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— Cubs Baseball for Thinking Fans

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Now what?

I’m hungover and at work.  This is probably going to be an incoherent mess.  I probably will end up disagreeing with some or all of this, probably sooner than later.  However, might as well start thinking about how the Cubs are going to approach this offseason. 

The easy route is making some small changes around the edges - maybe splurge on a reliever or two, bring a couple more long shot rebound types - and talk about being healthier and improving from within.  There’s probably some merit to that, and it very well could work.  They could burn it all down - fire Maddon, make a couple big, splashy trades, and spend a ton of money in FA.  Maybe there’s some merit to that too, but that still would be an overreaction.  I expect them to do something in between (wow, really going out on a ledge here, aren’t I), but it still very likely will be more turnover than we’ve been used to lately.  So, let’s break it up by area.

Coaching Staff
I don’t think I’d be stunned if they fired Maddon now, but I’d be a little surprised.  Robothal has a piece today that feels like a little more than just pure speculation to me.  Maybe it’s just someone sending out feelers to gauge the reaction, maybe it’s nothing.  I think I’d like them to move on from Chili Davis; how much credit or blame should he really get though?  The offense is really the problem here, and it’s so incredibly damning to see how the Red Sox and Cubs went in opposite reactions based on him. 

Hitters
Absolutely, positively will be back: Baez, Bryant, Rizzo, Contreras, Heyward (he’s not going anywhere, and I don’t see any way they get rid of him).  Will not be back: Russell, Murphy. After that, I think everything else is in play.  I have some hope they’ll get *something* for Russell (look at the Osuna deal).  I think moving any of Schwarber, Happ, or Almora would be also selling them at a lower point in their value; none of them really are guys who’ve shown they should clearly be every day regulars, although you could make an argument for giving each of them a chance to play more.  I do think the Cubs are going to go pretty hard after one of Machado or Harper - though I don’t necessarily seeing them being able to outbid the Phillies (so much damn money available) or the Yankees/Dodgers if they really want one of them.  If they do get one of them, it’ll mean at least one of those 3 young guys becomes expendable trade bait.  I keep going back and forth on which one of them I’d prefer the Cubs to go after, and I think today I’m thinking Harper (he’ll cost less) and just putting him in LF (bye bye Schwarber); I really don’t want to see a regular OF of Schwarber/Heyward/Harper.  If they went after Machado, they could move Bryant to LF fulltime (again, bye bye Schwarber) or move Javy back to 2b (the lesser of those two options).   

I think the Cubs need a new backup catcher.  I’m actually ok with Caratini, but they need someone that can give Contreras a lot more rest.  Whether that’s a coaching thing that Joe just won’t play him, or a real reason they don’t like him getting regular appearances, they can’t expect Willson to play this much again and be worth anything with his bat.  I still hope that for Contreras, he just needs more rest and he’ll be fine.  The Cubs need a fulltime 2b and CF, but it very well could be those spots continue to be a rotation of in house guys (Almora/Happ/Zobrist/Bote/Heyward).  I can live with that (and Heyward getting most of the starts in RF) if they add a big bat elsewhere.  However, I have a suspicion that Cubs add someone else from the outside to fill one of those spots.  I like the idea of Bote and Zobrist as bench regulars who each start a few times a week, but think the Cubs are better if neither are counted on to start 140ish times (Zobrst, just due to his age, can’t really be expected to be this good again in this much PT). 

Bottom line, I think the Cubs end up with 2 new starting position players and a different looking bench.

Pitchers
Pick up Hamels’s option is step 1.  Find some way to make Chatwood disappear is step 2.  I don’t see the Cubs spending much money here at all (biggest expenditure will probably how much of Chatwood’s deal they have to eat).  Rotation is then set with Montgomery and Mills are the long men/6th starter options (I think I want Mills on the roster all year next year).  They need to add more guys at the AAA level that could also fill in as starters (who knows what to expect from Azolay, but he’s going to make some starts next year if he’s healthy).  I would expect them to make another Morrow/Cishek range signing, maybe a lefty since Wilson is most likely gone.  You have a solid bullpen base with Morrow (for the times he’s healthy)/Strop/Edwards/Montgomery.  Bullpens are hard to predict, so I’d again expect them to approach it with quantity.  In addition to Wilson being gone, I’d also expect Duensing, Kintzler, and Garcia to be removed one way or another.  Anything else is TBD, and I don’t have any specific guys in mind (I would love for Maples to figure his #### out).

Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 03, 2018 at 10:27 AM | 341 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 03, 2018 at 11:19 AM (#5759291)
From the other thread

the other being Heyward PH in a key spot. Both aren't obvious horrible decisions

I disagree - Heyward was an obvious horrible decision. But in the bigger picture, you're right, this was (predictably enough) on the offense. Well, and the managering with the bullpen in the Milwaukee games.


Like I said at the time, I'm not sure that was a bad decision. Second half Heyward was about equal to second half Schwarber, was more likely to make contact, plus the whole really weird Schwarber being the most unclutch guy ever this year. Obviously Heyward sucks with the bat, but Schwarber kinda did too for a while.
   2. Zonk is One Individual Posted: October 03, 2018 at 11:52 AM (#5759318)
I think firing Maddon would be insane.

He's managed the most successful era of ANY living Cubs fan lifetime, by far and it's not even close. The Cubs did not make it to the NLCS for the first time since 2014 - but still won the second most games in the NL. No Cub player - current or former - has uttered so much as a word of complaint about him. The last two weeks of this season sucked, but it would be completely asinine to fire him.

That said - my offseason To Do list...

1)Yes, do fire Davis. A head is demanded and at worst, canning your first-year hitting coach is a bit unfair. Perhaps it's just pointless scapegoating, but who cares? He certainly didn't show anything that would lead anyone to miss him down the road. FWIW, I think I'm increasingly skeptical of hitting coaches who have a 'philosophy'... I mean, I guess they all do to some extent - but I suddenly find myself wary of hitting coaches who get write-ups about a highly specific 'philosophy' and approach.

2) Exercise the Hamels option. The Cubs lack a true #1 stopper - but with the bazillions now aflame on the pile of Darvish, Suckwood with two more years, Lester - who seems to have admirably learned how to adjust to increasingly lesser stuff, but likely entering the period where he's paid more than he's worth; and Hendricks getting expensive? They could really use a solid SP on a one-year deal - even if it's a bit pricey. Hamels is the perfect option.

3) Assuming the criminal code and expense make the shooting of Chatwood into the sun unreasonable, figure out what to do with him... maybe he'd be better off in the bullpen - though, the only thing worse than a SP who walks the world is a reliever who does. Maybe there's a challenge trade out there to be had. I struggle to even consider penciling him to next spring's 5th starter derby.

4) Get some honest and sober health assessment on Bryant. If that includes the idea that LF is best for his long-term health, then so be it. If some kind of surgery is necessary, do it now. Long time till spring - but even if the best medical course has him missing the start of next year, don't futz about with it. Just bite the bullet.

5) Deal with the Russell matter. I don't want him back. To be coldly calculating, I grit my teeth about not trying to get something for him - but I won't complain if he's just non-tendered.

6) Maybe you kick the tires on a Dozier, but frankly - I think I'm OK with 2B next year being Happ/Zo/Bote.

7) The departure of Russell means that the Cubs do now need to add a SS to the 40 man roster not named Freeman. I don't think they necessarily need to be thinking major league contract and a true utility IF expected to spend all season active - but just find a guy without a team you can throw gobs of money at with the understanding he's basically spending the summer at Des Moines unless Javy gets hurt.

8) While the bullpen was surprisingly better - overall - than I'd thought it would be, it's still kind of a mess. Morrow is made of glass. Chavez was clearly their best reliever down the stretch, but I think it would probably be a Duensing Part II to give him a 7 figure deal or two years. Obviously, Duensing can ride shotgun on Suckwood's rocket ship into the sun for all I care. I'd probably non-tender Wilson. They need another reliever, probably two. Despite his rather shitty peripherals, I think I'm OK with Rosario as the top LOOGY.
   3. Kiko Sakata Posted: October 03, 2018 at 11:58 AM (#5759326)
A friend sent me an e-mail that included this: "Scoring one run in each game was certainly not expected". To which I replied, well, losing two games at home was maybe unexpected, but given that, scoring one run in each game was pretty much exactly what you'd expect. That was the Cubs most common final score and they were pretty consistent about that all year. In fact, filtering the game logs to look at the 1-run games, I was reminded, the first time the Cubs scored exactly one run was in the second game of the season, when they lost to the Marlins 2-1 in 17 innings.

And yet, the Cubs were fifth in the NL in scoring and scored 7 or more runs more often than any of the other NL playoff teams.

All of which makes for a tough offseason, I think. Because I can't conceive of how a run distribution like that isn't just random chance.

I suppose the obvious solution is they need to score more runs - keep the weird distribution, but shift the one-run floor up to two runs and the Cubs probably don't have to play on Monday (e.g., they win Game 2 in Miami) and, worst case, they win last night 2-1 in nine innings. And I suppose the obvious way to do that is to go out and sign good hitters - e.g., Harper and/or Machado. That leaves an extremely crowded outfield, of course, and it'd probably be best in that scenario to trade one or two of Schwarber, Almora, and Happ (obviously, I'd include Heyward, but I assume he's un-tradeable).

The pitching side of things is tough, too. Bullpens are a crap shoot, so I half expect Duensing to be lights-out brilliant and Cishek to be worth crap next year. Who the hell knows? As for starters, the big questions are what do we expect out of Darvish and can Tyler Chatwood be saved. If Darvish can be expected to be 100% by spring training, if the Cubs pick up Hamels' option (which, given his age, maybe isn't such an easy decision), they have 5 above-average starters under contract with Montgomery at #6 and Chatwood as a wild card at #7. On the other hand, if you're looking to trade one or two of the young outfielders, it probably makes the most sense to try to get a starting pitcher in that deal. I'd certainly at least ask about DeGrom and/or Syndergaard, although I doubt the Cubs have the pieces to pull that off. But maybe.

One thing that is also needed and maybe didn't get as much attention as perhaps it should have is the Cubs need a better backup catcher. I was fine with them keeping Caratini around all season. He's young, has potential, and could probably start or at least play more regularly for some (mostly bad) teams. But Contreras either wore out by playing too much in the first half or played much of the second half hiding an injury. And being able to push him back to maybe 100-110 games caught and/or be more comfortable giving him a week or two off at a time to nurse nagging injuries would be a big help, I think.

I really have no complaints about Joe Maddon. He can be annoying on a day-to-day basis sometimes and he makes in-game moves that I disagree with in real time. But he did an excellent job this season mixing and matching his position players and dealing with injuries. I'd be very disappointed if the Cubs even gave serious thought to not bringing him back. As for Chili Davis and Jim Hickey - meh, I have no way of really judging them, but it's hard to see how either one of them was an upgrade over the guys they replaced.
   4. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 03, 2018 at 12:03 PM (#5759328)
I'd probably non-tender Wilson.

He's actually a FA.

I struggle to even consider penciling him to next spring's 5th starter derby.

If they exercise Hamels's options, there's no debry: Hendricks, Darvish, Lester, Quintana, Hamels (not listed in any particular order). The derby is for the 6th starter spot - actually, 7th, since unless they trade Montgomery it's going to be him. Considering the age of that rotation, I think the Cubs should plan to have a regular 6th starter/bullpen day during any longer dayoffless stretch in the schedule just to try and keep the innings down and those arms fresh/healthy.

To be coldly calculating, I grit my teeth about not trying to get something for him - but I won't complain if he's just non-tendered.

I don't think it's coldly calculating to try and trade him. It's just reality, and it's reality that someone will absolutely trade for him. Like I said, they *will* get something for him even if he's suspended for a long time (say, half the season).
   5. Zonk is One Individual Posted: October 03, 2018 at 12:12 PM (#5759332)
Well, the guy Hickey replaced didn't exactly have an uneventful summer...
   6. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 03, 2018 at 12:14 PM (#5759334)
If Darvish can be expected to be 100% by spring training

Everything they've said is that he will be. I might question that some, but it's far enough away that I think we have to expect it and they'll probably operate under that assumption.

can Tyler Chatwood be saved.

I honestly don't want to find out.
   7. Zonk is One Individual Posted: October 03, 2018 at 12:28 PM (#5759343)
Darvish will be 33 next August, he's had a couple of major injuries that have cost him nearly two full seasons by this point, thrown a ton of pitches, and while all pitchers are timebombs, I think it would also be fair to say he's had more whispers about potential further injury problems than most.

I tend to think he's never going to be truly "100%" ever again...
   8. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: October 03, 2018 at 12:29 PM (#5759344)
I complained a lot about Joe during the season, but he's not the reason they're going home. The offense was simply too impotent too often this season. Simple as that. That's what the Cubs need to figure out this off-season.

Last night was disappointing, but oddly cathartic once it was over. It's felt like a long time coming, starting with the Brewers surge to start September. Seeing the Cubs bounced wasn't enjoyable, yet it was almost a relief to know that I wouldn't need to spend the next week or two agonizing over this maddening offense.

I'm not sure where they go from here. I'd have to think Chili Davis is in trouble. How much of the offensive woes is his fault is debatable, but seeing a previously strong offensive team put up goose eggs or one run in a QUARTER of their games is just not acceptable for any team that has designs on playoff ball.
   9. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: October 03, 2018 at 12:34 PM (#5759352)
I think the most likely outcome from this offseason is the Cubs retain Hamels, pick up a backup SS and don't make any splashy moves (aside from Russell).

And I'm fine with that. I'm not sure they really need to upgrade the offensive talent level to score more runs.

While it's nice to dream about a huge FA pick up, I'm not sure there's space in the payroll.

Here is the Cots future obligations spreadsheet

The Cubs are already committed to $136 million in 2019. This does not include what they will have to pay to:

Hamels ($20 million option but I bet they do a two year deal with him)
Bryant (Arb 2 and made $10.85 MM last year)
Hendricks (Arb 2 and made $4.75 MM last year)
La Stella (Arb 2 and made $950K last year
Baez (Arb 1)
Montgomery (Arb1)
Schwarber (Arb 1)
Edwards (Arb 1)
   10. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: October 03, 2018 at 12:36 PM (#5759356)
I'm not sure where they go from here. I'd have to think Chili Davis is in trouble. How much of the offensive woes is his fault is debatable, but seeing a previously strong offensive team put up goose eggs or one run in a QUARTER of their games is just not acceptable for any team that has designs on playoff ball.

I agree with Zonk's take. There is no reason to worry about being fair to Davis and the cost of blaming him incorrectly is pretty small.
   11. bfan Posted: October 03, 2018 at 01:03 PM (#5759392)
Reading this reminds me what a talented roster the Cubs have; really. They are not getting as much from their top-end, high cost FA talent (Darvish and Heyward) as they would like (understatement to be sure), but there are a lot of names there that many teams would covet.
   12. Red Voodooin Posted: October 03, 2018 at 01:05 PM (#5759396)
Why is it treated as a foregone conclusion that Russell will be gone? I'm sure Cubs brass is as disgusted in him as we are and everyone else is, but he's going to play baseball somewhere next year and beyond, and he remains a valuable player with significant upside (though admittedly not as high as I once thought.)

I kind of would just want him to just go away, too. He was my favorite player and I'm really pissed at him and haven't been able to bear weighing in on the subject until now and I also think his personal ordeals, for which it appears he was uniquely at fault, are the major reason why he has failed to develop as expected; dark clouds have been hovering over his life for a couple years now, and he sure earned them. I will certainly root for him to get his #### together in life, though.
   13. Zonk is One Individual Posted: October 03, 2018 at 01:11 PM (#5759400)
Reading this reminds me what a talented roster the Cubs have; really. They are not getting as much from their top-end, high cost FA talent (Darvish and Heyward) as they would like (understatement to be sure), but there are a lot of names there that many teams would covet.


Which is really just nuts... I mean, the Heyward signing was a surprise I didn't see coming - but I'll certainly own being thrilled about it and thinking "what a great move!" at the time. Ditto Darvish - prior to the season, if the Cubs were going to buy one of the big SP FAs, he was certainly my preference. I also, of course, loved the Chaffwood signing.

As folks have pointed out - Thed's FA signings haven't been totally a disaster; they've gotten good value from Lester and Zobrist.

Sometimes it almost feels like the universe has some cosmic need to balance out Thed - i.e., they've done so many things right and the team has obviously had enormous success under them, the universe decides it needs to blow up some at-the-time great looking moves in a dumpster fire kind of way.
   14. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 03, 2018 at 01:13 PM (#5759401)
And I'm fine with that. I'm not sure they really need to upgrade the offensive talent level to score more runs.
My God, man, this is getting to Baghdad Bob levels.
   15. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: October 03, 2018 at 01:17 PM (#5759406)
We will destroy all opposition with the mighty bat of Jason Heyward.
   16. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: October 03, 2018 at 01:20 PM (#5759411)
I've love to see them sign a couple good bullpen arms. Otherwise, mostly the same roster. Still a lot of young talent.

Replacing Maddon seems like a bad idea. The players seem to love playing for him, which is job #1.
   17. Zonk is One Individual Posted: October 03, 2018 at 01:26 PM (#5759418)
And I'm fine with that. I'm not sure they really need to upgrade the offensive talent level to score more runs.

My God, man, this is getting to Baghdad Bob levels.


IDK... if some of the guys - Contreras, Bryant, especially - don't bounce back, they're kind of ######.

Rizzo is Rizzo and he was his old, usual self once his back issues went away. He's not going anywhere, nor should he.

We're stuck with Heyward. Maybe you move him to CF and consider a (perhaps now discounted?) Harper.

Whither Schwarbs? I still like him, I buy the fact that he's a legitimate plus in LF now, but 240/350/470 is not what I'd hope for.

Contreras? Suddenly I get the strong stench of Geo Soto from him...

Almora is what he is - a non-terrible bat who plays as much as his glove carries him in CF.

Bryant? He's supposed to be the lineup's anchor. If he ain't that - see above; re: ######

Zobrist is aging, but he had a nice bounceback year.

I like Happ - probably more than most here.

A lot of guys on the right side of 30 - close enough 25, actually - just need to stop backsliding. Be nice if they took even small steps forward, but Contreras just getting back to a ~115 OPS+ rather than 92; Bryant back to ~140, not 115... this is what the lineup needs more than another bat.
   18. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 03, 2018 at 01:50 PM (#5759436)
Why is it treated as a foregone conclusion that Russell will be gone?

Most of the reporters seemed to imply as much when the story was first coming out again. Enough so that I'd be very surprised if he was back.
   19. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 03, 2018 at 02:06 PM (#5759452)
Bryant? He's supposed to be the lineup's anchor. If he ain't that - see above; re: ######

He was really good this year until he got hurt - well, just like everyone besides Javy the power was down - so as long as he gets the shoulder fixed (and I don't see why we should expect it won't be) I am pretty confident he'll be fine.

Darvish will be 33 next August, he's had a couple of major injuries that have cost him nearly two full seasons by this point, thrown a ton of pitches, and while all pitchers are timebombs, I think it would also be fair to say he's had more whispers about potential further injury problems than most.

I tend to think he's never going to be truly "100%" ever again...


Sure, that's a risk with any pitcher, and since he's had injury problems the odds are higher with him. He still didn't have a major injury this year and it appears they know what caused the problem and fixed it. 100% is relative though.

While it's nice to dream about a huge FA pick up, I'm not sure there's space in the payroll.

They stayed under the tax this year, and I'm guessing they've been planning on paying it again. The good thing about the long term big contracts they've given out is that they go down year to year; Heyward's huge numbers are done now, Lester has 1 more big year, and even Darvish goes down from this season. By the time they have to make a bigger and long term decision on either Javy or Bryant, they'd down at 3 big deals again. Obviously the only way it is sustainable is being able to supplement the roster with young, cheap talent, and there doesn't appear to be any more of that in the immediate future. I've said it before, but eventually the Cubs are going to have to really, really spend and that time might be here.

OTOH, I do agree that it's not a need to spend big or something that I'd predict is likely to happen.
   20. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 03, 2018 at 02:42 PM (#5759501)
Bob Nightengale @BNightengale 15m15 minutes ago

Joe Maddon will remain as #Cubs manager through 2019, but there will be no extension. The Cubs will make a determination on his future after 2019 when his 5-year, $28 million contract expires.


I think this is the right way to treat this.
   21. Zonk is One Individual Posted: October 03, 2018 at 02:43 PM (#5759504)
While it's nice to dream about a huge FA pick up, I'm not sure there's space in the payroll.


Honestly, given the Darvish and Heyward signings?

I'd be worried that a Machado or Harper turns out the same way.
   22. Spahn Insane Posted: October 03, 2018 at 02:48 PM (#5759510)
He still didn't have a major injury this year and it appears they know what caused the problem and fixed it.

Yes, but is he in The Best Shape of His Life™?
   23. John DiFool2 Posted: October 03, 2018 at 02:56 PM (#5759521)
A friend sent me an e-mail that included this: "Scoring one run in each game was certainly not expected". To which I replied, well, losing two games at home was maybe unexpected, but given that, scoring one run in each game was pretty much exactly what you'd expect. That was the Cubs most common final score and they were pretty consistent about that all year. In fact, filtering the game logs to look at the 1-run games, I was reminded, the first time the Cubs scored exactly one run was in the second game of the season, when they lost to the Marlins 2-1 in 17 innings.

And yet, the Cubs were fifth in the NL in scoring and scored 7 or more runs more often than any of the other NL playoff teams.


Checked the Red Sox as just one data point of comparison-1 run only 14 times. Cubs, a staggering 28 times. Wow.
   24. Kiko Sakata Posted: October 03, 2018 at 04:28 PM (#5759623)
Addison Russell suspended for 40 games

Per the article, it's retroactive to September 21st, which I think would leave 19 games on it (assuming Game 163 counts but the Wild Card game does not).
   25. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 03, 2018 at 04:43 PM (#5759636)
Typo or do you need to check your math?

It says he's accepted the suspension, and will not appeal. Remember, he categorically denied doing anything.
   26. Kiko Sakata Posted: October 03, 2018 at 04:46 PM (#5759640)
Typo or do you need to check your math?


Sorry: 29, not 19 - I think. It seems odd to me that the article would specify the retroactive start date but not bother to specify how many games that leaves.
   27. McCoy Posted: October 03, 2018 at 04:47 PM (#5759642)
I wrote a bigger post but my work doesn't have access to the internet so I can't post it.

Long story short. Firing Maddon would be dumb. Possible to move on from Maddon after next year should they win 85 games or get knocked out early in the playoffs. Should they go deep they should keep. I would keep him even if they don't as long as it looks it would be a good fit. Davis should be scapegoated. The person who should also be on the hot seat is Theo. Theo has shown quite clearly that he is good at building up an organization. Hasn't quite shown that he is very good at the other aspects. Perhaps bump him up even higher and let someone else run the baseball operations.

Pitching is mostly fine. Pick up some more bullpen pieces. Rehab and nurse Darvish as best you can.

Positional players it would seem to me that Machado makes the most sense and outside of cutting Heyward or telling him he's a 4th OFer from here on out I don't see much they can do out there. I say with a new hitting coach and approach we see what the young guys can do.
   28. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 03, 2018 at 05:02 PM (#5759650)
The person who should also be on the hot seat is Theo. Theo has shown quite clearly that he is good at building up an organization. Hasn't quite shown that he is very good at the other aspects.

What aspects do you mean?
   29. McCoy Posted: October 03, 2018 at 05:17 PM (#5759666)
Signing free agents and doing all the other things one does after you write a book on baseball and create a culture.

It appears that Theo missed Carl Crawford and Daisuke Matsuzaka so much that he went out and got them all over again.
   30. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 03, 2018 at 05:50 PM (#5759702)
Listening to Theo's press conference, will note anything interesting.

-Q: Will Russell play for you again?
Theo: I don't know. Then kind of a repeat of him saying they agree with baseball, have to do more about prevention, be part of the solution. Talking about sending messages to fans through their actions.

First 4 questions all about Russell. Theo keeps bringing it back to the victim, talking about what the Cubs can do so that this never happens again.

-Joe will absolutely be back, denies report of friction with Joe. Haven't discussed anything about the coaching staff yet.

-Our offense broke this year. Talks about first half vs second half, and dramatic difference. Hit more ground balls in the 2nd half than any other team by a large margin, stopped hitting HRs. They have some ideas why, but still working to figure out. Should be better with talent on hand; time to stop evaluating on talent and evaluate more on production. Why aren't we where we should be with individual players; guys should be progressing and too many people trending the wrong way.

(man, he rambles a lot; lot of generic executive speak mixed in)

-Another question on Russell. Same answers as before.

-Specific question about Chili. Says the plan was never to sacrifice power - launch angle is not a fad.

-Feels like he's mentioned they led the league in bullpen ERA a bunch lately. Happy with people that did good work after injuries, but wasn't happy that the bullpen at the end of the year wasn't what they wanted.

-Says they absolutely want to bring Hamels back.

-Finally a question about payroll. Theo doesn't know yet about what they'll spend or have to spend. His standard response that you don't always want to throw money to fix problems. Lot of attractive FAs.

-First year here where injury prevention wasn't that good. Mentioned number of injuries and time it took to get back/how they performed when back.

-Sounds happy with minor league pitching progress, especially at high-A and AA. Plenty of guys that will be in pro camp and likely depth next year.

-Doesn't think Bryant will need surgery. Hopeful rest should help him. Says it was a head first slide where he got hurt (don't remember hearing that before, guess we can probably figure out when it happened). Trusts Bryant to work hard to be better next year.

-Haven't had full medical meeting yet, but no surgeries are scheduled for anyone yet.

-Said offensive decline started before the schedule issues (42 in 43), so he doesn't blame it on that.

-Bluntly admits last season FA moves didn't work this year. Obviously he has to do things better.

-Chatwood: haven't had exit interview with him yet, so won't answer anything on him.

Ok, gotta run, guess I'll read up on anything else interesting later...
   31. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: October 03, 2018 at 06:34 PM (#5759733)
-Doesn't think Bryant will need surgery. Hopeful rest should help him. Says it was a head first slide where he got hurt (don't remember hearing that before, guess we can probably figure out when it happened). Trusts Bryant to work hard to be better next year.


Pretty sure it was earlier in the season going into third base. I wanna say he even left the game.

Edit: maybe I'm thinking of 2017. Dude hurts himself sliding a lot.
   32. Red Voodooin Posted: October 03, 2018 at 07:36 PM (#5759778)
Most of the reporters seemed to imply as much when the story was first coming out again. Enough so that I'd be very surprised if he was back.


I don't recall any such implications, and moreover, wouldn't they have been pretty damn premature at that point (I mean from a CBA perspective, etc)? If the the front office did immediately decide \"#### this guy, he gone no matter what" they wouldn't leak that to reporters or tip their hand, that would be dumb.

There's too small a sample size to determine a pattern with what teams do with players who receive these suspensions.
   33. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: October 03, 2018 at 08:56 PM (#5759859)
Checked the Red Sox as just one data point of comparison-1 run only 14 times. Cubs, a staggering 28 times. Wow.

The Cubs scored 761 runs this year.

Last year, the Cards scored 761 runs. (One fewer game played, but so what).
Before that, the 2005 Angels were the last team to score 761 runs in a season. Beyond them, it's the 2004 Dodgers next. The the 1984 Indians

2018 CHC: 11 times shutout, 28 times held to 1 run, 16 times held to two runs.
2017 STL: 6 times shutout, 15 times held to 1 run, 23 times held to two runs.
2005 LAA: 6 times shutout, 15 times held to 1 run, 18 times held to two runs.
2004 LAD: 12 times shutout, 18 times held to 1 run, 15 times held to two runs.
1984 CLE: 7 times shutout, 22 times held to 1 run, 19 times held to two runs

I'm gonna guess that if I broaden the scope to teams scoring 756-766 runs (or 751-771 runs), I'll see a similar pattern. The 2018 Cubs are something of an outlier in how often they scored so few runs given their overall total runs scored for the season. There are a few seasons that get close to them in the 0-1 runs scored thing, but no one really comes close.

(For what it's worth, in terms of 0-1 runs scored, it's: 39 times for the Cubs, 30 times Dodgers, 29 times Indians, and 21 for both the Cards and Angels. Make it 0-2 runs and it's 55 times for the Cubs, 48 times for the Indians, 45 times for the Dodgers, 44 times for the Cards, and 39 times for the Angels).

So the gap narrows at 2 runs scored. But while a team's chances of winning are bad when you score 2 runs, it's still a lot better than when you score 1 run.

Was the feast/famine of the Cubs 2018 offense a fluke or a sign of a larger issue? (shrugs) I dunno.
   34. Red Voodooin Posted: October 03, 2018 at 09:24 PM (#5759893)
Was the feast/famine of the Cubs 2018 offense a fluke or a sign of a larger issue? (shrugs) I dunno.


Have you looked at the 2015, 2016 and 2017 Cubs to see if there was a similar (though certainly not as extreme) pattern? It seems like even the 2016 Cubs had a reputation, at least around here, for a team that might explode for 8 runs at any point, but could also go games without producing. It was certainly notable that the WS Champs were shut out twice in the LCS and the WS. Basically they lost six games all postseason and four of them were shutouts.
   35. Meatwad Posted: October 03, 2018 at 10:31 PM (#5759930)
You guys are forgetting the cubs have starting depth in Smiley. He would be the 6th man ahead of monty I think.
   36. Walt Davis Posted: October 04, 2018 at 01:59 AM (#5759973)
There's probably not much in the intro that needs retracting ... maybe you should post more when hungover. :-)

Key issues in order I thought of them:

CF -- if we (or any of the other teams) could replay last offseason, we'd have signed Cain. I don't have a clue how to fix/improve Almora but he was still a bit above-average overall so if I have to stick with current personnel, I still want to see him out there for about 120 starts a year. Neither is terrible but I just don't like Happ or Heyward in CF. I do have a natural tendency to sacrifice some offense for defense with no real idea that it works.

Anyway, I have no idea if any good CFs are available -- which I assume means no unless maybe we want to gamble on a trade for Gardner (who didn't hit and didn't play much CF). Seems AJ Pollock is an FA but he's been very fragile and is turning 31.

2B -- If Russell is traded, I expect the Cubs to do something here. I don't think Joe believes Happ can play 2B well enough, I'm sure they know they can't rely on Zobrist for more than 80 starts (we can always hope) or for his bat to survive, and I assume we see Bote as (at best) a solid backup 3B/2B/1B/LF type. The "solution" could be a year of Murphy. Unfortunately, unless he's willing to play 2B, I don't think Machado is the answer -- sure, they could put him at SS and Javy at 2B but his defensive numbers didn't look good there. (I don't think I saw him all year.)

LeMahieu is an FA and b-r loves his defense but the BA is heavily Coors related (264/311/362 on the road ... even if that's partly the supposed "hangover" effect, 280/330/380 still don't look too hot). Panik is probably available but he hasn't had a good season since 2015. That leaves ... Starlin Castro who has 1/$12 left.

So I'm guessing we are stuck with some Zo/Bote/back-up combo unless Russell stays or Russell brings some 2B option in return (Russell for Castro wouldn't be nuts).

Money/payroll -- seems "problematic." Bryant's off year will keep his next year under reasonable control and may be the leverage the Cubs need to get Boras to at least agree to a 3-year contract covering the arb years at a "reasonable" price. We obviously exercise the options on Q and Strop ($16 total), Kintzler has a player option at $5 M which is an interesting decision for him (he should probably decline). Exercising Hamel's option would add a lot but that's good leverage for him in negotiating a 2-3 year contract. Even if they can get Hamels for 2/$30, they'd still be around $170-175 guaranteed depending on Kintzler. Add $30+ M in arb and they're near the lux tax threshold already. Trading/non-tendering Russell would shave $5-6 off of that ... or add in the short-term if we got somebody like Castro. I don't see a lot of money for bullpen additions, new CF/2B, etc. We might be kinda stuck unless they are willing to roll past the threshold.

Maddon, Davis, etc. -- Yeah, I think we just let Chili go and hope for rebounds. At least Theo is making it clear they know something went haywire in the second half ... although it sounds like they know GBs is the wrong approach so it's not clear how they ended up someplace they didn't intend to be. On Hickey ... if you'd asked me at the break, I might have canned him. But the first half problem was mainly walks and in the 2nd half they shaved the BB/9 but a full walk although they were still a bit below the league K/BB I think. RA/game was actually up a bit post-break which surprises me but not enough to worry about and allowing 4 R/G is fine.

Stuff -- bWAR still credits us with good defense and positive DP avoidance and base-running so it would seem to just be about fixing the bats. We had 10 average or better position players although bWAR is down a good bit on LaStella, Caratini, Happ (and Murphy). And the 4th best pitching overall although well behind Phi, Wash and Col (only one of which concerned us) and not outstanding or anything. We still ended up with 95 real wins, 94 pythag wins and the 2nd-best run differential in the league. The Brewers were 5 games over their pythag, the Rox 6 over, the Cards at their pythag. At current talent levels, you'd still project us only behind the Dodgers and maybe the Braves next year (depending on whether you have more faith in "young" or the "plexiglass principle").

Caratini -- Joe definitely over-worked Contreras in the first half and probably the beginning of the second half. But he ended up with just 123 GS which is not a particularly big load for a starting C. Caratini ended up with 200 PA although about 1/4 of those would have come at 1B or elsewhere. If I added right, he got 23 starts in the second 81 games after he was called back up from AAA so that's nearly 30%, a pretty standard backup C usage. Granged 4 of those did come in the last 10 games but it was primarily the first half when Joe abused Willson. Anyway, whether he wanted to or not, Joe didn't particularly avoid Caratini after the recall and I've got doubts the Cubs are going to find a better backup. And Alex Avila put up a 59 OPS+ this year so it's just as well the Cubs didn't take my advice last year.

Concerns -- I guess just all of the obvious ones which everybody has already mentioned to boot. Which offense shows up next year? The OF was thoroughly average overall this year and there's no particularly good reason to expect much better next year. Assuming we lose Russell, that's a pretty substantial blow to the IF unless we find a good 2B. I'm not sure what's up with Willson. As it stands, the bullpen has Morrow, Strop, Edwards, Cishek and (I suppose) Montgomery so that's a solid start (not a great start) but don't see the money to add a major arm there. Rotation is most directly a question of Darvish and Chatwood ... and I suppose we can expect better out of Q but probably worse out of Lester (at least worse results, he was still a full run ahead of his FIP).

Prospects -- We really need at least a couple of the pitchers we cycled through this year to establish themselves as useful. On the horizon, mlb.com just released their end of season lists and the Cubs placed a 19-yo A-ball C at #89. On the Cubs-specific list (not sure if this was fully updated or not), nearly everybody after that is a pitcher which is mainly what we need but none of them show much promise yet. Of course Torres looked outstanding, Eloy abides at #3 and Cease was one of the biggest movers on mlb's list jumping up to #25. Oh well. I can't criticize Theo for the Q trade without criticizing myself (moi? wrong?) and I was also reluctant to trade Schwarber at the 2016 deadline.

Summary -- oh oh, we look more like one of those teams that's OK-good everywhere and is locked into a set of players, so we are threatening to stagnate/decline and there's really not much we can do about it. That's the half-empty version ... and apparently the glass is big enough for 190 wins. Help is not on the way (half-empty) ... and we don't need any because we have an entire starting lineup and solid (on paper) rotation under contract for 2-3 more years and the position players are all in their prime. We scored only 1 run in 3 of our last 4 games to tumble embarrassingly out of the division and playoffs ... and still project better for 2019 than any of those 3 teams.

I blame Theo for making me dissatisfied with a team that didn't convince me they had a good shot at a WS title.
   37. Walt Davis Posted: October 04, 2018 at 02:09 AM (#5759975)
Addendums: At least on paper, I'm fine with signing Machado for 3B and moving KB to the OF ... presumably leading to a trade of some combo of Schwarber/Russell/Happ/Almora for a 2B or CF.

Also my distaste for Happ/Heyward in CF is partly because all it buys us is adding the bat of Happ/Schwarber/Zo to the lineup. (Zo was very good this year, that's not meant as a disparagement ... and as it stands, he'll spent most of his time at 2B next year anyway.) I'll downgrade defense for a big boost in offense but not particularly for Ian Happ.

"Help is not on the way" ... I mean from within, in the near-term.
   38. bfan Posted: October 04, 2018 at 09:04 AM (#5760016)
It's funny; fan-bases penciling in Machado and Harper, and figuring out how the rest of the team fits around them, include at least the Phillies; Cubs; Braves; Dodgers; Giants; and Yankees. I have little doubt that the Angels would be a player for one of them, also.

Of all of those teams, because of the quality and depth of their position players, I think the Cubs are the least in need of one of those players, as it almost certainly requires a major trade, or sitting a talented but perishable product on the bench for a year.

I do get that Cubs fans expect to snag one of the top free agents available every year (Lester; Heyward; Darvish 3 of the last 4 years), but I think there are more teams feeling close to contention with the money to get one of these guys.
   39. stig-tossled, hornswoggled gef the typing mongoose Posted: October 04, 2018 at 10:15 AM (#5760090)
I wrote a bigger post but my work doesn't have access to the internet so I can't post it.


Is that even legal?
   40. Brian C Posted: October 04, 2018 at 10:36 AM (#5760116)
I've said this before, but it remains true:

The trajectory the Cubs are on looks a lot like the Blackhawks did during their run: build a strong core of young players, win a championship, then stagnate as the FO has a tough time supplementing the core with trades and FA signings.

The happy ending here is that the 'Hawks won 2 more championships after a 2-season lull proceeding the first one. I don't think anyone questions that the Cubs have a WS-contending core - they just won 95 games, for chrissakes. It's just a matter of a) making some minor moves to address some flaws, b) having the patience not to do anything stupid to #### it up, and c) getting some good luck along the way.
   41. Spahn Insane Posted: October 04, 2018 at 11:43 AM (#5760173)
The trajectory the Cubs are on looks a lot like the Blackhawks did during their run: build a strong core of young players, win a championship, then stagnate as the FO has a tough time supplementing the core with trades and FA signings.

If they follow the Blackhawks' timeline, they'll win titles in 2019 and 2021.
   42. Red Voodooin Posted: October 04, 2018 at 12:22 PM (#5760220)
So do we know who the "mystery dude on his iPad" was????
   43. Kiko Sakata Posted: October 04, 2018 at 12:35 PM (#5760230)
If they follow the Blackhawks' timeline, they'll win titles in 2019 and 2021.


The first two seasons after the Red Sox broke their big drought (2004), they got swept in the first round of the playoffs (by the White Sox) and then missed the playoffs entirely before winning again in 2007. A Cubs World Series win in 2019 would also match that.
   44. McCoy Posted: October 04, 2018 at 06:02 PM (#5760531)
Is that even legal?

The internet went down.
   45. McCoy Posted: October 04, 2018 at 06:09 PM (#5760539)
I don't think "minor moves" will be enough nor will that be all Theo does. I mean adding Darvish and Hamels already moves them out of minor moves. One way or the other we're going to have a new starting infielder and that could lead to a different looking OF. Catchers not named Yadier Molina tend to bounce around from team to team and everybody's pen changes year to year.

Sure this team might have at its core Baez, Bryant, and Rizzo but the 5 other guys around them might have some different names come 2020.
   46. Walt Davis Posted: October 04, 2018 at 11:12 PM (#5760845)
I think the Cubs are the least in need of one of those players, as it almost certainly requires a major trade, or sitting a talented but perishable product on the bench for a year.

Not so sure about that. Sure it's complicated but, if Russell is traded for the obvious reason, we have an obvious need at 2B; if he's not, Machado to 3B and Bryant to the OF (where he has experience and may stay healthier) upgrades our blah OF.

Meanwhile the Yanks just got a 118 OPS+ out of their 21-yo 2B, a 126 OPS+ out of their 23-yo 3B and a 120 OPS+ out of their 28-yo SS. The Dodgers have Justin Turner (151 OPS+) at 3B and Corey Seager at SS -- possibly Seager moves to 2B and Machado at SS but that's not much more appealing than moving Baez back to 2B to accommodate Machado. For the Braves, Albies slumped to a 102 OPS+ but at age 21; Swanson had a very Russell-esque season and Camargo is 24 and put up a 116 OPS+ (and I think they have a hot 3B prospect?).

The Phils and Giants could use Manny at almost any position but C and 1B.

So, if he'll accept a move to 2B, the Dodgers could add him more easily than the Cubs but, in that scenario, the Cubs could add him easily if they trade Russell who we think they're going to trade anyway. Otherwise, either the Dodgers or Cubs would require moving a star player (or subsequent trade). For both the Yanks, they'd either have to move their solid SS or one of their promising kids; for the Braves, they'd have to move a promising kid -- probably Camargo for the Yanks; Swanson for the Braves (if they think Manny can handle SS). And of course Didi's offense is likely to regress but he's still a 3-WAR SS -- you don't move guys like that unless they are abusive ########.

Maybe the Cubs have more follow-on effects like needing to trade at least one of Happ/Schwarber/Almora ... but the whole "problem" is that those guys are starting to look mighty average, limited, not full-time players ... all else equal, we'd rather have them than not but they don't play much role in a decision about a player like Machado ... who looked not so amazing last year or his time in LA this year.
   47. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: October 04, 2018 at 11:42 PM (#5760865)
Addendums: At least on paper, I'm fine with signing Machado for 3B and moving KB to the OF ... presumably leading to a trade of some combo of Schwarber/Russell/Happ/Almora for a 2B or CF.

My perfect-world Machado signing would be to add him to the multi-positional train that has been such a strength for the Cubs over the last few years - have him as the primary 2B, but he also spells Baez at short, and plays third on Bryant's days off (or when Bryant plays OF, or when Rizzo is off and Bryant plays first). Baez being locked in as the starting SS due to Russell's absence cost the team a lot of versatility down the stretch, and I'd like to see that restored.

No idea if Machado would be remotely interested in that type of role, though. (And they could achieve the same thing by just picking up another capable defensive shortstop and giving Baez his old job back; not sure what the non-Machado options are at short this offseason.)
   48. Walt Davis Posted: October 05, 2018 at 02:14 AM (#5760911)
Yeah, I'm sort of assuming that Machado's not particularly amenable to moving to 2B. I think that just because (a) he wanted to move to SS and (b) he's been such an outstanding 3B, if he's gonna move back off SS which he probably should, he'd want to move back to where he had success. Plus his arm is kinda wasted at 2B.

On the other matter -- if there's no Russell then it's very unlikely the Cubs would have a SS good enough to spell Javy while moving him to 2B. Much like Russell never played anything but SS (when we finally put him there in 2015), I suspect Javy won't play anything but SS for the Cubs for the next few years unless Russell is still around. But sure, he'll get some days off and if Machado is around, he can play SS on those days (flyball starter hopefully). But all told Javy got 145 starts this year despite Russell's presence and Zobrist's renaissance so I don't expect him to get a lot of days off next year. I suppose Bryant's injury led to a few more Baez starts than he'd have gotten otherwise.

Factoid that I hadn't quite realized -- between Russell's injuries and bat, over the last 2 years, Javy has 131 starts at 2B and 119 at SS, much closer than I'd have thought. Add 22 starts at 3B and he's had more away from 2B than at 2B. He actually had more SS starts than 2B starts last year. (He gets a lot of substituted time at 2B so games played is not as close.)
   49. Zonk is One Individual Posted: October 05, 2018 at 11:45 AM (#5761069)
Well, he's not an option next year certainly - but it ought to be noted that while I think most scouts think his arm may be a bit lacking to handle SS full-time, Nico Hoerner certainly grades out as a MI and ought to be able to move relatively fast.

Obviously, one wants to see more than a few dozen pro PAs - but unless he completely flops, he's probably a MI option at least part-time as soon as sometime in 2020.

IOW - I'm not all that averse to filler behind Baez at SS in 2019... though, like I said, I'd just really like it to be filler not named Freeman.
   50. Red Voodooin Posted: October 05, 2018 at 01:40 PM (#5761175)
In other considerations, I wonder if the Cubs are thinking about trying to sign any current players to a contract extension. I'm thinking that Hendricks might be someone we'd want to extend, then again, do you ever really want to extend a pitcher with multiple years left?
   51. Dandy Little Glove Man Posted: October 05, 2018 at 03:53 PM (#5761282)
I think Whit Merrifield is the most logical trade target. He's a plus defender at 2B or CF, which look like the biggest holes for next year if Javy moves to SS full-time. He's also a line-drive hitter with plate discipline, speed, and 4 more years of team control. This past season he was a top-20 position player according to both fangraphs and b-ref WAR. And unlike all the other top position players, Merrifield should be reasonably available because of his age (turning 30 in a few months) and the fact that his team is nowhere near contention.

What would a deal look like? Maybe something like Happ and Russell for Merrifield? I'm still high on Happ so I wouldn't feel great about it, but such a move would fit Theo's stated objective of focusing on production over talent.
   52. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 05, 2018 at 03:59 PM (#5761287)
Theo, as he's getting soaked with champagne after the Cubs win the 2019 World Series: "Man, what a group of guys...they have no talent whatsoever, but boy, did they ever produce!"
   53. Walt Davis Posted: October 05, 2018 at 05:17 PM (#5761366)
Well I'll be -- Whit Merrifield had 5.5 WAR this year following 3.8 last year. Or if you prefer 4.5 and 3.3 oWAR. That is some quality late blooming.
   54. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: October 08, 2018 at 05:08 PM (#5762643)
As it appears the Indians are about to be bounced from the Division Series for the second consecutive year, it drives home further how despite the disappointments of the last two seasons, we Cub fans need to be appreciative that they at least got their championship. Nothing is promised.
   55. Walt Davis Posted: October 09, 2018 at 12:49 AM (#5762928)
Nico Hoerner

As you say, it's super early but mlb ranks him as just the Cubs' #6 prospect right now. Given the lack of excitement over the others (#1 is a defense-first C), I'm taking that as a sign he's got a long way to go. He is slated for the Fall League and that's usually a sign that at least somebody thinks he's got a shot.

Trivia: he was the 24th pick. The best #24s of all-time are Alex Fernandez and Rondell White, basically tied in WAR. Only 7 #24 picks have topped 3.5 career WAR (which is also the average give or take) although Buehler should make it eight next year ... still a fair bit from Randall Grichuk with 9 WAR. Of course Grichuk was picked back-to-back with Trout by the Angels ... Trout would have done wonders for the average WAR of a #24 pick. :-) Randomness of the draft, both #23 and #25 have turned out a good bit better than #24 (about twice the average WAR, deeper decent players). Anyway, I'll be happy if he turns out better than Trout, maybe if he's as good as Rondell White. :-)
   56. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 09, 2018 at 10:37 AM (#5763050)
Catching up, now that most of the other Cubs discussions on the mainland have died down

What would a deal look like? Maybe something like Happ and Russell for Merrifield? I'm still high on Happ so I wouldn't feel great about it, but such a move would fit Theo's stated objective of focusing on production over talent.

Merrifield definitely feels like a guy the Royals probably should consider moving, but I wonder if they'd want even younger guys (or if they think they're closer to being decent again than the really are). Merrifield kinda feels like what Happ's ceiling might be - if not the exact shape, but the overall value I'd say. Merrifield would also "solve" the leadoff "problem". Has he established a new level or did he just have a career year?

Yeah, I'm sort of assuming that Machado's not particularly amenable to moving to 2B. I think that just because (a) he wanted to move to SS and (b) he's been such an outstanding 3B, if he's gonna move back off SS which he probably should, he'd want to move back to where he had success. Plus his arm is kinda wasted at 2B.

Right, I don't know why you'd try Machado at 2b. Ideally, he's the 3b, but from what I've seen of the playoffs I think he could be ok at SS. I know the numbers are extreme, but at least based on the (limited) eye test they seem to be worse than he appears to be.

In other considerations, I wonder if the Cubs are thinking about trying to sign any current players to a contract extension. I'm thinking that Hendricks might be someone we'd want to extend, then again, do you ever really want to extend a pitcher with multiple years left?

They've talked about trying to do this the last 2 offseasons, but no one has signed. Not sure if they'd tried everyone and got shot down or what. I haven't seen anything this year about it yet.

I don't think "minor moves" will be enough nor will that be all Theo does. I mean adding Darvish and Hamels already moves them out of minor moves. One way or the other we're going to have a new starting infielder and that could lead to a different looking OF. Catchers not named Yadier Molina tend to bounce around from team to team and everybody's pen changes year to year.

Sure this team might have at its core Baez, Bryant, and Rizzo but the 5 other guys around them might have some different names come 2020.


Agreed.

So do we know who the "mystery dude on his iPad" was????

No. I would guess someone not on the roster, so Chatwood or Darvish.

You guys are forgetting the cubs have starting depth in Smiley. He would be the 6th man ahead of monty I think.

Yes, totally forgot about him. I guess this means that perhaps Montgomery could be trade bait.

I don't recall any such implications, and moreover, wouldn't they have been pretty damn premature at that point (I mean from a CBA perspective, etc)? If the the front office did immediately decide \"#### this guy, he gone no matter what" they wouldn't leak that to reporters or tip their hand, that would be dumb.

Yeah, premature, but I think the implication was the Cubs were pretty disgusted it came back up and were also annoyed with Russell lying to them about it. Mostly twitter, but both national (Rosenthal, Heyman) and local (Gonzalez, Miles) all made comments that they thought he'd played his last game as a Cub. Gonzalez did a thing on the Trib where he talked about who'd be on the roster and not next year, and he had Russell in the "not returning" group (he also had Happ and Schwarber in that bucket, and Chatwood in the "back on the roster" one).
   57. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 09, 2018 at 03:04 PM (#5763308)
MLBTR's arb predictions are out:

Cubs (8)

Kris Bryant – $12.4MM
Kyle Hendricks – $7.6MM
Javier Baez – $7.1MM
Addison Russell – $4.3MM
Kyle Schwarber – $3.1MM
Mike Montgomery – $3.0MM
Carl Edwards Jr. – $1.4MM
Tommy La Stella – $1.2MM


So, $40.6mil (or $35.8 if we take off Russell's) total, added to $136mil already owed*. Tax is $206mil - that's ~$34mil of space. Obviously no way they stay under the tax if they sign Harper or Machado, but they could also easily blow past the tax amount with just going after a couple RP and bench parts. Actually, picking up options for Hamels ($20mil), Quintana ($10.5mil), and Strop (6.25mil), plus those arbs (except Russell) puts them at $203mil per my calculation. Obviously that also includes Chatwood, who I assume they'll try and dump some or most of his deal (12.67mil), and Duensing's $3.5mil (even if they cut him, they'd owe that), and maybe someone like Schwarber is trade bait.

Those are up from 10.85MM, 4.175MM, 675K 3.2MM, 604.5K, 611K, 594K, and 950K, respectively, in 2018.

*Just using Pop's from post 9, but I'm not sure if that includes both Strop's and Quintana's options that are surely going to be picked up (Cot's shows $131mil, which includes their buy-out payments and not their salaries, so I'd guess it's really $146mil).
   58. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: October 09, 2018 at 04:25 PM (#5763406)

*Just using Pop's from post 9, but I'm not sure if that includes both Strop's and Quintana's options that are surely going to be picked up (Cot's shows $131mil, which includes their buy-out payments and not their salaries, so I'd guess it's really $146mil).


Thanks for picking up on that. I just looked at the column total for 2019 and all the rows with arb in them.

I think it's safe to say the Cubs are going to be sitting out the big name FAs. I don't see an avenue to clear enough dead-ish money from the books unless they decide to move on without Hamels. Now that I think about it; I guess it's not that crazy of an idea if they believe in Darvish. Lester/Quintana/Hendricks/Darvish/Montgomery/Smyly/Chatwood isn't that bad. It might even be good.
   59. Zonk is One Individual Posted: October 09, 2018 at 05:37 PM (#5763460)
Nothing but specific - just a lot of "everyone seems happy" - but sure sounds like Hamels will be back.
   60. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 09, 2018 at 05:46 PM (#5763469)
Right, he'll be back. I guess they don't have to pick up the option, they can decline it and come to a different deal (a little longer, spread the money out) so they can still get the $6mil from the Rangers. Since both sides have already said they want it to happen, I'll be shocked if he's not on the team.

As for FA, if the Cubs are likely to go into the tax, I don't see why they'd do so for some relievers and not a big ticket guy. Yes, the amount of tax matters, but at some point I think and expect (and don't think I'm alone in this) them to act like a really big player.

Another way to possibly save some money (if that even is a goal) is deal someone like Quintana. He still has trade value - not as much as he did 1.5 years ago, but if the Cubs do believe in Darvish (and Hamels and Smyly), maybe he's the best option to try and move.
   61. Walt Davis Posted: October 10, 2018 at 01:17 AM (#5763825)
I don't keep track of arb like I used to but I will WAG:

Bryant is a bit low. Yes he was hurt but was still good (in arb terms) when he played and it was 457 PA. I think he was looking at something in the range of $16-18 with a typical season so I'm thinking they'll give him about half that raise so something in the $13-14 range.

Hendricks looks a bit low as well. Seems to me he got less than he should have last year; I think this year cemented him on a 4/8/12 track. Not that $7.6 and $8.2 are particularly different.

Baez looks too high. He definitely picked the right year to have a big year so I won't rule it out but this is his first as a truly full-time player and that (usually) matters in arb. I'm not sure who to comp him to. Mookie's too good, Lindor and Correa hit arb this year. So ...

Bogaerts -- full-time starter for 3 years with 4.5 and 3.8 WAR in the last two, OPS+ of 107 and 111, made the AS team in year 3 ... got $4.5 in arb 1, $7 in arb 2. Javy might be better but probably not by much in the arbitrator's eyes given the lower PT ... I don't think they'd see him he as the equivalent of arb 2 Bogaerts.

Russell -- super-2, got $3.2. Service time matters and PT matters and hitting matters but I'm not sure they $4 M matter. Agreed he's not likely to get much of a raise.

Panik -- Javy's better, especially by WAR, but Panik got just $3.5

Bogaerts is probably closest so I'll WAG Javy at $5.5-6.

By the Panik/Russell logic, Schwarber looks a smidgen too high -- he's never been a full-timer, he missed a full season, he's got 2.7 WAR in about 2 full seasons of PAs. $3 M is full-time starter money. No AS games or MVP love or league-leading anything to point to while the Cubs could trot out poor fielding and unclutchiness if they wanted to. That said, the Cubs still seem to like him and I doubt they'll go to arb and $3.1 M should keep them out of arb.

And even if I'm right, those roughly balance and will have no real impact on available payroll. Just nitpicking.
   62. Quaker Posted: October 10, 2018 at 10:17 AM (#5763895)
Is it confirmed that the Cubs can decline + resign and still get the $$ from the Rangers? I had had that thought but wondered if an obvious workaround like that would be considered unethical or something.

Who here is on Team Bryce vs. Team Machado?
   63. Zonk is One Individual Posted: October 10, 2018 at 10:23 AM (#5763904)
Who here is on Team Bryce vs. Team Machado?


Depends if Machado would give 2B a shot - or - be willing to move back to 3B. If he insists on playing SS - I'm just a ton less interested.

Harper, depends on the discount he'll offer to play with his buddy Kris - and the fact that he should be getting a contract more reflective of his 6 quite fine years, not his 1 ceiling year.

Which, I suppose, is a long way of saying neither... since both will be belles of the free agent ball and likely don't need to settle for someone putting demands on them.
   64. Quaker Posted: October 10, 2018 at 10:52 AM (#5763942)
It seems that most of Theo's big-$$ FA signings have targeted versatile and well-rounded players who offer defensive value rather than pure sluggers. Zobrist, Heyward & Crawford would all fit that mold. Granted 2 of those 3 contracts didn't work out very well, but it makes me think that if prices were the same the Cubs would favor Machado.

Kind of funny that most everyone was opposed to the Russell for Machado rumors that popped up earlier this year. In retrospect, that deal would have been pretty appealing. Probably gets the Cubs into the real playoffs and keeps the Dodgers out.
   65. Zonk is One Individual Posted: October 10, 2018 at 11:05 AM (#5763966)
Kind of funny that most everyone was opposed to the Russell for Machado rumors that popped up earlier this year. In retrospect, that deal would have been pretty appealing. Probably gets the Cubs into the real playoffs and keeps the Dodgers out.


No kidding.

All I can do is keep standing on a toilet, trying to hang a clock, and falling off and hitting my head. Alas, no revelations or visions yet.
   66. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 10, 2018 at 11:33 AM (#5763985)
Which, I suppose, is a long way of saying neither... since both will be belles of the free agent ball and likely don't need to settle for someone putting demands on them.
Likewise. The sort of contract they will be demanding never works out well.
   67. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 10, 2018 at 12:11 PM (#5764009)
Kind of funny that most everyone was opposed to the Russell for Machado rumors that popped up earlier this year. In retrospect, that deal would have been pretty appealing. Probably gets the Cubs into the real playoffs and keeps the Dodgers out.

Yes, I've had that thought. It pains me so.

Is it confirmed that the Cubs can decline + resign and still get the $$ from the Rangers? I had had that thought but wondered if an obvious workaround like that would be considered unethical or something.

I think there's been only speculation on that. I could see both how opt-out re-sign and get the money is against the spirit of the agreement and how it isn't (this one is harder, but if the Cubs wanted to keep him and he didn't want to stay, I could see how that would mean the Cubs shouldn't get the money). Of course, I don't know how where that money comes from actually counts for the tax - a lower AAV is better and it's not like the Cubs are hurting for $6mil.

It seems that most of Theo's big-$$ FA signings have targeted versatile and well-rounded players who offer defensive value rather than pure sluggers. Zobrist, Heyward & Crawford would all fit that mold. Granted 2 of those 3 contracts didn't work out very well, but it makes me think that if prices were the same the Cubs would favor Machado.

In some way, most FA deals don't work out - yes, Theo does have some real stinkers - and both guys really do have risks. Machado timed out his breakout offensive year better than Harper, but both of them timed out reaching FA at the right age.

One thing I've been thinking about is if signing one of them means the Cubs won't (or can't) sign Bryant when he fits FA. If so, does signing one of them mean they're choosing that guy over Bryant? I think the age at FA matters some - would you rather have Machado/Harper 26-36 than Bryant 30-40 (give or take)? I think the answer is yes, but you also are getting Bryant 27-29 with Machado/Harper 26-28. Heyward's deal really does complicate things. I guess you also have to look at the FA classes the next 2 offseasons before Bryant to see what if any other FAs are going to be worth pursuing the try and compliment the roster.

Yet at the same time, I've reached the point with this Cubs roster/stage that I feel money shouldn't be a determining factor in making these decisions anymore. There's a real opportunity* over the next couple of years with the current group - and especially the current rotation - that means the Cubs really should be leveraging hard to win those years. Betting big on the Quintana trade was one way they've already done that.

Are Harper and Machado likely to be overpaid? Yes. Are they still likely to be good players? Also yes. They paid Heyward like a superstar, which was a mistake. Probably can say the same thing about the Crawford deal in Boston. Harper and Machado seem like much safer bets though, so I'm probably just talking myself into another mistake, but I'm not at all opposed to either of them based purely on the cost in dollars.

I honestly don't know which guy I prefer. I worry more about the offense today, and I'm more comfortable in Harper's offense - and how that offense fits - than Machado's. I think Machado is a better overall player. I also could be wrong in that. I think Harper will come a little cheaper, but that's not a factor for me I don't think. I'll be happy with either (but completely don't understand the idea that you'd ask Machado to play 2b, that's just dumb).

*Trying not to use "window" anymore

   68. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 10, 2018 at 12:28 PM (#5764021)
I worry more about the offense today
You don't say.
   69. Zonk is One Individual Posted: October 10, 2018 at 12:38 PM (#5764026)
*Trying not to use "window" anymore


Yeah, I don't think we should, either.

At this point, what I really want to see out of the organization as a whole is for the farm system to start producing more than just trade chits. They've had a pretty extraordinary run of 1st rounds -- Baez-Almora-Bryant-Schwarber-Happ all producing value, with two guys that have starred and three others rising to the level of fairly decent role players/starters is excellent work, even accepting all but Happ being top 10 picks. That's not just a tanking artifact - plenty of top X picks wash out, and even with three of them being advanced and relatively as safe as possible college hitters, still some nifty scouting work (and some luck).

Always nice to find a lotto ticket jackpot - but they don't particularly even need to mine more stars... guys who look like solid role players like Bote is fine. But - they do definitely need to find some live arms who can help. Continually chasing a stray Duenseng or paying (relatively) decent bucks to a Cishek or Morrow shouldn't be the extent of the pitching staff. A few Farnsworths or Juan Cruz sorts is fine.

There's no reason a team with the nucleus we have needs to start thinking cycles - the Darward dollars may crimp some options for a few seasons, but the Cubs should still be able to afford clear needs when they exist. But the farm system needs to start producing some guys who fill those 20th to 25th roster spots well enough that we're not continually picking over the bargain bins or dealing kids to fill them.

I don't care so much (well, I do, but I understand it is what it is) about suddenly booming into the BA top 5 systems or anything like that... but in the next year or so, I think the Cubs need to have a decent group of minor leaguers that most analysts would put in the "he can help" pile, even if they don't have any Bryants on the horizon.
   70. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 10, 2018 at 02:10 PM (#5764117)
Over the last several months, the Cubs approached 2016 National League MVP Kris Bryant about a contract extension worth north of $200 million, which he turned down, a source told ESPN's David Kaplan.

Bryant's agent Scott Boras, who has a reputation for finding lucrative long-term deals for his clients, preferred to go year-to-year in arbitration instead, according to Kaplan's source.


There's a lot unknown in that rumor. However I'm sure that the truth can have an impact how the Cubs treat FA this year.
   71. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: October 10, 2018 at 03:06 PM (#5764168)
Bryant has a potential grievance in his back pocket and is probably telling the Cubs he intends to be a free agent after the 2020 season so they should price their offers accordingly.
   72. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 11, 2018 at 10:02 AM (#5764514)
2021, thanks to the grievance issue.

Anyway, Kaplan or the athletic?

On Wednesday, ESPN 1000 host David Kaplan suggested that “in the last several months” the Cubs had approached Boras and Bryant regarding “a massive extension,” worth “well north of $200 million” and Boras and Bryant turned it down. However, sources told The Athletic that the specifics of that suggestion (dubbed “whispers”) are “simply not true.” While the Cubs have approached Bryant in previous offseasons about an extension, there has been no new activity on that front. As is their standard way of going about business, this Cubs front office has attempted to extend many of the young players on its current roster in previous offseasons, thus far with nothing to show for it.


I think Kaplan does have sources with the Cubs, so they could definitely try and use him this way to try and put pressure on boras. Regardless I think an extension is extremely unlikely.

From that same article:

It’s easy to forget just how good Bryant was to start the season. Through the season’s first 38 games, Bryant had a .311/.422/.595 slash line. He was walking at a 12.2 percent rate, striking out just 15.6 percent of the time and on pace for 60 doubles, 35 home runs, 120 runs scored and 99 RBIs. Then on May 19, in the 11th inning in the front end of a doubleheader against the Cincinnati Reds, Bryant did this to try and beat out an infield single.

He was safe, recording his third hit of the day. But that’s the moment the Cubs believe Bryant banged up his left shoulder. From that point on, Bryant’s power was sapped and his season numbers were sunk. Bryant had two stints on the disabled list and played just 64 games the remainder of the season. He slashed .249/.339/.378 the rest of the way, delivering just 20 more extra-base hits (he had 24 when that slide into first occurred) while striking out 28.5 percent of the time.



link
   73. Zonk is One Individual Posted: October 11, 2018 at 10:15 AM (#5764521)
2021, thanks to the grievance issue.


Right -

Bryant/Boras can handle this as they please, but I don't understand why they don't appear even willing to do an arb buyout with some kind of FA-eligible mutual option... or even player option.

I'm just spitballing here, but if the Cubs offered up something like 4/90, amortize it however, make the last year an option... Why not? There's a ceiling to what Bryant is going to get in arb anyway, regardless of how good he is.

As this past season shows - nothing is certain and as much as I don't think he's going to eat his way into Pandadom - there's risk for Bryant, too. I can understand not wanting to go 6-7-etc years, grievance issue or not.

   74. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 11, 2018 at 10:25 AM (#5764531)
I'm just spitballing here, but if the Cubs offered up something like 4/90, amortize it however, make the last year an option... Why not? There's a ceiling to what Bryant is going to get in arb anyway, regardless of how good he is.

The why not is because of what age he'll reach FA. Right now, he'll be a FA at 30, so that means Boras can still try and get a 10 year deal. If he lets the Cubs buy out any FA years, it probably hurts the total value and backend of that FA deal. If I'm Boras, I'm ok with them buying out his arb years but I absolutely am not giving up any FA years; if the Cubs want to sign him through his entire 30's, then we can talk. The Cubs obviously have no reason to do that though. Bryant has also already set records for salary each year of arb - that's something Boras is going to want to continue.

In theory, the player option could work. I don't think we've seen anything from the Cubs that would indicate they're willing to just try and buy the arb years. Even this supposed offer is one that includes FA years too. Not sure how a contract for just the arb years + player option really helps the Cubs (beyond cost certainty).

It's just a situation where neither side has any incentive to give up anything and play it any differently than year to year. Only way it would is if Bryant just said flat out he's not going anywhere/doesn't want to go to FA/is only going to play for the Cubs. He hasn't, and likely won't. So here we are.
   75. Brian C Posted: October 11, 2018 at 10:40 AM (#5764548)
Bryant/Boras can handle this as they please, but I don't understand why they don't appear even willing to do an arb buyout with some kind of FA-eligible mutual option... or even player option.

I'm just spitballing here, but if the Cubs offered up something like 4/90, amortize it however, make the last year an option... Why not? There's a ceiling to what Bryant is going to get in arb anyway, regardless of how good he is.

Think about it for two seconds and I think you could understand.

Bryant will get a raise this year but not huge - let's say it tops out at $15 million, which I think is more than reasonable as a ceiling figure. So now let's say he bounces back and has monster years the next two years after that, and maybe manages to make $50 million in his last two arb years. So that's a total of $65 million over the next three years before hitting free agency. Are we comfortable with that as a maximum? It seems wildly high to me and assumes everything goes great for Bryant.

Anyway, if that comes to pass, Bryant would certainly walk over picking up that 4th option year, because he'd be able to crush 1/$25 as a free agent. In fact, the proposal to make the 4th year an mutual or player option is simply farcical, since any context where Bryant would be willing to pick up a one-year option over free agency would be one where the Cubs would not want him to do it. Obviously.

So, essentially, you'd have the Cubs most likely overpaying for his arb years without actually buying out any free agency years. Why the #### would they even propose such a deal? It's all downside for them.

I'm not sure that you could even structure a 4-year deal that makes sense for both teams at this point. The Cubs will want more years than that to make it worthwhile and Bryant would want obscene money to make it worthwhile. There's just not a happy medium since the stakes for each side diverge so wildly after the 3rd year.
   76. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 11, 2018 at 11:03 AM (#5764572)
Right now, he'll be a FA at 30, so that means Boras can still try and get a 10 year deal.
I mean, I'm sure Boras still has that fantasy/delusion, but I'm pretty convinced that we've reached the tipping point in terms of teams handing out the "everyone knows this will be a huge albatross for many years" contracts. We shall see.
   77. Zonk is One Individual Posted: October 11, 2018 at 11:14 AM (#5764580)
So, essentially, you'd have the Cubs most likely overpaying for his arb years without actually buying out any free agency years. Why the #### would they even propose such a deal? It's all downside for them.

I'm not sure that you could even structure a 4-year deal that makes sense for both teams at this point. The Cubs will want more years than that to make it worthwhile and Bryant would want obscene money to make it worthwhile. There's just not a happy medium since the stakes for each side diverge so wildly after the 3rd year.


Cost certainty has value to a team - even if it's cost certainty for just the arb years.

I was literally just picking those numbers with very little thought - I'd give it more thought to come up with what I might propose, but IAC...

It's been a few months since I suggested the Cubs IRL should be run like my OOTP dynasty, but I generally prefer to buy out arb years for players I see as a part of my plans for that period, even if I cannot entice any FA year buyouts. Granted, the financial modeling in OOTP is crude - but there's a enough variance in year-to-year awards that I'd prefer to, in essence, "split the difference" on upside/downside projected awards over multiple arb years just to better plan the roster long-term. I probably go a bit overboard - though, perhaps not - but it filters into a lot of other decisions, too. Draft targets, trades, even watching similar players year-to-year on other teams that might become targets at the end.
   78. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 11, 2018 at 11:26 AM (#5764585)
I mean, I'm sure Boras still has that fantasy/delusion, but I'm pretty convinced that we've reached the tipping point in terms of teams handing out the "everyone knows this will be a huge albatross for many years" contracts. We shall see.

Perhaps. I'm curious to see how long Harper and Machado sign for - anything from 8-12 years is possible, but they're both younger. I don't want to overreact to last year's market - which everyone rightly predicted would be down - but Hosmer still got 8 years (which everyone mocked immediately, but still happened). There's also a big difference between Hosmer and what Bryant probably will/should be when he's a FA. Also, a lot can change in 3 years. My point is more about why there's almost no chance for an extension now. A 10 year deal for Bryant today would be 3 arb years and 7 FA.
   79. Walt Davis Posted: October 11, 2018 at 06:20 PM (#5764854)
Hosmer did get 8 years (at rather "low" AAV) but hat still only takes him through age 35. Still a bad idea for a guy of Hosmer's quality but very different from signing a guy through age 40. Recent guys signed through age 40ish are Pujols, Cano, Miggy (extension) and Votto (on a long-term buyout). Stanton's extension runs through age 37 and that was pretty much just a deferred payment for a bargain first 3 years (and hence the Marlins are essentially stuck paying for it if he doesn't opt out). It's obviously possible that Bryant will be viewed as a Pujols, Cano superstar or a Votto face of the franchise type when he hits FA but it's a big risk for Bryant to assume that. And it does seem likely that teams are not going to be signing players through their late 30s unless there's a steep discount/deferment involved.

I can certainly see Bryant in 2022 getting an 8-year deal that takes him through age 37. I think the chances of anything beyond that are far too slim to let it play any role in a decision about signing an extension now.

Unfortunately, the story is useless in the way these usually are. "north of $200 M" means what? And most importantly, for how many years? And "recent months" means when exactly? If he turned it down before the beaning, I understand; if he turned it down before the shoulder injury, I understand; if he turned it down in Sept, I'm not so sure.

Prior to this season, I figured Bryant was looking at something like $63-69 M over his last 3 arb years. He might even hit $30 in his last arb year given the service time and what Harper, Machado, Arenado end up getting. Now I think it's more likely he'll total something like $54-60. So he's already down $9 M from his peak contract expectations by my guess. If the Cubs were offering 3/$60 followed by 5/$140 in late Aug/Sept ... that would be pretty hard to turn down. That would be what I think his max arb will be plus a reasonably competitive AAV for his FA years guaranteed three years early. The big downside to that is turning FA again following his age 34 season so this would be the one big contract. But it would be a solid starting point for Boras to try to push it up to 10/$250 or something, with maybe an opt-out after the age 31 season.

But "north of $200" could be a 10/$220 offer and maybe it was made in April/May -- that's a lot less tempting.

But as I note in the newsblog thread -- Boras will want to wait to see what Machado and Arenado get. They're the obvious comps for Bryant and Boras doesn't want to sell Bryant's FA years at $28 AAV if those guys get signed for $32 through age 37. I'll add that he'll also want to see whether the Cubs sign Machado or Harper and for what AAV -- Bryant is not going to be the 2nd-highest-paid Cub.

I'm also pessimistic in thinking the downside risk for Bryant is pretty big here. Maybe the concussion wasn't bad but we've seen a fair number of hitter careers derailed by concussions now (Koskie, Morneau, probably Mauer spring to mind). I'm pretty sure in at least some of those cases, the initial return went fine as it did with Bryant.** (Plus who knows what long-term impact the shoulder might have.) If the Cubs do sign Machado, Bryant might be headed for LF/RF ... or if the fears about tall 3B prove true. By 2021, I do think there's a reasonable chance he's a 125 OPS+ LF and that guy is not in line for a 8/$250 contract or anything close to it.

If the Cubs are willing to take him through age 36 at a good (but not great) FA AAV, I think he needs to very seriously consider that. If they don't want to commit that long, the AAV needs to go up enough that he won't care that he's an FA at (say) 34 and/or provide an opt-out.

Just for completeness -- I agree a 4 or 5 year deal is highly unlikely here as it doesn't work great for either side but the way to balance the risks on such a deal would be differently-priced options. Say for a 4-year deal (3 arb, 1 FA), the 4th year is a Cubs option at $35 M and, if they decline, Bryant gets an option at or above whatever the QO will be (in case he's hurt, needs a prove himself season). I still don't see it happening

On the grievance, given there's been no action on it in two years, I assume this is being saved up for the next round of CBA. There are examples in the past where screwed-over players got a settlement in the next CBA. That would change the "equations" above on what sort of buyout Bryant should consider. The CBA expires after the 2021 season, right when Bryant will be FA so that could make for interesting times. It's another reason for Boras to wait -- we don't know what the FA rules will be yet. An extension through the 2021 offseason seems likely but so is some mechanism for making sure those guys don't get screwed if the new rules are much different.

** I'm pretty sure I poked around on that question a few years ago and did find some who seemed fine on their initial return then fell off badly. Of course impossible to know if it was the concussion or just standard cliff-diving in any case.
   80. Zonk is One Individual Posted: October 11, 2018 at 06:42 PM (#5764859)
Yeesh.

I guess everyone wants an ARM and nobody wants a nice, old-fashioned fixed rate.

   81. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 11, 2018 at 07:19 PM (#5764874)
Bruce Levine:
So what actually happened? The Cubs have offered Bryant a contract extension previously, but the $200 million-plus aspect that's been suggested is off the mark, multiple sources told 670 The Score. The information regarding the Cubs trying to sign Bryant to an extension in each of the past two offseasons is accurate, sources confirmed.

The Cubs have previously been trying to sign young position players in their core such as Bryant, Javier Baez, Addison Russell and others to favorable long-term deals, sources said. The thought process behind that approach is to provide the player money more in their first three years of the new deal than what they'd net in the arbitration process, with the team saving money by avoiding a superstar salary payments on the back end of the contracts.
   82. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 11, 2018 at 07:32 PM (#5764881)
The Cubs have informed Chili Davis that he won't return for the 2019 season.
   83. Zonk is One Individual Posted: October 11, 2018 at 07:36 PM (#5764883)
Well, my offseason is done.

How many days till pitchers and catchers?
   84. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 11, 2018 at 08:10 PM (#5764909)
#Cubs source says that player exit-interview feedback against Chili Davis was "too strong to ignore," and it "would have been counterproductive" to go into next season with him. 1/2

Mentioned last week on @Bernstein_McK on @670TheScore that some material players told Theo that they felt their swings/approaches had been altered for the worse. 2/2

   85. Zonk is One Individual Posted: October 11, 2018 at 08:24 PM (#5764919)
Gotta laugh.

I mean, I wish Chili Davis no ill will, and it's entirely possible the hitters are engaging in the same sort of thing I as a fan am doing... but if that's accurate?

Well, maybe it wasn't just finding the best scapegoat Chili recipe.

I do think it's worth noting as a point in favor of "Chili might have really had a negative impact" -- the Cubs have long touted their 'character analysis'. Setting aside the personal issues regarding Russell, the guys the Cubs have landed and who have had success all have these scouting report tags of "coachable" and "good kid" and the sort who actually do heed the advice of a coach.

That can cut both ways.
   86. Zonk is One Individual Posted: October 11, 2018 at 08:34 PM (#5764922)
To be clear - I would edit, but whenever I edit in Gonfalon, I ultimately get either those edit|close tags and/or have to log in 15 times to comment for a couple days -

I'm not even necessarily saying that Chili's approach is wrong. Just that it may not have been a good fit for this roster.

Charlie Lau and his disciples - Walt Hrniak comes to mind - have their high priests... but they don't work for everyone - Frank Thomas basically reaching a detente with the White Sox where he basically didn't have to pay Walt any mind and work with his own coach comes to mind.

I think what the Cubs probably need is a hitting coach who doesn't have a philosophy and system and approach... at least, not in the sense of "this is how WE do launch angle. And count approach." etc...

I think that agnostically - getting on base and hitting homeruns is the optimal hitting approach.

If I could frame it in an video game way -- I think there's enough talent on this team that I'd rather have a 'C' coach applicable to all hitter types than a guy with a mix of A's and D's.
   87. Walt Davis Posted: October 11, 2018 at 09:41 PM (#5764941)
If I could frame it in an video game way -- I think there's enough talent on this team that I'd rather have a 'C' coach applicable to all hitter types than a guy with a mix of A's and D's.

Silly, silly boy. What you do is temporarily demote your current "A" coach to the minors, sign the available "A" coach then, if you prefer the first guy, swap them after the signing. :-) I used to do that in Baseball Mogul (or was it OOTP?) all the time and have one of the 5-6 best hitting coaches in "MLB" at every level down to A ball. Occasionally you get caught out and have to sign a C coach but you stick him in the minors. It was particularly important when I was running the Green Bay franchise with our 9,000 a game attendance (or whatever it was).
   88. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 15, 2018 at 03:50 PM (#5767033)
Patrick Mooney @PJ_Mooney 2m2 minutes ago

Anthony Iapoce is returning to the #Cubs organization to replace Chili Davis as hitting coach, source confirms @JeffWilson_FWST report.


Had the Rangers hitting coach job last 3 years. Before that:
Prior to joining the Rangers, spent three seasons (2013-15) as the Chicago Cubs' Special Assistant to the General Manager/Player Development, overseeing that club's Minor League hitting program while contributing to additional projects for the organization…also spent three seasons as Toronto's roving hitting coordinator from 2010-12 after beginning his coaching career in the Marlins system from 2006-09…while with the Marlins, served as hitting coach at High-A Jupiter (2008-09), A-level Greensboro (2007), and Short-A Jamestown (2006).
   89. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 15, 2018 at 05:47 PM (#5767119)
A couple of random thoughts, maybe even just for my own sake to write this out.

-I find myself trying to think through my ideal wishlist for this offseason. I've now become convinced that getting Merrifield would be a fantastic move. I think you'd acquire him to mainly be the fulltime 2b, but you know he's got the versatility to fit anywhere needed. He's obviously a late bloomer (so there's a risk last year was really just a career year and not a new level), but he seems like such an ideal Maddon player. He probably also represents the best case scenario for what Happ could become (Happ has more power and Merrifield more defensive value), so I guess the question there is which one is better fit for the Cubs. I guess there's nothing saying they both can't fit on the roster as they do different things.

-Following up on that point, even though there isn't a real overlap in their skillsets, I think I'll be shocked if all 3 of Schwarber, Happ, and Almora are on the roster next year. I mentioned in the intro that signing either Machado or Harper would like mean the end of Schwarber, but that could also mean Happ or Almora would lose a spot to as the roster reshuffles to fit around them. The elephant in the room in either scenario is Heyward (or more accurately, his contract). I don't know that any of those guys - meaning Happ, Almora, and Heyward - really should be fulltime starters in 2018 and you probably should plan to build a platoon with 2 of them and maybe the best option there is Almora/Heyward in CF. In a somewhat counter-intuitive way (or maybe just plain misguided), I think Almora is the guy I'd most want to keep as he's the guy with the lowest ceiling - meaning, he's the guy who I think is losing the least by being a part time player. Schwarber and Happ probably have more value to the 2018 Cubs as trade bait as opposed to platoon player. I'm not completely ready to move on from Happ yet though.

-Almost regardless of how that all shakes out, it might be hard to keep TLS around. Zobrist had a great bounceback year, but I think the plan for him should also be to be a rotational player, getting at least 1 day off a week if not more. That would make him the top PH option when he doesn't play, and he just flat out has more value overall (and as a hitter) than TLS. The 4 man bench makes it really hard to carry a PH specialist, though the Cubs were able to do that with how versatile they were. If Javy now becomes the FT SS - which is what I expect - that means the other guys on the bench have to be able to do more than one thing. I think Bote's emergence this year means he gets TLS's spot.

-To sum up these various thoughts and to put down on paper what I think I want the Cubs to do this offseason. IN: Harper (for now, I'm coming down on Harper over Machado but reserve the right to change my mind), Merrifield (hopefully there's enough pieces in my out groups here and with the pitchers for a deal that makes sense), random veteran catcher. OUT: Russell, Schwarber, Caratini, TLS, Murphy. That leaves you with the following (listed in possible preferred lineup order): Merrifield 2b/Harper RF/Bryant 3b/Rizzo 1b/Baez SS/Zobrist LF/Heyward&Almora; CF; bench C/Happ (most of his starts would be in LF)/Bote/Almora. As I type this out, I almost wonder if Almora might be the odd man out; even though he's the best and only true CF, Happ gets more PT if Almora is gone too and then you find some other random veteran utility guy (or maybe even TLS). My thoughts are very fluid on the matter.

-On the pitching side, I keep forgetting about Smyly, but the more I think about it the more I think he's possibly turned Montgomery into trade bait. Similar to my thoughts on the Schwarber group, I think Montgomery has more value as trade bait than as just another lefty reliever (he's not an ideal LOOGY, and Smyly could like take over a similar inning load to what MM had this year). I think the Cubs are going to sign a FA lefty and one who can pitch higher leverage innings, although I'm not sure if they'll spend what Miller or Britton want (and both are probably going to be overpaid), plus I've already spent a ton of their money on Harper. I'm less sure of this than the other thoughts, but I think if a team wanted Montgomery the Cubs wouldn't fight too much.

-I made a lot of assumptions with Theo's comment on "production over talent" and how that might apply to the hitters, but never thought about it with the pitchers. I really don't think they'd move Quintana, but that's another outside the box option if they're convinced Smyly should be a starter. Side note: no matter how I work through the pitching staff, I don't forsee any way Chatwood is back. He's not going to get a shot to start, and he's utterly worthless in the pen. It screams challenge trade to me, so I'll guess his contract is swapped for another bad one but it beats me who they'd target (it could even be a hitter honestly). Anyway, digression over, but what if Theo is also thinking about Edwards here? They've talked about him as a possible closer type for a few years, and it hasn't really worked for him for whatever reason; he's just not reliable enough. RP arms are pretty fungible, but another team might be interested in him and going the whole "fresh start" role. I won't say he's gone, but I don't think I'd be shocked if he fits into a trade somehow.

-Supposedly Chavez said he really wants to be back, and might even retire if he's not on the Cubs. He hasn't exactly made a ton of money in his career, and his time here was so out of character for him, but I wonder if there's something the Cubs had him do differently that actually made him better as opposed to just a random small sample hot streak. I wouldn't be opposed to them keeping him at the right cost, while admitting I'm definitely the type to fall for this exact kind of mistake re-signing.

-Summing up, rotation looks pretty set - I'm operating under the assumption Hamels is going to be back for sure - with the top 6 of (pick your order) Hendricks, Lester, Darvish, Hamels, Quintana, Smyly. Another reason Montgomery could be more expendable is because of how lefty heavy that is and if the Cubs have any hopes for Mills (I think I do), he could be the righty Montgomery. We know the Cubs will have an 8 man pen, and the guys who'll be back for sure seem to be Morrow, Strop, Cishek, and the 6th guy from the rotation. Add in Chavez and one RP getting some level of real money, and that leaves 2 spots for assorted whoevers (like Mills or Edwards if they keep him). It's the bullpen, so I really don't have any strong opinions here in all honesty.

I probably repeated myself from the intro some, but my thoughts are going to change as the offseason goes.
   90. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 15, 2018 at 05:47 PM (#5767120)
Bruce Levine @MLBBruceLevine
According to sources out west,the Giants have shown real interest in the Cubs VP of minors and scouting Jason McLeod for their open GM post.
   91. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 15, 2018 at 06:25 PM (#5767132)
Almost regardless of how that all shakes out, it might be hard to keep TLS around. Zobrist had a great bounceback year, but I think the plan for him should also be to be a rotational player, getting at least 1 day off a week if not more. That would make him the top PH option when he doesn't play, and he just flat out has more value overall (and as a hitter) than TLS. The 4 man bench makes it really hard to carry a PH specialist, though the Cubs were able to do that with how versatile they were. If Javy now becomes the FT SS - which is what I expect - that means the other guys on the bench have to be able to do more than one thing. I think Bote's emergence this year means he gets TLS's spot.
Also, TLS had 0.1 WAR in 2018 with an OPS+ of 78. He didn't even do his one thing well.
   92. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 15, 2018 at 06:29 PM (#5767137)
On the pitching side, I keep forgetting about Smyly, but the more I think about it the more I think he's possibly turned Montgomery into trade bait.
Smyly: career 107 ERA+, hasn't pitched since 2016, $7m in 2019.
Monty: career 116 ERA+, has pitched since 2016, arb eligible for the first time after making $600k in 2016.
   93. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: October 15, 2018 at 07:18 PM (#5767151)
Also, TLS had 0.1 WAR in 2018 with an OPS+ of 78. He didn't even do his one thing well.


TLS as a PH: .312/.398/.416. In 90 PA. .813 OPS is ~113 OPS+.

In 2017 TLS had a .908 OPS as a PH in 44.

His one thing is to PH, and he does do that well.
   94. Walt Davis Posted: October 15, 2018 at 08:08 PM (#5767169)
Yeah, TLS is pretty awesome as a PH, especially given how much PH usually stink. Why more of that doesn't translate over into his other starts is curious and few teams can afford to keep a PH-only player (although the Cubs certainly come close).

On Chatwood -- well, depends mainly on whether the Cubs can come to an agreement with Hamels. Assuming they can, I agree he's out. Otherwise they have to hold onto him at least through spring in case somebody else gets hurt, Darvish isn't ready, Smyly isn't ready, etc. It was an atrocious season where the walk rate went nuts -- fix that and he's a solid 5th starter.

Happy to have Chavez back on Duensing's contract (preferably for just one year). He'll probably go back to being Chavez and mopping up, long relieving, etc. but he was good for both us and the Rangers this year. In the end, his FIP ended up matching his Rangers ERA and that was a 138 ERA+ which would be lovely. But it's not a priority and he threw a lot of innings for a reliever.

On a related note, Hector Rondon had a pretty good season -- 126 ERA+, even better FIP and back to a low HR-rate. I'm surprised to see that the Astros signed him for 2 years -- gotta be the pine tar. (He was an obvious non-tender for straight money reasons but I wouldn't have had him back at 2/$8.5 either, so Theo and I may have both gotten this one wrong.)

As to the new hitting coach, the Rangers in the AL ...

2018 7th in R/G, 14th in OPS+
2017 5th, 14th
2016 4th, 12th

So much for production over talent. :-) (I'm pretty sure at least one of Theo and Jed read the page on park effects ... or maybe our 2020 coach will come from the Rox. :-)

Also there's a Chili quote in the ESPN article in which apparently he agrees that coming to a more "veteran" team that maybe things didn't really mesh.
   95. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 15, 2018 at 08:15 PM (#5767174)
Yeah, TLS is pretty awesome as a PH, especially given how much PH usually stink. Why more of that doesn't translate over into his other starts is curious
Is there any reason to think that this is anything other than a fluke?
   96. McCoy Posted: October 15, 2018 at 08:41 PM (#5767189)
123 of his 134 PH PA over the last two years were against right handers. So that helps him. A good chunk of his value is OBP and the 19 walks he has a PH. 17 of those were against right handers and for the most part it definitely looked like the pitchers were pitching around him despite only one IBB. A ton of 5 pitch walks for him. Would have to go to pitch F/X data to see how close the pitches were.
   97. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 15, 2018 at 09:02 PM (#5767201)
As to the new hitting coach, the Rangers in the AL ...

Well, he was the Cubs' minor league hitting instructor when most of these guys were in the minors, and he's a big launch angle guy. So it's familiarity and philosophy. Pretty clearly a statement from the FO to Joe, too.

On a related note, Hector Rondon had a pretty good season -- 126 ERA+, even better FIP and back to a low HR-rate. I'm surprised to see that the Astros signed him for 2 years -- gotta be the pine tar. (He was an obvious non-tender for straight money reasons but I wouldn't have had him back at 2/$8.5 either, so Theo and I may have both gotten this one wrong.),

He was left off their ALDS roster, then added for the ALCS. He came in for one batter last night when they were down and he gave up a hit. Not sure how much of that is just because their pen is so loaded or what. They also preferred to acquiring a wife beater to close ahead of him, so I think that kinda says something about how they feel about him too. Remember, most relievers got $7-9mil/yr last offseason, so he was basically a bargain deal (I specifically remember thinking the Nats getting Kintzler for 2/$15mil was a pretty deal steal all things considered).

123 of his 134 PH PA over the last two years were against right handers. So that helps him. A good chunk of his value is OBP and the 19 walks he has a PH. 17 of those were against right handers and for the most part it definitely looked like the pitchers were pitching around him despite only one IBB. A ton of 5 pitch walks for him. Would have to go to pitch F/X data to see how close the pitches were.

His strike zone is the size of a children's shoebox. My recollection is that he has a really good batting eye and rarely swings at balls.
   98. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: October 15, 2018 at 09:59 PM (#5767256)
Is there any reason to think that this is anything other than a fluke?

It's consistent with his career as a whole; he has a .677 OPS as a starter, .812 coming off the bench. (Sample sizes of 701 and 246 PA, respectively; 192 of the 246 are as a PH and he has OPS'd .780 in those.)

Apart from that... I assume he would generally be summoned as a PH mostly in favorable matchups? But then you'd think his starts would primarily come in favorable matchups too, so I don't know.
   99. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 15, 2018 at 10:12 PM (#5767271)
I mean, there's no conceivable reason that one would have a repeatable skill of hitting better as a PH. Favorable matchups may explain some of it, but I'm still going to go with mostly fluke or coincidence.
   100. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 16, 2018 at 12:32 PM (#5767664)
In addition to McLeod:

Bruce Levine @MLBBruceLevine 31m31 minutes ago

Cubs bench coach Brandon Hyde is in line for an interview with the Toronto Blue Jays for the managers opening . Hyde has been contacted by the Angels and Twins for their vacant managers post . He has already interviewed with the Texas Rangers for the position.


Joel Sherman @Joelsherman1 1h1 hour ago

I hear #Cubs asst GM Shiraz Rehman is leaving to take an asst GM job with the #Rangers.
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