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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 | 427 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   401. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 11, 2019 at 11:24 AM (#5804603)
The flip...she is mine.
   402. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 11, 2019 at 11:34 AM (#5804612)
Seems to me that the Occam's Razor is that the FO realizes it's a bad idea to sign Harper for the amount and length that Harper wants.
   403. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: January 11, 2019 at 11:43 AM (#5804622)
Well, the team has other needs and they're not exactly throwing money around to fill those out either.
   404. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 11, 2019 at 11:49 AM (#5804625)
Exactly. So until they do sign anyone, it's really the most sensible explanation.
   405. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 11, 2019 at 12:07 PM (#5804640)
I mean, the Ricketts have other significant expenses. Buying the entirety of Wrigleyville requires a pretty major up-front cash outlay, and I assume they're also going to try to purchase the mayoral election, so that's on the books for this year at least.
   406. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 14, 2019 at 05:53 AM (#5805207)
Couple days late, but the Cubs settled with all their arb guys (the projected numbers in ()):

Bryant: $12.9mil ($12.4)
Hendricks: $7.405mil ($7.6)
Baez: $5.2mil ($7.1)
Russell: $3.4mil - he losing a chunk during his suspension, but has roster bonuses that can get him back to that $3.4mil. (yet another reason I think he's on the team again) ($3.167)
Schwarber: $3.39mil ($3.086)
Montgomery: $2.44mil ($3.0)
Edwards: $1.5mil ($1.4)

That comes out to be about $1.5mil less in total than projected, so the Cubs salary currently sits at ~$205mil, not including pre-arb guys (Contreras, Almora, Happ, Bote, Caratini), and the tax amount is between $222mil-$225mil.
   407. Walt Davis Posted: January 15, 2019 at 10:51 PM (#5805891)
Regarding Russell ... I think it's mainly a sign they are not going to give him away for free unless the PR hit gets so bad they have no choice.

On the arb numbers, way back at #61 I made some guesses in response to those original estimates ... I did meh as you might guess.

Bryant -- I thought $12.4 was a bit low and said "something in the $13-14 range." I coule note how close $12.9 is to $13 and declare victory but I'll call it a draw where we were both .5 M off.

Hendricks -- I thought $7.6 was a bit low ... Hendricks obviously needs to hire me as his agent. Anway, I lose this one.

Baez -- I thought $7.1 was too high given this being his first real full-time year. I put him at $5-6 M so I'll declare victory here and take my lap.

Schwarber -- I thought $3.1 was a bit high given his PT but I also mentioned the Cubs still seem to like him a lot and $3.1 would satisfy everybodyy. Obviously this Kyle should not hire me to be his agent. Draw.

Russell -- I only indirectly (and pronoun-confusingly) discussed him but said he wasn't in line for much of a raise from $3.2. But neither did they so another draw.
   408. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 17, 2019 at 09:26 AM (#5806255)
Gordon Wittenmyer @GDubCub 19m19 minutes ago

Ricketts defends lack of spending this winter by pointing out Cubs one of biggest payroll spenders, cites burdens of revenue sharing, maintenance/upgrades to own stadium & long-term planning taking into account arb raises & free agents over multiple years (Darvish, Chatwood, etc)

Gordon Wittenmyer @GDubCub 18m18 minutes ago

Ricketts: “We like our club. And we’re among the very top spenders. I think that stuff is just kind of misguided.”

And btw, he says, Theo has added players, citing Hamels, Descalso
   409. Kiko Sakata Posted: January 17, 2019 at 11:19 AM (#5806292)
And btw, he says, Theo has added players, citing Hamels, Descalso


Somebody on Twitter commented that Ricketts acted like he was going to keep listing players after this but then kind of abruptly stopped when he realized that he'd just named everybody that Theo had added this offseason - and, of course, Hamels wasn't really an offseason add anyway.
   410. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 17, 2019 at 11:28 AM (#5806294)
How could he forget about Jim Adduci??
   411. Zonk Will Have the Chicken Kiev Posted: January 17, 2019 at 11:32 AM (#5806296)
Somebody on Twitter commented that Ricketts acted like he was going to keep listing players after this but then kind of abruptly stopped when he realized that he'd just named everybody that Theo had added this offseason - and, of course, Hamels wasn't really an offseason add anyway.


Could have been worse - he might have started listing aldermanic candidates they were signing :-)
   412. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 17, 2019 at 01:31 PM (#5806335)
Could have been worse - he might have started listing aldermanic candidates they were signing :-)
That's probably why he stopped - he caught himself at the last minute.
   413. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 22, 2019 at 05:25 PM (#5807802)
Sahadev Sharma @sahadevsharma 1h1 hour ago

Cubs make another behind the scenes addition hiring Adam Beard as director of high performance. Beard spent the last four years in the same role with the Cleveland Browns.


Ha
   414. Man o' Schwar Posted: January 22, 2019 at 05:30 PM (#5807805)
He is probably very good at recognizing low performance, so maybe he can eliminate that, and what's left will be high performance.
   415. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 22, 2019 at 05:44 PM (#5807813)
I mean, I don't know about you, but I, for one, found myself frequently watching Cubs games in the second half of last year and thinking, "The problem with this team is that it seems to be finding its way to low performance too often, and high performance too infrequently. If only there were someone who could direct them more toward the high-performance end of the continuum, by golly, that would make a huge difference."
   416. Man o' Schwar Posted: January 22, 2019 at 06:29 PM (#5807856)
I'm reminded of the Simpsons softball episode, where Burns tells Darryl Strawberry "you there man, hit a home run". When he does it, that's evidence of good managing.

You there, Kris Bryant, play with high performance.
   417. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: January 22, 2019 at 08:34 PM (#5807963)
He was like the fictional Maytag repairman: glued to his desk day after day to wait out the clock with nothing to do, no high performance to direct. Meanwhile the Browns’ low performance director is frazzled and overwhelmed with his workload.
   418. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 24, 2019 at 01:13 PM (#5808540)
Ken Rosenthal @Ken_Rosenthal 13m13 minutes ago

#Cubs in agreement with free-agent reliever Brad Brach, pending a physical, sources tell The Athletic.


Heyman says 1yr/$3mil. Seems like a worthwhile gamble, and probably way cheaper than he was hoping for when the offseason started.

Of course, it's not as exciting as Pollock to the Dodgers (on what may look like a steal of a deal) or talk of the Dodgers continuing to pursue Realmuto.

I don't think I'm itching for the Cubs to make a more significant move just for the sake of it, or what, but I kinda really just want something interesting to happen.
   419. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 24, 2019 at 02:25 PM (#5808569)
Ken Rosenthal @Ken_Rosenthal 11m11 minutes ago

Brach deal with #Cubs is at least $4.35M for one year, sources tell The Athletic. Both player and club have options for 2020. Deal could grow to two years, $9.5M if Cubs exercise their option. Two-year guarantee would be less if team declines and Brach exercises his option.


Little more than they said at first, but still seems like a pretty decent deal.
   420. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: January 24, 2019 at 05:01 PM (#5808646)
MLB Trade Rumors predicted he would get 2/$12 million. So there's that.
   421. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 28, 2019 at 02:53 PM (#5809659)
Justin Wilson officially gone - to the Mets 2/$10mil. Good luck with that.

Also, Cubs signed Junichi Tazawa and George Kontos to minor league deals.
   422. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 28, 2019 at 04:26 PM (#5809699)
MLB Prospect rankings:

Cubs (2)
94. Miguel Amaya, C (ETA: 2021)
100. Nico Hoerner, SS (2020)

In the middle of the decade, the Cubs had one of the best collection of hitting prospects in recent memory, several of whom ended the franchise's 108-year World Series championship drought in 2016. Chicago recently has tried to develop homegrown pitching with little success, and its top two prospects are position players Amaya and Hoerner.


KLaw today posted his just missed:
110. Nico Hoerner, SS, Chicago Cubs

Hoerner is more of a skills guy than a tools guy, as the Cubs' first-round pick in 2018 out of Stanford doesn't have a six anywhere on his scouting report. He's probably going to end up at second base, although his instincts are so good he might beat the odds and stay at short, and he's an elite baserunner who looks like he's going to steal bases at a very high success rate. Questions about his position and his history of running short at-bats (and thus not walking much for a guy without power) kept him off the 100.


   423. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 29, 2019 at 03:11 PM (#5810123)
Amaya is #91 on Law's list.

The lone Cub on the list or even particularly close to it, Amaya struggled as an 18-year-old in the advanced short-season Northwest League in 2017, putting up a .266 OBP. But another year of growth had him a different player in the full-season Midwest League, where he hit .256/.349/.403 and threw out 41 percent of opposing runners. Amaya is an offensive catcher, perhaps a future average defender with a plus arm, but a potential 55-grade hitter with average power and a solid idea of the strike zone. He has to continue to get stronger, if only for durability. He slugged .478 before the major league All-Star break but hit .198 with a .223 slugging percentage after it, which isn't surprising for a 19-year-old at a very demanding position, but it's a clear area for improvement.

Amaya has a very simple swing and approach, with a direct path to the ball, good balance through contact and enough loft for 15-plus-homer power, perhaps more if he gets stronger than expected. He will turn 20 in March, so there's risk here, but right now, he looks like a solid everyday catcher with a high floor as a quality backup.
   424. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 29, 2019 at 03:55 PM (#5810141)
He slugged .478 before the major league All-Star break but hit .198 with a .223 slugging percentage after it, which isn't surprising for a 19-year-old at a very demanding position, but it's a clear area for improvement.
Hmm, where have we seen something like that before?
   425. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: January 29, 2019 at 03:59 PM (#5810143)
Hmm, where have we seen something like that before?

And Nico Hoerner is just Albert Almora: Middle Infielder This Time.
   426. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: February 07, 2019 at 02:25 PM (#5813319)
PETCOA really doesn't like the Cubs.
   427. Red Voodooin Posted: February 07, 2019 at 03:43 PM (#5813411)
Those are some pretty sobering projections, particularly for the pitching staff. On offense, Baez regresses, Bryant improves, Zo falls off the cliff and nobody takes even a small step forward. If this is their median projection, I'd hate to imagine what the bottom 25-percentile projection looks like.
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