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Friday, January 25, 2019

How Brad Brach’s addition changes the shape of the Cubs’ bullpen

It’s incredible to see the wide-reaching impact one move can make.

All the people crying for the Cubs to “JuSt MaKe A mOvE aLrEaDy!” were granted their wish with the deal for Brad Brach on Thursday afternoon.

Not only was it an actual move to shake the ice off the frozen offseason (especially from the Cubs’ perspective), but it also helped solidify the team’s greatest current weakness.

For the record, he turned the bullpen into an octagon.


QLE Posted: January 25, 2019 at 02:14 PM | 3 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: brad brach, bullpen, cubs

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   1. Walt Davis Posted: January 25, 2019 at 05:02 PM (#5808988)
Greatest current weakness? The Cubs pen last year was tied for the best in the NL last year by WAA (3.3) and the best by ERA (3.35). The only significant departure is Justin Wilson who had 55 IP and a 124 ERA+ and, for the moment at least, he was replaced by the return of Montgomery to the pen (a better, more versatile pitcher). We also lost the best 39 innings of Jesse Chavez's career but we were gonna lose those anyway in all likelihood. The only questions were "how many innings do we get out of Morrow?" (just 31 last year so not that big of a risk) and "will Kintzler bounce back to be at least decent?" If your 2nd biggest concern is the state of your #6 reliever, the pen is not really a problem.

That said, perfectly fine reliever -- durable by today's standards, solid ERA+, it's just 1/$4.4. Slots in fine as a 6th-7th inning guy.

“JuSt MaKe A mOvE aLrEaDy!” were granted their wish

While beggars can't be choosers, this is not what we had in mind.
   2. Walt Davis Posted: January 25, 2019 at 05:17 PM (#5808995)
This brings the Cubs to $37-40 M on their top 7 relievers (and Duensing!) depending on how you want to count Morrow's option. Plus we have Chatwood hanging around at 2/$26 and nowehere to put him except in Duensing's spot. No (intended opening day) Cub reliever is being paid the minimum. Brach really is an odd luxury.

Not that $40 M seems out of place if you're running a $200 M payroll. Pen will pitch about 40% of the innings, pitching will eat up about 40% of the payroll so $40 M is about right. Pitching currently eats up a lot more of the Cubs payroll but that's cuz the position players are still so young and cheap.

Anway, the Cubs approach to the pen the last few years has been "veterans all the way down." Although there will be plenty of shuttling, the AAA/waiver churn really isn't part of the Cubs' strategy. They might well be better off spending some of that $40 M on a top closer or some $9 M per set-up guys and punting the last couple of spots but it's pretty clear they don't like that approach (at least given what's been available).
   3. Howie Menckel Posted: January 25, 2019 at 05:22 PM (#5808996)
Justin Wilson to the Mets. awaiting word on what the shape of the team's bullpen will become now.

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