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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 | 250 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   101. Zonk qualifies as an invasive species Posted: October 16, 2018 at 12:44 PM (#5767673)
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.


IDK... with larger bullpens, the idea of a 'true' PH specialist has certainly waned, but once upon a time - baseball did have a fair number of guys who seemed to perform better as PHers than they did in regular roles... Smoky Burgess, Cliff Johnson, Thad Bosley, Greg Gross, others I'm forgetting.

TLS likely makes an ideal PH -- fairly low K rate, but doesn't walk a ton. Likely to get a PH call post-pitching change to lock him into a favorable matchup. Not a ton of power, so he's not going to get nibbled around.

I'd be willing to suspect that TLS is actually one of the last remaining of the endangered species: A true PH specialist who is actually very well-suited and overperforms his true talent in that niche role.
   102. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 16, 2018 at 03:57 PM (#5767894)
Interview with Chili:

Some of the quotes that are getting pulled for other stories:

“I guess I need to make some adjustments in the way I deliver my message to the millennial players now. I need to make those adjustments for the next job I get, if there is one.

“But without losing my identity,” he added. “Because I know what I know. And I know what I bring is not wrong. I’m not going to blame myself for this. I’m not going to blame anyone. It didn’t work.

“It’s surprising. It’s disappointing,” he said. “But Jed and Theo had to make a decision, and they did. All I can say is I appreciate the opportunity they gave me, and the next time around I’ll do a better job.”

“Hopefully, he has better success at this than I did,” said Davis, who stressed no hard feelings with the Cubs. “But regardless of who’s there, certain players there are going to have to make some adjustments, because the game’s changed, and pitchers are pitching them differently. They’re not pitching to launch angles and fly balls and all that anymore. They’re pitching away from that.

“They’re going to have to make that adjustment whether I’m there or not.”

Davis, who said he’s already been contacted by “three or four” other teams, had high praise for veteran Ben Zobrist, who had a big bounce-back year in 2018, but when asked about some others said, “I’m not going to say anything about other players.”

“I learned a lot this year,” he added. “I learned that the next situation I get in, before I say yes to a job, I need to make sure I know the personnel I’ll be dealing with in the clubhouse.

“I hope that the next guy connects better with the players, because I felt that there were multiple players there I didn’t connect with. It wasn’t that I didn’t try. It just wasn’t there.”
   103. McCoy Posted: October 16, 2018 at 04:03 PM (#5767905)

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


Does he have a kid and if so is the kid's name Petit Sirah?
   104. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 16, 2018 at 04:33 PM (#5767931)
the game’s changed, and pitchers are pitching them differently. They’re not pitching to launch angles and fly balls and all that anymore. They’re pitching away from that.
I'm curious as to what data he has for that.
   105. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 16, 2018 at 04:39 PM (#5767937)
Considering the Cubs clearly disagree with him, I doubt that's something he's basing on data.
   106. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 16, 2018 at 04:45 PM (#5767946)
That's kinda what I was getting at.
   107. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 16, 2018 at 04:53 PM (#5767958)
On some level, I think I can understand where he's coming from. If all the hitters are being successful doing one thing, obviously there's going to be a pitching correction to try and address that. Theo's "launch angle is not a fad" comment seemed to suggest that perhaps Chili was trying to adjust to something that just wasn't there yet.

Calling out millennials like that though - while I'm sure it felt good - it's not the type of thing that's going to endear him to his next employer/students. It's hard not to sound like an old fogey if you're an old fogey.
   108. McCoy Posted: October 16, 2018 at 04:54 PM (#5767961)


The FO was probably telling Chili to fix it and Chili was probably putting the blame on the pitchers adjusting and his hitters not accepting what he was telling them.
   109. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 16, 2018 at 04:59 PM (#5767972)
Or maybe they just got sick of him singing the "babyback ribs" song incessantly in the clubhouse.
   110. McCoy Posted: October 16, 2018 at 05:07 PM (#5767982)
20 years ago I worked in a somewhat nice restaurant that nonetheless was pretty much a nicer version of a Chili's and so to piss off our executive chef we would sing the babyback song all the time during service. It would drive him nuts.
   111. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 16, 2018 at 05:13 PM (#5767990)
a somewhat nice restaurant that nonetheless was pretty much a nicer version of a Chili's
Chotchkie's, or Flingers?
   112. Zonk qualifies as an invasive species Posted: October 16, 2018 at 05:18 PM (#5767994)
20 years ago I worked in a somewhat nice restaurant that nonetheless was pretty much a nicer version of a Chili's and so to piss off our executive chef we would sing the babyback song all the time during service. It would drive him nuts.


I worked IN a Chili's and we sang it drive the manager nuts also.

He initially lauded our corporate branding enthusiasm. That was a mistake.
   113. McCoy Posted: October 16, 2018 at 05:21 PM (#5767998)
Chotchkie's, or Flingers?

Nicer in that we did BBQ and fajitas not in that we emulated their need for flair.
   114. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 17, 2018 at 12:54 PM (#5768957)
670 The Score @670TheScore

Alan Nero on Joe Maddon being grilled about the Addison Russell situation before the domestic violence investigation was completed: "It's like everyone asking Trump how he's going to handle the Saudis before he has all the information."


Uh...
   115. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 21, 2018 at 12:21 PM (#5772044)
Heyman:

Girardi surprised reds by pulling out Friday. He had a chance to win job at that point but they never got to point of talking money with him. He also pulled out of rangers derby. Industry speculation: he’s waiting a year on Chicago
   116. Walt Davis Posted: October 21, 2018 at 06:09 PM (#5772136)
It's just my gut but I don't think Girardi is Theo's kind of manager. Plus with both Maddon and Chili (and I suppose Hickey to an extent), Theo has shown that if there's somebody out there available that he really wants, he just gets them even if he has no problem with the incumbent. That is, if he wanted Girardi over Maddon, he'd hire Girardi right now -- so he must not like Girardi THAT much.

Unless of course it's the White Sox. :-) If they don't make progress next year, they will probably look for somebody new ... and if they do make progress, they might decide the time is right to switch from the "developing" manager to the "winning" manager.
   117. Spahn Insane Posted: October 22, 2018 at 10:45 AM (#5772319)
Uh...

Yeah, I've seen more compelling defenses.
   118. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 22, 2018 at 11:23 AM (#5772366)
It's just my gut but I don't think Girardi is Theo's kind of manager. Plus with both Maddon and Chili (and I suppose Hickey to an extent), Theo has shown that if there's somebody out there available that he really wants, he just gets them even if he has no problem with the incumbent. That is, if he wanted Girardi over Maddon, he'd hire Girardi right now -- so he must not like Girardi THAT much.

I've seen both Hyde (assuming he doesn't get another job this offseason and he's been interviewing) and Venable called future Cubs managers. I'd honestly expect one of them to get it if (when?) the Cubs and Maddon mutually part ways next offseason. I agree that I don't see them going after Girardi, and even less so signaling to him it'd be worth putting off other chances.
   119. McCoy Posted: October 22, 2018 at 11:46 AM (#5772388)
It could very well be that Girardi doesn't feel like being a manager for anyone but the Cubs at this point in his life.
   120. Zonk qualifies as an invasive species Posted: October 22, 2018 at 12:11 PM (#5772420)
Unless the Cubs crater next year, I see no reason why Maddon shouldn't be offered an extension.

Hell, I'd prefer to start negotiating one now.

Sure, he's had the players - but the Cubs have won 97, 103, 92, and 95 games under his watch - plus 3 NLCS appearances and a title.

I've seen little - verging on zero - indicating clubhouse strife or players who don't want to play for him or are glad to be gone. He hasn't seemed to me to be a party to any awesomely bad ideas or bad tactical decision making beyond the bog standard stuff any manager would draw complaints over.

So far as I'm concerned, he ought to be back until something indicates his time is up... and I've seen nothing like that yet.
   121. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 22, 2018 at 12:12 PM (#5772421)
Sure, that's possible. He did go through multiple interviews with multiple teams, so it wasn't like he was just deflecting the interest. If really wants to wait out the Cubs, he just decided pretty far along the process this year.
   122. Walt Davis Posted: October 22, 2018 at 11:34 PM (#5772809)
Sure, I can well imagine that Girardi feels he's accomplished plenty (winning record, 1 WS), probably has enough money in the bank, so he'd only sign on for what he thinks is a really good opportunity. Talk to the Angels, Reds, Mets, whoever to see if they can convince you they're about to turn things around but expecting to turn them down. He's just short of 1,000 wins, about 1.5 seasons from 2000 games -- assuming his finances are good, the only obvious remaining goal would be the HoF and that's gonna require probably 700-800 more wins (with at least a 500 record) and a title.
   123. Quaker Posted: October 25, 2018 at 03:16 PM (#5775258)
Assorted "bold" predictions from this podcast:

1. Trade Quintana & sign Corbin
2. Sign Andrew Miller
3. Some guessed they'd sign Machado; others said no offer to Machado or Harper
4. Cubs sign Donaldson, trade Schwarber and move KB to left
5. Schwarber traded for a leadoff hitter
6. Theo/Jed demand Maddon have a more set batting order & lineup
7. One guy specifically mentions Schwarber for Merrifield

https://www.nbcsports.com/chicago/cubs/podcast-bold-predictions-cubs-offseason-harper-mlb-hot-stove-machado-merrifield-schwarber-corbin
   124. Walt Davis Posted: October 26, 2018 at 12:06 AM (#5775530)
Schwarber traded for a leadoff hitter

This is a meaningless statement. I mean I fully support trading Schwarber for Cain assuming no unicorns are available.

Anyway, by "leadoff hitter" I assume we mean somebody with a good OBP, limited SLG, maybe some speed ... let's see who might qualify ...

Votto, Cain, Altuve (we'll probably have to send them Russell instead :-), Zobrist (excellent trade target), Choo (younger than Zobrist!), McCutchen (didn't expect him to have a 358 OBP), Merrifield (I support Schwarber for Merrifield), Mallex Smith (hey, nice season), Benintendi, Markakis, Brantley, Matt Duffy (72 ISO, just what we need), Brian Anderson (Marlins, cheap), Josh Bell, Cesar Hernandez ... Schwarber ... Wendle (Tampa, cheap), Carlos Santana, Mauer (old as Choo!)

So all we have to do is convince one of the cheap teams to give up a good, cost-controlled player that plays 2B or CF in exchange for the arb-eligible Schwarber ... or sign one of the FAs McCutchen (not particularly interested except maybe for 1 year), Choo (definitely not interested), Markakis (definitely not interested) or Brantley (I never know) to hopefully put up an OBP as good as Schwarber's. Probably the most realistic option here would be something like Russell for Cesar Hernandez. (The last thing the Phils need is Schwarber.)

Anyway, props to Mallex Smith who always seemed interesting to me (it's the name!) and who slipped under my radar. Mid-season his OPS was around 680 but he raised it nearly 100 points by going 326/402/464 in the 2nd half while playing average defense across the OF (average or better career in CF). Not the sort of guy Tampa usually trades away ... but maybe it makes them willing to move Kiermaier who wouldn't do much for our leadoff position but would help the defense.

Theo/Jed demand Maddon have a more set batting order & lineup

Why in the world would they do that? Did they accidentally build a deep, versatile lineup? Such an edict immediately reduces the value Zo and Happ, doesn't help Bryant or Baez. As is, basically Rizzo and Bryant start every day they are healthy and this year Baez pretty much did too. Only that last is somewhat uncertain but it will be certain if Russell is moved and pretty darn likely even if he isn't. Contreras has a pretty standard starting C's workload in the end after being over-worked in the first half. Once he arrived, Murphy was in there pretty much every day. That leaves the mediocre OF and ... what, he was supposed to play Heyward and Schwarber against LHP?
   125. Walt Davis Posted: October 26, 2018 at 12:25 AM (#5775536)
Ugh, making it worse, guess which team led the NL in OBP in the leadoff spot? Cubs at 366. Thanks to Carpenter and a bit of Pham, we were only 2nd in OPS.

God only knows if Chili deserves credit but 302/366/454 out of the leadoff spot with a 354 BABIP sounds like what he was hired to do. Main leadoff batters:

Almora 213 PA 333/368/429 (really?)
Zobrist 140 PA 285/371/439
Rizzo 138 PA 328/428/552
Murphy 131 PA 312/336/504

So we don't need a leadoff hitter and we also see the horrors of the unstable lineup ... or that having a good leadoff hitter doesn't actually set you up for runs the way we're told it does.

Cub by batting order

1 302/366/454/819
2 304/354/514/868 (the table is fully set!)
3 268/352/420/772 (Javy 368/394/600 in 99 PA ... this is on Bryant and, sigh, Heyward)
4 271/338/457/795 (Javy 298/344/636 in 131 PA ... this is mostly on Rizzo and Contreras (ugh))
5 236/332/374/706 (we have met the enemy ... Willson was fine here but Schwarber, Baez, Happ all stunk)
6 245/337/389/726 (Kyle did fine in 290 PA, no other individual spent much time here but they mostly stunk)
7 238/317/360/667 (that's still a league-average OBP if we ignore park effects)
8 263/345/428/773 (that looks really good for #8)

NL average 247/318/403 ... Wrigley PF of 105/107
   126. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 26, 2018 at 10:53 AM (#5775677)
For some reason, there's a bunch of local reporters/bloggers that are just absolutely obsessed with finding a "true" leadoff hitter and that think the ever changing lineups are a problem. The only reason Theo talked about either again where because they keep asking. I don't get the obsession with it (and I do, considering how much I complained about it this year).

8 263/345/428/773 (that looks really good for #8)

Does this include pitchers? Cause the Cubs did that for a bit this year.
   127. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 26, 2018 at 12:14 PM (#5775769)
From Keith Law's recent chat:
Bill: Nico Hoerner is only player from the 2018 draft in the AFL. He was hurt mid-season so he needs at bats. How is he holding up against upper level competition?
Keith Law: Smart player but didn’t make much hard contact and he’s smaller than I thought. I think maybe a high-average/high OBP second baseman?


---

Heyward, Rizzo, and Baez (2b) are all gold glove finalists. I don't think Javy gets extra credit for also being a plus at SS and 3b, so he probably doesn't win. Other 2 could very well win.
   128. Walt Davis Posted: October 27, 2018 at 08:07 PM (#5777643)
Does this include pitchers? Cause the Cubs did that for a bit this year.

Yes, for 107 PAs. Plus 23 from Gimenez and 1 from Gore -- that's nearly 20% of all #8 PAs. It also includes PHs, flip-flops, etc. All told, Bote, Schwarber, Bryant, Zo, Contreras, TLS, Javy and Happ all posted 900+ OPS in that slot comprising 263 PAs. The top PA guy was actually Heyward and that's when he had his little renaissance (287/367/426). Caratini and Russell both had nearly 800 OPS in that slot. Almora was the only regular who stunk there (600 in 30 PA).

Bote at #8: 471/600/941 in 25 PAs.

And, other than Hendricks (1 for 22), even the Ps got into the act a bit. Hamels was 3 for 21 with a HR and a BB; Quintan 4 for 18; Lester, Monty, Mills and Chatwood combined for 5 for 36, 3 RBI and a BB.
   129. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 29, 2018 at 11:23 AM (#5778754)
Javy wins the Fielding Bible Multi-Position award again, 3rd year in a row. No other Cubs winners.

When slick fielding shortstop Addison Russell went out with injury, then later a suspension, Javy Baez stepped over from his second base position without missing a beat for the Cubs. His defense is elite at both second base and shortstop. He also moves to third base and first base, whenever needed, with tremendous success. He saved five runs at second base, three at shortstop and two more at third base in 2018. He led all infielders (not counting first baseman) with 46 Good Fielding Plays in 2018. He is excellent turning double plays from both second base and shortstop. His ability to make tags on throws is legendary.
   130. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 30, 2018 at 10:34 AM (#5779497)
I guess I didn't realize this Hamels thing would have to be decided this quickly. I mean, I should have know, but still:

The Cubs must make a decision on that option by Thursday. If the Cubs don't pick up the $20-million option, the Rangers would be on the hook for the 34-year-old Hamels' $6-million buyout, per terms on the contract.

If the Cubs pick up Hamels' option, they can begin negotiating a longer extension with him as early as Friday. If the Cubs choose not to pick up Hamels' option and then turn around and sign him to a new contract right away anyway, they could have to fend off a possible grievance from the Rangers, who would be on the hook for the $6-million buyout in that situation.

A middle ground could also involve sending the Rangers some sort of compensation. The first step in everything is the Cubs exercising or declining Hamels' option.
   131. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 30, 2018 at 10:54 AM (#5779503)
A middle ground could also involve sending the Rangers some sort of compensation.
"Tell you what, we'll take Hendricks back and call it all square."
   132. Walt Davis Posted: October 30, 2018 at 04:21 PM (#5779766)
If they want to extend, I assume they've been in negotiations since losing the WC. The lack of an announcement may mean it's not going well or may mean they intend to decline then re-sign (maybe they have to wait to do that?) or that they are hung up in negotiation with the Rangers on how to settle this.

Or of course not wanting to steal the headlines from the Fielding Bible awards.
   133. Brian C Posted: October 30, 2018 at 07:43 PM (#5779862)
I guess what I don't really understand is how the Cubs' deal with the Rangers wouldn't have covered such an obvious-seeming loophole.
   134. Zonk qualifies as an invasive species Posted: October 30, 2018 at 10:36 PM (#5779940)
I don't understand why it is the Cubs problems that the Rangers may not have paid close enough attention to the terms of the contract of the player they traded away.

Frankly, I'd probably just exercise the option - not because I fear a Rangers grievance, but just because I think I'd rather have Hamels on a one-year deal than a multiyear deal.

If his resurgence is real, great - we get one more year of it. If it's not, we've got enough pitchers with contracts to wait out - or possibly nearing the point of needing to be waited out. Jon Lester had a pretty nice year after a rough patch and the Cubs have gotten good value from that signing already - but he's not getting any longer and anything more they get out of him could well be gravy... but he's still got 27.5 mil, 20 mil and 10 mil buyout left.

The Cubs don't need anymore multiyear deals on SPs at the moment - well, except extending Hendricks. They need the ones they have under contract - looking at you guys especially, Darwood - not to be vortexes of suck and injury.
   135. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 31, 2018 at 10:25 AM (#5780028)
If the Cubs can get him for 2 years, and bring down the AAV down, sure, do that. Otherwise I agree with zonk, don't overthink it and just pick up the option. If he really that good, they can just offer him arb for the next year too.
   136. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 31, 2018 at 10:28 AM (#5780030)
Who performs better in 2019, Darwood or Chatvish?
   137. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 31, 2018 at 01:28 PM (#5780204)
Jesse Rogers @ESPNChiCubs 5m5 minutes ago

Cubs news: Not a surprise, reliever Brandon Kintzler will be exercising his $5 million player option for 2019 after the Cubs declined a $10 million team option on him for next season, per a source.


Maybe he'll bounce back a little next year, but I sure as #### ain't looking forward to it. It's gonna be hard enough trying to dump Chatwood, and they'll probably just have to eat Duensing's $3.5mil. Those three right there (in 2019) is half a year of Harper. And 3 roster spaces the Cubs can't really afford to waste - maybe 1, sure.
   138. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: October 31, 2018 at 02:36 PM (#5780253)
I think Kintzler is worth the roster spot, even with how bad his Chicago tenure went. Duensing is a no-brainer drop. Chatwood is a tougher question. The Rockies might take him back but the Cubs aren't saving anything significant by doing it this offseason. I think you have to assume the Cubs are bringing him to ST this year.
   139. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 31, 2018 at 03:25 PM (#5780302)
It's hard to how there's a chance Chatwood could start ahead of any of Lester, Hendricks, Quintana, Hamels (assuming his option is picked up), Darvish, or Montgomery. Not to mention other options like Smyly or Azolay or Underwood or Mills, any of whom the Cubs could prefer for one reason or another. I also don't see how Chatwood would have much value out of the pen, or at least a pen with at least 2 of those previous names also there. Yes, injuries and whatnot, but it's such a roster squeeze that even saving a portion of his deal might be worth more than him taking a roster spot.
   140. Zonk qualifies as an invasive species Posted: October 31, 2018 at 03:39 PM (#5780315)
Chatwood's problem in the pen is those friggin walks... Maybe if his K rate was Marmolesque, but it isn't.

The Cubs are stuck with him - I suppose you could sunk cost release him, but I'd be a bit loathe to do that believe it or not... at minimum, I at least run him out there in spring training and hope he looks like a good buy low if you pick up some money candidate to some rotation-desperate team.

The only other option I can think of is maybe pare back his repertoire and see if you CAN make a reliever out of him. Pick out two pitches, get him to focus on throwing them for strikes, and see if that works.

The problem is that I think his best pitch is that HIGH SPIN RATE!!!! fastball/cutter... and that's the one he can't seem to throw for strikes.

What the Cubs really need is a multi-team challenge trade or - a trade with several pieces in several deals... Since the Yankees can just non-tender him, Sonny Gray isn't really a very good option - and obviously, that still leaves you an extra SP... it's hard - without a corresponding move - to even stash someone like an Ellsbury without moving a Schwarber/Happ/Almora.

One possible option - though, I'm on record being fine penciling Happ in at 2B - how about Jason Kipnis?

The Indians would like to move him -- he bounced back a little bit from his awful 2017 - but he's still overpaid at about 15 million, plus a 2020 option with a 3-5 mil buyout.

Of course, the Indians don't need a SP - so you'd probably have to get someone else involved.
   141. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 01, 2018 at 04:38 PM (#5780895)
Chicago Cubs @Cubs 1m1 minute ago

The #Cubs today claimed OF Johnny Field off waivers from the Minnesota Twins.


The game is afoot!
   142. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 01, 2018 at 04:41 PM (#5780899)
I think claiming Johnny Hitforpower would better address their needs.
   143. Zonk qualifies as an invasive species Posted: November 01, 2018 at 04:50 PM (#5780915)
I would have saved the waiver claim for when someone tries to slip Billy Chatwoodmurderer or Tommy Doesntwalkpeople through.
   144. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 01, 2018 at 04:56 PM (#5780920)
Keep in mind that I hear they might use some of their international money on a young Thai prospect named Nattapong Firechatwoodinarocketintothesun.
   145. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 01, 2018 at 04:57 PM (#5780922)
Jason Heywardyouoptout didn't.
   146. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 01, 2018 at 05:47 PM (#5780957)
Cubs officially picked up the options on Quintana and Strop, both of which were expected.
   147. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 01, 2018 at 11:48 PM (#5781097)
Robothal:

#Cubs might make a trade to clear salary before picking up Hamels’ $20M option, sources tell The Athletic. At this point, a long-term deal for Hamels is unlikely. If Cubs decline option and make Hamels a free agent, #Rangers will pay his $6M buyout. But goal is to keep him.


Hmm...
   148. Walt Davis Posted: November 02, 2018 at 12:29 AM (#5781105)
The #Cubs today claimed OF Johnny Field off waivers from the Minnesota Twins.

Importantly, Mr. Field picked up an inning of relief for the Rays this year, 1 IP, 0 H, 1 BB so ... Kintzler insurance. His 78 OPS+ and righty bat make him the perfect platoon partner for Heyward.

On Chatwood ... let's wait until next spring before we fire him into the sun. He'd gotten decent results with a bad walk rate before it went crazy last year -- unless he's Ankiel, it can't be that hard to get the BB rate back down to a lousy 4.5 at which point he's worth holing onto until the full rotation survives the spring and he proves he'd be a disaster in relief. Of course if some team is foolish enough to eat a useful chunk of his contract or there's a mistake-for-mistake trade that makes some sense, do that.
   149. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 02, 2018 at 09:37 AM (#5781161)
Olney:

Other teams' read on the Cubs' situation this winter: They have very little payroll flexibility, and will have to spend very carefully to affect upgrades for the 2019 season. The days of having a cheap core of young players are over for the front office.


Hmm.
   150. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: November 02, 2018 at 10:18 AM (#5781180)
Who can be traded to clear salary? Given the outfield glut the Cubs can probably trade Heyward and save $5 million a year. Smyly will make $7 million this season and is fairly redundant if Hamels comes back. Cishek is going to make $6 million. I think we can assume Russell is gone but he's not making real money yet.

They could trade Zobrist and save some or all of his $12.5 million but that feels like something the Cubs would not do.
   151. McCoy Posted: November 02, 2018 at 10:36 AM (#5781192)
I don't know how much salary would get cleared as you'd be getting something back in a trade.
   152. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 02, 2018 at 10:48 AM (#5781199)
This is basically how I feel about it (in response to the Olney tweet):

Sahadev Sharma @sahadevsharma

I'll have more thoughts as the offseason goes along, but if they use money as an excuse from capitalizing on this clear window, it's an absolute sham and should be called out as such.


Chatwood, Kintzler, and Duensing make up $21mil. Russell is projected to get about $4mil. That's a pretty huge chunk of money that I'm sure they'd like to not have right now; moving just one non-Chatwood really isn't moving the needle. Heyward has a limited no-trade, but it's hard to say for sure if it's really worth it to eat a huge chunk of his deal to be rid of him. It's probably too soon to move Darvish.
   153. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 02, 2018 at 10:50 AM (#5781200)
I don't know how much salary would get cleared as you'd be getting something back in a trade.

True, at least not for the bigger deals. Maybe - MAYBE - later in FA if teams miss out on their targets, they might be more inclined into talking themselves into taking on Kintzler or even Chatwood, especially if they're cheaper than what their equivilents on the FA market went for. But that's mostly just hope, and it's not doing anything now for Hamels' option or any top FA targets the Cubs might be after.
   154. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 02, 2018 at 10:52 AM (#5781201)
Jerry Crasnick @jcrasnick 11m11 minutes ago

The #Cubs are picking up Cole Hamels' $20 million option today, according to sources. In a related move, they're trading pitcher Drew Smiley to the #Rangers.


Huh.

Smyly makes $7mil, but counts $5mil against the tax. So it's a small saving. But yeah, he would be completely redundant.
   155. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 02, 2018 at 10:56 AM (#5781204)
Smiley
I mean, come on. You're a professional baseball writer. At least try.
   156. McCoy Posted: November 02, 2018 at 11:09 AM (#5781213)
True, at least not for the bigger deals. Maybe - MAYBE - later in FA if teams miss out on their targets, they might be more inclined into talking themselves into taking on Kintzler or even Chatwood, especially if they're cheaper than what their equivilents on the FA market went for. But that's mostly just hope, and it's not doing anything now for Hamels' option or any top FA targets the Cubs might be after.

Sure but the Cubs have to then replace those players. The Cubs don't have a Kris Bryant or Javy Baez sitting in the minors who can be called up, be productive, and make the minimum.
   157. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 02, 2018 at 11:24 AM (#5781226)
I'm talking mostly about pitching arms, which is something the Cubs have a lot of; maybe they're not all good, but I'm comfortable the Cubs could replace Chatwood, Kintzler, or Duensing and their production with guys they already have. But of course, yes, they're trying to dump that money to spend the money elsewhere. As for the specific trades themselves - which is really all I was talking about - the Cubs might be able to just dump the guy/money elsewhere like they just did with Smyly.
   158. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 02, 2018 at 11:42 AM (#5781236)
I'm comfortable the Cubs could replace Chatwood, Kintzler, or Duensing and their production with guys they already have.
That's not exactly going out on a limb: Duensing -1.5 WAR, Kintzler -0.5 WAR, Chatwood 0.0 WAR (How??).
   159. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: November 02, 2018 at 11:50 AM (#5781244)
I’m guessing the Cubs knew what it would take to do a two year deal with Hamels and told the Rangers that if they didn’t help Chicago clear payroll for the $20 million hit in 2019 they would decline the option and sign the new deal.
   160. Nasty Nate Posted: November 02, 2018 at 01:13 PM (#5781283)
Is this going to be a problem with the union and/or Hamels? Maybe he would prefer $6m in his pocket and free agency.
   161. McCoy Posted: November 02, 2018 at 01:17 PM (#5781290)
Then he shouldn't have signed the contract.
   162. Red Voodooin Posted: November 02, 2018 at 01:24 PM (#5781293)
So Olney's tweet, for what it is worth, would seem to indicate the Cubs might be sitting out the Harper/Machado sweepstakes. That's somewhat disappointing, but it's certainly not necessary for them to land a superstar and then deal with the dominoes that would fall after that.
   163. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 02, 2018 at 01:59 PM (#5781314)
Is this going to be a problem with the union and/or Hamels? Maybe he would prefer $6m in his pocket and free agency.

In addition to McCoy's point, he's claimed ever since the season was over he wanted to stay in Chicago. Perhaps he would have preferred an extension with more guaranteed money - his agent said as much - but I don't see anything here for him to be upset about.

I’m guessing the Cubs knew what it would take to do a two year deal with Hamels and told the Rangers that if they didn’t help Chicago clear payroll for the $20 million hit in 2019 they would decline the option and sign the new deal.

Possibly, so they're basically getting Smyly for $1mil with the Cubs already having paid for most of the rehab costs. Officially there is a PTBNL from each team in the deal, so we'll see.

So Olney's tweet, for what it is worth, would seem to indicate the Cubs might be sitting out the Harper/Machado sweepstakes. That's somewhat disappointing, but it's certainly not necessary for them to land a superstar and then deal with the dominoes that would fall after that.

The other point is that it's based on other teams' feelings, so who knows how much there is to that. It's just that, plus the way Robothal worded his (which was accurate, since the option/Smyly deal are linked), was the first real rumors about the Cubs spending or not.
   164. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 02, 2018 at 06:30 PM (#5781435)
Cubs claimed INF Jack Reinheimer off waivers from Mets,
reinstated Yu, Morrow, Hancock and Zagunis off 60-day DL and
outrighted Gore and Freeman. 40-man now at 39
   165. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 02, 2018 at 06:31 PM (#5781437)
A baseball offseason is unpredictable and constantly changing. Theo Epstein’s front office is forward-thinking and extremely creative. But Friday’s salary-dump trade – moving Drew Smyly to the Texas Rangers in order to pick up the $20 million option on Cole Hamels – reinforced what multiple sources have told The Athletic: The Cubs have financial concerns that may limit their ability and motivation to make a huge splash this winter.


Mooney at the athletic. I'm already calling bullshit to this growing narrative of "financial concerns". Choosing not to spend is not a concern, it's a decision.
   166. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 02, 2018 at 06:36 PM (#5781440)
AFL:

Player of the Week: Nico Hoerner, SS, Cubs
60 AB, 21 H, 7 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, HR, 8 RBI (14 games)

With their top pick for 2018, the Chicago Cubs opted for the bat of Stanford University shortstop Nico Hoerner and it hasn’t taken long this fall season to see what made him so attractive.

“I like him a lot,” Lou Marson said. “To be honest, he’s my favorite player on this team.”

The 6-1 shortstop jumped three levels in his first summer with the Cubs organization, ending the year with Class-A South Bend.

Although he wasn’t known for home run power in college — hitting a total of 10 dingers over his three-year career in the Pac-12 — he’s shown some raw pop at the plate since arriving in Mesa.

With speed as his selling tool, Hoerner makes good use of his body and his defense has caught Marson’s attention.

“He’s a very good shortstop,” Marson said. “He makes all the routine plays and has great back speed. The Cubs have a good player. I think that I see him moving through the system very quickly, especially as a college guy. Great kid, works hard. His instincts on the bases are unbelievable as well.”

“He’s an all-around player,” Marson continued. “Really falls in the dirt, stealing bases, he’s a good kid.”
   167. Kiko Sakata Posted: November 02, 2018 at 08:36 PM (#5781485)
A baseball offseason is unpredictable and constantly changing. Theo Epstein’s front office is forward-thinking and extremely creative. But Friday’s salary-dump trade – moving Drew Smyly to the Texas Rangers in order to pick up the $20 million option on Cole Hamels – reinforced what multiple sources have told The Athletic: The Cubs have financial concerns that may limit their ability and motivation to make a huge splash this winter.


There's an alternate, more optimistic, way to view this: That the Smyly dump wasn't because they couldn't have afforded Hamels without it, but because they wanted to be able to both afford Hamels and still have enough budget room to pursue Harper (or Machado, I guess, although Harper seems the more obvious target). And $7 million (Smyly's 2019 salary) is a pretty high price for a guy who would have gone into spring training as the Cubs' #7 starter with a chance to fall even further.
   168. Walt Davis Posted: November 03, 2018 at 06:29 PM (#5781730)
Really falls in the dirt

repeated for hilarity
   169. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 04, 2018 at 06:39 PM (#5781965)
Mooney:
There is a path opening for Russell to potentially come back to Wrigley Field and wear a Cubs uniform again, sources told The Athletic, stressing that no final decision has been made yet. The Cubs understand that a conditional return would be controversial and unpopular and could backfire in a way that alienates fans and again embarrasses the franchise.

Don’t assume that the Cubs are automatically going to cut ties with Russell this winter or that Russell is guaranteed a second chance, at least in Chicago. His future with the team is still up in the air as the baseball industry gathers for the annual GM meetings this week in Carlsbad, California.


Floating this as a trial balloon to gauge the reaction or backlash? Either way, ugh
   170. Walt Davis Posted: November 04, 2018 at 10:27 PM (#5782017)
Steamer player projections are out. Assuming the roster as is and no major injuries (and that my memory from checking this the other day is correct), the position players generate about 27 WAR, the pitching staff about 13. Note, for some reason, they only projected Russell to something like 32 PA so (a) that might be an underestimate but (b) it just takes PT away elsewhere so probably doesn't help too much. I didn't notice anything dramatic but they still like Heyward and Schwarber to be above-average but maybe under-project Javy (or not). The rotation was disappointingly blah -- even Hendricks projected to just 2.4 WAR or something with an ERA over 4.00 (no good idea why). Nobody in the pen stood out, nobody projects to stink so they added a couple of WAR. So a projection around 88 wins which is pretty good by projection standards (few teams project above 90).
   171. Nasty Nate Posted: November 05, 2018 at 09:27 AM (#5782073)
A baseball offseason is unpredictable and constantly changing. Theo Epstein’s front office is forward-thinking and extremely creative. But Friday’s salary-dump trade – moving Drew Smyly to the Texas Rangers in order to pick up the $20 million option on Cole Hamels – reinforced what multiple sources have told The Athletic: The Cubs have financial concerns that may limit their ability and motivation to make a huge splash this winter.


There's an alternate, more optimistic, way to view this: That the Smyly dump wasn't because they couldn't have afforded Hamels without it, but because they wanted to be able to both afford Hamels and still have enough budget room to pursue Harper (or Machado, I guess, although Harper seems the more obvious target). And $7 million (Smyly's 2019 salary) is a pretty high price for a guy who would have gone into spring training as the Cubs' #7 starter with a chance to fall even further.
Wasn't the Smyly dump purely about the Rangers helping them out in exchange for the Cubs picking up the option and thereby saving the Rangers $6m?
   172. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 05, 2018 at 10:16 AM (#5782088)
Yeah, Nate, I think the way to read the Smyly dump is that the Cubs really didn't need Smyly, and the easiest way to dump his contract was leverage the Rangers $6mil towards Hamels' option. So the Rangers are still out the $6mil, but get Smyly for $1mil. The Cubs and Rangers do work together quite a bit, so this seems like a situation where they help each other out.

   173. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 05, 2018 at 10:47 AM (#5782107)
Sharma at The Athletic ($):

It appears that they’re using the upper end of the MLB luxury tax, $246 million, as an artificial salary cap. If president Theo Epstein is able to make salary-clearing trades to the point that adding Harper or Machado suddenly fits into their self-imposed budget, then perhaps their offseason plans start to look a bit differently. But for right now, it appears as though adding one of the two prime free agents from this class appears to be a long shot.

The reality is that even before bringing Hamels back into the fold, the Cubs would have been sitting around a CBT of $208 million. With that in mind, adding Harper would have pushed them, optimistically, around $8 million shy of that $246 million threshold they appear to have set for themselves. While the Cubs need to upgrade their offense, they also need to add a significant arm to their bullpen and a backup catcher. And that doesn’t include their annual desire to have a decent cushion below their budget so they can add as needed during the season.


BN puts the Cubs at about $226mil right now with the arb estimates and after the Hamels/Smyly moves. For the Cubs to really make noise in FA, they kinda need to make Chatwood/Duensing disappear (and maybe Kintzler, plus any money saved in dealing arb guys like Russell and whichever of Schwarber/Happ gets moved if they signed Harper is going to matter; in total that's about $29mil).
   174. Kiko Sakata Posted: November 05, 2018 at 06:43 PM (#5782591)
Javy's an MVP finalist! Yelich is definitely going to win - and deservedly so. But good for Javy finishing top 3 (Arenado is the other finalist; I'm guessing Baez finishes second).
   175. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 05, 2018 at 08:46 PM (#5782637)
Theo Epstein says there will be no extension this winter for Joe Maddon. Will reevaluate late into next season.

Theo Epstein confirms the Cubs are digging into the Addison Russell case and feel a responsibility to get it right because "this happened on our watch." Epstein says: "Everything remains an open question."



   176. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 07, 2018 at 11:00 AM (#5783610)
Sharma:

“I think we’re really talented, I do,” Epstein said. “I think that for the group as a whole and for a lot of individual players, it’s now time to turn that talent into production. In a lot of ways, we’re going to be as good as our core of talent produces. If you start to look at this competitive window as a whole, which we’ve all been operating under the assumption it’s going to be at least seven years, it’s time to produce or else there’s the chance for significant change with the group.”

But while Epstein repeatedly said he’s not ruling anything out regarding free agency or trades, the reality seems to be that that Cubs are a bit limited in how they’ll be able to maneuver this winter.

Ownership has determined a budget that appears to be well below the top luxury tax threshold of $246 million and underperformance by many of their young players has pushed their trade value down to levels that may make it difficult to find an acceptable return. It doesn’t help that Schwarber is coming off a disc-related back issue that limited him to 18 games in September and October and kept him from making a couple road trips with the team to avoid long flights. How that is affecting his trade value isn’t completely clear, but it’s certainly not a positive.

“The deeper we dug, the more we realized we still have a ton of talent offensively with the position player group. Which, in a lot of ways, should be the strength of the team. If you look on paper, the strength probably right now is the starting rotation. It probably should be, and someday will be, this position player group, but we’ve got a lot of work to do. For a few different reasons, it fell apart down the stretch and we weren’t able to make an adjustment and pull ourselves out of it.”

It certainly seems as though Epstein and company are attempting to recalibrate outside expectations for an offseason that started with grandiose predictions of a major pursuit of Bryce Harper or Manny Machado.

“I’m not ruling anything out,” Epstein said. “I’m not ruling anything out. No, I’m not ruling anything out. I think we have a lot of moving parts, an open mind and a desire to get better. So no, I’m not ruling anything in or out.”


Mooney:
Remember​ Theo​ Epstein’s “Our​ Offense​ Broke”​ end-of-season​ press​ conference? That happened 34​​ days ago, when Cubs fans and the Chicago media imagined all the different possibilities to fix a 95-win team that absolutely believes it underachieved this year.

Now listen to general manager Jed Hoyer on Tuesday at the type of event where the Cubs are usually linked to seemingly every big free agent and off-the-wall trade idea. By Day 2 of the GM meetings at the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa, Hoyer talked about how the Cubs didn’t necessarily need to add a hitter, stressing that improvement will come from within, reminding reporters that these players are still young and saying, “I feel really comfortable where we are for our offense.”

That sunny optimism in Southern California sure sounded a lot different than the frustration as soon as Wrigley Field went dark in early October. That shift in tone goes far beyond media smokescreens, a cooling-off period after a frustrating season, faith in yet another new hitting coach and the sense of loyalty Cubs officials feel toward certain players. Believe it or not, the budget crunch is real.

   177. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 07, 2018 at 11:32 AM (#5783640)
Morosi:

The Cubs were linked to Machado early in the midsummer trade market, but the talks never gained momentum. Despite the uncertainty surrounding Cubs shortstop Addison Russell, it's unclear if the Cubs will pursue Machado this offseason. In general, the Cubs seem more enamored with players becoming available via free agency in future offseasons -- such as Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado -- than those in the current class. However, it's noteworthy that Harper would welcome the opportunity to play with childhood friend Kris Bryant -- and reportedly has a dog named Wrigley.
   178. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 07, 2018 at 12:20 PM (#5783681)
and reportedly has a dog named Wrigley.
I wouldn't read too much into this. "Yankee Stadium" would be a pretty dumb name for a dog. Plus, you don't want to have to change your dog's name every couple years, which rules out a lot of teams.
   179. Man o' Schwar Posted: November 07, 2018 at 12:23 PM (#5783683)
I wouldn't read too much into this. "Yankee Stadium" would be a pretty dumb name for a dog. Plus, you don't want to have to change your dog's name every couple years, which rules out a lot of teams.

He could have named his dogs "Mystique" and "Aura".
   180. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 07, 2018 at 12:55 PM (#5783715)
Or "Dodger Dog."
   181. Zonk qualifies as an invasive species Posted: November 07, 2018 at 01:05 PM (#5783721)
I am increasingly expecting a pretty quiet Cubs offseason.

But look on the bright side - this means you will get a couple of special winter treats:

1) I can now focus on what's REALLY important... praising to high heaven every micro-transaction around some 4A minor league FA signing and spring NRI. And damning every other one.

2) Time to restart another OOTP dynasty team... You know you want to hear how I ingeniously got out from under Heyward's contract or foisted Chatwood off onto the Cardinals... or how I got both Griffey and Bonds and it didn't really cost us that much.
   182. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 07, 2018 at 01:49 PM (#5783755)
how I got both Griffey and Bonds and it didn't really cost us that much.
Well yeah, Griffey is 48 and Bonds is 54...and that's if you're talking about the sons.
   183. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 07, 2018 at 02:06 PM (#5783765)
Similarly, starting to think if the Cubs are completely out on Harper/Machado, who would be the position players that they could try and sign and at what price?

One route could be Josh Donaldson. His STEAMER projection is pretty decent, but there's a lot of question marks. He definitely would be a lot cheaper, and on a shorter contract. He's a pretty big risk (depending on what you think of his injuries/health), but potentially a huge reward. It would mean moving Bryant to the OF - either LF and trade Scwharber or RF with Heyward/Almora getting a CF platoon. I could get behind this option if the price is right, but would rather hold onto Schwarber in this scenario.

Another route would be Andrew McCutchen. Like Donaldson, he's going to end up signing for a lot less than maybe he'd hoped a few years ago, but his questions center more on his defense/possible decline than health. He should be a corner OF, and probably would be better in LF than RF, though you wonder if the Cubs would try and squeeze him into CF and hope positioning/smaller park help him out. If you put him in a corner, you have the same shuffling options I talked about with Donaldson. I think I could get behind this one too, assuming he's in RF.

In both of these options, the IF shake out would depend on what happens with Russell (even though I'm still firmly in the camp that I'd rather he's gone). The Cubs could try to sign one of those guys and trade for a 2b like Merrifield (Happ/Russell?) and have Zo as your main supersub with Bote right behind him. You're going to have a pretty solid bench then.

I've seen some rumors that the Cubs are looking at position players who are versatile, so that could mean someone like Marwin Gonzalez. He probably is cheaper than either of the other 2, but a lesser bat. Signing him would probably mean Russell is for sure gone, but I would expect any other position player position (or more accurately, there isn't an obvious other piece to also add, though he's so complimentary you could do just about anything else). I'd rather take a shot at Donaldson or McCutchen.

I still think the Cubs are going to sign some hitter who is going to play regularly, and suspect there's a trade of someone from the Schwarber/Happ/Almora group (in addition to Russell). I also still think the Cubs are going to find a way to move Chatwood, even if they eat money on it; they can sign Donaldson/RP/backup C and fit under $246 if they shed some money.
   184. Zonk qualifies as an invasive species Posted: November 07, 2018 at 02:09 PM (#5783769)
I've seen some rumors that the Cubs are looking at position players who are versatile, so that could mean someone like Marwin Gonzalez.


Are you TRYING to trigger me?

Because I can use the BBTF search function...

Well yeah, Griffey is 48 and Bonds is 54...and that's if you're talking about the sons.


And you... you need a /costanza tag?
   185. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 07, 2018 at 02:46 PM (#5783786)
My life is a /costanza tag.
   186. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 07, 2018 at 03:03 PM (#5783809)
Levine:

The Cubs are kicking the tires on free-agent relievers and trade scenarios to acquire bullpen help at the GM Meetings.

Left-handed specialists are high on the Cubs' wish list, with Justin Wilson representing their only power arm from the left side in 2018. Wilson has now entered free agency himself, creating a hole in the back of a bullpen in which Pedro Strop, Carl Edwards Jr. and Brandon Morrow are big arms from the right side.

"Adding bullpen depth is a priority," Hoyer said. "Certainly adding from the (left side) is ideal. I am more focused on good relievers. The key is not just having a good pen all year. You need that bullpen fresh down the stretch. Part of that is having depth and not overusing guys. We have a strong rotation. Our bullpen performed exceptionally well last year, but we have to add more depth to make sure we get to the end of the season."
   187. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 07, 2018 at 03:05 PM (#5783814)
#MoarReleevurz!!!
   188. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 07, 2018 at 04:51 PM (#5783923)
Are you TRYING to trigger me?

No. Maybe. Not really. BN also mentioned Lowrie as an option, so sure, add him to my post.
   189. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: November 07, 2018 at 04:55 PM (#5783933)

Another route would be Andrew McCutchen. Like Donaldson, he's going to end up signing for a lot less than maybe he'd hoped a few years ago, but his questions center more on his defense/possible decline than health. He should be a corner OF, and probably would be better in LF than RF, though you wonder if the Cubs would try and squeeze him into CF and hope positioning/smaller park help him out. If you put him in a corner, you have the same shuffling options I talked about with Donaldson. I think I could get behind this one too, assuming he's in RF.


Adding another corner outfielder who will probably be pretty good but not great just means displacing another, cheaper corner OF who will probably be pretty good but not great. I think the Cubs could do better by looking at options for centerfield but unless you're adding a star everything looks like depth pieces.

Donaldson might be interesting because he's potentially affordable and at least provides genuine potential for star level production.
   190. Kiko Sakata Posted: November 07, 2018 at 05:35 PM (#5783961)
The Cubs are kicking the tires on free-agent relievers and trade scenarios to acquire bullpen help at the GM Meetings.


This is my pet peeve of offseason baseball transactions - and especially of baseball fan wish lists. Every team needs more relief pitchers, because Team A's 3rd-best reliever is almost certainly better than my team's 8th-best reliever, so it doesn't really mean anything to say, "The [fill in the blank] could really use some relief pitchers." But relief pitcher performance is SO DAMN VARIABLE that it just makes no damn sense to spend real money or give up anything even remotely valuable for all but a teeny, tiny handful of relief pitchers. Reminder: Brian Duensing had a 2.74 ERA (161 ERA+, 3.41 FIP) in 2017. He followed that up in 2018 with a 7.65 ERA (ERA+ of 56, 6.35 FIP). According to Baseball-Reference, every Twitter Cubs fan's favorite new Cub, Jesse Chavez, has 3.0 WAR in his 11-year MLB career. He earned 3.2 of that (i.e., 107% of his career value) in 2018 - two-thirds of Chavez's career WAR was earned in 39 innings (4.65% of his career total) as a Cub. I would not take an even-money bet in either direction as to which of Duensing or Chavez had a lower ERA / more WAR in 2019.
   191. Red Voodooin Posted: November 07, 2018 at 09:09 PM (#5784017)
Gordon Wittenmyer
@GDubCub
Boras said he's been in communication with Cubs, and that they're directly involved with Russell as he's undergoing therapy.
Does he expect him back with Cubs after suspension ends:

“… I have no expectation otherwise and I have not been told anything otherwise.”



Patrick Mooney
@PJ_Mooney

Boras: "Addison is getting therapy. Addison is growing and understanding the responsibilities of his team, his league, his city. The learning curve of this is good for everybody. It’s been really, really good for Addison going forward.”
   192. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 07, 2018 at 09:18 PM (#5784019)
Amid rumblings about Jim Hickey's uncertain status as Cubs pitching coach moving forward, Theo Epstein declined to comment: "I'm not in a position to formally announce the final coaching staff yet."


???
   193. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 07, 2018 at 09:27 PM (#5784022)
Boras: "Addison is getting therapy. Addison is growing and understanding the responsibilities of his team, his league, his city. The learning curve of this is good for everybody. It’s been really, really good for Addison going forward.”
If Boras said this, the default assumption is that Russell is beating up a hooker as we speak.
   194. Kiko Sakata Posted: November 07, 2018 at 09:39 PM (#5784029)
The learning curve of this


I'm more or less paraphrasing others on Twitter, but I'd like to think "[t]he learning curve" associated with "don't abuse people" is pretty short for most people.
   195. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 07, 2018 at 09:47 PM (#5784032)
I'm more or less paraphrasing others on Twitter, but I'd like to think "[t]he learning curve" associated with "don't abuse people" is pretty short for most people.
"Was that wrong? Should I not have done that? I tell you, I gotta plead ignorance on this thing, because if anyone had said anything to me at all when I first started here that that sort of thing is frowned upon... you know, cause I've played for a few different teams, and I tell you, people do that all the time."

...and there's my /costanza tag.
   196. Brian C Posted: November 07, 2018 at 10:21 PM (#5784043)
I don't really see the need to be flippant about it. Learning to constructively control one's emotions is very difficult for a lot of people.

Doesn't let him or anyone else off the hook, obviously, but it doesn't actually take any imagination to see this as an actual process.
   197. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: November 08, 2018 at 07:21 AM (#5784099)
Has Russell admitted fault?
   198. Zonk qualifies as an invasive species Posted: November 08, 2018 at 08:58 AM (#5784120)
I don't really see the need to be flippant about it. Learning to constructively control one's emotions is very difficult for a lot of people.


I am pro this.

but Boras' phrasing:

Addison is growing and understanding the responsibilities of his team, his league, his city.


No. Just no. There are no special behavioral expectations by the Cubs, the National League/MLB, or Chicago.

And while I suppose one can sometimes make the case that external expectations causing a person NOT to behave a certain way is better than nothing, this is one of those clear-cut instances where the understanding is just that such behavior is wrong period.
   199. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 08, 2018 at 10:14 AM (#5784194)
Has Russell admitted fault?

Publicly, not that I'm aware of. Accepting his suspension doesn't count, not when he publicly and privately denied doing anything wrong. I can only find this statement when the suspension was announced:

"After gaining a full understanding of the situation, I have concluded it's in the best interest of my family to accept MLB's proposed resolution of this matter," Russell said in a statement released by his attorneys Wednesday. "I wish my ex-wife well and hope we can live in peace for the benefit of our child."
   200. Brian C Posted: November 08, 2018 at 12:33 PM (#5784303)
No. Just no. There are no special behavioral expectations by the Cubs, the National League/MLB, or Chicago.

Well, I think there are. Obviously, "don't beat your wife" is something that should be expected of everyone, so I take your point as far as that goes. But generally speaking, I think it's completely uncontroversial to say that pro athletes' behavior is up for a lot more scrutiny than it is for the rest of us.

I guess I read that Boras quote to probably be the result of a conversation that went something like this:

RUSSELL: Why are people all up in my personal business? What goes on in my family is no one else's concern!

BORAS: Guess again, numbnuts.
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