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Monday, September 30, 2019


Even though I was one of the people saying the Cubs should move on from Maddon, now that it’s official I find myself second-guessing how strongly I thought it was the right move.  Obviously, my opinion doesn’t matter at all and this would be the reality regardless of how I felt, but now I feel much less sure that it was the right move.  Maybe I’m just being nostalgic for how great those 5 years were.  I always bristled at the general (or non-Cubs) fan who said keeping Maddon was a no-brainer because of how good the Cubs have been under him and the fact that the next manager is likely to be, at best, less accomplished, and at worst, clearly inferior.  Regardless, I still will always have fond memories of the Maddon era, and not just the absolute highs of 2015-2016.  The 2nd half of 2017 and the NLDS against the Nats were also great, and there are plenty of guys who likely wouldn’t be who they are without him as a coach (mainly Javy; a lesser or more insecure manager would have tried to change Javy in a lot of ways that would make him less fun and likely not nearly as good). 

However, all good things end, and so now the question is who’s next.  I really have a hard time understanding why David Ross is such a wide-spread favorite - I mean, I “get” how popular he was (though honestly, I really don’t understand the why of that either), plus the Cubs have given him tons of free PR.  Maybe there’s a scenario where he is the best choice, but I’ll have a hard accepting it initially unless the Cubs are a lot more open in their interview process than I expect them to be.  I feel like Joe Girardi has not so quietly been publicly campaigning for this year since the Yankees fired him, and I don’t think I’d have much of a problem with him.  If the Cubs really are serious that the team needs some sort of culture change, it probably rules out “future managers” like Will Venable and Mark Loretta, though I the Cubs have been grooming both to be candidates.  There probably is a lot to be said for targeting a coach from outside the org, especially if they’re coming from one of the teams that have been successful lately (meaning, someone from the Astros, Dodgers, or Red Sox).  I have to think at least Tommy Hottovoy is safe - the Cubs have plenty of precedent in keeping pitching coaches across managers - and maybe even the hitting staff is safe too (if only because they’ve changed guys there every year for 3 years now).  Maybe that ends up ruling out Girardi and has them leaning towards a first time guy.  I’d absolutely love Francona, if the Indians decided they needed a change, too. 

Sometime in the next month or so, maybe I’ll be ready to do some sort of season recap, but I’m not there yet, plus they’re likely to hire a new manager well before any player moves start happening.  In the meantime, any rumors I see I’ll be sure to post here.  If nothing else, it’s time to move on from that cursed thread.

Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 30, 2019 at 09:21 AM | 131 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   101. Zonk Has Two Faces, Both Laughing Posted: November 14, 2019 at 02:23 PM (#5901166)
Given my complaints about Cub drafting under Theo - I heartily endorse ANY outside personnel brought in to fix things... I think random phone book names could do as well :-)

Assuming above means 2012 to 2014 Cardinal drafts - those were pretty solid drafts... some of the guys ultimately flopped; but there are a fair number of post 1st round guys who were relatively well-thought of prospects.... at least well regarded enough to be trade chits of value.

Fun fact - one of those 2012 draftees was Rowan Wick... though - he was drafted as a catcher (moved to the mound in 2015).
   102. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 15, 2019 at 11:51 AM (#5901425)
Dan Szymborski's 2019 postmortem on the Cubs. I think he's got it pretty much right, aside from the now-standard-Fangraphs prescription of "THEY MUST SPEND A LOT OF MONEY ON FREE AGENTS!!!"
   103. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 15, 2019 at 12:18 PM (#5901438)
Yeah, it's a fine line to thread when talking about the Cubs and spending and I don't think anyone really consistently does a good job with it. On the one hand, the Cubs were one of 3 teams to pay the luxury tax last year (BOS/NYY) and Cot's puts the final tax payroll at ~$240mil. The Cubs tax payroll was only $193mil in 2018 (under the tax line), so even though they didn't spend big in FA (just Kimbrel during the year) they did spend quite a bit more this year. On the other hand, you have Ricketts saying dumb #### like "they're out of money" and everyone always talks about budget "constraints" - which although real, are self-imposed and do contract a lot of the talk during the rebuild/own network stuff*, not to mention how much more money the Cubs are absolutely making now as opposed to when the Ricketts took over.

On another hand, the Cubs have some pretty obvious needs that do line up with significant FAs; the farm is still relatively weak so it's certainly "easier" to fix holes by throwing money at it. On yet a different hand, the Cubs current FO's record in FA is mixed at best, especially at the high end. So I get the idea of saying the easiest way for them to improve next year is to spending even more money, but also acknowledge the context of how much they're already spending.**

*I have yet to see a single writer acknowledge the complete 180 when talking about spending under the new network. I've posted about it before, but they said just last offseason the new network would have an immediate impact on payroll; now, they're saying it may never have that impact. Things change, sure, but this is pretty extreme.
**Cot's puts the Cubs current tax payroll, including projected arb awards at $187.4mil, so the Cubs will definitely be spending more this year in FA/trades than last, if only to fill out the roster.
   104. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 15, 2019 at 12:27 PM (#5901442)
Oh, and Mike Napoli is the new QA coach. And Mooney confirms the Cubs are looking into Shogo Akiyama.
   105. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 15, 2019 at 12:31 PM (#5901445)
On yet a different hand, the Cubs current FO's record in FA is mixed at best, especially at the high end.
Exactly. Fangraphs largely lives in an ideologically-driven fantasy world where teams have unlimited budgets and should sign veteran FAs to righteously lavish early-2000s contracts. But, whether they think it's legitimate or not, the approach is never (again) going to be "Well, the big-money players we've signed already are working out pretty horribly, so we'll just spend a bunch more money on other aging FAs and hope to make up for it!" Plus, as you note, the homegrown core is already getting expensive. The fix here, to the extent it's even possible, is in player development.
   106. Quaker Posted: November 15, 2019 at 12:57 PM (#5901452)
Does Contreras for Merrifield make sense?

Think the Athletic said Merrifield might cost one IF and OF but didn't mention who.
   107. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 15, 2019 at 01:05 PM (#5901453)
Wittenmeyer is saying the Cubs and Javy are negotiating an extension. He's been the guy people have speculated would be the most likely to be locked up. I sure hope it happens.
   108. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 15, 2019 at 01:06 PM (#5901454)
Merrifield is a guy who makes a ton of sense for the Cubs - and has for a while; I don't know if Contreras makes as much sense for the Royals though.
   109. Quaker Posted: November 15, 2019 at 02:13 PM (#5901481)
Perez still has two more years and hadn't been as bad as I thought prior to missing 2019.
   110. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 15, 2019 at 03:00 PM (#5901500)
Perez has a lot of wear and tear on his body - maybe a C/1B/OF timeshare between him and Contreras? The Royals don't have anyone at 1B, do they?
   111. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: November 15, 2019 at 04:22 PM (#5901526)
It maybe makes sense that an AL would get more value out of Contreras since he could get a day off from catching but keep his bat in the lineup. OTOH, the Royals are an unsually poor fit in this regard because they already have a nearly full time right handed hitting DH.
   112. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 15, 2019 at 04:29 PM (#5901531)
In addition, I think Contreras would have less value to a team further away from contention; he could very well reach FA before the Royals are in playoff contention again (it's a similar reason the Royals would consider dealing someone like Merrifield in the first place).

That's not to say the Cubs couldn't both trade away Contreras and trade for Merrifield, just in separate deals.

   113. Walt Davis Posted: November 18, 2019 at 05:14 PM (#5902142)
Yeah, surely the Royals would only trade Merrifield for a bunch of prospects. Otherwise, he's good and fairly cheap so if they think they can compete over the next few years, don't trade him. They will need a Perez replacement in a couple of years so I could see Amaya being part of a deal -- Hoerner and Amaya might actually get it done. Trading Willson elsewhere for prospects then shipping those and Amaya to the Royals might work. Hoerner looked better than I expected and maybe he's ready to take over 2B in which case we need to focus on a CF (which Merrifield might be able to handle).

Not much to say on Dan's elegy. He could have been harsher on a few things, cheerier about others. His early Darvish projection is encouraging. And while I understand "spend, spend, spend" can't always be the answer, there are too many holes to fill from within or through trade. Or at least likely -- I suppose Happ or Almora could suddenly turn into the players we thought they might be, Hoerner already mentioned. But as we stand right now for 2020, no CF, no 2B, no 5th starter and I'm not sure there's a single reliever we can have faith in -- Kimbrel, Wick, Ryan could be pretty good or a big problem and that still leaves 2-3 key spots to fill. And of course it's not like LF and RF are manned by titans of the game.

What we really need to do is rip off the next Marlins for the next Yelich or the next O's for the next Arrieta. I suspect Cherington is too sharp but I'd certainly give him a call about Marte.

   114. Walt Davis Posted: November 18, 2019 at 10:35 PM (#5902207)
For mild clarity -- Hoerner, Bote, Happ is probably enough "could be good enough" 2B coverage that it should be the bottom of the priority list but I'm not opposed to a really good one falling into their laps anyway.
   115. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 20, 2019 at 08:41 PM (#5902829)
Cubs have added C Miguel Amaya, RHP Tyson Miller, RHP Manuel Rodriguez and INF Zack Short to the 40-man roster, which now stands at 36.

Rodriguez is only in A ball, so they must know something.
   116. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 22, 2019 at 10:23 AM (#5903126)
Callis on the Cubs farm system.


Eno Sarris on Akiyama and projecting him (plus the link to this profile). That 2nd link seems a little down on his CF defense, but Sarris's projections are pretty nice (.306/.373/.433). Cubs could keep Almora around as a platoon partner/defensive replacement for him.


It's nice to see the Brewers lose Grandal, regardless of how his contract eventually turns out.
   117. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 22, 2019 at 11:04 AM (#5903139)
Jayson Stark @jaysonst

Aside from Gerrit Cole, I'm not sure there's a more coveted FA starter right now than Cole Hamels.

His agent, John Boggs, told me they're now up to 14 teams that have checked in on Hamels.

Boggs wouldn't discuss teams or terms. But ... (continued)

Jayson Stark @jaysonst

Teams that have talked to him say he's seeking a 1-year, Donaldson-esque deal at a high AAV or a 2-year deal north of JA Happ (2 years, $34M). Also open to 3 years at a lower AAV.

Hamels has been linked to Phil & SD. But logical fits include Min, Angels, StL, Atl, Mil, Hou, etc

I still wonder if he would have accepted the QO. I'm sure he's getting more attention not having the draft pick compensation attached.
   118. Zonk Has Two Faces, Both Laughing Posted: November 22, 2019 at 12:18 PM (#5903160)
I think Hamels would have accepted the QO.... Don't forget - his 2nd half was pretty poor. At the ASB, I thinking he was a no doubter, but by the time the choice had to be made, I think the Cubs made the right choice.

On Manuel Rodriguez/other adds -

He's only in high A, yes - but he's also 23 (he was a fairly late signing out of Mexico). He's supposedly got a MLB-ready fastball that sits in the 95-98 range with good movement. He had a bit of a sheen when the Cubs signed - but collapsed in 2018 when he started walking the world. He recovered nicely in 2019. I very much suspect that someone like Baltimore or Detroit would have picked him just for purposes of a cheap live arm lottery ticket for the bullpen (FWIW, he's strictly a reliever).

Amaya isn't MLB ready, but he's a premium prospect - so protecting him was/is a no brainer.

Tyson Miller hit a wall (and then some) when he moved to Iowa from AA, but he's probably the top Cub rotation prospect behind Alzolay, so he was inevitable, too.

Zack Short is basically a David Bote clone, except he can play SS full-time.

One surprise left off is Dakota Mekkes... He's a really big guy with a somewhat tough motion to track - one of those big pitchers who feels like he's releasing the ball a lot closer to you, the hitter, than he is. He's always had control problems, though... and while his movement is supposedly pretty good, his velocity is nothing special (low 90s). Anyway, he was/is probably ticketed as a AAA-MLB shuttle guy for the bullpen. My guess is that his upside really isn't enough that anyone will bother with him...

Beyond that... especially if the Cubs are looking to trade Contreras - there's at least one catcher (Jhonny Pereda - no that name is not misspelling) I'm surprised they aren't protecting. Pereda grades out as a glove-first backup C, so it's not like he'd be a huge loss (I think he'll be a 6 year FA after next year anyway). PJ Higgins is another C some folks thought the Cubs would protect (he can also play various IF positions). Oscar de la Cruz was once a high profile INTL arm -- but he got a PED suspension, so his stock has fallen considerably....

My guy Trevor Clifton also exposed...
   119. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 22, 2019 at 04:11 PM (#5903273)
Callis on Rodriguez:
Manuel Rodriguez, RHP, Cubs
Purchased from the Mexican League's Yucatan Lions for $400,000 in July 2016, Rodriguez has yet to pitch above Class A Advanced. But Chicago didn't want to risk losing him after he used a 94-98 mph fastball with crazy armside run and a power curveball to strike out 29 of the last 72 batters (40 percent) he faced this season.

BN wrote about him too:
But Rodriguez reminds that in the Rule 5 process, stuff reigns supreme, and he absolutely possesses real prospect stuff. While I would have leaned towards the greater certainty that Dakota Mekkes offers, it’s undeniable that Rodriguez offers an upside not matched by many other relievers in the system.

He will head to Double-A Tennessee to begin the 2020 season, and hopefully he will finally get some batted ball luck to allow the results to match the stuff. The Cubs front office clearly had reason to believe that if they didn’t roster Manny that another team might poach him, and with plenty of 40-man space, they didn’t want to let it happen.

Obviously there's a chance he's in the pen at some point next year.
   120. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: December 02, 2019 at 06:58 PM (#5905038)
Can confirm that the Cubs have avoided arb with RHP Jarel Cotton via a 1-year, $640K non-guaranteed contract. He was just over the Super Two eligibility line. Has a Minor League option.

Worth a shot, low risk.

Cubs non-tender Addison Russell and Danny Hultzen.

Wonder if they try to resign Hultzen to a minor league deal. Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out, Addison.

They've also tendered six arb eligible players: Almora, Baez, Bryant, Contreras, Schwarber and Kyle Ryan. Along with Russell being non-tendered, Danny Hultzen was too. 40-man at 36
   121. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: December 03, 2019 at 10:46 AM (#5905173)
“We decided to non-tender Addison Russell today simply because the role we expected him to play for the 2020 Cubs was inconsistent with how he would have been treated in the salary arbitration process,” Epstein said in Monday’s statement released by the Cubs. “In the year since we decided to tender Addison a contract last November, he has lived up to his promise to put in the important self-improvement work necessary off the field and has shown growth as a person, as a partner, as a parent and as a citizen. We hope and believe that Addison’s work and growth will continue, and we have offered our continued support of him and his family, including Melisa.”

I find it a little interesting that Theo goes out of his way to say he's being released because he'd be overpaid. On the one hand, I think it's probably coming from a good place that the Cubs have been publicly consistent with their, let's call it character rehab process with Russell. That is not to say the Cubs handled it perfectly - Maddon of course did the worst job of all - but I think they've been much more open with some of the "expectations" they had for him, and most of all, they consistently acknowledged the victim and tried to appear supportive of her*. On the other hand, I'm extremely cynical and think a lot of that character rehab was PR; they kept him when they thought he could help them win and they're cutting him now because he's not good enough to be worth the bad PR.

*Although, honestly, a part of me wonders if she really enjoys the Cubs mentioning her anytime they talked about her ex.
   122. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: December 03, 2019 at 10:47 AM (#5905175)

The Chicago Cubs have been, according to various executives, "aggressive," "manic," "motivated" and "obvious" in their desire to trade someone. Or someones. The Cubs are going to make a move. They're just not sure what yet.

Contreras is the name bandied about the most, partially because at $5 million or so as a first-time arbitration-eligible player, he's cheap and comes with three full years of control. Bryant, who turns 28 in January, is only four months older than Contreras but could cost quadruple the amount as a third-time-eligible player.

Because Bryant is so costly -- and because there's a risk, albeit slight, that an arbitrator could rule in his favor that the Cubs manipulated his service time and award him an extra day of service, giving him free agency after this season -- teams are hesitant on him. And that complicates matters, because a former MVP going on the trade market for a team with aspirations to win in 2020 is as weird as it sounds. It's simply the calculus these days, in which the balance between now and next is ever-harder to strike.

It's why Rizzo's name comes up in discussions. He seems untradable. The likelihood of the Cubs moving him certainly is lower than the others. But even he could move in this climate.

The Cubs know they need to be creative. They also know the first move they make is perhaps the most important and will set the tone for their winter.
   123. Red Voodooin Posted: December 03, 2019 at 06:06 PM (#5905384)
Chicago is "still pursuing" free-agent outfielder Nicholas Castellanos, according to's Jon Paul Morosi.
   124. Zonk Has Two Faces, Both Laughing Posted: December 03, 2019 at 06:46 PM (#5905396)
The Chicago Cubs have been, according to various executives, "aggressive," "manic," "motivated" and "obvious" in their desire to trade someone. Or someones. The Cubs are going to make a move. They're just not sure what yet.

Sounds like all the ingredients needed for a disaster recipe to me!

Jeebus, this is like me at every roto trade deadline where I'm not totally out of the money but clearly not the favorite to win the league... and it's also how I end up doing stupid things like trading for late era Eric Milton...
   125. Red Voodooin Posted: December 04, 2019 at 04:32 PM (#5905690)
Couple ex-Cubs signed contracts today:

Reliever Carl Edwards Jr. and the Seattle Mariners finalized a one-year contract on Wednesday with a $950,000 guaranteed salary.

Left-hander Cole Hamels signed a one-year, $18 million contract with the Atlanta Braves, the team announced Wednesday.

Hamels signed for pretty much precisely what the qualifying offer would have been had the Cubs extended one.
   126. Zonk Has Two Faces, Both Laughing Posted: December 04, 2019 at 04:47 PM (#5905698)
Mentioned it in the Wheeler thread -- but I'm not so sure that A)Hamels doesn't take the QO and B)he signs at least as quickly if he also cost a pick...

   127. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: December 04, 2019 at 05:16 PM (#5905704)
When it was rumored he might be after 2/$40, it was probably likely he would have declined so that's when I wondered if the Cubs f'ed up by not offering. Considering he signed for this, he probably would have accepted - if he had signed for this but it took until February, I'd say he would have declined. So while it's just money, I don't think I hold it against the Cubs for not making the offer.
   128. Zonk Has Two Faces, Both Laughing Posted: December 04, 2019 at 05:41 PM (#5905715)
Oh, me neither... Plus - the fact is that the QO comp pick would have been a sandwich round between 4 and 5.... so - figuring in the other comp round, we're probably talking about something like a ~150th overall pick.

Now... there's certainly value to that.... but my views on the Cubs post-1st round performance clear (new drafting regime though) and it probably wasn't worth the risk regardless.

I'm mainly just backing off my "totally right call not to offer" in favor of a more lukewarm "meh, maybe it would have worked out..."
   129. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: December 04, 2019 at 05:55 PM (#5905719)
Fair enough, I'm the opposite. I was wishy-washy before, now I'm pretty comfortable with them not offering.
   130. Red Voodooin Posted: December 04, 2019 at 09:03 PM (#5905753)
You don't offer a guy a QO in hopes he turns it down so you can get a pick, you offer it if you think they guy is worth the $18 million it would cost when he accepts (and if you can afford it all things considered). Clearly his market value was the QO, but I guess the Cubs have other ideas about what they will do about that missing 5th starter.
   131. Zonk Has Two Faces, Both Laughing Posted: December 05, 2019 at 12:50 PM (#5905936)
Sure you do - teams do it all the time.

Of course, you have to do the calculus of not being screwed IF he accepts...

But - the Giants probably preferred the pick over Will Smith back at 18m... Worked out for them.

The Dodgers last offseason would have preferred Ryu walk... it's why they then traded Alex Wood - but obviously, that all worked out gloriously for them.

The Phillies a few years back with Jeremy Hellickson were very much interested in trading him at the deadline, couldn't find a taker with prospects, figured they'd pocket the pick... but he accepted and then turned to worthless dust.

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