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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Starting to think about 2017

I’m not entirely ready to start thinking about next year yet.  I’m still enjoying this year (side note: Friday at 7pm on FS1 is the 2016 Cubs movie that MLB produced).  There hasn’t been a ton of offseason movement or rumors yet, and the Cubs haven’t really done anything of note, unless of course you’re a 40 man roster fanatic.  Seeing that Fangraphs has put out their 2017 projections made me at least put up this post.  If anything major comes up during the winter meetings, I might start a new topic.  But for now, this is as good of a thread to talk about the offseason that we can bring up as things happen.

Without thinking about it too much, the few things that jump out at me in the projections, in no particular order:

1. Candelario, as they pointed out in the article.  From what I’ve read about him, he isn’t seen as a great defender.  He does have multi-position flexibility going for him, but on the wrong end of the spectrum that is pretty solidly covered by the current roster (3b/1b/lf/rf).  A nice benefit is that he’s switch-handed.  He really tore up AAA in limited time: 309PAs, .333/.417/.542, but doesn’t seem to have a place on the current roster.  I also don’t see how a Soler, or even Schwarber, trade even clears enough space for him.  You would think they’d still want to get him regular ABs, so a Coghlan or LaStella role would probably be less than ideal now.  His clearest path right now is as an injury replacement; or perhaps he can big a bigger trade piece than we’ve seen before.
2. Schwarber, as has been talked about here plenty, is a guy most Cubs fans feel, and we get the impression the FO agrees, is likely to exceed his relatively modest projection.  The defense has been talked to death - and I’m firmly in the he can get up to pretty close to averagish in LF for now if left alone and healthy - and the advanced metrics do love him (3rd on the team in wOBA).  I just feel he can cut down on that K rate without giving up too much power, and up that BA (either by getting better against LHP or just being platooned out against them).  Regardless, it’s just fun to think about the lineup with him back full time.
3. Fowler.  That’s still a really good forecast for him, and he’s surely going to be worth whatever contract he gets, at least in the short term.  I still don’t see the Cubs resigning him, but the emotional side would still love to see him back.  If he did come back, and for multiple years, perhaps that allows for a Soler/Almora trade package for that elusive young, cost controlled starter*.
4. Lackey.  I’ll never really like him, although I see his uses.  That he’s still this effective as his age is pretty impressive.  Having him as the 5th starter would be an awesome best-case scenario, pipe-dream.

*In a complete one of his make-believe columns for ESPN, Jim Bowden (I know) said he’d like to see the Cubs/Rays made a deal.  He suggested Happ/Soler/Almora/Edwards for Archer/Kiermaier/Colome.  While I’m not crazy about that exact trade, it’s at least an interesting idea and seem fairly reasonable on paper.  I think how fair depends on how you feel about some of those guys; but it would at least seem to address on paper how each team could be addressing their rosters (and of course, saves the Rays money, though since Archer has such a reasonable deal it’s not *that* much big picture). 


The floor is now open.

Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: November 29, 2016 at 01:10 PM | 107 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: November 29, 2016 at 01:33 PM (#5359421)
BTW, remember when the Cubs won the World Series? That was awesome.
   2. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: November 29, 2016 at 01:49 PM (#5359435)
BTW, remember when the Cubs won the World Series? That was awesome.


Like just about everything in life, the memory and intense feelings faded a bit as the weeks passed, but every couple of days, I'll still stop and think, "Holy ####, the CUBS won the World freaking Series."
   3. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 29, 2016 at 01:55 PM (#5359443)
One of the unspoken questions about this "OF logjam" situation is just how much more time they're going to give Heyward. Of course you give him the first what, 6 weeks(?) to see if he's fixed his offensive problems in the offseason, but at some point you have to cut bait, right?

I ask this because I'm seeing speculation about Charlie Blackmon. If Fowler leaves (and I'm in the camp that would like to see him return if they can get him for, say, 3/$45 or thereabouts, which may be optimistic), the most logical configuration would be Schwarber-Heyward-Zobrist. If Heyward at the plate is still the 2016 version, Schwarber-Blackmon-Zobrist with Heyward as a defensive replacement sounds a lot better. If they have the opportunity to get Blackmon for essentially spare parts (I include Soler in that category at this point) now, they kind of have to do it and figure out the playing time later, no?
   4. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 29, 2016 at 01:57 PM (#5359448)
BTW, remember when the Cubs won the World Series? That was awesome.

Sigh. I got to really enjoy it for almost a week before things came crashing back down.
   5. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: November 29, 2016 at 02:12 PM (#5359461)
Yeah, unfortunately, same for me.
   6. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: November 29, 2016 at 02:22 PM (#5359474)
I assume people 'round these parts will really get a kick out of this story.

Key part:
It was Oct. 6, 1945. Frank Colletti was 11, deemed too young by his protective siblings for the adventure on which they were setting out. They planned to sleep on the street that night, scare up tickets the next morning and go to Game 5 of the World Series, Cubs vs. Detroit Tigers.

Little Frank would be left behind. But one of his brothers, Ned, then 15, told him not to worry.

“He said, ‘We promise to take you to the next one,’” said Frank, now 82. “But the next one never came.”

The Cubs were never very good about promises, except perhaps the promise of a century of torment and misery. But Ned Colletti Jr. — a Los Angeles Dodgers executive and Frank’s nephew — grew up hearing about the time Frank was left in the dust of a streetcar, the World Series out of his young reach.

And 71 years later, on Friday night at Wrigley, Ned Colletti took his uncle to that “next one’’ — Game 3 of the World Series between the Cubs and the Cleveland Indians.

“Thank you for keeping your father’s promise,” Frank said to his nephew as they met before the game at the Ron Santo statue on the corner of Sheffield and Addison.
   7. Quaker Posted: November 29, 2016 at 02:27 PM (#5359479)
Can you link to the Blackmon speculation please?
   8. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 29, 2016 at 02:56 PM (#5359507)
I saw something on MLB Network last night when I had the TV on in the background while cooking. Also here.
   9. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 29, 2016 at 03:02 PM (#5359515)
In light of Cespedes' 4/$110 deal, I'm thinking 3/$45 for Fowler is probably wildly optimistic.
   10. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: November 29, 2016 at 03:06 PM (#5359521)
Of course you give him the first what, 6 weeks(?) to see if he's fixed his offensive problems in the offseason, but at some point you have to cut bait, right?


What, exactly, does "cut[ting] bait" on a guy locked in for the next 7 years and ~$140M entail? The team stuck by him throughout last season (even with Fowler on the roster); even if he hits as he did last year, I don't see Heyward going anywhere or spending significant time on the bench.

I have wondered if there was something hidden from us last year, perhaps that he had back issues come up as they had in the past. If so, perhaps the off-season will help heal those.
   11. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: November 29, 2016 at 03:33 PM (#5359552)
If the Cubs go into the season with Almora as starting CF and Heyward as starting RF, there has to be a shortish rope for one of them. I'm not sure what cutting bait on Heyward would look like either, but they probably don't want to carry 2 sub-par bats (though, I guess, in theory, they could). The complicating factor here is Zobrist, and how much PT Baez gets. I don't think an ideal defensive OF - or one the Cubs would want to be the regular one is Schwarber/Heyward/Zobrist.

Put another way, which of Heyward or Almora is likely to be better offensively next season? If the Cubs get someone like Blackmon (or bring back Fowler) who is not one-dimensional*, I think it allows for more patience with Heyward.

I have wondered if there was something hidden from us last year, perhaps that he had back issues come up as they had in the past. If so, perhaps the off-season will help heal those.

He hurt his wrist early, and then they just stopped talking about it. Heyward said it was fine, but there's plenty of history of guys needing time to come back from wrist issues. Wrist pain could explain some of the ridiculousness going on with his swing, and could be what was meant when the Cubs kept saying any significant changes from Heyward would come in the offseason.

*How is Blackmon's defense in CF? He had a career year with the bat, but wasn't just Coors (.939OPS home and .926, with more HR, on road).
   12. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 29, 2016 at 03:57 PM (#5359579)
Cutting bait, to me, would be making Heyward primarily a defensive replacement/spot starter, or at least putting him in whatever positional rotation/time-sharing arrangement they will probably end up having rather than giving him a full-time job. They did stick by him last year, but it would make sense that that would be part of a strategy of (1) see if he can somehow "find it" again this year or (2) change his approach/mechanics or recover from undisclosed lingering injury in the offseason. Clearly option (1) didn't happen. If it becomes apparent a month or two into 2017 that (2) didn't happen either, I don't necessarily think they would be as committed to sticking with him as they were last year. Hopefully the contract doesn't influence the decision - the Cubs' front office, of all teams, should be smart enough to understand the basic concept of sunk costs.

If the Cubs get someone like Blackmon (or bring back Fowler) who is not one-dimensional*, I think it allows for more patience with Heyward.

Agreed.
   13. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 29, 2016 at 04:03 PM (#5359585)
...the "this year" in option (1) above referring to 2016 as if in the present tense, of course.
   14. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: November 29, 2016 at 07:03 PM (#5359723)
Cubs sign Jon Jay, 1 yr, $8mil. Solid signing. Probably 4th OF/Almora platoon partner (not likely strictly R/L). Probably puts an end to Fowler hope (though not really, if they decided to use Almora in a trade). I'd guess Szczur lost his spot, or maybe Coghlan, or both.
   15. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: November 29, 2016 at 07:17 PM (#5359730)
So the Cubs appear to have moved on from Fowler (due to cost as nobody would contend they are improving via a potential Jay/Almora platoon) and they declined Hammell's option in order to replace him in the rotation with a guy making the minimum. I hope these aren't indications of austerity.
   16. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 29, 2016 at 07:17 PM (#5359731)
Cubs sign Jon Jay, 1 yr, $8mil. Solid signing.

Disagree. If you're going to add to the OF confusion, it should be for a significantly better player than Jay.
   17. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: November 29, 2016 at 07:26 PM (#5359738)
I understand the motivation to acquire a true CF so that Almora isn't the only one on the roster. OTOH, I kinda agree that we are possibly looking at a Welington Castillo situation with Soler.
   18. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 29, 2016 at 07:27 PM (#5359740)
I understand the motivation to acquire a true CF so that Almora isn't the only one on the roster.

What about Heyward?
   19. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: November 29, 2016 at 07:31 PM (#5359745)
Moving Heyward around might mess with his offensive production. OK, I'm just kidding.

I don't know what to make of Heyward since he has so few career innings out there. BB-Ref thinks he's been as good in CF as you would expect based on his numbers in RF. For some reason none of his three organizations have really tried to make him a CF.
   20. Ardo Posted: November 30, 2016 at 12:58 AM (#5359868)
The signing of Jon Jay tells us two things:

1) Fowler is gone. Thanks for the memories, Dex! (I'm being serious, not snarky.)
2) Heyward will remain in right field.

I like Jay at 1/$8; it's only one year, Jay averaged slightly more than 2 WAR/season from 2011-14, and it buys time to determine if Almora (who'll get almost all the PAs against lefty starters) is the long-term answer in CF.

Moreover, the Cubs can now stand pat with their position players:

C Contreras/Montero
IF Bryant, Russell, Zobrist, Rizzo
Supersub Baez
LF Schwarber/Soler platoon
CF Jay/Almora platoon
RF Heyward, with a lot of Zobrist RF/Baez 2B if his offensive struggles persist
25th man: La Stella/Szczur/Candelario

We could trade Baez or Schwarber for a cost-controlled starting pitcher... depends on the offer. In Theo and Jed I trust.

Now back up the Brinks truck to Kenley Jansen, and it'll be a successful off-season.
   21. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: November 30, 2016 at 10:17 AM (#5359945)
If you're going to add to the OF confusion, it should be for a significantly better player than Jay.

I'm not sure how adding a backup OF, and one who can play CF, adds any confusion. And to Pops Welington point, Soler can't play CF so I'm not sure that's the best analogy. Like I said, this probably confirms Fowler is gone, and could also very well mean so is Coghlan. But they could still go into the year with an OF that includes all of Schwarber/Almora/Heyward/Soler/Jay and get everyone PT, including Zobrist. The question would be how would a potential playoff roster look, but that would mean a strong bench in the worst case.
   22. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 30, 2016 at 10:23 AM (#5359947)
Jay averaged slightly more than 2 WAR/season from 2011-14,

So did Starlin Castro, but unfortunately for both, 2015 and 2016 count too.
   23. Andere Richtingen Posted: November 30, 2016 at 10:27 AM (#5359949)
2016 was a major life event for me and millions of other people. And I want MORE. What I want the Cubs organization to do right now is to make decisions that will ensure, to the extent such a thing can be ensured, a prolonged period of consistent success. I don't expect 103 wins and a WS title every year, but into the 2020s I want consistent quality that makes you think, yeah, this year's team might pull that off, virtually every year. There are organizations that have been doing this over a period of many years, and the Cubs should join that group.

In fact, I think it's an obligation. Theo Epstein has accomplished one part of his goal, to win a World Series. But I believe his bigger goal is broader: to make the Cubs a perennial ass-kicking team. That goal is the one on which I have been evaluating him from the beginning, and now that the Cubs have won the World Series, I will not change that one bit.

So where are the Cubs right now? Oddly enough, in some ways the Cubs look like a team that has reached a high level of success before they were really ready. It's a very young team. Very strong at almost every position, but still with some holes, both in the major league roster, and in the development pipeline.

After the 2016 season, they find themselves having lost the offensive spark plug who everyone would say played a huge role in their success. They lost a starting pitcher who serviceably pitched 166.2 innings, and the team won 17 of his 30 starts. Their bullpen, which, as it turned out, really needed the addition of Aroldis Chapman, no longer has Aroldis Chapman. I think these are key problems to solve if we want the 2017 Cubs to be nearly as good as the World Champions.

For an organization that is well-stocked with talent, the kind of organization I want the Cubs to be, the loss of Fowler, Hammel and Chapman is a short-term problem, and short-term problems usually cost money. With the addition of Jay, BBref lists the Cubs 2017 payroll at ~$160 million. I think they were somewhere around $170M at the end of last season. So what is Ricketts going to do? Well, last year the organization sent out coded messages suggesting they were going to be cautious, and then they decided to break the bank. This year, I am not hearing coded messages along those lines, which I am sure would not go down very well after this year's success, and what must have been a ridiculous year for cash revenue, a gift that hasn't stopped giving. But we are seeing actions. Fowler is probably not coming back (yes, that was true this time last year, but I think he'll get the multiyear deal he wants this time). Hammel's very reasonable option year was declined. Chapman is not going to be re-signed.

There is little fat on the roster that can be turned into quality talent. Miguel Montero's final year will cost $14 million, and no one is going to take on much of that. Fortunately, he is useful to the Cubs as a second catcher now. The Cubs aren't going to shed much payroll through contract dumping: I think we have already seen most of what is available already dumped.

We can argue about the Cubs' debt obligations and cash flow (please, let's not), but with the firehose of cash that is certainly pouring into 1060 W. Addison right now, some increase in the payroll is a reasonable expectation, if it serves both the short- and long-term goals. Maybe a Jansen signing, and picking up a quality starter through a trade could be supported. I like the Jay signing -- he's a useful player, and has the potential to be really good. An Almora/Jay platoon is not likely to replace Dexter Fowler's 2016, but it's a pretty decent solution. Signing Jansen (or Chapman for that matter) -- I don't know. Just from a baseball perspective, I'm not too thrilled thinking about what they are going to look like as players five years from now. No doubt, either is an obvious choice to solve the short-term problem.

I trust the current front office to continue doing what they have been doing: building a solid, perennially winning team. I also trust them to improve the 2017 team to put it within reach of another championship, without sacrificing too much on the long-term side. I think this will require some creativity, and as we saw last year, I expect some surprises between now and April.
   24. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 30, 2016 at 10:36 AM (#5359952)
I like the Jay signing -- he's a useful player, and has the potential to be really good.

I just don't see where you guys are getting this from.
   25. Andere Richtingen Posted: November 30, 2016 at 11:18 AM (#5359972)
I just don't see where you guys are getting this from.

Well, the potential to be really good comes from the observation that at times in his career he has been really good. He's a career .284/.352/.384 hitter. He had five quality years with the Cardinals, before hitting the skids in 2015, getting hurt and otherwise having a terrible year. Then he went to San Diego and picked up right where he started (.296/.345/.407) in the first half, and broke his arm.

Yes, overall in his last 619 PAs in 2015-16 he has been pretty mediocre, but the bigger picture is brighter. He can hit for average and draw some walks, has been pretty decent defensively. He's not a great player, but as the right-handed side of a CF platoon, at $8 million, I like him. If he hits .300 he's a steal. He might turn into his 2015 self, of course, but the overall risk is not very high.
   26. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: November 30, 2016 at 11:19 AM (#5359973)
So the Cubs appear to have moved on from Fowler (due to cost as nobody would contend they are improving via a potential Jay/Almora platoon) and they declined Hammell's option in order to replace him in the rotation with a guy making the minimum. I hope these aren't indications of austerity.

I'm going to try and choose my wording carefully here, because my response is going to also address anyone who's accused the Cubs of being cheap over the years, but you have got to be kidding.

First, Hammel. I agree that $12mil, in this market, does seem like a steal. However, if the Cubs have any reason to believe he's not going to be the 5th starter - either because there's something specific they don't like about him/his health/his projections and they have an internal option they like better (or even plans for an external option they like better) - there's nothing wrong with them honoring the handshake part of their deal and letting him walk. Yes, it'd be ruthless to just trade him, but I think there's value - though hard to actually measure, especially from the outside - to taking this approach.

As for Fowler, again, the Cubs may have set a price on what they think he's worth, and determined he's going to exceed that. Or they don't like the projections for him more than one year out/like internal options (i.e. Almora) better, or perhaps they think last year was a bit of a fluke (either offensively or defensively).

Lastly, I struggle with criticizing any individual particular move too much this early in the offseason (there are obviously exceptions to that, such as a bad trade or bad contract) until we've seen all the moves in total. In both Hammel and Fowler's cases, perhaps the Cubs have different plans for the money. There's a big difference between being cheap and choosing how to spend the resources. And yes, I'll appeal to authority, and say for now I'm going to give them a wide berth and a huge benefit of the doubt.

If we get to ST (considering when Fowler signed last year, if there's still guys out there then, maybe I'll have to move that deadline out), and the Cubs haven't done anything else significant - and honestly, they might not even need to - I might be a little more worried. But still, the current roster, on paper, still is really damn good, and while it can, and should be improved, they don't *have* to do anything, much less anything drastic.

Yeah, I'd like Jansen, too, but I also wouldn't be upset not having $80mil or more locked up in a closer.
   27. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: November 30, 2016 at 11:25 AM (#5359977)
Well, last year the organization sent out coded messages suggesting they were going to be cautious, and then they decided to break the bank. This year, I am not hearing coded messages along those lines, which I am sure would not go down very well after this year's success, and what must have been a ridiculous year for cash revenue, a gift that hasn't stopped giving.

Last year, when they spent all that money, they said they were spending for 2 offseasons, since this year's FA was poor (I initially typed poop, and that would also be true...). That's been repeated a few times now, enough so that you could choose to interpret that as a coded message. Of course, that was before they were this ####### good, so yes, I'm with you in at least hoping for some big moves. Outside of closer, it's likely to be a trade though, since there isn't much out there in FA that lines up with the Cubs needs (and paying retail for middle relief is always somewhat foolish).

I think we have to trust the Cubs scouting/coaching/development to find some more guys that can exceed expectations. That doesn't mean the same thing as being cheap, but it does mean maybe a few more moves like Jay, where the Cubs feel they can get more of a player like that.

I think this will require some creativity, and as we saw last year, I expect some surprises between now and April.

Definitely this. This is really what I'm trying to say in post 26.
   28. Andere Richtingen Posted: November 30, 2016 at 11:33 AM (#5359983)
Lastly, I struggle with criticizing any individual particular move too much this early in the offseason (there are obviously exceptions to that, such as a bad trade or bad contract) until we've seen all the moves in total. In both Hammel and Fowler's cases, perhaps the Cubs have different plans for the money. There's a big difference between being cheap and choosing how to spend the resources. And yes, I'll appeal to authority, and say for now I'm going to give them a wide berth and a huge benefit of the doubt.

I agree completely.

If we are going to prognosticate, I think the most obvious thing to read into these moves is that payroll is being cleared for a few acquisitions (Jay being one of them). I probably think the needs (SP and RP) are more pressing than you do, but I don't have a visceral negative reaction to the Cubs turning away Fowler, Hammel and Chapman. While I might quibble with the Hammel opt-out, I think there are obvious long-term reasons not to make multi-year investments in retaining Fowler and Chapman. And just because there is money available to spend now, you don't have to spend it if you don't like the looks of the amortization table.

   29. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 30, 2016 at 11:36 AM (#5359984)
I guess my problem with the Jay/Almora plan is that it means that they're putting a lot of eggs in the Heyward basket. They were able to carry Heyward last year in large part because they were making up for it with excellent offense out of Fowler in CF. Going with Jay/Almora means that they're leaving Heyward in RF while downgrading CF to mediocre production at best. As someone mentioned upthread, you can't really afford to have two offensive weak spots in your outfield.
   30. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: November 30, 2016 at 11:52 AM (#5360000)
Lastly, I struggle with criticizing any individual particular move too much this early in the offseason (there are obviously exceptions to that, such as a bad trade or bad contract) until we've seen all the moves in total. In both Hammel and Fowler's cases, perhaps the Cubs have different plans for the money. There's a big difference between being cheap and choosing how to spend the resources. And yes, I'll appeal to authority, and say for now I'm going to give them a wide berth and a huge benefit of the doubt.

I agree and I'm not being critical. I am merely hopeful that the run of success in 2016 has grown the coffers a bit and that the Hammell move isn't motivated by the need to clear some payroll space for arb raises.

I guess my problem with the Jay/Almora plan is that it means that they're putting a lot of eggs in the Heyward basket. They were able to carry Heyward last year in large part because they were making up for it with excellent offense out of Fowler in CF. Going with Jay/Almora means that they're leaving Heyward in RF while downgrading CF to mediocre production at best. As someone mentioned upthread, you can't really afford to have two offensive weak spots in your outfield.

I am perfectly fine with starting 2017 assuming Heyward is the everyday right fielder. I would rather the Cubs spend their chits shoring up the pitching on the assumption that the current crop of OFs (plus Happ) will operate as Plan B.
   31. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: November 30, 2016 at 11:52 AM (#5360001)
And just because there is money available to spend now, you don't have to spend it if you don't like the looks of the amortization table.

Plus, the Cubs have shown a willingness to move various payroll commitments around years, and if they like future FA classes more, so be it. That doesn't mean giving up on 2017, but perhaps it means more of a willingness to address needs in season with trades than now.
   32. Andere Richtingen Posted: November 30, 2016 at 11:56 AM (#5360007)
I guess my problem with the Jay/Almora plan is that it means that they're putting a lot of eggs in the Heyward basket. They were able to carry Heyward last year in large part because they were making up for it with excellent offense out of Fowler in CF. Going with Jay/Almora means that they're leaving Heyward in RF while downgrading CF to mediocre production at best. As someone mentioned upthread, you can't really afford to have two offensive weak spots in your outfield.

I think mediocre at best is too way pessimistic of an evaluation. I think mediocre is definitely in the realm of possibility, but something in the average to good range is probably more likely. I expect Almora/Jay to be a defensive upgrade, and a huge defensive downgrade. It is important to consider, however, that Fowler is pretty unlikely to repeat his 4.1 oWAR performance again next year, at least in my mind. So comparing to Fowler 2016 doesn't seem very useful.
   33. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: November 30, 2016 at 11:56 AM (#5360009)
I guess my problem with the Jay/Almora plan is that it means that they're putting a lot of eggs in the Heyward basket. They were able to carry Heyward last year in large part because they were making up for it with excellent offense out of Fowler in CF. Going with Jay/Almora means that they're leaving Heyward in RF while downgrading CF to mediocre production at best. As someone mentioned upthread, you can't really afford to have two offensive weak spots in your outfield.

That was me. I mean, they put a lot of eggs in Heyward's basket when they gave him that deal last year. I agree at some point it becomes a sunk cost, but we're not near that yet. Back-up Heyward plans could include guys in the minors like Candelario or Happ, or it just means more OF time for Bryant/Zobrist over Heyward. If the OF is Schwarber, one of Almora/Jay, and Heyward, that means either Baez or Zobrist is on the bench that day. That's also a pretty good backup plan.

I also think it makes sense to focus on CF as a defensive strength if Schwarber is fulltime in LF. In spite of Folwer's year defensively, on paper Almora/Jay could (or should?) be an upgrade.

Thankfully Maddon is the best at mixing/matching and getting guys PT during the season and putting guys in spots to succeed.
   34. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 30, 2016 at 12:02 PM (#5360012)
I expect Almora/Jay to be a defensive upgrade, and a huge defensive downgrade.

Schrodinger's platoon?

It is important to consider, however, that Fowler is pretty unlikely to repeat his 4.1 oWAR performance again next year, at least in my mind. So comparing to Fowler 2016 doesn't seem very useful.

Fair point w/r/t Fowler himself, but if the Cubs are going to repeat their 2016 performance (difficult, I know, but that should be the goal, right?), that production is going to have to come from somewhere.
   35. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: November 30, 2016 at 12:14 PM (#5360023)
IOW, is an OF 5 of Schwarber/Almora/Heyward/Jay/Zobrist as a whole significantly worse than Soler/Fowler/Heyward/Coghlan/misc (though to be fair, that was a lot of Bryant and Zobrist)? Offensively, yes, most likely worse, hopefully not significantly, but can it be better defensively?

Let's see if it makes sense to do it this way...
Cubs 2016 LF: .269/.370/.463
Cubs 2016 CF: .278/.375/.456
Cubs 2016 RF: .236/.313/.354

Hopefully CF of Almora/Jay is better than RF last year (mostly Heyward). Hopefully Heyward is better/any backups are better, and hopefully Schwarber can at least match the production of one of those spots (his slugging will be a big plus). I dunno, I guess the Cubs are hoping for gains elsewhere to make up on that (such as catcher .239/.339/.425 or Russell taking a step forward from .243/.318/.419 SS total). And there's better ways to measure that, of course.

*I'm just going to assume Soler is traded for the purposes of this exercise, but if he's not, he's quite a plus as a 5th OF option, especially as a mostly platoon guy for either Heyward or Schwarber
   36. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 30, 2016 at 12:23 PM (#5360032)
Hopefully CF of Almora/Jay is better than RF last year (mostly Heyward). Hopefully Heyward is better/any backups are better, and hopefully Schwarber can at least match the production of one of those spots (his slugging will be a big plus).

That's a whole lotta hopefully.

I also think it makes sense to focus on CF as a defensive strength if Schwarber is fulltime in LF.

Makes perfect sense...if you don't also have an offensive vacuum in RF.
   37. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: November 30, 2016 at 12:30 PM (#5360040)
That's a whole lotta hopefully.

It's all hopefullies. What would alternate guarantees be? Resigning Fowler?
   38. Kiko Sakata Posted: November 30, 2016 at 12:32 PM (#5360044)
I guess my problem with the Jay/Almora plan is that it means that they're putting a lot of eggs in the Heyward basket. They were able to carry Heyward last year in large part because they were making up for it with excellent offense out of Fowler in CF. Going with Jay/Almora means that they're leaving Heyward in RF while downgrading CF to mediocre production at best. As someone mentioned upthread, you can't really afford to have two offensive weak spots in your outfield.


I don't see how this follows. Using players currently on the roster, the Cubs could go with an infield of Rizzo-Baez-Russell-Bryant and an outfield of Schwarber-Jay/Almora-Zobrist with Soler as a 4/5th outfielder even if they wanted to give up on Heyward entirely. I suspect what the signing Jay / saying goodbye to Fowler means is that the Cubs think that Albert Almora can be an everyday centerfielder and they just need a one-year stopgap to ease the transition rather than the multiyear commitment that Fowler will almost certainly get somewhere.
   39. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 30, 2016 at 12:36 PM (#5360047)
First, Hammel. I agree that $12mil, in this market, does seem like a steal. However, if the Cubs have any reason to believe he's not going to be the 5th starter - either because there's something specific they don't like about him/his health/his projections and they have an internal option they like better (or even plans for an external option they like better) - there's nothing wrong with them honoring the handshake part of their deal and letting him walk. Yes, it'd be ruthless to just trade him, but I think there's value - though hard to actually measure, especially from the outside - to taking this approach

I tend to believe the Hammel story re: the handshake deal. If true, it was the right thing to do and I commend the Cubs for having some ruth in this case. Thanks to Hammel for his contributions and I hope he gets a good FA deal. It had to be incredibly frustrating and disappointing for him to be left off the postseason roster, but he handled it with class and the full-page ad thanking the fans was great.

It's all hopefullies. What would alternate guarantees be? Resigning Fowler?

I would be for resigning Fowler to a reasonable 3-year deal (say, $45-50 mil). Whether that would get it done, I don't know. I would also see what it would take to get Blackmon, as noted above. If it's Soler and other spare parts, go for it.
   40. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 30, 2016 at 12:44 PM (#5360054)
I don't see how this follows.

It signals that they're not going to move Heyward to CF, where his defense would arguably be even more of a plus and his lack of bat would be less of an issue, and put a bigger bat in RF.
   41. zonk Posted: November 30, 2016 at 12:50 PM (#5360060)
John Jay is one of those players OOTP has ruined for me -- it seems like every OOTP release for 3+ years running, he's one of those players that the AI will gladly bundle blue chips prospects for in trade so long as you digest his contract (and he's then impossible to turn around and regift).

I suppose he's better than I think, but I still don't really care for him. I'd much rather have mixed and matched in-house (or maybe do some dumpster diving) or make a concerted effort to bring back Fowler. I suppose he's merely average to slightly below average in CF rather than truly 'stretched' - which is really the only place he has value on the Cubs - so if they're going to spend on an OF, I'd much rather prefer someone with a better glove. Granted, last year was a defensive anomaly for Fowler - but I think a quick and dirty look at Jay leads me to believe Fowler's year last year with the glove is probably Jay's upside (which is certainly attainable, especially if you buy into the theory that the Cubs analytics folks have gotten really good at OF positioning and THAT'S why Fowler's numbers came out so good).

I suppose 1/8 is nothing... but I'd rather devote that 8 mil to pitching one way or another (granting that the pitching market is crap, especially outside the closer spot).

Speaking of that -- while I wouldn't be averse backing up the truck for Jansen, I think I'd prefer to target Melancon. He won't cost a pick - and remember, last year's splurge meant the Cubs didn't pick until the 3rd/4th round, so losing a comp pick isn't something I want to do this year. Melancon will almost certainly come a lot cheaper.

I also would not be averse to skipping the closer derby entirely and bank on Rondon coming back strong. Mark Eyechart is the only reliever likely to cost somewhere in the millions that interests me as someone to really pursue.

I'd really like to bring Trevor Cahill back - if only because he'd become the 6th starter, but I suspect that like Travis Wood, he's looking for a guaranteed rotation spot (or at least, a chance to win a rotation spot).

Other than that, Carlos Villanueva in a return engagement? Kicking the tires on Drew Storen? Neftali Feliz is another guy I wouldn't mind bringing on at a reasonable price.
   42. Kiko Sakata Posted: November 30, 2016 at 12:57 PM (#5360064)
It signals that they're not going to move Heyward to CF, where his defense would arguably be even more of a plus and his lack of bat would be less of an issue, and put a bigger bat in RF.


Or they could put Almora in CF, where his defense would arguably be even more of a plus and his lack of bat would be less of an issue, and put a bigger bat in RF from among their internal options.
   43. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: November 30, 2016 at 12:58 PM (#5360066)

Speaking of that -- while I wouldn't be averse backing up the truck for Jansen, I think I'd prefer to target Melancon. He won't cost a pick - and remember, last year's splurge meant the Cubs didn't pick until the 3rd/4th round, so losing a comp pick isn't something I want to do this year. Melancon will almost certainly come a lot cheaper.


I think Luke Hochevar is pretty interesting as well.
   44. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: November 30, 2016 at 01:00 PM (#5360068)
I would be for resigning Fowler to a reasonable 3-year deal (say, $45-50 mil). Whether that would get it done, I don't know. I would also see what it would take to get Blackmon, as noted above. If it's Soler and other spare parts, go for it.

I happen to think Fowler will most assuredly get more (and longer) than that, possibly a lot more. I also think Blackmon might cost more, but is he going to give you the 130OPS+ from last year or the 99OPS+ from his career before last year? He turns 31 in July, so last year really might have been a fluke.
   45. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 30, 2016 at 01:03 PM (#5360071)
Carlos Villanueva in a return engagement?

Man, you have been drinking constantly since the 8th, haven't you?

I happen to think Fowler will most assuredly get more (and longer) than that, possibly a lot more.

Yeah, you're probably right about that. But he did really seem to like playing for the Cubs, so there's that.
   46. Brian C Posted: November 30, 2016 at 01:23 PM (#5360085)
I'll be sad to see Travis Wood go, if this is indeed the end (Fowler taught us last year that nothing is certain until a guy literally shows up in uniform). He's basically the dean of this team, he's been a fun guy to watch and a useful player if not always consistently good, and he really does fill an actual need for this team next year. I understand, of course, if there are better opportunities for him elsewhere and wish him the best, but still, damned if he doesn't seem like exactly the kind of guy the Cubs are looking for right now.
   47. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: November 30, 2016 at 01:34 PM (#5360096)
Thing just heard on the radio: 3 non-Cub teams have made offers to free agent Trevor Cahill to work as a starting pitcher in 2017.
   48. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: November 30, 2016 at 01:42 PM (#5360100)
I'll be sad to see Travis Wood go, if this is indeed the end (Fowler taught us last year that nothing is certain until a guy literally shows up in uniform). He's basically the dean of this team, he's been a fun guy to watch and a useful player

Yeah, but signing Jay makes him redundant in the outfield.
   49. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 30, 2016 at 01:47 PM (#5360103)
I understand, of course, if there are better opportunities for him elsewhere and wish him the best, but still, damned if he doesn't seem like exactly the kind of guy the Cubs are looking for right now.

He's probably leaning toward San Diego, what with the camo uniforms and all.
   50. zonk Posted: November 30, 2016 at 02:19 PM (#5360142)
Thing just heard on the radio: 3 non-Cub teams have made offers to free agent Trevor Cahill to work as a starting pitcher in 2017.


Doesn't surprise me - he outpitched his FIP by a pretty good margin, but he was legitimately turned back into a good pitcher in Chicago.

Obviously, there's no way you offer a guy that pitched all of 85 innings the last two years and provided "only" 1.5 WAR over that time a QO, but it's a shame that the Cubs couldn't get more than they did from him... same goes for any other team that does a nice job with such reclamations (i.e., the kind that work out well but not to the point of snagging a pick via the QO or somesuch).

I suppose we ought to just be happy he contributed to a near-pennant winner and a WS champ on the relative cheap and hope it draws more reclamation moths in the future.

I'm curious what he'll get... in this market, 2/20 doesn't seem unthinkable but I'm guessing maybe 2/15? 1/10?... I'm betting he does a lot better than Rich HIll's 1/6 last year.
   51. Stevens Posted: November 30, 2016 at 02:24 PM (#5360151)
Didn't Cahill have starting offers last year and decided to return anyway? Perhaps again, though I'll grant it unlikely.
   52. zonk Posted: November 30, 2016 at 02:39 PM (#5360174)
Didn't Cahill have starting offers last year and decided to return anyway? Perhaps again, though I'll grant it unlikely.


I think he did -- but I'm betting they were a lot lower last year simply because it was a much better/deeper SP market and he was also coming off what amounted to 6 nice weeks. I think he returned with the idea he'd help his earning potential substantially with another year in Chicago (and I think he did that).
   53. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: November 30, 2016 at 02:39 PM (#5360176)
I'd much rather have mixed and matched in-house (or maybe do some dumpster diving)

1yr/$8mil is pretty much dumpster diving for a rich, championship team*. Jay has a floor that's higher than your usual dumpster fodder, I'd reckon, and it's worth paying for that with a roster that has the resources and expects to be competitive.

but I'd rather devote that 8 mil to pitching one way or another (granting that the pitching market is crap, especially outside the closer spot).

I'll reiterate my argument that I don't think the Cubs are pinching pennies. Also, I see almost no way this signing impacts the viability of any other potential future move.

*Yep, just checked. Cubs are still champs.
   54. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: November 30, 2016 at 02:41 PM (#5360182)
I'll also reiterate yet another reason I'd make a terrible GM is the attachment to various players. Guys like Wood or Cahill or even Hammel are guys a good team should expect to be able to replace with younger or better or cheaper options. Obviously depth matters in the regular season, but for this team, that's really all those guys were. That's a little harsh on Wood, but the other 2 weren't even on the postseason roster.
   55. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 30, 2016 at 02:58 PM (#5360198)
I'll also reiterate yet another reason I'd make a terrible GM is the attachment to various players.

Yeah, that's probably driving some of my disdain for letting Fowler go too. Aside from his production, he's just been a lot of fun to watch and root for the last couple years. Seems like a really nice guy, clearly loved by his teammates, and has fun on the field. The backwards-running move when he hit the leadoff homer in Game 7 was the perfect expression of what it must be like to hit a home run in Game 7 of the World Series.
   56. Brian C Posted: November 30, 2016 at 04:23 PM (#5360276)
Wood was just depth, but that's also all the Cubs really need right now, and specifically, they need depth for both the rotation and bullpen. Wood is a guy who handily checks both boxes, although it should be said that they've been reluctant to put him in the rotation the last couple years, and I actually do trust there's a good reason for that.

Don't get me wrong - I'd have no trouble letting him go if the price was too high. I'm not saying that they need to DO WHAT IT TAKES to bring him back. Just that, in a perfect world, his market value would line up well with what the Cubs are willing to pay him. He's been a useful player, who figures to continue being useful, and whose departure will leave a legitimate hole that will need to be filled.

   57. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: November 30, 2016 at 04:32 PM (#5360279)
You have to think Wood is going to use Cecil's contract as a comp or baseline, right? Cecil is better, but older, was worse last year (not by FIP though), and doesn't give you the option to start. If he wants to call himself a starter, he could maybe get a bigger 1 or 2 year deal (more per year, so less overall guaranteed). Do you want to give him a 4/$30.5mil deal? Or maybe Volquez's 2/$22mil?

I agree they need to find another LHP (or another starter and Montgomery takes Wood's spot), but it seems like a spot you try not to overpay. Perhaps Zaztrzzzznyzy isn't the answer, but he's an option. As is Rosscup or Leathersich. I think if you're going to spend real money on a RP, you're thinking bigger.

Having said that. Wood on a Maddon team is fun, so sure, I'm rooting for him to be back.
   58. Brian C Posted: November 30, 2016 at 05:04 PM (#5360298)
I have no idea what I'd pay him; over the last few years I've lost track of what's worth what, and as a result I've stopped really caring. And at any rate, I don't think that money is a good reason for the Cubs to not sign players.

If Wood wants to start, and teams are willing to give him that role and the Cubs aren't, that makes sense to me. Or if there's a large difference in the contract he's asking for and what the Cubs value him at, then sure, I get letting him go. But I see little reason to be hardliners about it as if they're the A's.
   59. Andere Richtingen Posted: November 30, 2016 at 05:49 PM (#5360330)
Wood was just depth, but that's also all the Cubs really need right now, and specifically, they need depth for both the rotation and bullpen. Wood is a guy who handily checks both boxes

Whoa there.

Wood can probably find a job as a starter, but I would be very disappointed if the Cubs went in that direction. He has had a nice run as a reliever, but he was not successful as a starter -- remember 2014? I mean, if it's a bullpen day, once or twice a season, what the hell. I'm okay with him returning in the bullpen, if the price is right. But cutting him loose to start on a non-contender is probably the right choice for all involved.
   60. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: November 30, 2016 at 06:05 PM (#5360336)
Wood wants to start. The Cubs, rightfully so, will not guarantee him a rotation slot.
   61. Andere Richtingen Posted: November 30, 2016 at 06:11 PM (#5360338)
Oh, I'm fine with it from Wood's point of view. He'll be 30, and this is his chance to make the transition. I wish him well, and sincerely thank him for his services.
   62. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: November 30, 2016 at 06:28 PM (#5360344)
And at any rate, I don't think that money is a good reason for the Cubs to not sign players.

As much as we want the Cubs to operate like the Dodgers or the Yankees, we have to accept they won't. Or at least this front office is unlike to do it by handing out a bunch of Hendry-esque contracts; they'll do it by signing 3 more Heywards. Again, this doesn't make them cheap; I think it makes them smart. There's little downside to most 1 year deals, such as Jay's. Cecil's contract isn't going to kill the Cards - and they do seem to have money to burn - but it is likely to hurt them more than it'll help them.

Having said that, while there doesn't appear to be a perfect way to build a pen, one of the things that has been demonstrated is don't build a pen by overpaying a bunch of mediocre guys due to supposed holes. It is kind of crazy to think how cheaply the Cubs have gone about trying to build a pen with the number of washed up has beens that have come through here the past 5 years, but they're not signing fungible - and as much as I like Wood, and think his hitting "ability" makes him a little unique or fun, he's most definitely fungible - MR to long term over market deals.
   63. Brian C Posted: November 30, 2016 at 07:53 PM (#5360381)
Whoa there.

Wood can probably find a job as a starter, but I would be very disappointed if the Cubs went in that direction. He has had a nice run as a reliever, but he was not successful as a starter -- remember 2014? I mean, if it's a bullpen day, once or twice a season, what the hell. I'm okay with him returning in the bullpen, if the price is right. But cutting him loose to start on a non-contender is probably the right choice for all involved.

"Depth" is the operative word, though. I understand full well that he won't be guaranteed a starting spot by the Cubs and that I'm fine with that; I think I made that clear enough. But as an injury replacement for a few weeks if the rotation gets thin, you can do (and the Cubs have done) a whole lot worse.

Cecil's contract isn't going to kill the Cards - and they do seem to have money to burn - but it is likely to hurt them more than it'll help them.

I guess this is where I disagree - I don't see (barring extraordinary changes to the CBA) how the contract hurts them at all. As far as I can tell, money is running through MLB like beer at a frat party, and player salaries as a percentage of overall revenue keeps going down. They might regret Cecil's contract in a typical buyer's remorse sort of way, but how will it actually hurt them? They can almost certainly afford it and then some, and the only downside is that ownership might grit their teeth when signing the checks.

I'm not saying that the Cubs ought to just throw caution to the wind. I know better than that. But there's no call for them to be stingy, either. If they can get equal production from a cheaper player (and I'm not talking about Wood here specifically, he's just a relevant example), hey great, I'm all for it. That just makes sense. Obviously.

But on the other hand, it's not my money, and I'm not going to pretend to give a damn if a few extra bucks go to Wood's (or whoever's) pockets instead of the Ricketts family, if it helps the Cubs win games. I have no interest in judging whether or not the Cubs are getting good value for their money from a WAR/$ perspective or anything like that; the only question I have for any transaction is, does this help them win games?
   64. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 01, 2016 at 10:52 AM (#5360594)
"Depth" is the operative word, though. I understand full well that he won't be guaranteed a starting spot by the Cubs and that I'm fine with that; I think I made that clear enough. But as an injury replacement for a few weeks if the rotation gets thin, you can do (and the Cubs have done) a whole lot worse.

There is no reason even to talk about starting -- he doesn't provide that sort of depth in any useful sense for the Cubs. As a former starter, it's obvious that Wood is a pitcher the Cubs could go to when they had a rotation gap to fill in. But last year in ten games where one of the top five did not start, those opportunities went to six other guys. Probably as much because they wanted to keep him settled in his relief role as it was because they had better options. For the Cubs, Wood is a reliever, and there is no reason to think too much about a perfect storm situation where they might use him as a starter.

It's essential to have guys who can come in and spot start, that is for the sure, and the Cubs are likely to lose their go-to from 2016 in that department. But the Cubs consistently have been acquiring all kinds of starting pitcher salvage projects, and I don't expect that to stop. Wood-quality starters pop up if you sift through the chaff enough, and they usually come cheaper. Whatever big offseason trades might be in the offing, I expect one or two Cahill-like throw-ins.

Wood's value as a starter comes down to: 1) he shows up, 2) he is left-handed, 3) you can always put him in back in the bullpen, and 4) he will likely be a good value. For the many teams with rotations that start thin out badly at the third fourth spot, Wood can likely deliver a somewhat positive WAR, with some upside potential for better. Some of these teams might even be contenders. The Cubs are not one of them. It sounds like Wood wants a shot at being a regular in a starting rotation, and unless he expects a big raise and 3+ years, I don't think he will have trouble finding suitors.

I saw Game 2 of the NLDS in person, so Wood will always have a place in my heart as a Cubs player.
   65. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: December 01, 2016 at 11:29 AM (#5360642)
I guess this is where I disagree - I don't see (barring extraordinary changes to the CBA) how the contract hurts them at all. As far as I can tell, money is running through MLB like beer at a frat party, and player salaries as a percentage of overall revenue keeps going down. They might regret Cecil's contract in a typical buyer's remorse sort of way, but how will it actually hurt them? They can almost certainly afford it and then some, and the only downside is that ownership might grit their teeth when signing the checks.

There's still a difference between "can" and "will". Yes, there's a ton of money, but it is finite, and damn near every team has a budget. Overpaying the 20th best player on the roster has repercussions. Giving longer deals to MR is just about the most common type of "bad" deal, and there's little to no upside in most of those signings - there's only downside. So yeah, hurt is a relative term.

Just because the Cubs can easily afford giving Wood or Cahill whatever money they want doesn't mean they should. I agree with the "it's not my money" mindset, but I also realize that's not truly how things work. There a cost in roster space, opportunities, and then results. Now, if the Cubs think paying Wood a bunch to stick around to be a glorified LOOGY/9th starter/8th LF is worth his projected production, then by all means, pay the man.

All I'm really saying is his loss will be relatively insignificant if the Cubs FO/coaching continues to do their jobs successfully. If they pay him, I'll trust they've made the right choice and root for it to work.
   66. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: December 02, 2016 at 03:22 PM (#5361538)
Going back to signs about Cubs spending this offseason, sounds like that's been a pretty common refrain from the FO this offseason. Both Mooney and Rogers mentioned it today.

The idea of Kenley Jansen intrigues the Cubs – and Aroldis Chapman made a favorable impression during his three-plus months with the team – but Epstein’s front office already made the major upgrades for 2017 by spending nearly $290 million on free agents after the 2015 playoff run. Philosophically, the Cubs also see smarter long-term investments than trying to win a bidding war for a guy who might throw 70 innings a year.


I guess you could interpret that as cheap, if so inclined.
   67. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: December 02, 2016 at 05:01 PM (#5361606)
Cots shows the Cubs with $118.6 million in 2017 commitments and MLBTR estimates arb awards totaling $29.8 million. So that's $148.4 million for 12 roster spots. Add in 13 roster spots at $400K each and it's a total payroll of $153.6. The 2016 opening day payroll was $171.6 million (per Cots).

I don't know what my point is. I was just curious where they currently stand.
   68. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: December 02, 2016 at 06:05 PM (#5361643)
@JonHeyman: brian duensing, cubs agree at $2M


Throwing things against the wall and seeing what sticks.
   69. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: December 02, 2016 at 06:06 PM (#5361645)
It means the Cubs have plenty of room to add salary for this season. I'd guess the Cubs would want to stay out of the tax as long as possible, beyond that, who knows.
   70. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: December 02, 2016 at 08:11 PM (#5361692)
@MDGonzales: Cubs non-tender LH pitchers Gerardo Concepcion and Zac Rosscup, RH pitcher Conor Mullee and infielder Christian Villanueva.


40 man is at 35. I guess that might make a couple of these surprising, depending on health.
   71. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: December 02, 2016 at 10:35 PM (#5361730)
Oh, Padres non-tender Tyson Ross. I bet the Cubs are all over him.
   72. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 03, 2016 at 10:00 AM (#5361787)
Throwing things against the wall and seeing what sticks.

No idea what they are thinking here. Seems kind of pricey to me, especially in early December.

Oh, Padres non-tender Tyson Ross. I bet the Cubs are all over him.

What are the prospects for recovery for a pitcher after thoracic outlet surgery?

I was not too excited about the Cubs big interest in Ross last year. I find it hard to get excited about a pitcher who gives up that many walks. But as a reclamation project, sure.
   73. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: December 03, 2016 at 11:05 AM (#5361821)
Jeff Locke would be some nice rotation insurance if they can sign him up and put him in Iowa rather than having to carry him on the 25.
   74. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 03, 2016 at 01:29 PM (#5361885)
Pops: Primer mail me, if you would be so kind.

Jeff Locke: Bleh. I mean, at age 29 and with 644 major league innings under his belt, he has never been a successful starting pitcher. He might be a worthwhile project, but I don't know what can be fixed, since it seems he has never had much command. Although, come to think of it, his career looks a lot like Travis Wood's.
   75. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: December 03, 2016 at 02:10 PM (#5361897)
Oh, I don't think Locke is good or harbors significant untapped potential. He strikes me as emergency rotation depth that isn't good enough to require a real commitment but also is a safe bet to not completely fall apart if he has to give them 10 starts. I look at the Iowa roster and it's kinda scary as far as pitching depth goes.
   76. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: December 05, 2016 at 01:23 PM (#5362667)
Seems kind of pricey to me, especially in early December.

$2mil is what Richard got last year. So $2mil seems like the next step up from NRI for vets, or at least that's how the Cubs are using it.

I was not too excited about the Cubs big interest in Ross last year. I find it hard to get excited about a pitcher who gives up that many walks. But as a reclamation project, sure.

Yeah, he seems like they like something about his stuff more than the results.
   77. zonk Posted: December 05, 2016 at 01:43 PM (#5362693)
@MDGonzales: Cubs non-tender LH pitchers Gerardo Concepcion and Zac Rosscup, RH pitcher Conor Mullee and infielder Christian Villanueva.


These two surprise me greatly.

Concepcion was playing out the original failed contract - but he seemed like he was maybe finding a home in the bullpen last year. Who knows, maybe he'll be back.

Villanueva is more of a surprise. The prospect sleeper luster wore off a couple years ago and while he didn't light the PCL on fire, he was still perfectly cromulent (18 HRs, 252/313/437) and supposedly has a plus glove. He's obviously behind Candelario (who's blocked behind Bryant anyway) and apparently, the talk about him playing 2B and maybe becoming a utility sort didn't seem to pan out.

He's not a guy I think has much trade value, but he's still a step above org filler.
   78. Stevens Posted: December 05, 2016 at 02:28 PM (#5362753)
Melancon to Giants, 4/62. Reported to be looking into Wade Davis. Jansen talking to Miami. Chapman wants 6 years.

It's a Winter Meeting wonderland!
   79. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: December 05, 2016 at 02:52 PM (#5362793)
and supposedly has a plus glove

I'm wondering about the plus glove. He's stopped getting any time at the middle infield positions and has gotten some innings at first base.
   80. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: December 05, 2016 at 03:23 PM (#5362822)
Villanueva - and Rosscup - are the guys who I was surprised about, but perhaps they're both hurt worse than we thought. Or are just injury prone enough the Cubs thought they could move them off the 40 man and bring back even.
   81. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: December 05, 2016 at 04:41 PM (#5362889)
Danny Ecker ‏@DannyEcker 37m37 minutes ago
Breaking: Cubs raising season-ticket prices by an average of 19.5% in 2017. http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20161205/BLOGS04/161129995 …


That's a pretty big bump.
   82. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 05, 2016 at 04:50 PM (#5362900)
Cubs raising season-ticket prices by an average of 19.5% in 2017.

Well, I can live with this because I assume that extra revenue will mean we no longer have to endure the ham-fisted in-game ads that the Cubs were relying on to scrape by, right? No more "Fans won't strike out with Gold Coast Bank," certainly? And we've seen the last of the Sloan Water Efficiency Solutions Replay?
   83. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: December 06, 2016 at 08:24 PM (#5363894)
Buster Olney‏ @Buster_ESPN
Source: The Cubs are closing in on a deal for Wade Davis.
   84. Quaker Posted: December 06, 2016 at 11:52 PM (#5363951)
Isn't Soler a lot to give up for one year of Wade Davis @ $10MM?
   85. zonk Posted: December 07, 2016 at 08:47 AM (#5363996)
Isn't Soler a lot to give up for one year of Wade Davis @ $10MM?


Not at this point, I don't think...

He's had two full years in the big leagues now and will be 25 next year. He's certainly shown flashes at times -- but he's also continued his long-held knack for getting hurt, and now sports a 258/328/436 slash over 750+ big league PAs. A 107 OPS+ for a defensively challenged corner OF/DH -- even one with offensive upside remaining -- just isn't worth what Soler would have been two years ago.

The thing that concerns me about Davis is that he did have some arm issues last year... but this is a trade that I think I'd make.
   86. zonk Posted: December 07, 2016 at 09:11 AM (#5364016)
Soler for Davis apparently done, pending a physical.

An acceptable deal... would have been nice(r) to get a young, cost-controlled SP for him (or a package built around him), but as noted above - I think that ship sailed a year ago.
   87. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: December 07, 2016 at 09:22 AM (#5364027)
Yeah, Soler was a trade chit at this point. I'm just glad the Cubs were able to swap him for a guy who looks like a real contributor.
   88. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 07, 2016 at 09:54 AM (#5364064)
Isn't Soler a lot to give up for one year of Wade Davis @ $10MM?

Perhaps yes, perhaps no. Soler is a tremendously toolsy guy, who has a lot of potential. But he hasn't developed consistency, perhaps being dogged by one injury after another since starting in the minors.

Soler homered in his first major league plate appearance off Mat Latos. He came up second in the inning after Luis Valbuena also homered. He worked the count to 2-1, and then smoked a pitch to center. Based on his minor league numbers, I kind of expected Soler to look like a young Sammy Sosa at the plate: a little too eager to shine in the limelight, and swinging at garbage out of the strike zone, but he worked the count and got a good pitch to hit. That was when I started to think hey, maybe this organization has figured out how to develop an actual hitting prospect. Since then Soler has shown more than flashes of brilliance; I feel like if he can get a full season in of consistent play, that might happen. That's far more likely in Kansas City, I think.

But considering the Cubs need for a top reliever, and the current makeup of the Cubs roster, I think this is a fine move. It would be better to package Soler up for a starter in my opinion, but this definitely works for the Cubs in terms of their needs. Also, keep in mind that Soler is not your typical third year player: he is signed through 2020, for another $16.3M. That means he's cost-controlled in what could be expensive arb years, and he certainly projects to be more than worth his salary, but he ain't free like a typical player with a smidgen over two service years under his belt.

I wonder if the Cubs will try to extend Davis a couple of years.
   89. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: December 07, 2016 at 09:57 AM (#5364067)
Agree as well. It's more disappointment that Soler didn't turn out to be more, but I'll always remember that hot start and his NLDS last year. In fact, he seemed to always kill the Cardinals. There's just no place for him on the current roster, and the roster just fits better.

I hope the plan isn't to constantly trade for 1 or partial year "closer" solutions. Even though Soler was in the bigs, sure feels like the Cubs gave up a lot less than in the Chapman trade this time at least. Now, I'd still like to see a deal for that young cost controller starter (and maybe a reclamation projection like Ross), and a good lefty bullpen arm.
   90. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: December 07, 2016 at 09:59 AM (#5364068)
he is signed through 2020, for another $16.3M. That means he's cost-controlled in what could be expensive arb years

FWIW, he has the option to out of that deal and into arb if he so chooses. So he could still cost more.

I wonder if the Cubs will try to extend Davis a couple of years.

Sure, but that could still be quite expensive. His floor is probably the Melancon deal, right?
   91. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 07, 2016 at 10:02 AM (#5364073)
Cubs raising season-ticket prices by an average of 19.5% in 2017.

It varies tremendously by section though. Increases range between ~6% for upper deck box infield to 31% for club box infield.
   92. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 07, 2016 at 10:08 AM (#5364080)
Sure, but that could still be quite expensive. His floor is probably the Melancon deal, right?

Well, that's the thing: he can't get the Melancon deal, and the Melancon deal might not be available next year. Probably couldn't come too far short of that though.

The Melancon deal is also tremendously backloaded: $19M/yr in the years three and four!
   93. zonk Posted: December 07, 2016 at 10:18 AM (#5364092)
Of course, it gets harder as the season wears on and FA approaches, but I wouldn't be too quick to extend Davis until last year's forearm issues are proven to just be a speed bump.

If Davis is good as ever and the extension demands become onerous, there's always the "QO and do the closer search all over again"... Rondon might be back to form (though, he's approaching FA, too.. 2019, I think?). Edwards could also be ready to assume the role in 2018.

   94. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 07, 2016 at 10:23 AM (#5364098)
I hope the plan isn't to constantly trade for 1 or partial year "closer" solutions.

Well, they have Felix Peña on the front burner, and Edwards has come along quite nicely.

An observation: if my eyeball scan of his Game Logs is correct, the last time Davis threw more than 1.0 innings in a regular season appearance was May 29, 2014. A stretch of 164 appearances.

Davis started the 2015 regular season with 41 consecutive exactly 1.0 IP appearances. For the year, 66 of his 69 regular season appearances were 1.0 innings. In 2016, 41 of his 45 regular season appearances were 1.0 IP.

On the other hand, in the post-season, 7 of his 23 appearances were >1.0 IP, and he did not give up a run in any of those appearances. His lifetime ERA in the post-season is 0.84.

I am guessing the strict regular season usage is more a Ned Yost thing than a Wade Davis thing, but I think Davis might have to make some adjustments to pitch for Joe Maddon.

   95. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 07, 2016 at 10:28 AM (#5364107)
*I totally forgot that he used to play for Maddon, and in fact, it was Maddon who originally converted him to a reliever.

   96. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 07, 2016 at 10:30 AM (#5364110)
Oh, and if anyone is worried about it being Soler+ for Davis, Rosenthal says it's straight-up.
   97. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: December 07, 2016 at 10:31 AM (#5364113)
Now, I'd still like to see a deal for that young cost controller starter (and maybe a reclamation projection like Ross), and a good lefty bullpen arm.

I believe Happ and Candelario are easily parted with. But I fear for Jimenez.

Though my best guess is that they are just going to sign Ross and a couple more Duensings. I am fine with that.
   98. zonk Posted: December 07, 2016 at 10:37 AM (#5364119)
Though my best guess is that they are just going to sign Ross and a couple more Duensings. I am fine with that.


Don't forget Jack Leatherisch.

We're talking about a guy with a career 15 Ks per 9 in his minor league career... command has certainly been an issue, but he came back from TJ surgery in the 2nd half last year with the K rate still outstanding.
   99. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 07, 2016 at 10:54 AM (#5364141)
I think Davis might have to make some adjustments to pitch for Joe Maddon.


How quickly we forget that up until the postseason, Maddon was as rigid a one-inning guy as the rest of them. I think one of the interesting things to watch in 2017 will be if and how Maddon finds a good balance in bullpen usage between the overly restrictive regular season and his, shall we say, sharply contrasting approach in the playoffs.

I posted in the other thread that I like this trade if it's for Soler + spare parts, so I join the consensus here that Soler straight up is fine.
   100. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 07, 2016 at 06:21 PM (#5364602)
Don't forget Jack Leatherisch.

Awesome misspelling.
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