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— Cubs Baseball for Thinking Fans

Monday, October 23, 2017

Looking to next year

For me at least, it’s time to start thinking about how the Cubs can get back on track in 2018.

So what is needed this off-season? I won’t say much about particular options, and instead lay out in order what I think are top issues:

1. A couple of starting pitchers. The Cubs have a solid core of Hendricks, Quintana and Lester to amend. Jake Arrieta will be on the free-agent market, where he may or may not be a good buy. John Lackey’s contract is up as well, and he will likely retire. Together that’s 2.9 WAR in 338 IP walking out the door. We can expect Epstein/Hoyer to keep on doing their thing in the off-season (“always be signing hard-luck starting pitchers”) but they need a couple of legit rotation locks.
2. Some major infrastructural work on the bullpen. I think people tend to exaggerate it, but certainly the bullpen has not been a strength the last couple of years, and two of the better and more reliable relievers (Davis and Duensing) are eligible for free agency. That leaves Strop, Rondon, Edwards and Montgomery under control. Wilson and Grimm are both arb-eligible, and I think there is a very good chance both will be cut loose. So yeah, the bullpen is going to need some substantial shoring up. Davis is probably the top reliever in the FA pool, and it will be costly and risky to retain him on a multiyear basis, so I think there is a very strong chance that we will lose our closer. I think the Cubs will wisely use a more holistic approach here, resisting big names and multi-year deals.
3. Outfield improvement. Cubs outfielders ranked 14th in MLB in WAR, at 7.2. That’s not a good number, and it includes Ian Happ on top of that list with 1.8, including his infield work. An outfield consisting of the 2017 versions of Schwarber/Happ/Jay/Almora/Heyward is possibly adequate and probably not very good, but Schwarber and Happ could (should?) improve. It would be nice to have a legit stud in the outfield, but FA options look expensive and/or risky.
4. Second catcher. This doesn’t seem like that big a deal, but the last few years the Cubs have had some very competent second catchers who had significant impact. The emergence of Willson Contreras as a legit star has been great, but I would not be surprised to see a bit of a sophomore slump despite his prodigious talent blooming before our eyes. Both Alex Ávila and Rene Rivera are eligible for free agency. I like Ávila a lot as a backup but I’m guessing he’ll be picked up for full-time duty somewhere, in a multiyear deal. Rene Rivera hit great for the Cubs in very limited duty, but he’s really not much of a hitter, and it would be nice to have a lefty hitter behind Contreras (no, I do not expect Schwarber to fill this role beyond emergency duty). Victor Caratini is a possibility, but I don’t get the impression that the Cubs are impressed.

The infield is probably set, unless the Cubs make a surprising trade of Baez, Russell or Happ for a star player. I could see the right big trade happening involving one of these players, but I don’t expect it.

So clearly, the roster has holes. I think the Cubs are in a fairly challenging situation here, trying to achieve dominant status in the NL Central for the fourth straight year with some significant needs to be met. I think additional decline in 2018 is a definite possibility if they don’t make some really smart moves. But these are not extraordinary challenges: if they’re the perennial winners we all want them to be, management has to be up to this task.

Andere Richtingen Posted: October 23, 2017 at 02:04 PM | 185 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 23, 2017 at 05:39 PM (#5560630)
Some initial thoughts/questions/concerns about each of these, some of which I'm sure I've posted in other threads but this is a good place to combine all my thoughts.

1. Best case is Otani, but that's true of every single team. If the Cubs get him, it most likely makes the entire offseason a success no matter what else happens afterwards. You have to think they'll at least make an effort to keep Arrieta, though it's hard to know how high they'd go/how much he will get. I don't think any of the other usual big money teams that would be chasing him hard, so will that depress the total amount of his deal? I think in a perfect world I'd rather sign Darvish over Jake, taking emotions out of it, but there's questions about him too. Then the next level down would be someone like Tanaka, assuming he opts out. After those 3, it's trust your scouting and hope you can find another Hammel or Lackey type. With Verlander now in Houston, I can't think of an obvious contract dump type worth chasing, but I'm surely forgetting about someone. They also need to think about depth starters again, because they still don't really have any and I'd rather not have Montgomery as a starter (I like him in the swing role though). I want: Otani/Darvish.

2. There's likely to be changes as a result of the new pitching coach. I disagree and think both Grimm and Wilson will be back; Grimm won't get that much and the Cubs gave up a decent enough package for Wilson that I think they'd be interested in trying to straighten him out. He might be a bit more expensive than you'd like since he's got the SAVES, but I think it would be a mistake to cut him loose (especially if that part is true in the story I linked to on the Bosio firing). I wouldn't be surprised to see them non-tender Rondon though; he'll cost a little more too and I think they're less convinced he's fixable. Duensing probably would be cheap, so I wouldn't be opposed to him resigning. I have talked myself into wanting them to sign Davis, and even am comfortable with the Melancon level contract (IIRC, 4t/$60ish mil). I don't want to trade another young piece for an established guy, and I do think the Cubs will want one. Prior to the playoffs, I could have been talked into them letting CJ have that role next year, now not so much. They really need to find their Morrow type. A couple of the AAA guys might be better suited to relieving (Zaztryzny or Mills, maybe even Butler) and someone like Maples is worth giving a shot. They'll probably spend some money here, but it's pretty easy to go wrong paying middle relief.

3. Seems like another year where they mix and match and hope something sticks better. Between Heyward/Schwarber/Happ/Almora you've got 4 guys that could maybe start/improve (well, not Heyward on improving, but he'll be there), and no obvious guy in the AAA to move up. I'm probably ok with another Jay type, but preferably one who can actually play CF.

4. I think the concerns with Caratini were probably more related to it being Willson's first year as a FT catcher and Caratini just not spending enough time working with the big league pitchers in ST. I think I'd be disappointed if he wasn't the backup C (unless of course he has trade value and brings back something nice), but also can see the argument for going veteran backup type. I know Avila had a better year, but I really don't know if he'll get starting offers and it'd be nice to have him back; so, not a priority for him, but worth keeping close. I could also live with Rivera, but yeah, it'd be nice to have a catcher that can hit a little bit.

I really don't think we'll see the Cubs make a trade that involves Schwarber/Happ/Baez/Russell unless there's a stunning trade for someone like Archer. I don't think that's likely though. The Cubs have plenty of money to spend, but I also can see the argument for not spending too much long term so they can stay players in next year's FA class (and yes, I'm daydreaming about Harper).
   2. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 23, 2017 at 05:51 PM (#5560643)
I mean, if Heyward improves as much next year as he did 2017 over 2016, he's back to a 102 OPS+...a guy can dream, right?
   3. Brian C Posted: October 23, 2017 at 05:53 PM (#5560647)
I agree that Justin Wilson is a near-lock to return. He had a rough couple months but has been consistently good in the past, and it would be foolish to give up on him so quickly.

I think there will be a big trade this offseason that none of us saw coming.
   4. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 23, 2017 at 05:59 PM (#5560650)
I think there will be a big trade this offseason that none of us saw coming.

I think you just nullified that possibility, didn't you?
   5. Brian C Posted: October 23, 2017 at 06:02 PM (#5560654)
I think you just nullified that possibility, didn't you?

Um ... I guess what I meant is, the particulars are what we didn't see coming.
   6. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 23, 2017 at 06:17 PM (#5560668)
I think there will be a big trade this offseason that none of us saw coming.

There's no way they're trading any of Bryant/Rizzo/Contreras/Lester/Hendricks/Quintana. There aren't any obvious challenge trade possibilities and/or upcoming contract expirations that would suggest a move. I think a bunch of us fans would love to dump Heyward, but you're not getting anything as good as him back. So that just leaves the Schwarber/Happ/Baez/Russell (I guess you can add Almora there, but he's probably a step down) group. Of the 4, Schwarber is the most "expendable" and/or replaceable but also has the lowest trade value; moving any of the other 3 (4, if you want to count Almora) is trading from depth/value, so the return would have to be significant. The obvious target is another young stud pitcher (a la Archer), but I don't know that any one of their guys on their own is enough to get you someone like him and I really am not that interested in the next level down types or trading 2 of those guys in the same deal (unless a replacement for one is also coming back).

Maybe there's some disgruntled player out there we don't know wants to move/is available. So yeah, if something happens, I can't imagine the particulars at this point.
   7. Andere Richtingen Posted: October 23, 2017 at 07:47 PM (#5560687)
I think a trade from Moses' second list is very possible. Likely, I would not say that.

Wilson is up for arbitration this year, and he made $2.75M last year. His overall numbers were good: 3.41 ERA, and while his BB rate doubled, his K rate took a big jump as well. Now, I have defended Wilson here in the past and will continue to do so, but I think plopping down $4-5M on him is going to be a tough thing for the Cubs to swallow.

The story with Grimm is not dissimilar: it's one thing to put up with the inconsistency, it's another to pay him a million and a half.

I am still guessing one or the other is gone. A lot of it depends on whether they re-sign Davis. Or another FA reliever. I do not support the idea of the Cubs signing Davis for Melancon's contract.
   8. Zonk Tormundbane Posted: October 23, 2017 at 10:51 PM (#5560730)
I doubt the Cubs look too hard for an OF - and I'm fine with schwarber -almora-Heyward-happ, mostly because no ones taking Heyward off our hands. Whoever the modern day Matt Diaz or johny Gomes is - a corner lefty masher - would be nice, but with Bryant, Contreras, and Baez/Russell it's not a necessity.

The Cubs could use a true SS and a 3rd catcher to stash at Iowa, but summers in Des Moines waiting on an injury is February nri stuff.

its all pitching, I think. And I'll add to the non-surprise if someone like Baez, schwarbs, or happ gets moved for it.
   9. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: October 24, 2017 at 08:29 AM (#5560770)
I think people tend to exaggerate it, but certainly the bullpen has not been a strength the last couple of years,

Oddly enough, the bullpen was the team's strength in the disappointing first half of the year. Then the rotation and offense picked it up after the break. And Edwards was less effective. And Koji melted down. And the Justin Wilson fix didn't fix. And even Wade Davis was less effective. But yeah, on the whole the bullpen has been de-emphasized by the club.

The infield is probably set, unless the Cubs make a surprising trade of Baez, Russell or Happ

I wouldn't be too surprised to see them trade Happ. Between him and Schwarber, I reckon they'll trade him or Scwarber for pitching this off-season. Schwarber's the more obvious guy to trade, but it could also be Happ. I know they like their depth of position players, but they also have a lack of depth at pitching they need to address. And at this point, they can probably get more in return for Happ than they can for Schwarber.
   10. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: October 24, 2017 at 08:39 AM (#5560772)
Cubs outfielders ranked 14th in MLB in WAR, at 7.2. That’s not a good number

B-ref lists them with a WAA of -0.5, 17th in all baseball. Ranks for playoff teams:
2. NYY 8.6
4. HOU 6.4
5. BOX 4.5
9. MIN 2.6
10. LAD 1.5
11. ARI 1.2
13. DCN 0.3 (that's with Eaton and Harper losing lots of time to injury)
16. CLE -0.2
17. CHC -0.5
19. COL -1.5

Their worst score is LF, -1.4, in 23rd place.
CF is 0.2 in 21st place.
RF is 0.7, which is tied for 11th.

But they rank 2nd in catching (2.2 WAA), 3rd at first base (2.2 WAA), 4th at third base (3.6 WAA, that position is apparently loaded in MLB), 7th at short (1.5 WAA), and 16th at second base (0.2 WAA). Despite the OF, their position players rank 4th overall (9.1).

Starting pitching ranks 12th (2.4 WAA) and bullpen 13th (0.5). Pitching overall ranks 11th (2.7 WAA - don't ask me why bullpen and rotation don't add up to this).

The team overall ranks 7th (11.8).

   11. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 24, 2017 at 09:22 AM (#5560788)
Wilson is up for arbitration this year, and he made $2.75M last year. His overall numbers were good: 3.41 ERA, and while his BB rate doubled, his K rate took a big jump as well. Now, I have defended Wilson here in the past and will continue to do so, but I think plopping down $4-5M on him is going to be a tough thing for the Cubs to swallow.

To reach the same payroll as this past season, the Cubs need to spend about $70mil. Cot's projects their arb awards at $35mil. Last year the Cubs gave Koji $6mil, year before they gave Cahill $5mil, last year Rondon got $5.8mil in arb, I don't think that's a big commitment for them whatsoever (and absolutely shouldn't be). If they really think his issues can be fixed, that's a much cheaper option than signing another FA. I'll take my comment a step further and say I'll be shocked if he's non-tendered.

The story with Grimm is not dissimilar: it's one thing to put up with the inconsistency, it's another to pay him a million and a half.

Cubs took a flier on Duensing at $2mil last year, Richard got $2mil the year before. $2mil is practically pocket change, so the question on him is whether they think the new pitching coach can straighten him out. Considering he got so many chances, I feel like they like him and would take a risk at that amount. If they have to DFA him during the season, that money shouldn't matter.

Now the reason I think Rondon is gone is because the combo of the injuries and the fact that he isn't trusted at all (being left off the NLDS roster) plus he's more expensive than Wilson (and righthanded) means he's just more expendable. So the argument for Wilson is lefty, cheaper than Rondon, but also wasn't trusted late.
   12. Walt Davis Posted: October 24, 2017 at 09:34 PM (#5561380)
Whether the Cubs really have redundancy among position players is largely a function of whether Zobrist will be useful from here on out. He's turning 37 and managed to scramble above replacement-level but not by much. If he's done, then it's 6 guys for 5 positions which is not redundancy in my book. I seriously doubt they're ready to cut bait on Zo yet but I also think they know the end is near and that they don't really have that much depth to seriously entertain a trade. Of course if they turn around and sign JD Martinez or something, then things change substantially.

I hope Joe's reluctance to use Happ in the postseason isn't reflective of the underlying organizational belief in him.

I have a hard time seeing bringing back Rondon at that price -- he's due at least some raise in arb so we're talking $6.5 - 7 M and that's not good value for a borderline reliever. I don't think he'd get that on the open market either so possibly a non-tender then re-sign at $4-5 M is doable. I agree Wilson is back. Not that I have any useful ideas about how to fix the bullpen. I think we should probably solve one issue by putting Monty in the rotation.

There does seem a lot of money to spend this year but we have to keep in mind that 2019-20 arb salaries will be taking a bigger bite so they can't go hog wild on long-term deals out of that $40-50 M they might have to spend this offseason. The only two FAs for 2018-19 are Rondon and Wilson so that's not much savings, more than eaten up by A2 raises to Bryant, Russell and Hendricks plus Javy, Schwarber, Monty, Edwards entering A1. This year's arb might be $35 M (that actually looks a bit high to me) but the next year might well be $55-60. And of course if we have any hope at Harper, we may not be able to sign anybody big this offseason ... or we go flying by the lux tax for a year or two before Lester comes off. If my guesstimates are close, that would seem to rule out a Melancon-type deal for Davis ... OK, not rule it out, make it a less appealing way to spend the money.

Rough payroll guesstimates starting with where Cots has us now (guaranteed plus arb plus ancillary ... with obvious options going foward):

2018 $137
2019 $150 ($72 guaranteed plus $55 arb plus $16 options on Q and Strop plus $7 min)
2020 $160 ($43 guaranteed plus $85 arb plus $25 options on Q and Rizzo plus $7 min)

($85 arb is just a WAG, I didn't do it in any detail ... but in addition to raises, Willson and Almora enter arb that year).

The starting staff is scheduled to fall apart after 2020 -- Q, Hendricks and probably Lester become FA. 2021 is probably the last year of the position player core: Bryant, Russell, Baez, Rizzo, Schwarber all scheduled for FA (along with Monty). No time for Theo to rest on his laurels.

   13. Walt Davis Posted: October 25, 2017 at 01:26 AM (#5561609)
Re-reading my brilliant post, it's struck me how rare something like this must be. Without adding a single player, the Cubs could trot out the following for the next 4 seasons:

C Contreras
1B Rizzo
2B Baez
SS Russell
3B Bryant
LF Schwarber
CF Almora
RF Heyward
UT Happ

They may not want to but the Cubs don't have to replace a starting position player over the next 4 years and, other than Heyward, that actually looks pretty solid ... and we can sub in Happ for Heyward.

And at the end of those 4 years, the oldest players will be Rizzo and Heyward at 31. It's not like one of those spots is given over to a Pujols type.

Can any post-FA team match that?

We've also got the 3 SPs for 3 more years (and Zo for two).

That's not necessarily great of course -- it's a bit like those solid but mediocre teams that have an average player everywhere so there's no easy/obvious way or need to upgrade. But it's definitely an indicator of a plan that has gone, ummm, according to plan.
   14. Walt Davis Posted: October 25, 2017 at 02:06 AM (#5561615)
My thoughts on potential buyouts ...

Russell strikes me as the obvious target and they might get him fairly cheaply if they move before he breaks out as a hitter. Maybe if you move now, you get him at a defense-first SS price then if he does break out (which I still think he will though probably not to the levels I'd hoped for), it's gravy. I'm not sure the Cubs want to go quite that long but something similar to Andrus (in 2017 $) -- he got a 3/$14 arb buyout then, a year later, they swooped in with an 8/$120 extension. Takes him through age 33. Maybe Russell and the Cubs would both be OK with 8 years now (4 arb 2, 4 FA) making him a FA after age 31 season. If it's priced right, all he has to do is remain good defensively or become good offensively (while regressing defensively) with the Cubs big winners if he's both. I'm think the offense may have stalled sufficiently that he'll appreciate the long-term security and $150 M (give or take).

Baez -- I guess not until he establishes that he can be a consistent, full-time player. But this is when the Indians moved on Jose Ramirez getting his last pre-arb year, 3 arb years and first FA year for about $25 M plus 2 options totalling $24 M. That would take Javy through age 29 to 31.

Bryant -- Gobs and gobs and bogs of money. The shenanigans make the timing tough -- FA entering his age 30 season, he gets only one chance at the big contract. Maybe you can talk him into buying out 2 FA years but otherwise you're just gonna sign him through age 35-36-37. Maybe a Stanton-style with an opt-out after age 31.

Schwarber -- not really worth thinking about until he puts up a full, good year.
Almora -- much too early.

Leaving Contreras. That's a tough one. He's already 25, and under control through age 30, and I think he'll miss being an arb 2. OK, I guess that's not tough, he doesn't get a long-term buyout. Happy to buy out his control years; happy to add options on top of that (he shouldn't take them). But good as he's been, I think there's no rush on the Cubs' part or his part. Maybe revisit in a couple of years if he keeps it up and after we've seen his first arb award. (I was thinking it would be tough due to lack of comps.) Jeepers, he's been good -- nearly 6 WAR in less than 1.5 seasons of full-time C PT.

Oh yeah, Hendricks. Stuff vs results on his projections. I'm guessing that neither party is much interested although I suspect there's a price reasonable to both sides where he'll trade off 1 FA year for security. He's scheduled for FA after his age 30 season.

Note, I don't really expect the Cubs to make a major push at all of these guys this offseason, possibly not any of them. Just speculating on what it might take right now. If you think the Cubs would wait at least one more year then adjust accordingly with the Cubs in a better bargaining position if the player struggles but worse if he's consistent, much worse if he's good. Also buyouts of all/part of a player's arb period can probably always be had, this is about potentially buying out FA years.
   15. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 25, 2017 at 10:45 AM (#5561732)
Lots of good thoughts, Walt.

I hope Joe's reluctance to use Happ in the postseason isn't reflective of the underlying organizational belief in him.

I hope so, too. Or, if it is, then this is the offseason to trade him, but I sure hope that's not what they're thinking.

we go flying by the lux tax for a year or two before Lester comes off.

I'd be a little disappointed if the Cubs treat the tax level as a hard cap, and they should be pocketing plenty of extra money (park remodel complete, new TV deals, sponsorships galore) by then a year or two here or there shouldn't make them blink.

If nothing else, seeing some of those numbers laid out really reinforces how much of a jackpot it would be to land Otani.

Can any post-FA team match that?

I have a feeling the Astros and Dodgers are close, and maybe the Red Sox too. But I don't think any team can fully stock their top 9 spots like that.

That's not necessarily great of course -- it's a bit like those solid but mediocre teams that have an average player everywhere so there's no easy/obvious way or need to upgrade. But it's definitely an indicator of a plan that has gone, ummm, according to plan.

It's also easy to look at that group and still see plenty of room for improvement. And lazily, you could also just assume improvement that might not be coming. Seeing it laid out like that though does really make me hope there isn't a trade coming for any of those guys. It also hints at the idea that they could really use a SP to bust out either this year or next to help ease some payroll constraints. Or Otani.

Note, I don't really expect the Cubs to make a major push at all of these guys this offseason, possibly not any of them. Just speculating on what it might take right now. If you think the Cubs would wait at least one more year then adjust accordingly with the Cubs in a better bargaining position if the player struggles but worse if he's consistent, much worse if he's good. Also buyouts of all/part of a player's arb period can probably always be had, this is about potentially buying out FA years.

I feel like there was talk last offseason that the Cubs had started approaching guys - for sure Bryant and Russell, maybe also Contreras and Schwarber - but didn't have any taker yet. I don't see anyway Bryant signs an extension unless they basically pay FA prices before arb is up. Russell might take that Andrus deal, and could be young enough to still get a decent FA payday. I'd expect them to try again with everyone this offseason.
   16. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 25, 2017 at 11:15 AM (#5561774)
Interesting quote section about pitching from another piece linked on the main page:

Epstein also dismissed Maddon’s theory that Mike Montgomery could grow into a double-digit winner in the rotation, leaving him as a very useful lefty swingman, but not the winning Powerball ticket the Cubs once hoped for, or lightning striking twice the way it did with Arrieta.

“In a typical Mike Montgomery year, he’ll probably come to spring training as a starter, stretch out as a starter,” Epstein said. “Barring something unusual in spring training, like extreme performance or injuries somewhere, he’ll probably start the year in the bullpen and he’ll pitch well out of the bullpen, the way he did this year.

“And then at the end of the regular season, when you look up, he’ll have somewhere between 10 and 20 starts. And you’ll say: ‘Wow, Mike Montgomery was really valuable this year.’”

Epstein signaled that Jen-Ho Tseng, the organization’s minor league pitcher of the year, will likely begin next season among the top three depth starters at Triple-A Iowa, and the industry sees his ceiling as a back-of-the-rotation guy in the big leagues.


That would seem to indicate the Cubs clearly intend on adding 2 SP this offseason, with Montgomery as the 6th guy and maybe Tseng as 7th. Haven't really seen them say anything about Butler since he went back down or Mills (didn't realize he was hurt this year and only threw 28 innings), but they are clearly further down the depth chart (like I've wondered before, would either of them take to relieving?).

Theo also downplays signing a big FA, to an extent:

“You don’t want to make a living or make a habit out of trying to solve your problems with high-priced pitching free agents,” Epstein said, “because over the long run, there’s just so much risk involved. It can really hamstring your organization.

“But we have a lot of players who have reasonable salaries who contribute an awful lot that might put us in a position to consider it going forward in the future.

“So I wouldn’t rule it out completely, and I wouldn’t rule it in. I would just say it’s not our preferred method. We prefer to make a small deal and find Jake Arrieta, but you can’t do that every year, either. That’s tough.”
   17. Zonk Tormundbane Posted: October 25, 2017 at 11:25 AM (#5561790)
I know targeting someone from the Rays rotation has long been fashionable -- Archer probably remains out of reach (unless the Cubs are willing to part with Schwarbs/Baez/Happ/etc + more). Odorizzi's stock may have fallen a bit - and with another year of team control now gone by, maybe he's within reach. The Cubs long lusted after Cobb, but he finally got healthy and had a nice year - so he's no longer really available for a few lottery tickets.

However.... thoughts on another former Ray?

Matt Moore had an absolutely awful year in SF. He's still got reasonable team options this offseason and next (9 mil and 11 mil) - but he was so bad that I gotta think there's at least some chance the Giants just cut bait.

Do we have to wait for an actual name before we start with the maybe [PITCHING COACH] can fix him?
   18. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 25, 2017 at 11:41 AM (#5561812)
Hickey interviewed on Monday, I think. I'm surprised he hasn't been officially hired yet (or is there a moratorium on that during the World Series?). I know other teams wanted him, too, but everyone seemed to think that was an inevitability (maybe it still is, but he's doing the round of interviews).
   19. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 25, 2017 at 03:27 PM (#5562029)
The Cubs long lusted after Cobb, but he finally got healthy and had a nice year - so he's no longer really available for a few lottery tickets.

Missed this before, but he's a FA, so he just costs money. I guess we have a good chance seeing the Cubs pursue him. What would someone like him go for on the FA market? 3/4 years, $15mil per? Or more? The Mike Leake deal?
   20. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: October 25, 2017 at 04:02 PM (#5562073)
Missed this before, but he's a FA, so he just costs money. I guess we have a good chance seeing the Cubs pursue him. What would someone like him go for on the FA market? 3/4 years, $15mil per?

John Lackey just completed a deal worth $16 million a year. So I'm guessing Cobb goes for more than that.

   21. Walt Davis Posted: October 25, 2017 at 09:41 PM (#5562321)
I have a feeling the Astros and Dodgers are close, and maybe the Red Sox too.

I checked and not really. Obviously there are elements but some key differences.

1. The Astros have a set of key older players signed for another 1-3 years -- Verlander, McCann, Gurriel. Meanwhile Keuchel has just one pre-FA year left, Altuve two and Springer three -- they were all in the system before Luhnow took over. Correa and McCullers do have 4 years left and Bregman five -- and of course one Correa is likely worth at least Baez and Russell combined -- so they're in good shape but clearly older than the Cubs and with key players leaving earlier.

2. The Dodgers are possibly similar in terms of holding onto a core but that's partly reliant on long-term FA/extension contracts to Kershaw (opt out), Turner and Jansen and that weird Maeda contract. But sure, Seager (4 years), Taylor, Bellinger, Barnes are there for a long time. Puig has two, Grandal one, they don't really have a CF (OK, not clear the Cubs do either) plus they still have lots of old vet money to dole out over the next couple of years.

3. I hadn't looked at the Red Sox earlier. The 4 B's are around but mostly not as long (Bogaerts 2, Bradley 3, Mookie 3, Benintendi 5). Devers is obviously around. Beyond that they've got holes at C, 1B, DH (soon), plus 4 years of an aging Pedroia. On the SP side, Price has a long way to go but Sale and Porcello are down to 2 years ... E-Rod looks to me like he'll be super-2 this year although b-r doesn't list him that way, anyway 4 years left.

Not to say they're in a worse position than the Cubs just that they aren't particularly close to the situation of having an entire lineup (and a couple of key pitchers) in their prime ages for the next 3-4 years. The Astros are probably even less committed to long-term expensive vet FAs than even the Cubs are (Lester and Heyward) but are currently a bit older and lose more key players sooner. The Red Sox are kinda similar on expensive vets as the Cubs but have some oldies/non-entities in their lineup. The Dodgers are just older overall and more expensive.

It's also easy to look at that group and still see plenty of room for improvement. And lazily, you could also just assume improvement that might not be coming.

For sure and obviously things won't work out rosily for everybody. That's the risk of stagnation and hopefully Theo's crystal ball is good enough that he'll know who to trade high on and who to keep.

On Monty: I expect the Cubs to treat him the way Theo says but I'm not sure that's the best plan. But I guess they've already shown they like the Travis Wood type and he's probably a better version of that and that's certainly got value in today's game. But if that's the way they saw him last offseason, I'm even more annoyed/puzzled about not exercising Hammel's option. I thought that was about "we don't expect you to start for us so we'll be good guys and let you go." Maybe it was more "we know you can get more years elsewhere so we'll be good guys."

John Lackey just completed a deal worth $16 million a year. So I'm guessing Cobb goes for more than that.

Cobb certainly gets more years. Guys like Lackey are interesting to price. Nobody wants them long-term and you know he will turn into a pumpkin sometime soon ... but you also knew he was an excellent bet for 350 innings of at least 4th-5th starter and probably at least some significant stretches better than that. So you should be willing to pay a bit of a premium in AAV as long as the term is short. (In OOTP or Mogul, I used to do that all the time -- there was always some old fart who had been great, was probably still good-great and since I had money to burn I'd just sign him for 1/$25-30.

Cobb's almost the metaphysical opposite. He missed almost two full seasons and this was his first year over 170 innings, only 2nd year over 25 starts. His K/9 (so far) is down 1.5-2 since the injury. He's more Francisco Liriano than Mike Leake or Ian Kennedy much less Samardzija -- Liriano just finished a 3/$39 contract. Or Ubaldo Jimenez (finished 4/$50). Ervin Santana had somewhat similar results but is mega-durable and he got 4/$55 two years ago.

So I'm not sure Cobb will do better than 3/$45-50 or maybe 4/$55-60. Theoretically, he might be better off taking the QO and proving his durability and effectiveness, then he might get 5/$80 ... at the obvious risk that he might get hurt and regret passing on 3/$45.



   22. Zonk Tormundbane Posted: October 26, 2017 at 08:54 AM (#5562749)
Huh, I thought Cobb had another year of arb.... mea culpa.
   23. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: October 26, 2017 at 09:43 AM (#5562766)

I wouldn't be too surprised to see them trade Happ. Between him and Schwarber, I reckon they'll trade him or Scwarber for pitching this off-season. Schwarber's the more obvious guy to trade, but it could also be Happ. I know they like their depth of position players, but they also have a lack of depth at pitching they need to address. And at this point, they can probably get more in return for Happ than they can for Schwarber.


I think Baez is another guy they would shop, provided they actually like their other second base options. I'm just not sure how much ceiling is left for him to achieve.

I don't think they non-tender Wilson.

I would also be shocked if the Cubs don't get a brand name closer.
   24. Zonk Tormundbane Posted: October 26, 2017 at 09:53 AM (#5562773)
I think that I'd honestly prefer to keep Happ over Baez or Schwarber.

For one thing, I have a well-known fetish for switch-hitters. For another, I just think Happ has the most well-rounded (offensive) game.

Unfortunately, I imagine that all things considered - Happ is the most valuable in trade.
   25. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 26, 2017 at 10:26 AM (#5562800)
But if that's the way they saw him last offseason, I'm even more annoyed/puzzled about not exercising Hammel's option. I thought that was about "we don't expect you to start for us so we'll be good guys and let you go." Maybe it was more "we know you can get more years elsewhere so we'll be good guys."

Or, "we expect you to suck so we'd rather try something different". Butler and Anderson also sucked, but for less money.

I'm just not sure how much ceiling is left for him to achieve.

Baez in the 2nd half this year hit .291/.340/.511. There's plenty of reasons to think that particular line is unsustainable, but it shows an extended period where he hit better than his career line. The playoffs sucked for sure though.
   26. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: October 26, 2017 at 10:48 AM (#5562816)
And it probably belongs here so I'm pasting part of something I posted elsewhere regarding payroll:

Their 2018 commitments, per Cots, total $94.1 million. The MLB Trade Rumors tracker sets their arb awards at $34.9 million. The opening day payroll this year was $172 million.

My guess is that Martin and Rondon are non-tendered this offseason ($11.1 million projected arb between them). So if the Cubs don't increase the 2018 payroll they have about $54 million to spend this offseason on filling holes and the pre-arb parts of the roster.
   27. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 26, 2017 at 10:56 AM (#5562826)
since I had money to burn I'd just sign him for 1/$25-30.

That's something the Cubs could think about this year if they're really trying to save space for 2018. I don't know obvious candidates to make those types of offers to, but a couple of deals like Jay last year could make sense.

I also don't think $172mil should be the most the Cubs spend, or even the $190ish the luxury tax sits at.
   28. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 26, 2017 at 01:23 PM (#5562986)
Sahadev Sharma‏ @sahadevsharma 4m4 minutes ago

Cubs don't renew contract of hitting coach John Mallee. Chili Davis is named new hitting coach. Andy Haines promoted to assistant HC.

Sahadev Sharma‏ @sahadevsharma 3m3 minutes ago

Also name Brian Butterfield new third base coach. Lot of changes on coaching staff as we still await word on pitching coach.


Gary Jones was 3rd base coach, also fired. Davis and Butterfield were both on the Red Sox staff last year, a team not known for their offense...

Surprised the Bosio firing/non-retention came out last week and Mallee just today.
   29. Zonk Tormundbane Posted: October 26, 2017 at 01:54 PM (#5563009)
Yeesh... quite a coaching purge.

FWIW, unless this all just silly scapegoating or Joe getting a chance to pick his own staff -- I cannot help but wonder why the Cubs didn't look within the organization for a hitting coach.

The minor league performances of the current major league lineup were pretty darn good and on schedule -- so if the FO is saying they're expecting more from the lineup, I think I might have turned to someone from the minor league levels of the org that saw Bryant, Schwarber, Happ, etc pretty much rocket through the system, helped Contreras flip the switch, et al.

On the offensive side of the board -- the Cubs system seems to have done a wonderful job with its minor league bats reaching their potential; I can't think of a single guy that disappointed or hit a wall, so assuming I've got the personal right -- why not Iowa's Desi Wilson or Tennessee's Mariano Duncan? The recent record of guys passing through AA and AAA seems pretty damn good.
   30. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 26, 2017 at 02:04 PM (#5563015)
That's a good question, but I'm even less sure what can/should be expected of a pitching coach* than the manager or pitching coach. Most hitters have personal coaches they work with in the offseason when most of the bigger changes are made. So again, is this a problem the Cubs had with the overall approach/strategy used by the team in the playoffs?

*Or 3b coach this side of Wavin' Wendell (RIP). I'm sure Jones had other responsibilities with the team, but what were they?
   31. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 26, 2017 at 02:48 PM (#5563063)
Ken Rosenthal @Ken_Rosenthal 21s22 seconds ago

Mike Maddux about to be named pitching coach of #STLCards, sources tell The Athletic.


He was a rumored candidate for the Cubs, and Hickey supposedly was a candidate for the Cards.
   32. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 26, 2017 at 03:19 PM (#5563120)
Tennessee's Mariano Duncan

Wow. I had no idea - that has to be about the ultimate case of "do as I say, not as I did" in terms of hitting approach, right?
   33. Kiko Sakata Posted: October 26, 2017 at 03:29 PM (#5563133)
I cannot help but wonder why the Cubs didn't look within the organization for a hitting coach.

The minor league performances of the current major league lineup were pretty darn good and on schedule


That's exactly what Andy Haines as assistant hitting coach is. He was promoted from "minor league hitting instructor".
   34. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 26, 2017 at 03:52 PM (#5563158)
That's exactly what Andy Haines as assistant hitting coach is. He was promoted from "minor league hitting instructor".

I'm pretty sure they singled him out as working with Schwarber during his demotion.

Anyone who's ever worked with Heyward though deserves to be fired, re-hired, and fired again.
   35. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 26, 2017 at 03:57 PM (#5563161)
Sahadev Sharma‏ @sahadevsharma 38m38 minutes ago

Cubs have claimed OF Jacob Hannemann off waivers from Seattle. INF Mike Freeman has been DFA'd


---

Gold Glove finalists announced, Cubs nominated include Heyward RF, Rizzo 1B, Scwarber LF, Zobrist 2b. Only 1 of those is fake.
   36. Walt Davis Posted: October 26, 2017 at 04:37 PM (#5563186)
Zo had just 65 starts and 542 innings at 2B. But he didn't hit this year so obviously he had to be good with the glove! (Unless it's Schwarber, that would be fun.)

I always liked Chili Davis the player/hitter. He re-tooled himself in his 30s into a poor man's David Ortiz. Seems to me he's been a hitting coach for some time with some track record of success despite this year's Red Sox. If nothing else he should be able to help Schwarber become the best DH he can be. :-)

Davis -- 8th "all-time" in DH PAs; 7th in RC.
   37. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 26, 2017 at 04:48 PM (#5563196)
Yep, it's Zo. He probably won't win - he's up against Gordon and LeMahieu. Baez only had 56 starts and 504 innings at 2b (he finished more games there than Zo 37 to 34); I wonder if Russell's injury cost Javy a nomination there.

I know UZR seemed to like Zo more than Baez at 2b this year (and Javy did have more highlights at SS and 3b than 2b this season), but I don't buy it for one second. Watching both of them regularly you can see the difference - it actually makes Zo look *bad* at 2b when you see Baez play there.

Still, there has to be another regular 2b that could have gotten the nod ahead of Zo*. It's weird to see someone nominated when they're so obviously not the best at that position on their own team.

*Sorted by FG's Def, let's say Logan Forsythe or Cesar Hernandez.
   38. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 26, 2017 at 06:36 PM (#5563231)
Patrick Mooney:
Source: #Cubs are closing in on a deal that will make Jim Hickey their new pitching coach as part of the broader staff shakeup.
   39. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 26, 2017 at 06:41 PM (#5563236)
“A lot of it is just based on availability,” Maddon told media via a conference call on Thursday. “I’ve known Butter for a long time. He’s an excellent third base coach and beyond that he’s a really outstanding baserunning coach too. We wanted to add that skill set to our group. I’ve known [Chili] for a long time also. I worked with him with the Angels. He’s really good in regards to getting our hitters to the next level situationally.”

“Two out of the last three playoffs we’ve really been bogged down [offensively] in the playoffs,” Maddon said. “Two outstanding [pitching] staffs, so it’s hard to argue against that. We’re just looking for a slightly different voice with a little bit different approach that we feel can augment our hitters moving forward. That’s it. If I start saying anything else, I’m just making it up. That’s pretty much what it comes down to and the fact that Chili was available.”

“Chili really has a good method regarding situations in general,” Maddon said. “His ability to really be heard. I like his methods. I like what he says and how he says it. Beyond theory. Just talking about practicality and reality. The kind of things that I think he can do in game that can be very helpful, beyond just cage work, etc. He has a very good message and he’s good at delivering it. We believe he’s going to make a big impact facing difficult pitchers as we move forward.”



link

All 3 coaches let go were hired before Maddon, not just Bosio.
   40. WKRP in Cincinnatus Posted: October 27, 2017 at 11:19 AM (#5563487)
I always liked Chili Davis the player/hitter.


I sorta always thought Heyward's offensive ceiling looked something like Chili Davis. Hopefully Chili helps!
   41. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: October 27, 2017 at 11:37 AM (#5563511)
I think Heyward needs to go for the Chili Davis aging hitter approach. The Joe Mauer approach was not working.
   42. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 27, 2017 at 01:23 PM (#5563608)
Ken Rosenthal‏ @Ken_Rosenthal 21m21 minutes ago

#Nationals interviewed John Farrell today, sources tell The Athletic. Dave Martinez front-runner for job, per sources and @jorgecastillo.
   43. Zonk Tormundbane Posted: October 27, 2017 at 01:28 PM (#5563618)
All 3 coaches let go were hired before Maddon, not just Bosio.


So it's basically all just Maddon getting to pick his own staff.... that's fine, I guess.

Per the Bos thread, I think I've succeeded in talking myself into him being a bit overrated - or at least, a reputation built almost wholly on two-ex Orioles.

Who knows with coaches generally, but it sure seems like Hickey's total body of work in TB has more going for it. FWIW, wikipedia already has Hickey listed as the 'current Cubs pitching coach'.



   44. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 27, 2017 at 01:44 PM (#5563637)
So it's basically all just Maddon getting to pick his own staff.... that's fine, I guess.

I didn't realize it, but one of those Athletic pieces I quoted from mentioned that Martinez was the only coaching hire Maddon made. Part of it probably was the way he became a FA after TB. But that's unusual, and especially for such a high profile guy. Whether that means it'll work or not is beside the point almost.

Given his success here and in Tampa, Maddon deserves the right to pick his own coaches. In fact, I remember thinking it was a little odd that a manager of his renown only brought one coach with him from Tampa Bay to Chicago, his bench coach Dave Martinez, who is now a candidate for the Washington Nationals manager gig. But timing was odd there too. After all, he wasn't supposed to be available that winter.

Maddon inherited Bosio, who was Dale Sveum’s hire, and John Mallee, who the Cubs hired away from Houston before Maddon signed up that fall. Maddon also kept all the various assistant coaches, some of whom proved to be more valuable than others. (Catchers coach Mike Borzello comes to mind as a valuable one.)

The Cubs’ managing merry-go-round wasn’t planned either. They thought Sveum would last more than two years and Rick Renteria wasn’t meant to have just a one-year tour. And given that Renteria had no hiring power — that was kind of the plan — it led to a patchwork coaching staff.


For me, it's not so much about making peace with the decisions, and we really have no idea whatsoever what they're really doing or what successes they have or deserve credit for. Obviously they've been successful, and I'm all for them trying to get whatever add'l edges possible.
   45. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 29, 2017 at 11:30 AM (#5564801)
Martinez to manage the Nats is supposedly official, but won't be announced until tomorrow. Good for him.
   46. Walt Davis Posted: October 29, 2017 at 07:35 PM (#5565027)
Congrats to Davey. I hope he's successful ... as long as the Cubs keep making the playoffs and the Nats never beat us.
   47. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 31, 2017 at 10:38 AM (#5567162)
The Athletic ($) is doing a writeup this week on the various Cubs position players that maybe could be traded. Today, Schwarber:

Schwarber’s swinging strike rate of 12.2 percent doesn’t line up well with his high strikeout rate. His 30.9 percent strikeout rate suggests an expected swinging strike rate of 14.7 percent. That difference of 2.5 percent is 19th highest in baseball (minimum 400 plate appearances).

The first assumption is that Schwarber is taking too many strikes. But 23.3 percent of his strikeouts are of the looking variety and 26.5 percent of all his strikes are looking, both a mere 10th of a percentage point above league average. However, 30.4 percent of his strikes are fouled off. The league average is 27.9 percent.

Plenty of great hitters have a high foul percentage, including Rizzo, Bryant, Anthony Rendon, Daniel Murphy and the league leader in the category, Freddie Freeman. So it's not as if fouling off pitches is a bad thing. Usually it's a great way to keep an at-bat alive with two strikes as a batter attempts to get the pitch he really wants. But in Schwarber's case, it helps explain what's happening with regards to his lower-than-expected swinging strike rate.


---

Mooney on Russell and Baez:

A scout from a potential playoff opponent asked the question while covering the Cubs in late September: Why is Addison Russell still playing shortstop over Javier Baez?

An ego thing, to make sure they didn’t lose Russell near the end of a difficult year from a personal/professional standpoint, knowing they’d need his clutch hitting in October? A timing issue, because Russell hadn’t played second base in two years and would need to relearn the angles on double plays? Maybe manager Joe Maddon’s stubborn belief in his player evaluations?

If the Cubs don’t have a Starlin Castro-level shortstop controversy, they will have some interesting discussions in an offseason where at least five of Maddon’s coaches have either been fired or taken jobs elsewhere and team president Theo Epstein has already signaled that he will probably have to deal major-league talent to fix the rotation and/or bullpen.
   48. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 31, 2017 at 10:41 AM (#5567167)
Most of the writers/reports seem to be harping on Theo's comment* to predict the Cubs will be trading someone from the roster this offseason for pitching. I guess I'm downgrading my expectation from "I'll be surprised" to "I'm dreading what's likely to happen".

*“I think going into the offseason prepared to make some tough choices, and execute on them and keep an open mind to anything is appropriate under the circumstances,” Epstein said. “Where we have some obvious deficits and we have some real surplus with some talented players who are really desirable. We’ve really benefitted from two or three extra — extra in quotes because they’re not really extra — starting-caliber players on the roster and that helped us win 97 games in '15, 103 last year, 92 this year. That’s as big of a part of the club as anything.”
   49. Zonk Tormundbane Posted: October 31, 2017 at 11:21 AM (#5567210)
A scout from a potential playoff opponent asked the question while covering the Cubs in late September: Why is Addison Russell still playing shortstop over Javier Baez?


Thanks in no small part to Russell's injury - Baez got 63 starts at SS. His 573 innings at SS were certainly less than Russell's 1200+ --- but the metrics all seem to say that Russell was measurably better at SS both last year and career.

I'm not seeing why Russell should be moving. I can only guess this is scoutian arm lust -- I'm sure Baez's arm is better than Russell's, but it's not like Russell doesn't have a fine arm in its own right.

Beyond that - to the extent you want to get the most leverage out of Baez's tag skills, I presume that the same paradigm I learned playing baseball (the 2B takes the throws to second when a RHB is up, the SS when a LHB is up) remains true.

The Cubs are fortunate to have two guys that would both be plus (if not plus-plus) defensive SS's. The guy generally playing second has an absolute cannon while the guy playing SS has a merely average cannon.... but the metrics all seem to agree that they're properly aligned where they should be.... and FTR - my eyeball agrees. Baez would be great at SS. Russell is just better.

   50. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 31, 2017 at 11:27 AM (#5567217)
I'm not seeing why Russell should be moving. I can only guess this is scoutian arm lust -- I'm sure Baez's arm is better than Russell's, but it's not like Russell doesn't have a fine arm in its own right.

Did you read the link? If not, you get a gold star:

The American League scout noticed the issues Russell had on plays to his right, struggling at times to accurately throw the ball to first base and beyond the cut of the infield grass. The metrics still love Russell, who got credited with 15 defensive runs saved — the second-most among all big-league shortstops — even while playing only 808-plus innings this season.

Baez has the more traditional, powerful arm for a shortstop. He proved he could handle the position, getting in rhythm while playing 30 straight games there — and 40 out of 41 — as Russell dealt with a strained right foot/plantar fasciitis problem that lasted from early August through the middle of September.
   51. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 31, 2017 at 11:34 AM (#5567227)
The Cubs are fortunate to have two guys that would both be plus (if not plus-plus) defensive SS's. The guy generally playing second has an absolute cannon while the guy playing SS has a merely average cannon.... but the metrics all seem to agree that they're properly aligned where they should be.... and FTR - my eyeball agrees. Baez would be great at SS. Russell is just better.

The question of which guy to trade - Baez, Russell, Happ, or Schwarber - is impossible to answer without knowing who we're getting back. I change my mind constantly which of the 4 has the most value and which the least (at this particular moment, I rank most trade value to least as Russell, Happ, Baez, Schwarber but already am questioning why before I finish typing this sentence*.

Say it's a trade for the elusive Archer (and I still don't see any reason why TB would want to trade him), I'm fine with building a package around Russell - but even then, I go back and forth how big that package has to be; I can't talk myself into combining two of them for any pitcher that would realistically be on the market.

*Russell had a down year, but maybe it's easier to write that off to the injury/personal problems. For now, I had Happ over Baez just because of years of control left. I don't know how the Cubs would rank them, but I still get the feeling they'd be most hesitant to trade Schwarber, based on how they've talked about him over the years (even last week Theo said Kyle could/should be a Rizzo level bat) and the fact that his value is at it's lowest in years.
   52. Zonk Tormundbane Posted: October 31, 2017 at 11:38 AM (#5567231)
Did you read the link? If not, you get a gold star:


Heh... I moused over it, saw NBCsports, and made a guess based on the word scout in the excerpt. I will take my gold star in the form of a scouting contract.
   53. K-BAR, J-BAR (trhn) Posted: October 31, 2017 at 11:46 AM (#5567241)
Happ has some red flags. Eleventh in K% among MLB players with >400 PAs. Absent another 100 points of Iso, he looks more like a 120 wRC+ guy with 85 downside if he hits .200 one year. I've settled on the mostly anecdotal belief that player development for rookies has become less predictable with the HR explosion over the last year and a half. So it wouldn't surprise me if Happ Schwarbered next year. (Same Iso, same K%, just trading some hits for BBs.)
   54. Zonk Tormundbane Posted: October 31, 2017 at 11:52 AM (#5567246)
The question of which guy to trade - Baez, Russell, Happ, or Schwarber - is impossible to answer without knowing who we're getting back. I change my mind constantly which of the 4 has the most value and which the least (at this particular moment, I rank most trade value to least as Russell, Happ, Baez, Schwarber but already am questioning why before I finish typing this sentence*.

Say it's a trade for the elusive Archer (and I still don't see any reason why TB would want to trade him), I'm fine with building a package around Russell - but even then, I go back and forth how big that package has to be; I can't talk myself into combining two of them for any pitcher that would realistically be on the market.


I'm largely in agreement - I'm not so sure that the extra year of team control doesn't make Happ the most valuable, but who knows.... In any case, it would be less a matter who I shop than it would be the return. Whichever one lands an Archer-type. If it takes two of them, then I'm not so sure I pull the trigger (even if it realistically does probably take two of them). I suppose if you squint hard enough, you can make the case that the Cubs can afford to move two of them (obviously, then we're talking a combination that wouldn't include both Javy and Addy) without creating yet another hole to fill -- but with Zo looking like he's nearing the end, I'm not so sure I'm comfortable saying that him as the everyday LF or 2B isn't a hole waiting to happen.... to say nothing of creating a serious problem in case of injury.

   55. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 31, 2017 at 11:54 AM (#5567251)
So it wouldn't surprise me if Happ Schwarbered next year. (Same Iso, same K%, just trading some hits for BBs.)

Yeah, I could see that. Also, he's not really a good defender at either 2b or CF, at least not yet. Considering defense, I'd definitely rather keep Russell and Baez over Happ. If you believe the Cubs on Schwarber, Happ is the obvious guy to move. He's also the obvious guy to become a super matchup type because of his versatility and switchhitterness and so, once again, there's absolutely no *need* to trade him.

Who are even these starting pitcher trade candidates? What team has a youngish cost controlled starter they want/need to trade in order to get a young cost controlled hitter? Back in the Starlin days, everyone wanted to play matchmaker with the Mets, but that doesn't seem like a fit any more. Gray and Quintana have been traded. Is there another guy that's close to getting expensive that I'm not thinking of?
   56. Zonk Tormundbane Posted: October 31, 2017 at 11:56 AM (#5567253)
Happ has some red flags. Eleventh in K% among MLB players with >400 PAs. Absent another 100 points of Iso, he looks more like a 120 wRC+ guy with 85 downside if he hits .200 one year. I've settled on the mostly anecdotal belief that player development for rookies has become less predictable with the HR explosion over the last year and a half. So it wouldn't surprise me if Happ Schwarbered next year. (Same Iso, same K%, just trading some hits for BBs.)


Maybe - but Happ also runs a bit and has positional flexibility in his favor. Happ pulling a Schwarber isn't as bad as Schwarber pulling a Schwarber because Happ can still be useful in other ways.
   57. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 31, 2017 at 11:56 AM (#5567255)
I'm not so sure that the extra year of team control doesn't make Happ the most valuable, but who knows.

It's 2 years of control on all those guys - 6 total for Happ, 4 for the other 3 (5 for Almora).
   58. Zonk Tormundbane Posted: October 31, 2017 at 12:07 PM (#5567269)
Who are even these starting pitcher trade candidates? What team has a youngish cost controlled starter they want/need to trade in order to get a young cost controlled hitter? Back in the Starlin days, everyone wanted to play matchmaker with the Mets, but that doesn't seem like a fit any more. Gray and Quintana have been traded. Is there another guy that's close to getting expensive that I'm not thinking of?


Every time I try to get over my Julio Teheran obsession, you guys... keep... pulling me... back... in.

That said - let me make the Teheran case...

He's exceedingly durable. He really SHOULDN'T cost more than one of the chits. And we don't need him to become what people thought the 22 yo Teheran might become -- the current 26 yo version, simply plugging into the #4 slot in the rotation and taking the ball every 5th day is fine. Plus - he appears to be developing a bit of Saberhagenitis, so 2018 ought to be an up year for him.
   59. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 31, 2017 at 12:13 PM (#5567279)
Yuck.

Why in the world would you trade for Teheran when you can just sign Cobb? What else are the Braves throwing in to finish this deal for the worst of the Cubs chits?
   60. Zonk Tormundbane Posted: October 31, 2017 at 12:35 PM (#5567299)
For one thing - Teheran will cost (in $$$$ terms) less -- 8 mil in 2018, 11 mil in 2019, 12 mil option for 2020.

For another - in his down/odd numbered years, he's still a 1.5 WAR player... 3-4 WAR in his even-numbered years. Unlike Cobb, he's also been extraordinarily healthy. We're talking about a 26 yo with a very team-friendly deal with 1000 IP of 109 ERA+ and 4.06 FIP - and he's never missed a start. That's a perfectly cromulent #4 - and if you get the 2016, 2014, or 2013 versions -- that's a fantastic #4.

   61. Quaker Posted: October 31, 2017 at 12:56 PM (#5567319)
Every time his name is brought up, I feel compelled to point out that Teheran by FIP & xFIP hasn't looked good in several years. Also, didn't Cobb only strike out like 6 per 9IP this season? That seems really low for a starter in 2017.

My hunch is that the Cubs see Happ & Baez as the most tradeable of the group. Baez because I think Epstein loves guys who really grind at-bats out, and Baez will never be that. Happ's lack of PT in the playoffs seems to show he's behind the rest of the group, and I'm guessing his projections will still lag Baez even though Happ posted the higher OPS this season.

I think they really like Schwarber's makeup & he's the one hope to join Bryant/Rizzo in that tier of not quite the absolute best hitters in the NL but probably top 5-10ish in a given year. Plus, maybe the DH will come to the NL and that will obviate some of his defensive concerns.



   62. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 31, 2017 at 12:58 PM (#5567321)
That doesn't answer my bigger question though - how is that worth, say Ian Happ and 6 years of control for him? You're trading a lot of excess value for very little in return.

My point is if all we're getting is a cromulent 3/4 type, just overpay in $ for one of the FA options. If we're trading someone with upside, I want to get some real upside back as well.
   63. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 31, 2017 at 01:26 PM (#5567346)
My point is if all we're getting is a cromulent 3/4 type, just overpay in $ for one of the FA options.

If Teheran is going to give you 175 IP of 109 ERA+, that's MUCH, MUCH better than a #3/4. That's basically what Trevor Bauer did in 2017, and he was the 35th best SP in MLB by RA-9 WAR.

Based on his career, Teheran is much closer to a #1 than to a #4. You may not specifically like him as a pitcher, but his perfromance has not been back of the rotation.
   64. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 31, 2017 at 01:46 PM (#5567355)
If Teheran is going to give you 175 IP of 109 ERA+, that's MUCH, MUCH better than a #3/4. That's basically what Trevor Bauer did in 2017, and he was the 35th best SP in MLB by RA-9 WAR.

Based on his career, Teheran is much closer to a #1 than to a #4. You may not specifically like him as a pitcher, but his perfromance has not been back of the rotation.


His ERA+ the last 3 years* is 95, 129, 95 (and as noted his FIP - or xFIP, pick your poison - has been worse each of those years; he was 119th in RA-9 WAR last year (among all P, didn't sort out RP). I did say 3/4 type, and I think being below average 2 of the last 3 years falls safely in that category. If Teheran were more consistently the type of pitcher you described, I'd have no problem categorizing him the way you do (but still wouldn't say he's a #1 type - and yes, I know that's a pretty undefined, gray bucket). So sure, there's plenty of reason to not like him, but also plenty of reason to say he's closer to a #1 than #4 is a bit misleading.

I brought up the Cobb comp because I see no reason to think Teheran is clearly better, or any reason to think he will be better over the next 3 or so years. Also, on the Cubs, he likely would be slotted as the 4th best starter, so for the purposes of maximizing the Cubs' playoff chances and the best use of the Cubs' resources (money and players), why aim for him and not higher? Cobb is just an example, and yeah, that K rate is concerning, but isn't Teheran's drop also concerning?

It also doesn't answer the question on if it's a good trade for the Cubs based on what it would cost; I also don't see why the Braves would move him unless they thought he wasn't going to be that good going forward (or they're blown away in a trade).

*Accuse me of cherry picking if you want, since the two years before that were 117 and 123. So 3 of 5 good, looking at it from that way, but a #1 type is going to be a bit more consistent than that or at least a lower floor.
   65. Spahn Insane, stimulus-funded BurlyMan™ Posted: October 31, 2017 at 01:55 PM (#5567358)
The consensus seems to be that the Cubs should only trade a surplus young star or stars for pitching; while I generally agree with this, CF is a spot that could be significantly upgraded if, say, the Marlins go full-on "blow it up" (I don't think they should do that, but it would be among the least surprising things ever if they did) and make Ozuna available. I wonder what he'd cost in trade. (Think, say, Happ + Almora + flotsam gets it done?)
   66. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 31, 2017 at 02:05 PM (#5567362)
BTW, zonk, I think your Teheran obsession, nay fetish, might be a case of Blauser Blindness, as I see he's pitched decently against the Cubs in his career.
   67. Spahn Insane, stimulus-funded BurlyMan™ Posted: October 31, 2017 at 02:19 PM (#5567377)
BTW, zonk, I think your Teheran obsession, nay fetish, might be a case of Blauser Blindness, as I see he's pitched decently against the Cubs in his career.

Bosio could've fixed him.

**ducks**
   68. Zonk Tormundbane Posted: October 31, 2017 at 02:44 PM (#5567405)
xFIP didn't like Teheran last year, but it's a bit of an oversell to say it didn't like him in 2016.... he was a few hundredths of a point from league average - and with a metric like xFIP, quibbling over .08 is a bit silly.

I likewise feel that people are overlooking his rather amazing durability. It's one thing if he's pitching like Casey Coleman to go with that - but he's not.

Teheran's problem - such as it is for a guy with 5 seasons - 3 of which have been nice, 2 of which have been meh (and come on... his bad years are 'meh'. They're not "bad". They aren't banish him to the pen territory - even on a good team) is that he was a hotshot prospect when he came up, generally considered one of the best pitching prospects in baseball. He had a very nice rookie season at the age of 22. He simply never hit the next level. I'm not holding out hope any longer that he will - I'm just saying that even if you get the 'meh' Teheran, that's a perfectly acceptable backend member of almost any rotation.... and he's been more nice than meh.

If the Braves were to insist that he's still worth the upside people thought he had 3-4-5 years ago, sure - no dice. If they're more realistic about what he is - then I think he's really the only reasonable trade target if you only want to part with one of the chits.

I have many, many OOTP playthroughts to back me up on this :-)..... Indeed - at this very moment, I am considering whether a Heyward + Charcer Burks + Mark Zagunis + Demi Orimoloye (former Brewers prospect) + Jeter Downs (my 2017 3rd rounder) for Teheran + Nick Markakis is worth doing!
   69. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: October 31, 2017 at 02:56 PM (#5567423)
Also, on the Cubs, he likely would be slotted as the 4th best starter, so for the purposes of maximizing the Cubs' playoff chances and the best use of the Cubs' resources (money and players), why aim for him and not higher?

I realize Cobb is mostly thrown out there as a hypothetical middle of the rotation guy, however, he's probably going to cost a draft pick to sign isn't he?
   70. Zonk Tormundbane Posted: October 31, 2017 at 03:02 PM (#5567428)
I realize Cobb is mostly thrown out there as a hypothetical middle of the rotation guy, however, he's probably going to cost a draft pick to sign isn't he?


You really gotta wonder... For a non-Florida team, the QO is a no-brainer.... maybe it's a no-brainer for the Rays, too -- but risking, what... 17 mil on a guy who couldn't get healthy until he turned 29 and if we're gonna use xFIP as the bible -- xFIP didn't particularly like him last year either. I mean, 4.26 beats 4.95 (but not 4.09!) -- but he only K'd 6.4 per 9.... and his BB/K ratio is basically "bad year Teheran" (Good Teheran is better than 4. Bad Teheran is.... well.... Alex Cobb).

Frankly, if he does cost a pick - I'm not interested.
   71. Quaker Posted: October 31, 2017 at 03:09 PM (#5567439)
How far behind LAD do we think the Cubs really are? Would Darvish + Otani make Cubs the team to beat in the NL again? Is 2016 more representative of each core's "true" talent & 2017 is just a year where everything went right for the Dodgers? I.e. If the Cubs don't make any major moves would simply running back more or less the same group make them at least co-favorites?
   72. Zonk Tormundbane Posted: October 31, 2017 at 03:16 PM (#5567447)
How far behind LAD do we think the Cubs really are? Would Darvish + Otani make Cubs the team to beat in the NL again? Is 2016 more representative of each core's "true" talent & 2017 is just a year where everything went right for the Dodgers? I.e. If the Cubs don't make any major moves would simply running back more or less the same group make them at least co-favorites?


I would think it puts them back into the conversation -- but the Cubs probably need more lineup bouncebacks than the Dodgers.... Seager built on his rookie year, Bellinger was obviously Bellinger, and Puig got back to being valuable. On the flipside, Pederson obviously scuffled. The Cubs need more bouncebacks.

The other advantage the Dodgers have - even with the Darvish trade (and a few bullpen deals), the Dodgers still have a much deeper system to make some additional moves.
   73. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 31, 2017 at 03:42 PM (#5567472)
Jeter Downs

Wait...really?
   74. Zonk Tormundbane Posted: October 31, 2017 at 03:57 PM (#5567490)
Jeter Downs

Wait...really?


Actually, he's a real person -- went 32nd overall to the Reds this past June IRL. He's a HS (well, was a HS) SS -- had a decent freshman pro showing.

In OOTP, he fell to the 3rd round because he wanted a YUGE signing bonus.... which was actually pretty much how my 2017 draft went - all the guys I had targeted fell off the board and I had to go the very risky route of all HSers who wanted 'impossible' bonuses... My first five picks were all HSers (besides Downs, also Calvin Mitchell (OF), Nick Allen (SS), Weston Bizzle (P), and Adam Oviedo (SS).... also took Mike Polansky and Jordon Bonk in the first 10 rounds.... of them required significant bonuses -- I spent three times more on draft bonuses than the next highest team).
   75. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 31, 2017 at 04:06 PM (#5567498)
I realize Cobb is mostly thrown out there as a hypothetical middle of the rotation guy, however, he's probably going to cost a draft pick to sign isn't he?

How does the new QO work? Would the Cubs lose a pick even? I thought they were comp picks, and them only lose a pick if contract is over a certain amount. Did I dream that? Either way, I don't think he gets a QO.
   76. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 31, 2017 at 04:10 PM (#5567502)
How far behind LAD do we think the Cubs really are? Would Darvish + Otani make Cubs the team to beat in the NL again?

Last question first, I'd say definitely. First one, don't forget about the Nats, there's a ton a really good players there, even if Zimmerman and Murphy take a step back; Harper, rendon, scherzer, and strasburg might be the best top 4 any nl team can roll out.

How much you like the dodgers might depend on how much you buy Turner at this level and Taylor. I also don't wonder how reliable their non Kershaw and Jansen pitching will be.
   77. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 31, 2017 at 04:13 PM (#5567506)
Some research:

Major League teams have been informed that the 2017-18 qualifying offer will be in the range of $18MM, reports ESPN’s Buster Olney (via Twitter). More specifically, Olney notes that the exact value could end up being $18.1MM.


A team that did not exceed the luxury tax threshold but contributes to revenue sharing would forfeit its second-highesr draft pick as well as $500K of its upcoming international bonus pool.


link.

I'll say the Rays won't offer.
   78. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 31, 2017 at 04:16 PM (#5567511)
I likewise feel that people are overlooking his rather amazing durability.

So he's a right handed quintana with a lower floor. Like I said, sure I recognize the value, but want a bit more upside to give up a player like even Happ.

Maybe there's a Happ+ for teheran+ deal that makes sense, but there's gotta be another option.
   79. Zonk Tormundbane Posted: October 31, 2017 at 04:16 PM (#5567512)
How does the new QO work? Would the Cubs lose a pick even? I thought they were comp picks, and them only lose a pick if contract is over a certain amount. Did I dream that? Either way, I don't think he gets a QO.


They added a lost of stupid qualifications depending on revenue sharing, luxury tax exceeding, yada yada.... I think the "top pick" is always protected for every team, regardless. Since the Cubs don't qualify for either competitive balance picks, didn't exceed the luxury tax threshold, and didn't get any revenue sharing -- they would lose their 2nd highest pick (i.e., one of the comps they'd get for - presumably, if they don't resign - Jake or Wade). I think they also lose a few hundred K from the INTL signing pool.

Given the farm depletion, though - I'd really prefer to keep all three picks we ought to get in the 1st 40 or so.... I suppose technically, there's really no difference between resigning Wade/Jake or pocketing the picks and signing someone else's QO -- but if we're gonna use that potential 3 of the first 40 as a baseline, I'd only prefer to spend them on a true difference maker (and sure, both Jake/Wade fit that bill).
   80. Zonk Tormundbane Posted: October 31, 2017 at 04:19 PM (#5567515)
How much you like the dodgers might depend on how much you buy Turner at this level and Taylor. I also don't wonder how reliable their non Kershaw and Jansen pitching will be.


I suppose that I'll grudgingly buy the ginger yeti.... but that friggin bat corking, PED-scarfing, Dorian Gray picture utility player? Screw that.
   81. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 31, 2017 at 04:28 PM (#5567527)
He'll be 33 next year. And he tends to miss time each year. Plus now everyone knows he's a bald denier, so I'm bearish on him.

If the dodgers win this year does that mean they'll have the WS hangover like the Cubs this year? If so, I hope they do come back and win.
   82. Zonk Tormundbane Posted: October 31, 2017 at 04:37 PM (#5567532)
So he's a right handed quintana with a lower floor. Like I said, sure I recognize the value, but want a bit more upside to give up a player like even Happ.


Not sure what else there is, then....

Are the Orioles thinking tear-down? Maybe Dylan Bundy or Kevin Gausman? But it's to see the case for moving either of them for basically a hitter in the same contract situation (and besides, the Orioles might now be a bit gunshy about trading disappointing pitchers to the Cubs).

The Padres don't have anything else trash heap chits. Maybe the Royals and Danny Duffy? Though - they just signed him last year and I'm not entirely sold on him being worth the 5-6-whatever/80-90-100-whatever anyway. They also may feel a little snakebitten.

If it's not Teheran, I think we probably just gotta be satisfied with Quintana.

I pitched Matt Moore upthread but if people don't like Teheran, he was much, much worse last year than anything JT sniffs.... and I'm not sure it's necessarily a done deal that the Giants even exercise his option.

Beyond that, it's rentals and reclamations.

One interesting place to look might be Anaheim -- but the Angels are desperate FOR pitching and almost certainly not looking to deal any... and I think they fancy themselves contenders anyway.

Still - Garrett Richards quietly came back to have an encouraging September. He'd require the Rich Harden, baby the hell out of him treatment, and has just one year of team control left.... but if the Angels are thinking "let's make the risk someone else's problem before he breaks again", I might think long and hard about that. There's also Tyler Skaggs, but obviously - the Angels like him given that they re-acquired him after originally drafting him.
   83. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 31, 2017 at 04:55 PM (#5567542)
Why is my first reaction to Duffy so much more positive than teheran?

I could be talked into Moore, but that's a cheaper acquisition cost I'd assume. I would hope the arrieta trade wouldn't keep the O's from dealing with us; based on their roster though there isn't an obvious trade match.
   84. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 31, 2017 at 05:01 PM (#5567546)
His ERA+ the last 3 years* is 95, 129, 95 (and as noted his FIP - or xFIP, pick your poison - has been worse each of those years; he was 119th in RA-9 WAR last year (among all P, didn't sort out RP). I did say 3/4 type, and I think being below average 2 of the last 3 years falls safely in that category. If Teheran were more consistently the type of pitcher you described, I'd have no problem categorizing him the way you do (but still wouldn't say he's a #1 type - and yes, I know that's a pretty undefined, gray bucket). So sure, there's plenty of reason to not like him, but also plenty of reason to say he's closer to a #1 than #4 is a bit misleading.

I brought up the Cobb comp because I see no reason to think Teheran is clearly better, or any reason to think he will be better over the next 3 or so years. Also, on the Cubs, he likely would be slotted as the 4th best starter, so for the purposes of maximizing the Cubs' playoff chances and the best use of the Cubs' resources (money and players), why aim for him and not higher? Cobb is just an example, and yeah, that K rate is concerning, but isn't Teheran's drop also concerning?

It also doesn't answer the question on if it's a good trade for the Cubs based on what it would cost; I also don't see why the Braves would move him unless they thought he wasn't going to be that good going forward (or they're blown away in a trade).

*Accuse me of cherry picking if you want, since the two years before that were 117 and 123. So 3 of 5 good, looking at it from that way, but a #1 type is going to be a bit more consistent than that or at least a lower floor.


I'm not saying he's a #1, just saying he's closer to a #1 than a #4. A #4 starter in MLB is actually pretty bad.

The #100 ranked pitcher by RA9 (minimum 100 IP) in 2017 was Scott Feldman. 111.1 IP of a 4.77 ERA. 0.9 RA9 WAR, 0.7 fWAR.

Even Teheran's meh 2017 was #78 by RA9 WAR at 1.6. That's a #3. Take his last 3 or 4 years, and he's better than that.

I'd say Teheran is at worst a very good #3. Given age, durability and pedigree, more likely a solid #2.
   85. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 01, 2017 at 10:43 AM (#5568377)
Why are so many Cubs writers so obsessed with the Cubs re-acquiring Samardzija?

I'm not sure how plugged in Levine really is, but this is interesting if true (the Archer part):

Samardzija, 32, has three years and about $59 million left on his deal. Archer, 29, has four years and $34 million left on his, if two team options are exercised in 2020 and 2021. Both are believed to be available should the right offer present itself.
   86. Zonk Tormundbane Posted: November 01, 2017 at 11:04 AM (#5568403)
My only guess is that it took them a long time to learn how to spell Samardzija and dammit, they feel cheated that all that hard work has gone to waste.

   87. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: November 01, 2017 at 11:18 AM (#5568413)
What's the right offer for Samardzija? The Giants only need to eat 30% of the money remaining?
   88. Zonk Tormundbane Posted: November 01, 2017 at 11:30 AM (#5568422)
Meh - not my money.... so if it's just a bag of balls going the other way, I'm fine with taking on the remainder of the contract.

Shark has always been overrated - and he's probably at least a wee bit overpaid -- but he's also got the health thing going for him and he'd just need to be a cromulent #4.

Somebody needs to replace all the Lackey-style souvenirs, I guess.

   89. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 01, 2017 at 11:48 AM (#5568447)
His contract value is about what Davis might go for. What's a better use of that money?

I just have never like BPJ, so I'm against it, even if it was just the Cubs absorbing the deal (and I'm not sure why the Giants would do that; if they're shedding guys, are they also looking to move Ceuto and is he just done or redeemable?).
   90. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: November 01, 2017 at 11:59 AM (#5568462)
The last I remember it was reported that Cueto wanted to opt out of his deal. Perhaps it was an empty threat to see what interest he could drum up in the Giants for an extension.
   91. Zonk Tormundbane Posted: November 01, 2017 at 02:15 PM (#5568574)
It's been a fun WS - despite the lack of a certain participant - but is it wrong that I can't wait for tomorrow just to finally found who is opting out, whose options will be declined, etc?

I'm anxious to get on with the offseason and start the spring training countdown.
   92. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 01, 2017 at 02:40 PM (#5568586)
Wrong? Of course not. I didn't expect myself to be this into the WS this year, but I'm really enjoying it. I keep posting things in this thread because I'm anxious to see how the offseason will play out and what the Cubs will do. I can't wait to finalize my spring training trip plans (still waiting for the ST schedule to come out), and to see projections/etc for next year.

It's a potentially big offseason for the Cubs, and the offseason is enjoyable. Thanks to the WS win last year, the offseason was just a secondary interest, but it's back to a big focus this year.
   93. Zonk Tormundbane Posted: November 01, 2017 at 02:59 PM (#5568596)
Yeah - the only thing that's somewhat bittersweet is that it does feel kind of inevitable that someone we've come to like is likely to get dealt... even beyond any trades - I think the 2018 Cubs are going to look more different than the 2017 Cubs in comparison between the 2016 to 2017 Cubs. Of course, I won't be sorry to see one particular face exit.

BTW - in my alt-life OOTP Cubs, since I know Face is intently interested for a follow-up - I did pull the trigger on the Teheran deal... so the OOTP 2018 Cubs rotation is now set as Lester/Hendricks/Sonny Gray/Julio Teheran/Matt Moore. Monty, Rafael Montero, and Jose Urena will be the 6-7-8 starters in the bullpen/Iowa. I would be thrilled with that IRL, so if anyone has Thed's number - put me in touch and I'll be happy to share the details of how to pull it off.
   94. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 01, 2017 at 03:11 PM (#5568604)
Of course, I won't be sorry to see one particular face exit.

One of his kids is trying to make me like him more...something similar might be happening here.

(for the record, I do not follow any of the players' wives on twitter, the main Cubs account retweeted a bunch of these yesterday)
   95. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 01, 2017 at 03:12 PM (#5568605)
What did you do to Quintana? Nevermind.
   96. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 01, 2017 at 03:15 PM (#5568610)
Lester/Hendricks/Sonny Gray/Julio Teheran/Matt Moore. Monty, Rafael Montero, and Jose Urena will be the 6-7-8 starters in the bullpen/Iowa.

And you say that all you had to do was trade some whippersnapper who was named after Derek Jeter?
   97. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 01, 2017 at 03:19 PM (#5568615)
While I'm randomly linking social media ####, Rizzo's twitter bio made me laugh:

Official Twitter of Anthony Rizzo--First Baseman/ Second Baseman #44--World Series Champion Chicago Cubs


So did this.

As for the WS, here's the last play of every WS since 1967.
   98. Zonk Tormundbane Posted: November 01, 2017 at 03:36 PM (#5568637)
What did you do to Quintana? Nevermind.


Ha! Too late! I couldn't make the Quintana deal happen - though, the IRL package would have gotten it done - I was able to Sonny Gray cheaper (Daryl Wilson, Trevor Clifton - yeah, that hurt - Carson Sands, Oscar de la Cruz, and Kevonte Mitchell).

And you say that all you had to do was trade some whippersnapper who was named after Derek Jeter?


Well, and three other prospects.... plus take on the last year of Nick Markakis' contract.
   99. Walt Davis Posted: November 01, 2017 at 07:11 PM (#5568848)
The Cubs really only have "surplus" position player talent if Zobrist rebounds for the next two years and Almora is ready to be a FT CF. I'm highly doubtful about the first (esp for both 2018 and 19) and not confident enough in the second to trade Happ. Not to mention a trade requires us to rely on Heyward and Schwarber hitting LHP.

Any money we might save trading for Teheran or Archer or whoever versus signing somebody is going to get eaten up by the need to sign 1-2 solid bench players.

All that said, they've been excellent evaluators of talent and, especially if their avoidance of Happ in the postseason reflects their opinion, I'm happy for them to trade high on him.

BTW, the main difference between Russell vs. Baez/Schwarber is that Russell is super-2 while the others are not. Given he has started since his arrival and made an AS team, he's going to be reasonably expensive by arb-2 standards. Not in the sense of the Cubs needing to save money but in the sense of the Rays or Braves taking him on. Also the Braves have Swanson, Albies and (they hope) Maitan on the way, not sure they'll be that interested in Russell, Baez or Happ. (Happ's value is not that high if he has to play a corner OF spot.)
   100. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 02, 2017 at 11:47 AM (#5569814)
flip...
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