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Monday, December 18, 2017

Status of the Roster mid-December

Figured it was a good time for a new thread, but it’s also time to take a step back and look at how things stand for the Cubs right now.  The Cubs still have some moves to make, though they could field a 25 man roster today if they absolutely had to. 

Catchers
Contreras, TBD. 

I haven’t seen many rumors linking the Cubs to any backup catcher FAs as of yet.  Obviously, Caratini is an option, but as we’ve gone over before it would appear the Cubs are enamoured/comfortable with his defense back there.  I’d expect the Cubs to sign some sort of veteran type, but this is far from a priority and I’d guess the Cubs are just waiting for the right time to get someone on the cheap.  If they sign someone for more than 1 year (which there isn’t a need to), I’d guess Caratini is on his way out in a trade.

Infielders
Rizzo, Bryant, Russell, Baez, LaStella.

For the purposes of this post, I’m classifying both Happ and Zobrist as OFs, but that could change if there were a trade.  I’d expect TLS to stay on the team as the PH extraodinaire, but if someone came calling he’s also quite expendable.  Bote is now on the 40 man roster, so that’s at least one other guy that can play SS, but there’s always room for a NRI come spring training.

Outfielders
Heyward, Schwarber, Almora, Happ, Zobrist.

If the Cubs don’t make a trade of a position player for a pitcher, I’d expect the 12 hitters are going to be the 11 guys above plus the backup C.  Like the IF, there’s room for a NRI or two here.  I could also see the argument that TLS is totally replaceable and the Cubs should find another guy who can handle CF defensively.  I don’t really have strong feelings there, though at the moment I lean towards TLS and the extra bench bat since Happ and Heyward both can cover in CF (so could Bryant in a pinch). 

Rotations
Hendricks, Lester, Quintana, Chatwood, TBD.

That TBD is by far the biggest remaining question this offseason.  The Cubs have been linked to Cobb forever, but I’ve started seeing that the Cubs aren’t interested in paying him $20mil/yr.  That has now led to rumors of the Cubs “kicking the tires” on Darvish.  Signing Darvish would make a ton of sense, depending on the deal.  It’s pretty hard to predict what’s going to happen in the SP market, but it’s interesting that Chatwood is the biggest SP that’s signed anywhere so far (CC resigned in NY on a 1 year deal; then you had a reliever and a guy from Japan sign).  So maybe Darvish is signable on a deal not too much higher than $20mil/yr.  Maybe Arrieta’s market is coming back to earth too (though it’s Boras, and his guys usually do wait it out and end up getting paid).  The other option is that position player trade, with guys like Archer and Duffy being mentioned - the package would be quite a bit bigger for the former than the latter.  Montgomery is the guy that could get plugged in today, though I think everyone besides him would rather get an upgrade.

Bullpen
Morrow, Cishek, Strop, Wilson, Edwards, Montgomery, TBD, TBD.

The Cubs have a number of guys that are options for those last 2 spots - Alvarez, Maples, Tseng, Mills, Butler, Zastryzny, but all signs seem to point that the Cubs are going to get one more FA.  There were some Davis rumblings - again, the closer market hasn’t developed at all, so perhaps there’s a smaller deal option there - but that’s going to depend on what happens with the last SP spot.  You’d have to guess the Cubs would want one of those spots to be usable to move guys up and down from Iowa, and almost all of the internal options have options. 

Predictions, thoughts, opinions?

Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: December 18, 2017 at 11:22 AM | 186 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: December 18, 2017 at 11:46 AM (#5594344)
Current FG 2018 projected standings, obviously these don't include the remaining FAs.
   2. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: December 18, 2017 at 12:01 PM (#5594360)
I could also see the argument that TLS is totally replaceable and the Cubs should find another guy who can handle CF defensively.

This is my thinking. Given the strong depth of bats on your outfield list and the fact that Happ or Zobrist can provide acceptable-ish levels of 2B defense the Cubs don't need TLS. Plus a CF type would get use in defensive sub time as well as providing a bit of Almora insurance.
   3. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: December 18, 2017 at 12:59 PM (#5594430)
Bob Nightengale‏ @BNightengale 23h23 hours ago

The Chicago #Cubs, searching for a frontline starter, say they are kicking the tires of every free-agent starter. You name him, they are talking about him. The pricetag still remains too high at moment.
   4. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: December 18, 2017 at 05:39 PM (#5594712)
Bruce Levine‏ @MLBBruceLevine

Cubs Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer landed in Dallas this afternoon. Free agent Yu Darvish meeting is likely destination for the two execs.

2:59 PM - 18 Dec 2017

Jon Heyman‏ @JonHeyman

sources: cubs are indeed meeting with yu. they have cast a wide net on free-agent/trade markets for a top starting pitcher. cobb, lynn, arrieta, duffy, archer among other possibilities.

3:54 PM - 18 Dec 2017
   5. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: December 18, 2017 at 05:58 PM (#5594722)
Jon Heyman @JonHeyman 2h2 hours ago

steve cishek breadown: 6.5M in 2018, 6.5M in 2019. base increases in 2019 by 250K for 35g, 40g, 45g, 50g. so 14M possible. #cubs
   6. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 18, 2017 at 07:48 PM (#5594768)
So maybe Darvish is signable on a deal not too much higher than $20mil/yr.

At that rate it's a no-brainer. But I think the optimistic side is more accurately phrased as "not too much closer to $30mil/yr than $20 mil/yr."

I think this is going to be a long process.
   7. Walt Davis Posted: December 18, 2017 at 11:00 PM (#5594834)
If we're going to add a glove-first player, I think I'd prefer it's a backup SS/MI. I know Javy can handle it but I'm not wowed about either Zo or Happ getting much time at 2B plus it gives us more flexibility to push Bryant to the OF on occasion. But it's a marginal concern either way.

That bullpen scares the crap out of me. I know bullpens are unpredictable and relief studs pop up out of nowhere all the time (i.e. there's no reason why Morrow can't be the next Wade Davis) but look at that list and tell me who you'd be comfy coming into a playoff game in the 9th inning. Not that I would want to commit the years/money to Wade Davis -- probably the only guy available I would be pretty comfy about.

Chatwood would certainly be a top of the line 5th starter so I suppose I'm reasonably comfortable with any SP move the Cubs make that turns him into the 5th starter but I'd also be pretty comfortable with them grabbing a 5th starter nearly as good as he is.

Still it seems a team designed to win the NL Central rather than one meant to be the best in the NL. They could be the best (2nd half offense for the whole season please) and I realize my newfound sense of entitlement includes the sense of being entitled to the Cubs win 95+ per year but I am hoping we add somebody genuinely exciting next offseason.
   8. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: December 18, 2017 at 11:11 PM (#5594842)
ダルビッシュ有(Yu Darvish)‏ @faridyu 39m39 minutes ago

1.今日は報道にもあったようにカブスの方達とミーティングしてきました。非常にいいミーティングでした。
自分なりに英語を次のステップに持って行きたくて通訳なしで3時間半ミーティングしました^_^ 最初は慣れてない相手と話す+緊張から言葉に詰まって焦りまくったけど途中からは大丈夫でした。


Translate says: "1. so today was also reported to have cubs were meeting. It was a very good meeting. Interpretation, to want to take the next step English 3 and half hours has been meeting ^_^ from the talk at first unfamiliar + strain to utter a word but makutta impatience from the middle was."
   9. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: December 18, 2017 at 11:18 PM (#5594845)
That bullpen scares the crap out of me. I know bullpens are unpredictable and relief studs pop up out of nowhere all the time (i.e. there's no reason why Morrow can't be the next Wade Davis) but look at that list and tell me who you'd be comfy coming into a playoff game in the 9th inning. Not that I would want to commit the years/money to Wade Davis -- probably the only guy available I would be pretty comfy about.

I don't disagree, but what really can be done besides pay Davis? Maybe they could trade for Britton without somehow magically taking anyone from the major league roster (doubtful), but it's not like he's a guarantee either after his season last year. Holland wore down, and he's not going to be much cheaper than Davis (at one point, rumors were he had resigned with COL but I don't think it even actually happened, at least not yet). Same as the Britton trade idea, what do the Rays want for Colome (and at the point, make it a huge deal and get Archer too and then spend money to replace the roster pieces traded*)? Swing a deal with KC for Duffy, but try to get Herrera too? It's going to be uncomfortable no matter what route they choose, so I'm back to thinking I'm rooting for just paying Davis.

*There aren't any really good options there either unless the Rays really like Almora (and why would they want him with Keirmaier), in addition to Russell and something else from the minors, and the Cubs pay Cain(there's your leadoff hitter). That's really the only semi-decent route I see going down that path and that's some sort of ridiculous longshot that's not worth even finishing this thought for
   10. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: December 19, 2017 at 11:39 AM (#5594985)
I have emailed Jim so many times about this stupid login issue and he's just not answering. Ugh.
   11. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: December 19, 2017 at 11:41 AM (#5594988)
Decent write-up of the Cubs and Darvish. Some excerpts:

The Cubs' “preferred method” this year probably wasn’t to go after top-tier pitching free agents. They were prepared to spend wisely and even trade a position player if need be. But they’ve been forced to make a detour from their preferred path. They quite simply could have ended their primary offseason shopping by adding Alex Cobb to the players already in the fold, but Cobb’s price pushed them out of their comfort zone.

High asking prices for the pitchers they’ve inquired about have kept a trade from materializing. Royals lefty Danny Duffy is one they’ve talked about and while they haven’t engaged the Rays on Chris Archer this winter, they’ve always known it would take a significant package to pry him from Tampa Bay. So, as the Cubs front office is wont to do, they’ve decided to explore other options. That’s led them to Darvish.

Essentially, this comes down to Epstein’s above quote after the season ended. The team doesn’t love investing $20-plus million annually in pitchers, especially when the majority, or all, of the contract comes in said pitcher’s post-age-30 seasons. When Cobb was believed to be asking for four years and $60 million, the choice was clear. Now that he may be pushing the $20-million mark, it all becomes a bit hazier. If you’re going to choose between investing big on Cobb or Darvish, the latter seems like the wiser choice.


It helps that it doesn't seem like any other big spender is on him - Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox, Tigers, Nats; even the Cards who've been trying to give their money away for years now and can't find a taker don't need a SP. I'm starting to think the Cubs might end up getting a decent deal here, almost by default.
   12. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: December 19, 2017 at 11:57 AM (#5595002)
I'm starting to think the Cubs might end up getting a decent deal here, almost by default.

Just inventing a number, but if Cobb costs 4/$70 then what's Darvish worth?

EDIT: The MLBTradeRumors prediction was Darvish to the Cubs for 6/$160.
   13. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: December 19, 2017 at 01:29 PM (#5595070)
Rumors are Cobb wants 4/$80mil, plus he costs a pick. Steamer predicts Cobb at 133IP, 1.7 WAR, Davish 179IP, 3.6WAR (plus, no pick). That's just year 1, though I imagine Darvish - only 1 year older - will still comfortably project better than Cobb every year of their respective deals, and he's just more durable.

I don't know if Darvish gets that deal (the MLBTR one), but is 5/$125 too optimistic to hope for?
   14. Walt Davis Posted: December 19, 2017 at 05:01 PM (#5595206)
Surely the bottom end on Darvish is Cueto/Zimmermann 4/$90 territory. That would be a really easy decision relative to Cobb at almost any price ... but at that price surely lots of other teams would start knocking on Darvish's door. So almost certainly he'll get at least $25 per and/or an opt-out. 6/$150 with an opt-out after 3 would take him through the magical age 36 season while giving him a chance to add a bit more if he stays healthy. Or maybe it's down to 5/$125 if there's an opt-out (after 2 probably)? Hell, I never really know with pitchers.

Losing a durability contest to Darvish is hard to do given he missed nearly 2 full seasons to injury over 2014-16 but Cobb has pulled it off.
   15. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: December 19, 2017 at 05:24 PM (#5595221)
Bruce Levine‏ @MLBBruceLevine 12m12 minutes ago

Both White Sox and Cubs still in on conversations about Manny Machado . ( sources confirm.)


I hadn't realized the Cubs were ever "in" on Machado, beyond randos suggesting that the Cubs should trade for him.

Losing a durability contest to Darvish is hard to do given he missed nearly 2 full seasons to injury over 2014-16 but Cobb has pulled it off.

They both had TJS, but beyond that Darvish is durable. I know that's a big "but", but... (nitpick: Darvish did make 22 starts in 2014 before he got hurt and 17 in 2016 once he came back, so it's not like he missed more time than usual for TJS).
   16. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: December 19, 2017 at 09:59 PM (#5595326)
I can't imagine a scenario that makes sense for the Cubs to make the best offer and land Machado. I expect this is about the Cubs trying to weasel their way into a three team deal where the Cubs give up a young position player to the Os and get some near MLB pitching in return.
   17. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: December 20, 2017 at 11:52 AM (#5595597)
Oh, totally agree. Some rumors involved Baez, and even doing a straight one for one there is hard to do (and I wouldn't think something the O's would even consider). I thought perhaps there was a chance to make it a much bigger trade, including say Britton* or Guasman or something too, but that doesn't seem likely either.

*Now Britton has a torn Achilles, so he's out 4-6 months.

---

Rays have just traded Longoria to the Giants (!), so maybe they will be moving Archer at some point too.
   18. Zonk just has affection for alumni Posted: December 20, 2017 at 12:49 PM (#5595668)
Both WAR and WAA say that Darvish is more than twice as valuable as Cobb, so if the price difference between Cobb and Darvish is anything under double - then the choice seems obvious.

Should be noted/remembered -- under the new CBA, the pick the Cubs surrender would just be a 3rd rounder -- so I think it's just all about the fact that 20 mil per on Cobb isn't as a good a deal as 25-30 mil on Darvish.

   19. Quaker Posted: December 20, 2017 at 12:56 PM (#5595677)
Nvm, I misinterpreted what you were saying, Zonk.
   20. Walt Davis Posted: December 21, 2017 at 12:16 AM (#5596090)
(nitpick: Darvish did make 22 starts in 2014 before he got hurt and 17 in 2016 once he came back, so it's not like he missed more time than usual for TJS).

Upon further review, apparently Darvish's UCL didn't officially tear until 2015 with surgery in May. I had assumed it had exploded mid-2014. His TJS recovery time is a bit uncertain. He was back on the mound in late May 2016 but lasted only 3 starts before missing 6 weeks again. Those 3 starts were pretty good so maybe it was a different injury.

But I wasn't making a comment about TJS recovery time. From 2014-16, he made 39 starts. A full season is 30-32 so he missed nearly two full years over those three years, making him not a paragon of durability. Cobb was even worse although he missed 6 weeks early in 2014 before taking the mound for the rest of the season (last start Sept 28). He tore his early too and also underwent surgery in May 2015. It did take him 3 months longer to get back from that (or more like 6 weeks longer if we hold Darvish's 6 weeks against him). So yes, he made only 32 starts for 2014-16, losing the durability contest to Darvish.

In 2017, it was 31 starts for Darvish, 29 for Cobb with Cobb averaging slightly more IP/start so trailing only by 7 innings.

Darvish had more starts in 2012-13 for sure although some of that is the Rays starting Cobb in the minors in 2012 (8 starts). Darvish wins on IP/start too although some of that may be Rays' tactics. But again, I wasn't questioning that Cobb was less durable, in fact noting that not being more durable than Darvish is a bad sign.
   21. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: December 27, 2017 at 01:43 PM (#5597834)
Everything's been so quiet lately, too much so.

About a week ago, one of those douches from Barstool claimed the Cubs had signed Darvish, but everyone - including Darvish - shot that one down quite quickly.

The Cubs appeared to have signed Anthony Bass, but the Cubs haven't announced it and I'm guessing that's a NRI or minor league deal at best.

That's it. None of the guys the Cubs may be interested have signed anywhere either, so you have to figure someone is going to get antsy soon and jump on a deal. I'm guessing there's a good chance just about all of the remaining signings will be relatively good deals for the teams (with probably one major head scratcher in there, probably for a Boras guy).

One Levine comment:

Both Darvish and Arrieta want five-year deals or longer.

At one point it seemed that free-agent right-hander Alex Cobb would sign with the Cubs. That’s still a possibility, but his market jumped in both years and money at the Winter Meetings. It once looked like a three-year, $45-million deal would get it done for Cobb. Now, it appears a four-year or five-year deal is expected. Dan Horwits, Cobb’s agent, has denied a report that the Cobb camp was asking for $20 million annually.
   22. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: December 28, 2017 at 01:25 PM (#5598109)
Good read (Athletic $) on what the Cubs are doing about fixing their pitching development.

When I spoke to amateur scouting director Matt Dorey prior to last June’s draft, he mentioned an altered approach with regards to scouting pitching for he and his staff.

“I think we realized we were narrowing the pool of pitching to the extent that it gave us really limited options, essentially handcuffing us a little bit from the pool of players we were picking from,” Dorey said. “This [current] approach is keeping more guys alive, not being so stringent or strict on the biomechanics, arm action, deliveries, but focusing more on performance, guys that miss bats, guys that have stuff that we think can play at the big-league level. Then really leaning on our development staff to iron out any deficiencies they have in their game. Whether it’s control, breaking ball development, whatever it may be.”

The above chart (all data gathered from Baseball Reference) shows where the Cubs rank with regards to major league innings pitched from pitchers acquired via the draft since 2012 (the first season Epstein’s staff ran the draft). This chart only includes pitchers who pitched at least one inning with the team that drafted them to weed out players who weren't developed by the drafting team. It's an imperfect process, but also shows the Cubs' struggles in bringing pitchers through their system and up to the big leagues. The Cubs are tied with three other teams with just two pitchers produced during this time, second worst to the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Diego Padres who have only produced one pitcher to reach their team during that time.

However, when it comes to innings pitched from those pitchers, the Cubs are dead last at 30 innings. The only other team below 50 innings pitched are the Padres.
   23. Zonk just has affection for alumni Posted: December 28, 2017 at 04:22 PM (#5598240)
The Cubs appeared to have signed Anthony Bass, but the Cubs haven't announced it and I'm guessing that's a NRI or minor league deal at best.


I hope he brings his good Jesus and not the Jesus $!@!@$!@!@#!@ !@$!@#!@!!
   24. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: December 29, 2017 at 05:53 PM (#5598692)
Davis to the Rox, 3/$52mil. Less guaranteed than Melancon, which in some ways is a surprise but I guess that's just this year's FA over last. Though it is a record annually for a reliever (just ahead of Chapman, but 2 fewer years). I can't say I'm disappointed the Cubs didn't sign this deal - at least not when they still need a SP - but it doesn't *feel* as much of an overpay as it probably is. Anyway, I wouldn't think he's going to be worth as much more than Reed as the pay difference will indicate (that is, when Reed signs, and I'd probably be ok with him as a fall back option).
   25. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: December 29, 2017 at 06:08 PM (#5598698)
From Heyman:

The Cardinals and Cubs were said to be two of the more aggressive teams that came closer than others to making an offer to tempt the Orioles. There was a report by Roch Kubatko of MASN suggesting the names Addison Russell, Albert Almora and Mike Montgomery all came up with the Cubs. And if that was indeed an offer, that seems pretty generous from here. I can only confirm Montgomery was in the mix.

The Cubs’ interest and meeting with Yu Darvish seemed to come after hearing what they saw as a high asking price from Alex Cobb. Cobb has seemed like the logical fit for the Cubs since he has strong connections to manager Joe Maddon and pitching coach Jim Hickey, and perhaps that will still work. But the Cubs, as is wise, are considering everything. Makes sense, if Darvish was willing to come for a similar price (or even a bit more), that might be the better deal.

One rival exec speculated that the Cubs are probably the favorite for Bryce Harper in a year, noting that he and Kris Bryant are great friends, and also that “their wives are great friends.” That certainly would give the Cubs quite a righty-lefty combo for years.


No way the Cubs offered Russell, Almora, and Montgomery straight up for Machado. I could see the Cubs trying to build a larger deal there, maybe one that included Britton (before his injury), but even then, not all 3.
   26. Meatwad Posted: December 30, 2017 at 01:46 AM (#5598791)
Moses I had heard those names a few days ago but it may have come from the boras puppet. I agree though thats just a crazy deal, only way that happens is if the O's eat the entire heyward contract and that still might be an overpay.
   27. Walt Davis Posted: January 01, 2018 at 11:27 PM (#5599411)
One rival exec speculated that the Cubs are probably the favorite for Bryce Harper in a year, noting that he and Kris Bryant are great friends, and also that “their wives are great friends.”

Man, we are gonna sell a lot of jeans!!
   28. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 02, 2018 at 04:35 PM (#5599786)
Levine:
Looking ahead, the Cubs have a renewed interest in bringing back Arrieta, sources said. Arrieta, who turns 32 in March, had a 3.53 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in 30 starts in 2017. The two clubs showing the most interest in Arrieta are the Cubs and Cardinals, according to one industry source.

The Cubs have also stayed in touch with free agent right-handers Yu Darvish and Alex Cobb. Epstein and Hoyer had a long in-person meeting with Darvish on Dec. 18. The Cubs were long thought to be the favorite to land Cobb because of his familiarity with new Chicago pitching coach Jim Hickey and manager Joe Maddon from their shared days in Tampa Bay. However, that may no longer be the case. As of mid-December, the asking price for Cobb that was projected to be around $14 million or $15 million annually appeared to jump by $3 million to $4 million annually.

The two starting pitchers getting the most attention on the trade market are Pirates right-hander Gerrit Cole and Rays right-hander Chris Archer, and both are receiving attentions from top clubs like the Yankees and Cubs.

Nightendale:
Oh sure, the Chicago Cubs still need a front-line starter, and would be willing to bring back Arrieta on a four-year deal for about $110 million, but sorry, they refuse to dish out a six-year deal.
   29. Zonk just has affection for alumni Posted: January 02, 2018 at 04:41 PM (#5599789)
I stand with Thed on the 4 year max. Wouldn't go to 6 either.
   30. Andere Richtingen Posted: January 02, 2018 at 06:02 PM (#5599832)
I will be very surprised if any team went six years on him. Five years, maybe. I'm uncomfortable with 4/110, to be honest. I mean, it really depends on what else is reasonably available.
   31. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 03, 2018 at 05:28 PM (#5600413)
M@ Spiegel @MattSpiegel670 5h5 hours ago

Our @MLBBruceLevine just told us it's Cubs or Cards for Jake Arrieta, with neither team budging at a 4 year maximum. Boras wanted 6 years in November. The odd FA market continues to bring Arrieta/Darvish terms back into the Cubs wheelhouse.


I'm guessing the Cubs have a 4 year offer sitting out there for both Jake and Darvish and will take either if either choose to accept.
   32. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 04, 2018 at 10:57 AM (#5600666)
From Rosenthal:
*The Padres balked at the Cubs’ asking price for infielder Javier Baez at the winter meetings, moving on to other pursuits, sources say. The Cubs likely would have wanted a controllable starter such as Luis Perdomo or Dinelson Lamet for Baez, who would have solved the Padres’ need for a long-term shortstop (though a top prospect such as Luis Urias or Fernando Tatis Jr. might prove the answer).
   33. Zonk just has affection for alumni Posted: January 04, 2018 at 11:53 AM (#5600745)
If it came down to Jake vs Yu at essentially the same price and years, who would you take?

My heart says Jake, my head says Yu - but I'm not really sure it would be more than a coin flip in either direction.
   34. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 04, 2018 at 12:04 PM (#5600760)
I initially typed Darvish, but have now changed my mind a few times. Steamer like Darvish more than Jake for next year, the one BB_REF uses likes Jake a bit more. The declining velocity for Arrieta is scary, but Davish has a bit more mileage on his arms. Jake also adds a little with his bat...

I guess I'll cop out and say I don't have to pick because I'm pretty sure Jake is going to get more (definitely a longer deal) because Boras.
   35. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 04, 2018 at 12:10 PM (#5600767)
My first reaction was "Darvish, and I don't think it's as close as you do," but after a bit more consideration I do think it's close. Darvish has the better K rate and isn't on a scary downward trajectory over the last few years, but Jake has been more durable (thus far, but could be a time bomb) and of course his peak is significantly higher than Darvish's.

Darvish gets the benefit of the doubt for (presumably) not being a Trumpkin.
   36. Andere Richtingen Posted: January 04, 2018 at 02:58 PM (#5600924)
I'm guessing the Cubs have a 4 year offer sitting out there for both Jake and Darvish and will take either if either choose to accept.

Darvish will get a six-year offer from someone, I think, and I would guess that five years would be a minimum.

Of the two, I prefer Darvish. But it will suck watching the Cardinals' magic fairy dust turn Arrieta back into a superstar.
   37. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 04, 2018 at 03:29 PM (#5600961)
I think the reason neither have signed (same with Cobb, to a lesser extent) is because they haven't either gotten the guaranteed 5th or 6th year, or if they have, the AAV is quite lower. I don't think it's a coincidence that there hasn't been a single FA signing for more than 3 years yet (to be fair, part of that is very few of the FAs deserve it).

So yeah, it's likely eventually someone will give one of them an offer that long if they wait (they may even need a ST injury to happen first) - my money is just on it being Arrieta cause of Boras and his history of late huge signings. If I had to predict, I still think the most likely SP the Cubs end up with is Cobb. But I'm wishcasting for Darvish on a 4 year deal.
   38. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 04, 2018 at 03:56 PM (#5600999)
Hmmm...

Bernstein & Goff @Bernstein_Goff 32s32 seconds ago

On Cubs: "If they're able to sign Cobb for something less than 20 mil a year then they very well might pursue Lorenzo Cain. If they sign an Arrieta or Darvish then they'd be open to a trade for Yelich." -@MLBBruceLevine just now with us.


I've thought Yelich was more of a pipe dream, even more so than say Archer or Machado. He'd cost the most, by far.
   39. Andere Richtingen Posted: January 04, 2018 at 08:34 PM (#5601115)
Yeah, that whole series of statements makes no sense. Cobb and Cain, sure! Arrieta or Darvish and Yelich? Great!
   40. Zonk just has affection for alumni Posted: January 04, 2018 at 09:28 PM (#5601145)
Man...

Was Albert Almora riding shotgun when Caratini went on that reckless driving spree running over various people's dogs?

I like Cain and Yelich would be wonderful, too... but why chase another OF?
   41. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: January 04, 2018 at 10:04 PM (#5601164)
Almora is probably part of the price for Yelich. Anyway, I don't believe in his bat so if his D isn't any better than what the metrics are giving him then they should be kicking the tires on upgrades.
   42. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 05, 2018 at 11:12 AM (#5601343)
Right. Maybe it's just part of the obsession that local beat folks have with the Cubs getting a "leadoff hitter"; at least in regards to Cain. I have no problem going after Yelich - in spite of whatever SP is signed - and perhaps an Almora/Happ/other lower minor league guys is a fair deal; he seems like a Dexter Fowler type, younger but probably a great guy to have at the top of the order who's got the skills to be a good defender in CF at Wrigley. He's a decent BA guy, so maybe that type of player is a good add to this lineup and would help address some of the inconsistency problems from last year. I previously mentioned Cain as an option if the Cubs traded a few of the position players (including Almora) for a SP.

If you acquire Yelich, how does that impact any FA pursuits next year*? And something I've been thinking about in this Arrieta/Darvish discussion, plus the fact that the Cubs are close to locked in - or could be locked in - to a full lineup for the next 3+ years, is there a downside to being completely locked into this much of the roster without having obvious areas to upgrade? It's not if this is a 100 game winning roster, but if it's not? I dunno where I'm going with this. I need a signing or trade to happen already. I did book my flight and house for Phoenix in March though. ST tickets go on presale today.

*It doesn't so much from a budget standpoint, Yelich is cost controlled for 5 years. But from a PT one - if you sign Harper, either Schwarber or Heyward are a full time backup (or trade bait**) but it's 4 lefty bats and no real natural platoon with those. If Schwarber struggles again, it's not an issue and it's time to move on perhaps; if he breaks out like the Cubs expect, maybe they do just accept Heyward as the most expensive 4th OF in baseball history. That's a good problem though.

**For RP? See the previous point about being locked in at virtually every starting field position and in the rotation.
   43. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: January 05, 2018 at 12:20 PM (#5601398)
I would do Almora and Caritini for Yelich. I have no idea if that is a realistic trade.
   44. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 05, 2018 at 12:42 PM (#5601410)
I would do Almora and Caritini for Yelich. I have no idea if that is a realistic trade.

I think the likelihood of Jetes doing that one is about the same as his fielding a ground ball behind second base.
   45. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 05, 2018 at 12:48 PM (#5601416)
The rumors are that the Marlins don't feel like they have to trade Yelich's contract, so they'd have to get significant talent back. So, we'll see.
   46. Andere Richtingen Posted: January 05, 2018 at 03:20 PM (#5601535)
I like Cain and Yelich would be wonderful, too... but why chase another OF?

Because their OF isn't that good?

I agree that the talk about the Marlins trading Yelich was almost certainly wishful thinking from the first rumor about it. But I think Cain would be a nice addition.
   47. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 05, 2018 at 05:20 PM (#5601654)
The Cubs offered free-agent starting pitcher Alex Cobb a three-year contract worth $42 million, as David Kaplan of NBC Sports Chicago reported on the network’s recent CubsTalk Podcast.

Kaplan says that while Cobb was interested in the deal, he followed his agent’s advice and rejected the offer. The Cubs would be willing to put that deal back on the table “in a second” if Cobb changes his mind, according to Kaplan.


Yeah, I'd love that deal for the Cubs. I'm actually surprised their offer was that low.
   48. Andere Richtingen Posted: January 05, 2018 at 10:30 PM (#5601791)
I'm surprised too. Maybe Cobb's expectations are out of line with reality. 4/$70M seemed like Michigan Avenue retail to me. Still, I would not mind the Cubs sweetening 3/42 a bit if they had to.
   49. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 08, 2018 at 10:22 AM (#5602603)
From Heyman:

Baltimore remains interested in Alex Cobb — and others — and seek to add to starting pitchers this winter. Cobb is believed to be willing to sign in the four-year, $70 million range; any thought he’d go as low as the $52 million range likely went out the door when Wade Davis received that amount from the Rockies.


That's quite a bit different from that Cubs offer.
   50. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 08, 2018 at 01:22 PM (#5602755)
Couple good Athletic things on Cubs today:

1. Justin Wilson.
What’s most interesting in this whole situation is the idea that this isn’t just some unsolvable issue that randomly pops up for certain players when they're traded. When I asked Hoyer if perhaps the Cubs share some blame in Wilson’s struggles, he didn’t deny it.

“That’s something we talk about a lot,” Hoyer said. “We’ve obviously had guys who come in and had a lot of success right away. But we’ve had a number of guys who have come in and struggled beyond what they’ve done in the past. That’s something we have looked at and will continue to look at and talk about how we 'onboard' guys, so to speak. Because it is frustrating when you bring a guy in that you know is talented and you know should be helping. We’ve seen some of those guys leave here and go elsewhere and go right back to where they were. That’s an issue we’ve talked about a lot. We’ve been, candidly, somewhat frustrated by it and we’ll keep working on it.”

As Hoyer said, it’s something the Cubs have been frustrated by behind the scenes for some time and now they’re finally talking about it publicly. Wilson isn’t the only pitcher who has struggled when arriving to Chicago. Adam Warren stands out as a pitcher who looked like a completely different player during his short Cubs tenure. Joe Smith, who had a quick trip to the DL after being traded in 2016, is another pitcher who comes to mind.

2. Scouting at the Cubs :
In recent years, the Cubs haven’t weighed hitches in a pitcher’s mechanics as heavily as they have in the past — burned, too often, by pitchers they passed on finding success with other teams. And they’ve learned that certain players, often upper-middle-class travel-team types, can be taught the right things to say at meetings with scouts, even when those things aren’t necessarily reflective of the player’s actual personality or skills.

Weighed heavily, by contrast, are scouts’ evaluations of a player’s overall athleticism (a term the Cubs operationalize as carefully as they do secretly), that player’s hatred of losing (which the Cubs care about far more than a player’s desire to win), and of course the R&D reports that the nerd squad at the Cubs’ offices in Lakeview dig up. Even so, it’s still tough to get it all right.

   51. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 08, 2018 at 01:30 PM (#5602758)
Wilson isn’t the only pitcher who has struggled when arriving to Chicago. Adam Warren stands out as a pitcher who looked like a completely different player during his short Cubs tenure. Joe Smith, who had a quick trip to the DL after being traded in 2016, is another pitcher who comes to mind.

I would want some examples beyond "relievers struggling in small sample sizes" before I'm willing to talk about ascribing causality to anything the Cubs are or aren't doing.

that player’s hatred of losing (which the Cubs care about far more than a player’s desire to win)

Does this sound less ridiculous, both on its face and as something that you could really make into legit, useful data, to people who are a lot smarter than I am?
   52. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: January 08, 2018 at 02:50 PM (#5602822)

Does this sound less ridiculous, both on its face and as something that you could really make into legit, useful data, to people who are a lot smarter than I am?


I will shoot from the hip here and suggest it might be the focus because in a personality test it's easier to measure than desire to win. Players may put their guard down and be more frank about their level of hatred for losing. Maybe in responding to questions about setbacks a player emphasizes putting bad plays behind them whereas the Cubs prefer players who do the opposite.
   53. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 08, 2018 at 03:48 PM (#5602904)
To add to Pops guess, I reckon it's not so much about data per se, though it's obviously part of the decision making process. The Cubs sure have spent a lot of time talking about character and intangibles since Theo took over; maybe some of that was merely a PR thing to combat all the "stats" attention. I can't imagine it ever over-ruling anything truly measurable but I could see how it'd be useful in trying to project certain things (an example would be with Schwarber and his insistence on wanting to catch).

There's probably also some value to myth making, both to your fans and maybe even in hyping trade value. Now that the Cubs have been successful, it becomes true because they said it was true sort of thing.
   54. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 08, 2018 at 03:49 PM (#5602906)
I would want some examples beyond "relievers struggling in small sample sizes" before I'm willing to talk about ascribing causality to anything the Cubs are or aren't doing.

Agreed, but I think it's safe to say that Wilson's struggles surely weren't sample size related. Smith wasn't that good before he got here. Warren, I dunno, he was pretty low-key disappointing.
   55. Andere Richtingen Posted: January 09, 2018 at 08:58 AM (#5603210)
It would not surprise me if there were legit social science behind "hating to lose" > "wanting to win", based on specific tests for that distinction. I am not going to look it up.
   56. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 09, 2018 at 01:40 PM (#5603440)
I think this is a good write-up of the changes the Cubs made to the bullpen options, including the guys in AAA. I like the approach, and who knows when you might get lucky on one of those guys.
   57. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 10, 2018 at 10:59 AM (#5603935)
Robothal:

The Chicago Cubs are proceeding with relative caution in their quest to sign a free agent starting pitcher — they still must pay off sizable commitments to right fielder Jason Heyward, left-hander Jon Lester and second baseman Ben Zobrist, and arbitration-eligible players such as third baseman Kris Bryant, shortstop Addison Russell and right-hander Kyle Hendricks are growing more expensive.

While Arrieta, Darvish and Cobb all remain possibilities for the Cubs, the club might sign lesser pitchers to compete for their fifth starter’s job if they are uncomfortable with the prices for the top starters. Might Arrieta return on a four-year deal at a high average annual value — say, $28 million per year? See the above item on the Phillies. Boras would not accept such a deal without exhausting other options first.


I definitely don't like the idea of trying to patch together a 5th starter again, not with Chatwood as the 4th already carrying quite a bit of risk. I understand the reasoning for not wanting to sign a SP contract past 4 years, but at some point the higher AAV hurts more than the extra year*; Lester is gone in 3 years, Zobrist 2, so they really shouldn't have an impact on the backend of a Arrieta or Darvish deal (Heyward's contract never ends and so it has an impact, but in a way, I think it has a bigger impact on next year's FA pursuits more).

*Makes more sense for a 3 year deal, which also lines up better with the Bryant/Russell/Contreras contract needs; once your at 4 years, one more year at a slighty lower AAV might be better.
   58. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 10, 2018 at 11:36 AM (#5603970)
It would not surprise me if there were legit social science behind "hating to lose" > "wanting to win", based on specific tests for that distinction.

It's certainly possible, but how could you turn that into something legitimately useful for running a baseball team? You'd need data not only that "hating to lose" > "wanting to win," but that that difference has a causal relationship with performance differences.

Besides, science and Hawk Harrelson have clearly established WILL TO WIN uber alles.
   59. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 10, 2018 at 05:02 PM (#5604256)
Mark Gonzales @MDGonzales 16m16 minutes ago

Cubs’ 1st workout for pitchers and catchers Feb. 14, 1st full workout Feb. 19


Just around the corner.
   60. Sunday silence Posted: January 10, 2018 at 09:13 PM (#5604354)

It's certainly possible, but how could you turn that into something legitimately useful for running a baseball team?


How would you even measure that, really?

Q: "How do you feel about losing?
A: Hate it.
Q: Do you want to win?
A: Eh, its ok.
   61. Zonk just has affection for alumni Posted: January 10, 2018 at 09:49 PM (#5604366)
So...

What would people think about kicking the tires on ex-Cub Andrew Cashner?

Atrocious K/BB - and his supposedly nice bounceback in Texas looks like an awful lot like smoke and mirrors... still, other than a Baltimore sniff, I've seen exactly nothing linked to him.

I think he probably figures he already paid his 1 year "prove it" dues, but it looks increasingly like he might be lucky to get even 1/10 again.
   62. Voodoo Posted: January 10, 2018 at 11:10 PM (#5604406)
I mean if he's among the host of 7th starters that Thed likes to sign before ST, then sure and maybe he could be worthwhile in a relief role. But I sure wouldn't want him as the fifth starter heading into the season.
   63. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 11, 2018 at 10:29 AM (#5604548)
Agreed, Voodoo. And I wouldn't want to spend anywhere near $10mil; maybe the Brett Anderson contract from last year? How is a 4.6k/9 even possible?

If the Cubs end up with Cobb, I'd want a couple guys in the Cashner mold (so that probably includes Tseng internally) as options.
   64. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 11, 2018 at 01:17 PM (#5604731)
Knowing that the Cubs aren't done with FA and are going to sign at least one more pitcher, I haven't thought much about arbitration. Here's MLBTR's writeup of his arb case. I don't recall seeing anything this specific last year when it was rumored the Cubs talked with some of their players about extensions/arb buyouts:

The Cubs tried last winter to lock up Bryant with a deal believed to be for seven years, but the length wasn’t deemed optimal for Bryant; an unwanted option was part of the offer and, most importantly, he feels comfortable waiting for free agency. In any case, the Cubs would obviously prefer to go long-term with one of baseball’s best players, and perhaps they’ll try again.


7 years would have meant 2 years of FA with Bryant being 32 when he reaches UFA.
   65. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 11, 2018 at 01:58 PM (#5604773)
Carrie Muskat @CarrieMuskat 32m32 minutes ago

New #Cubs reliever Steve Cishek says he needs to work on his dance moves to fit into the bullpen. "When I first signed, I might have gotten more of those GIFs [of dancing] than anything."


It also looks like he's been given Lackey's old number 41.

No one has signed this year, but there's been nothing at all on Lackey except the he might not retire thing from November. I still don't want him back.
   66. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 11, 2018 at 02:38 PM (#5604819)
And Cobb still hasn’t signed with anyone.

“He’s a free agent and he’s trying to make as much money as he can, which is what he should do,” Maddon said Wednesday, as he kicked off Cubs Convention week with his “Thanksmas” dinner at Catholic Charities in downtown Chicago. “That’s it. That’s the answer to it.

“I love Alex Cobb, and so does ‘Hick.’ And when you get to really work with him – if that happens – you’ll love him, too.

“This is a man’s man, and he’s very highly accountable, and he’s really good. So honestly, I don’t think it’s any more complicated than he’s just trying to get the best deal he can. And God bless him, he should.”


Patrick Mooney‏ @PJ_Mooney

New #Cubs reliever Steve Cishek has stayed in touch with free agent Alex Cobb: "It’s just moving on a little slower than we all thought. But it would be nice to see him in a Cubs uniform. He’s a tremendous teammate, good friend and a tremendous competitor."

12:53 PM - 11 Jan 2018


Sounds like some people still think Cobb will eventually be a Cub and/or are surprised he isn't yet.
   67. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 11, 2018 at 06:11 PM (#5605030)
Wittenmeyer:

And he still may have a chance to retain Arrieta for his staff, though a long shot. A source close to Arrieta said he has offers from six teams, including the Cubs, for three- and four-year contracts at “overpay” annual values.

The Brewers and Cardinals are among those teams.

The source suggested one team might be close to making a five-year offer but wasn’t sure which team.
   68. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 11, 2018 at 06:19 PM (#5605033)
I really do not think five years' worth of Arrieta is going to be a good idea.
   69. Zonk just has affection for alumni Posted: January 11, 2018 at 06:23 PM (#5605039)
I really do not think five years' worth of Arrieta is going to be a good idea.


It is time for my regularly scheduled flip-flop on Jake, so sure... I agree.
   70. Voodoo Posted: January 11, 2018 at 07:49 PM (#5605090)
I'd rather give Jake a fifth year than Cobb a fourth... Not sure if that's sentimentality talking or not.
   71. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: January 11, 2018 at 10:34 PM (#5605189)
It's not my money. Get 'im

Seriously.
   72. Zonk just has affection for alumni Posted: January 12, 2018 at 12:57 AM (#5605255)
I suppose we should win the 2nd title before we start shifting into that mode of thinking 5 years done the road - but the problem with the fifth year is that the napkin says it may well put a real crunch on extensions. Even four year probably requires the Cubs to float over the luxury tax for a year - but maybe you grin and bear it for a year... two just seems sketchy. Yeah, yeah - not my money - I'm just talking realistic practicality.

Before I flip-flopped back to skeptical on Jake - I was saying 5 years, OK... but now that the market is shaking out the way it is, I'm down from that...
   73. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 12, 2018 at 11:17 AM (#5605384)
Even four year probably requires the Cubs to float over the luxury tax for a year

If the Cubs refuse to ever pay the luxury tax*, I'm going to be upset with them. Period.

There's a really good chance they're going to get into the luxury tax next offseason if the dreams of signing any of the big FAs is going to happen. I understand and am fine with them trying to duck it this year, as that's the smart move. Next year, or when it comes time to start paying the big guns, absolutely positively ####### not. The whole point of the timing of the tear down, rebuild, remodel, and new TV deal timing was so that the Cubs could actually consistently start acting like a huge market superpower.

*I know they paid a very small amount into it in 2016, but didn't in 2017.
   74. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 12, 2018 at 12:25 PM (#5605444)
Mark Gonzales @MDGonzales 2m2 minutes ago

Hendricks ($4.125 milliion), Justin Wilson ($4.25 mil) agree to deals, Bryant, Russell, Grimm and La Stella left among Cubs arb eligibles.


MLBTR projected $4.9mil for Hendricks and $5.035mil for Wilson.

Projects for the rest were Bryant $8.9mil, Russell $2.3mil, Grimm $2.4mil, and TLS $1mil.
   75. Zonk just has affection for alumni Posted: January 12, 2018 at 01:14 PM (#5605495)
If the Cubs refuse to ever pay the luxury tax*, I'm going to be upset with them. Period.

There's a really good chance they're going to get into the luxury tax next offseason if the dreams of signing any of the big FAs is going to happen. I understand and am fine with them trying to duck it this year, as that's the smart move. Next year, or when it comes time to start paying the big guns, absolutely positively ####### not. The whole point of the timing of the tear down, rebuild, remodel, and new TV deal timing was so that the Cubs could actually consistently start acting like a huge market superpower.

*I know they paid a very small amount into it in 2016, but didn't in 2017.


Is it actually - or at least, entirely - the money, though?

The new CBA is a lot more complicated than prior iterations - but a lot of levers (FA compensation costs, I believe INTL FA budgets, etc) are tied to the luxury tax now, I believe. I'm sure for most teams - yes, it is cutting the check - but I also think one hidden reason the luxury tax has suddenly become so "effective" as a cap is that going beyond looks like it does have some real talent infusion teeth to it.

Assuming all the kids hitting FA in 4-5 years are worth holding onto, yes - I agree - Bryant in particular, is not a guy that the Cubs should ever let leave.

I guess I'm just mostly - especially since I've now flip-flopped back to "thanks for the memories, Jake. Good luck with your new team." - worried that the Cubs could potentially be spending a LOT of money on dead weight (Heyward, maybe Lester, Arrieta) by that point...
   76. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 12, 2018 at 01:35 PM (#5605516)
Bruce Levine @MLBBruceLevine 10m10 minutes ago

Cubs Tommy LaStella settles for 950 K and avoids Arbitration
   77. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 12, 2018 at 02:53 PM (#5605595)
Sure, go ahead and add that caveat about other restrictions/penalties to my point, but I still think the Cubs should be prepared and in fact planning to be in the tax at some point over the next few years.
   78. Zonk just has affection for alumni Posted: January 12, 2018 at 04:08 PM (#5605656)
Sure, go ahead and add that caveat about other restrictions/penalties to my point, but I still think the Cubs should be prepared and in fact planning to be in the tax at some point over the next few years.


Absolutely... I just look at the existing Heyward dead weight (maybe I'm being too harsh and ought to get with the defense program). I worry about Lester based on last year - I'm really hoping for a huge bounceback or I just might go into panic mode on him, too. Adding Jake to that.... boy, I don't know.

So it's really not the general concept you refer to that I oppose - I agree, the Cubs need to be prepared for hitting luxury tax land in the not-too-distant future.... It's more that I feel like we've got maybe one more big contract in us - excluding our team controlled assets - over the next year or two. I just don't think I wanted to expend that final bullet on Jake.
   79. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 12, 2018 at 04:22 PM (#5605665)
Jon Heyman @JonHeyman 12m12 minutes ago

kris bryant gets 1st year arb record $10.85M #cubs


Donaldson got $23mil in his last year of arb, Bryant's going to blow that record out of the water (and break whatever the record is every year, unless there's an extension).
   80. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 12, 2018 at 04:27 PM (#5605668)
So it's really not the general concept you refer to that I oppose - I agree, the Cubs need to be prepared for hitting luxury tax land in the not-too-distant future.... It's more that I feel like we've got maybe one more big contract in us - excluding our team controlled assets - over the next year or two. I just don't think I wanted to expend that final bullet on Jake.

Yep, if there's only one, it definitely can't be Jake. Which is why the 4/$110mil offer to him makes sense, even if that last year will be ugly, but it would also signal to me mean his deal wouldn't be the only big one. That being said, that 4th year is after Lester is gone and Heyward's deal is only ~$20mil/yr. So, it's definitely doable to add that plus a Harper next year.
   81. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 12, 2018 at 04:29 PM (#5605670)
Carrie Muskat @CarrieMuskat 5m5 minutes ago

#Cubs Minor League RHP Wilfre Delgado, currently on rookie-level Dominican Summer League roster, has received 72-game suspension w/out pay after testing positive for Stanozolol. Suspension will be effective at the start of the 2018 DSL season
   82. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 12, 2018 at 04:44 PM (#5605685)
Jon Heyman @JonHeyman 7m7 minutes ago

cubs are a third team that's talked about gerrit cole lately. yanks and astros have more prospects, which may give them an edge. but pirates wouldn't mind getting MLB players back, too.


Happ/Almora then sign Cain to a 3 year deal?
   83. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 12, 2018 at 05:14 PM (#5605707)
Per Mooney, $3.2mil for Russell.
   84. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 12, 2018 at 05:25 PM (#5605714)
Chicago Cubs The Cubs and Pirates trade discussions have not gotten as close as the Yankees and Astros, but they certainly have a strong package they could present centered around a combination of players like infielder/outfielder Ian Happ, catcher Victor Caratini, and teenage pitching prospect Jose Albertos.


Jim Bowden, so who knows how much is him just guessing or if it's anywhere near reality.
   85. Zonk just has affection for alumni Posted: January 12, 2018 at 06:30 PM (#5605737)
I cannot imagine Happ/Caratini/Albertos lands Cole - my bet is that the Astros and Yankees have better offers that the Pirates have already refused. I am also a skeptic of Cole - at least, I worry... but sure, if that would actually do it - do it.

I just cannot see that happening without someone else who would be missed also being included.
   86. Spahn Insane Posted: January 12, 2018 at 07:19 PM (#5605756)
Personally, I wouldn’t want to give up Happ plus Caratini for Cole. Maybe it’s the alcohol talking; I’m renowned for my sentimentality when tipsy.
   87. Walt Davis Posted: January 15, 2018 at 01:06 AM (#5606501)
Wow, first I saw of this $11 M for Bryant ... as year 1 of a super 2 ... I can't quite believe it, especially as a negotiated deal. Maybe if they'd bought out the first 2 arb years for $22-24 total or as part of a full arb buyout. That's what Machado made as a full-2 and Arenado as a year-2 super-2. I figured $8, maybe $9. That really just shifts things so dramatically -- we're now looking at something like $16/22/28 in arbitration. And why wouldn't he wait for FA in that scenario, especially if he can bet the Cubs to agree to a 3/$60 buyout of the arb years or something to save some dough.

For further comp, Trout got $7/16/20 for a full-3 as part of his buyout (3/$102 to go). Harper (give or take) went 6.5/13.5/21.5. With inflation, I guess this is close to Kershaw who got $7.5/$11 as a 2-year buyout then essentially $22 as part of his longer-term buyout ... so that was 6 years ago.

Anyway, Aaron Judge's agent is probably still hungover from the celebration.

Arrieta vs Darvish: My gut says Darvish, my heart says Arrieta and my head says "pitchers -- whatcha gonna do?"

If the Cubs have offered anything like 4/$110 for Jake then any number of longer-term deals come into play. 5/$125 is just hoping he's still either good but fragile or can give you 160 average innings in 5 years. Obviously $15 M is almost like real money but it's not an outrageous bet.

Cain: I've been kinda thinking he might fall to the Cubs in a fashion similar to Fowler. We'd still have to give up that lower-round pick but there's a price at which it even makes sense to take him for one year on a make-good contract that would also get him out from under the QO (under the new rules). Cain (short or longer-term) becomes more attractive if somebody will eat a bit of Zobrist's contract.

Can't find it but somebody was wondering if it's a good thing the Cub roster is so "locked in." It's incredibly cool and rare so I'd like to think it's a good thing. I understand and mostly agree that having lots of solid players makes it difficult to decide where to improve ... or makes you hesitant to improve unless it's an obvious, sizable upgrade (that probably doesn't cost much more than the guy you'd be upgrading). You're probably also more likely to give a guy a year too long to "find himself again". So there is a risk the Cubs will become stagnant and that's not a good thing.

But of course it is a good thing to have so many good players. Sure, I'd rather have Correa but there probably aren't more than a handful of SS better than Russell and they're probably not realistically available. Javy may be no better than an average 2B but which vet/young 2B would you rather have in his place (realistically -- Altuve is not on the table)? As long as Theo doesn't get too attached to Javy, Schwarber, Almora or Happ (They're just not that into you!) and/or is willing to eat big money on Heyward, Zobrist, maybe Lester eventually then there's no real risk of stagnation.

I'm more concerned we may be deeply embarrassed by Torres and Jimenez.

"Hate losing" vs "desire to win": My first guess is that basically everybody expresses a "desire to win" on survey questions about it. It's probably like life satisfaction scales (or satisfaction or health scales in general) in that nearly everybody answers 4 or 5 (out of 5). Do you want to win? Duh. Would you be willing to follow a training regimen to become a better player even if it meant less time for video games? Duh. To differentiate "desire to win" you'd have to identify the guys who are deeply obsessed ... and do you want the guys who would actually (on a survey) say they "strongly agree" with "a winning season is more important than my marriage."

So you probably end up with not being able to really distinguish between "standard" desire to win and "outstanding" desire to win while only being able to screen out a tiny handful of guys honest/dumb enough to answer that it's not that important.**

Of course, everybody hates losing so I'm not sure you're better off. But maybe you can better distinguish the guys who will self-motivate to get better or the guys who will obsess about not losing (which maybe is less damaging than obsessing about winning). As to performance, given individual players have quite limited control over winning/losing, maybe the guys obsessed with winning get depressed/aggravated/distracted when they lose while the guys who hate losing are (paradoxically) more even keel when losing as long as they know they are doing what's asked of them. Or maybe the other way around and the "desire to win" guys blame others for the team losing while the "hate to lose" guys look at themselves more. F'ing psychology, you can make it work however you want. :-)

More theoretically, while win/lose is 0/1 on the scoreboard, they aren't necessarily the opposite ends of the same spectrum psychologically. They may be two related but separate dimensions. Sort of like "gender" where a person can be both highly "masculine" and "feminine" (think Prince) or can be rather low on both scales. So "hatred of losing" might be closer to "work hard to succeed" while "desire to win" may be closer to "fear of failure."

** Finally saw "Trouble with the Curve" the other night. Thoroughly meh as was the consensus here. The main problem was the "villain" was over the top. I don't care what a player's numbers are, even a computer couldn't spend more than two seconds with that kid without deciding nobody would ever want to spend a single second with him. He was so loathsome, they might as well have had a scene where he spat on Hank Aaron. Not to mention the kid was too fat at 17 to be a serious 5-tool prospect. It's a more interesting movie if he's a likable, hard-working kid who can't hit a breaking ball. (I suppose there were two villains and the computer numbers geek was equally one-dimensional. Can we pass a federal law of a limit of one cookie-cutter villain per movie?)
   88. Zonk just has affection for alumni Posted: January 15, 2018 at 09:50 AM (#5606552)
I'm more concerned we may be deeply embarrassed by Torres and Jimenez.


So long as Quintana gives us roughly expectations for the next 3 years, I'm OK with whatever success Eloy has.... Torres, OTOH - still hate that friggin deal.

Why would anyone want to see Trouble with the Curve? I suppose there will always be a market for Get Off My Lawn movies - that's what Eastwood (excepting Letters from Iwo) seems to have been interested in ever since Unforgiven - but such piffle interests me about as much as watching the grass grow.

I think the last baseball movie I watched was probably Moneyball.... Unless Everybody Wants Some counts?
   89. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: January 15, 2018 at 12:44 PM (#5606643)
The Athletic has another Jason Heyward Reinvented type of article up today. This time it's about working with Chili Davis. It's pretty fluffy (as these things always are) but the core of the approach they are taking this offseason appears to be a greater focus on mental (rather than mechanical) and trying to get back to where he was when he first came up.

I remember the articles that came out this past offseason where Jason was trying to simplify his swing and basically iron out physical issues. I was pretty pessimistic based on the fact that the new swing was nothing like Jason's swing from when Jason was a successful hitter; it was the latest version of whack-a-mole and fixing the most recent issues.

It has been my schlub-on-the-internet opinion that Jason needs to get back to punishing mistakes or it's never going to work. And shortening his swing wasn't likely to accomplish that. So I'm more hopeful that Chili Davis's career arc as a hitter is going to be compatible with Jason and he (Jason) is going to get better at using his power.
   90. Zonk just has affection for alumni Posted: January 15, 2018 at 12:59 PM (#5606650)
I've completely given up on Heyward's bat ever being useful again.... at least while he's a Cub.

That way, if events ever prove otherwise - it will be a nice bonus surprise.
   91. Walt Davis Posted: January 15, 2018 at 05:05 PM (#5606861)
I agree that as long as Q gives us what we expect, that's a fine trade. But he's a pitcher so there's always a good chance he won't (see the Cole thread). And if Eloy goes Judge on us (you never know), it's always gonna look silly ... see Dunston vs. Gooden. But, yes, the embarrassment potential is much higher with Torres ... but the flag is flying and even if given the chance, ain't no way I'm pulling on any thread in that tapestry.

Heyward -- I'm in the given up, surprise me category as well. But as I've mentioned before ... and kinda in line with my psychological speculations above ... I think part of his problem has been being too obsessed with his mechanics. There is no "old" Heyward, he basically changed his approach (or at least the composition of his offense) almost every year. I think Chipper getting on his case about making contact and going up the middle more only fed his own obsession and was counter-productive. But of course I have no evidence, it's just gut feeling.

Age 20: started great but they found a hole in his swing and he struggled. Also way too high G/F.

Age 21: actually a mirror image of his age 20, including the high G/F, except his BABIP plummeted by 80 points taking his BA with it. Possibly over-reaction and he spent some time in the minors.

Age 22: Still reasonably steady -- K-rate up a bit, BB-rate down a bit, G/F much better, HR/FB still at 13%, BABIP back up to 315. Mostly just leave this guy alone and hope he gets the K/BB back to 20/12 instead of 23/9.

Age 23: Same OPS+ but very different profile. The K-rate is down to 16%, walk-rate back up ... but at the cost of some power (10% HR/FB).

Age 24: Same OPS+ but HRs are fascist (HR/FB now down to 5%). If you're not gonna hit HRs, now would be a good time for a high G/F but no ...

Age 25: Same OPS+ and pretty much the same except the high G/F is back, leading to a BABIP boost.

Age 26: Let's take the worst from column A, the worst from column B, the worst from column C but, hey, the K-rate is still nice and low.

Age 27: Let's double down on that and get the K-rate even lower at the cost of a few walks.

The guy with the 13% HR/FB rate and good BB rate was very useful and would have been better with a league average G/F (if the HR/FB rate maintained). The guy with the 7% HR/FB rate was probably never gonna be a good hitter but with a good BB rate and a high G/F rate he would probably put up a very good OBP. The guy with a 7% HR/FB and a league average G/F is a mess unless maybe he's Tony Gwynn.

So my genius batting coach advice is "stop thinking about it and just swing the f'ing bat." Could it really get any worse?
   92. Zonk just has affection for alumni Posted: January 15, 2018 at 05:27 PM (#5606886)
So my genius batting coach advice is "stop thinking about it and just swing the f'ing bat." Could it really get any worse?


The only other option left is corporal punishment...

On the Pirates fire sale -

Ordinarily, I'd say "good! at least it's 19 games that suddenly get easier"... but selective memory, I'm sure - my recollection is that the Cubs seem to pretty much own the Pirates when the Pirates are good, but have always seemed to struggle with them when they are bad.

...and yes - I'm hoping somebody will look up and report just to say "No, Zonk - you're wrong..."
   93. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 15, 2018 at 05:45 PM (#5606903)
I'm hoping somebody will look up and report just to say "No, Zonk - you're wrong..."

How about "No, Zonk, I'm not going to bother looking it up because there can't be any causal relationship there even if it is true?"
   94. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 16, 2018 at 09:52 AM (#5607141)
Cain: I've been kinda thinking he might fall to the Cubs in a fashion similar to Fowler. We'd still have to give up that lower-round pick but there's a price at which it even makes sense to take him for one year on a make-good contract that would also get him out from under the QO (under the new rules). Cain (short or longer-term) becomes more attractive if somebody will eat a bit of Zobrist's contract.

I don't think Zobrist's contract is any sort of hindrance (2/$29 left, and next year is only $12.5mil). Similarly, I would expect a little bit of a bounceback from Zobrist this year anyway so even if he's overpaid he's shouldn't hurt as much. He had a bad wrist almost all last year, and I think he will benefit from more time off this year (I guess I can't say with any certainty that Maddon won't consider him a starter anymore and play him as much, but I'd like to think that's what's going to happen and he'll just mix and match in across various positions and settle in around 400-450PAs).

Signing Cain means they can free up ABs by trading Happ or Almora for pitching, and still leaves Zobrist as 4th OF/utiliy role that he'd probably excel at this year. I don't think that's my preferred route though.
   95. Zonk just has affection for alumni Posted: January 16, 2018 at 10:55 AM (#5607180)
How about "No, Zonk, I'm not going to bother looking it up because there can't be any causal relationship there even if it is true?"


Just for that, I am going to look it up*...

It mainly occurred to me because I do remember that the 1984 Pirates (75-87) were the only team against which the Cubs (96-65) had a losing record: 8-10.

Years during which the Cubs were good and the Pirates were bad (+/- .500) - the Cubs winning percentage vs the Pirates was only .507 (overall .568)

Years during which the Cubs were bad and the Pirates were good (same above) - the Cubs winning percentage vs the Pirates is actually .503 (overall .460)

Years during which both teams were bad - the Cubs winning percentage against the Pirates is .491 (overall Cubs .437)

Years during which both teams were good - the Cubs winning percentage against the Pirates is .480 (overall Cubs .571)

*I may not have looked it up and not all of these numbers may be accurate.
   96. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 17, 2018 at 08:36 AM (#5607841)
I don't have ESPN Insider anymore, but the ZIPS projection for Darvish in Wrigley from this article are pretty nice: 13-7, 3.27 ERA, 168 IP, 141 H, 19 HRs, 54 BB, 204 K's, 3.9 WAR, 133 ERA+
   97. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 17, 2018 at 10:00 AM (#5607887)
Ken Rosenthal @Ken_Rosenthal

Source confirms: #Cubs in agreement with free-agent LH reliever Brian Duensing on two-year, $7M deal. First reported: @JonHeyman.


As much as I wanted to dislike him last year, he was pretty good, and that's basically a pocket change deal for the Cubs. It's more about the roster spot now, as he fills one of the TBD spots from the intro; if the Cubs make a deal with Grimm, he probably has to be the favorite for the last one and unless I'm wrong, the only guy with options left is Edwards. Outside of the relatively cheap deal Reed got, there wasn't another RP FA I clearly would have preferred the Cubs to sign here.

The other possibility is that this allows the Cubs to put Montgomery in the rotation as there's plenty of lefties in the pen (not that Wilson or Monty are LOOGYs), but it also means there's still even more room under the tax for a SP (add Duensing's $3.5mil and the around $2mil Grimm will get *, Cubs are right around $160mil).

*Didn't look like the Cubs and Grimm were far off in the arb numbers, but they didn't settle with him yet.
   98. Zonk just has affection for alumni Posted: January 17, 2018 at 10:22 AM (#5607906)
I don't understand why Reed went to Minny rather Wrigley (or why the Cubs didn't pursue him)... The Reed signing thread theorized that he was going to get to close - but I saw a Minny beat writer via rotoworld say that the Twins say the job is still Fernando Rodney's.

   99. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 18, 2018 at 08:08 AM (#5608590)
Nice little piece at FG about Duensing and how he improved against righties last year. I didn't mean to imply that he was only a LOOGY in my last post, though I do think of him a little that way in that in an ideal world he's the 3rd lefty option in high leverage spots (note that in that perfect world Justin Wilson is the Tigers version).

Cot's is updated with his contract, and including the Grimm estimate has the Cubs with $32.5mil under the tax. I imagine that the Cubs would like to try and avoid hitting that with the last SP signing so they have room at midseason for whatever type of upgrade they need to make. Seeing that makes me wonder about that rumored 4/$110mil offer to Jake, since that would put Cubs just $5mil from the tax and quite a bit less wiggle room.

Dammit, just sign a SP already.
   100. Spahn Insane Posted: January 18, 2018 at 09:35 AM (#5608614)
Flip.
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