew mentally during his time in Japan in 2016. Bass didn’t get much of an opportunity to show that last season with the Texas Rangers, as they used him for just 5 2/3 innings of mostly mop-up duty. However, he believes his time overseas was an invaluable experience that will make him a better pitcher in the long run.


He also mentioned Strop might start the year on the DL, since he's been hurt or sick and hasn't pitched yet in a ST game.
   155. TomH Posted: March 16, 2018 at 08:07 AM (#5638857)
where is the prediction thread? Opening day is 13 days hence. 92 wins worked last year, so no reason I won't put that down again.
   156. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 16, 2018 at 08:42 AM (#5638868)
I mean, I get that a new approach can produce better results for a pitcher, but man, you'd think they would want to do more than a four-inning ST test run to see if it's really working before giving the guy a roster spot. I assume any ML innings he gets at first would be low leverage, but still. Games in April are just as important.
   157. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 16, 2018 at 09:50 AM (#5638895)
He'd be the 8th pitcher in the pen, so I'm sure whoever it ends up being will only be pitching mop up for an extended period.

---

I was planning on posting a prediction thread Monday, once I finished my list of predictions.
   158. Zonk qualifies as an invasive species Posted: March 16, 2018 at 09:57 AM (#5638898)
Based on his career, Bass getting his K rate up beyond atrocious would only seem to fix part of the problem - the lack of walks is probably more promising than the Ks.

I'm always suspicious of these "finds" - it's spring and spring means it's a necessity that we have to have at least one or two of these "4A journeyman returns from wherever (Japan/Korea/Mexico/Indie Leagues/etc); has rediscovered himself thanks to coaching!"; nothing against the writer or the Cubs on this, just saying we always get a couple of these.

We'll see... maybe... relievers are weird and stupid anyway, so who knows. I think I'd still prefer the Cubs take a run at either Holland (who probably still wants too much money AND wants to close) or Rosenthal (who might be more gettable) - although, at this point, neither would likely be ready for opening day.
   159. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 16, 2018 at 10:11 AM (#5638909)
Yeah, Rosenthal seems like he would be a great addition to the pen - turns 28 in May, lots of Ks, really only one bad year (2016) in his career. What's his issue? Is he just asking for too much (Borasitis)?
   160. Zonk qualifies as an invasive species Posted: March 16, 2018 at 10:34 AM (#5638927)
Yeah, Rosenthal seems like he would be a great addition to the pen - turns 28 in May, lots of Ks, really only one bad year (2016) in his career. What's his issue? Is he just asking for too much (Borasitis)?


I think it's that and googling around a bit, it sounds like he, too, wants to be a closer... so I guess maybe he'd be as tough to sign with the Cubs committing to Morrow in the 9th as Holland.

Still, both those guys just gotta face reality. We're now at the back-half of March - just saw on rotoworld that the Rangers, one of the few teams with an open closer role - contender or not - won't be pursuing Holland because they don't want to shed the pick (I keep coming back to the idea that the new compensation rules are far less punitive, so I don't understand why so many teams are shying away from QO FAs... I mean, it's still a pick, but if I'm interpreting right, for the Rangers - that would be a 3rd rounder. Even rebuilding, if Holland is halfway decent - he ought to be flippable at the deadline for more than the equivalent of a 3rd rounder).

Looking at some bullpen depth charts - there are a lot more unsettled/committee 9th inning teams that I thought. There's still Arizona and the Angels who seem to be leaning on unproven, in-house gaggles -- though, I think Arizona likes Bradley a lot (and he had a really nice year as a 24 yo setup man).

I'm not sure what the Angels are thinking -- sounds like they're looking at a couple journeymen (ex-Cub Blake Parker and Jim Johnson) or longtime 'prospect closer of the future because bloodlines' Cam Bedrosian, who had a nice 2016 but a meh 2017.

That's before getting into the rebuilders who are going with various forms of "why not?"

Regardless, though - Morrow has always had health issues and this will be his first go at being "the guy" in the 9th anyway, so I'm not really seeing why either wouldn't say "#### it, sure, Cubs - promise I get Next, gimme a couple million, and maybe I get a ring too".... not that I know whether the Cubs have even reached out.
   161. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 16, 2018 at 10:54 AM (#5638945)
I am fine with the Cubs doing everything they can to stay under the tax this year, assuming it means they're planning to over next year with whatever FA signing they make. It also makes sense that they'd want to save some room under the tax for a possible midseason acquisition; we obviously don't know what that need could be, because that need is going to arise either due to injury or unexpected ineffectiveness. The most likely need would be a bullpen arm, but it's hard to say with any confidence that adding another guy now like Holland or Rosenthal would lessen the risk of that being a need at midseason or not. Cot's thinks the Cubs have about $13mil to the tax (they don't have the actuals included for the pre-arb players but have estimates that on average look to be about right or the actuals for the player benefit piece); if Gimenez or Boujos make the team, that takes a mil or so each off (both of their minor league deals were for something over a mil to 2 mil if they're on the team, so that less Caratini's minimum salary).

Will Holland or Rosenthal end up agreeing to a 1 year Lucroy level deal? If so, is $6mil enough to add an impact type player at the deadline? Obviously the lack of talent on the farm might lessen how big of an impact player the Cubs would even be able to acquire; then again JD Martinez was pretty close to free last year, no?
   162. Zonk qualifies as an invasive species Posted: March 16, 2018 at 11:06 AM (#5638956)
Will Holland or Rosenthal end up agreeing to a 1 year Lucroy level deal? If so, is $6mil enough to add an impact type player at the deadline? Obviously the lack of talent on the farm might lessen how big of an impact player the Cubs would even be able to acquire; then again JD Martinez was pretty close to free last year, no?


That's the thing - I have a really hard time seeing where the Cubs would be able to swing an impact acquisition (unless it means someone like Schwarber/Happ/etc leaving in the deal). I suppose there are also salary sheds to be had - but salary sheds are usually salary sheds for a reason, so that doesn't excite me much.

I say spend it now - we'll deal with the tax impact at the deadline when we get there... and let's just hope we don't get "there". The Cubs are set everywhere but the bullpen, so if we need an SP or someone in the field, we're probably talking catastrophic injury and then it's all a jumble anyway.

The most likely need at the deadline is going to be a reliever... There are two good ones to be had now. Just toss whatever at one of them now and be done.... and at this point, it REALLY shouldn't take more than 3-4-5 mil for Rosenthal. Maybe Holland wants more, but I'm not even sure at this point he can get it anywhere.
   163. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: March 16, 2018 at 11:25 AM (#5638977)
Relievers are the position group which actually experienced salary inflation this offseason. Even at this late hour I'm not sure Rosenthal or Holland are willing to take that kind of a deal.
   164. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 16, 2018 at 12:59 PM (#5639061)
I'm sure that's what they're thinking by not signing yet - especially Holland. Rosenthal was DFA'd, so is a good comp for him what Rondon got (2/$8.5mil)? There's actually quite a few similarities between them - former closers, some struggles and injuries, and both DFA'd before their last year of arb. Rosenthal is a couple of years younger.
   165. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 16, 2018 at 01:02 PM (#5639062)
Looks like someone (coughzonkcough) needs to work on their google skills. First hit:

Rosenthal, 27, blew out his elbow and underwent Tommy John surgery in August. He is expected to miss most, if not all, of the 2018 season. Before the injury this year he saved 11 games with a 3.40 ERA and 76 strikeouts in 46 2/3 innings. He has a career 2.99 ERA and 121 saves in parts of six big league seasons.


So while he might make some sense, it would be a 2019 move more than a 2018 one. So I could see not wanting to sign him with the current tax level the Cubs are at.
   166. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 16, 2018 at 01:28 PM (#5639075)
Looks like someone (coughzonkcough) needs to work on their google skills. First hit:
What, you expect us to actually, like, read stuff?
   167. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 16, 2018 at 01:47 PM (#5639083)
Definitely not you. What defunct search engine does zonk use though? Ask Jeeves?
   168. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: March 16, 2018 at 02:07 PM (#5639092)
I looked him up on Graduates.com.
   169. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 16, 2018 at 03:05 PM (#5639123)
Alta Vista.
   170. Zonk qualifies as an invasive species Posted: March 16, 2018 at 03:23 PM (#5639127)
Definitely not you. What defunct search engine does zonk use though? Ask Jeeves?


readheadlineswithoutdates.com

   171. Zonk qualifies as an invasive species Posted: March 16, 2018 at 03:24 PM (#5639129)
And hey - I said Rosenthal wouldn't be ready for the start of the season if he signed now

/SBB
   172. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 18, 2018 at 01:01 PM (#5639540)
Grimm to KC, where all ex-Cubs seem to go these days.
   173. Walt Davis Posted: March 18, 2018 at 08:07 PM (#5639610)
Bass has struck out five, walked none and allowed no runs in his four innings of Cactus League work this spring.

Earlier in the offseason, that would have gotten him 2/$13. :-)

Any of Blanton, Grilli, Qualls, Storen works just fine in the #6-8 pen slots ... but then so would almost anybody so not worth paying them real money to do it. Blanton might be worth a bit of a gamble, having had good seasons in 2015-16 and he had just one substantial problem last year -- HRs, who would have guessed? With his SP background and more than 1 IP per relief appearance, he's probably as reliable as you can get for #6-8 with the potential of delivering better value.

There are a number of relievers out there on minors contracts and lots of them will be available in the next couple of weeks. The only name I noticed that has some potential to be more than back-end was Clippard .

It's the Strop news tidbit that has me worried. If it's just a couple of weeks, no biggie, but having one more real reliever to plug in would be nice.

On back-up C front, Carlos Ruiz is still out there (per MLBTR). He'll be 39 but looks fine as a backup, no idea if he's healthy. Geovany Soto is also still out there but given how little PT he's had the last two years, I assume he's been hurt.
   174. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 18, 2018 at 10:20 PM (#5639635)
There is exactly a 0.0% chance the Cubs sign a veteran backup catcher to make the team ahead of Giminez. I mean, I guess both him and caratini can get hurt this last week of ST.
   175. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 19, 2018 at 12:22 AM (#5639649)
Do we have any idea if they plan to use Gimenez in a way that addresses both the backup C and last-guy-in-the-bullpen questions?
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