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Friday, December 11, 2015

IT’S THE CUBS’ WORLD NOW

Not to spoil the ending, but:

But the Cardinals aren’t doomed. They still have a solid lineup, a solid rotation and a solid bullpen, and you’d have to think they’ll add somebody. But for years, some fans have claimed, wrongly, that Cardinals-Cubs isn’t a real rivalry because the Cards have always been so much better than the Cubs. This, not coincidentally, is the same thing Yankees fans used to say about the Red Sox, before Epstein took over there as well. Now, some have said, in the wake of the Cubs’ signing of Heyward, that this ratchets up the rivalry.

But if anything, I believe it dampens it. Even before Friday, the Cubs were a better team than the Cardinals in just about every way. Now that the Cubs took the Cardinals’ best player, the gap between these teams have widened. If anyone needs to prove this is a rivalry, it’s the fading Cardinals.

Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: December 11, 2015 at 04:22 PM | 99 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: best fans in baseball, cardinals, cubs, free agents, theo epstein

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   1. Man o' Schwar Posted: December 11, 2015 at 05:53 PM (#5112965)
I feel like I've been here before, and I just keep waiting to see how it's going to fall apart. Will it be like 1985, when 4/5 of the starting rotation ended up on the DL almost simultaneously? Will it be like 1990, when the young kids all regressed and stopped performing? Or will it be like 2004, when the manager/team went batshit crazy paranoid and collapsed down the stretch?

I hope it's none of the above. I'm as excited for the 2016 team as I have been for any team in my lifetime - and not just 2016, but the potential for what the rest of this decade could be like. But that hope is always tempered with skepticism.
   2. Itchy Row Posted: December 11, 2015 at 05:55 PM (#5112967)
They'll win 112 games and get swept by the wild card team in the first round.
   3. McCoy Posted: December 11, 2015 at 05:59 PM (#5112972)
Arrieta gets hurt next year. book it.
   4. Rennie's Tenet Posted: December 11, 2015 at 05:59 PM (#5112973)
Well, it's inevitable that the Cubs will win the National League and the World Series in 2016. No other outcome is possible.
   5. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 11, 2015 at 06:05 PM (#5112976)
The 2015 Cardinals weren't as much a miracle as a great deep team, beset by injuries, that still somehow pulled off 100 wins. I think usually a team that good with that many challenges comes well short of that, but it's mostly a testament to the quality and depth of their roster that they were that good.

That depth is still there. I am not at all sure that the Cubs project better than the Cardinals in 2016. I am pleased to be this close though, and hope to leave them in the dust.
   6. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 11, 2015 at 06:07 PM (#5112977)
McCoy: embracing that turd in the punch bowl role.
   7. bbmck Posted: December 11, 2015 at 06:09 PM (#5112979)
"Turns out, the obviously superior team took the best position player and the best pitcher from the inferior team it just walloped for the whole world to see … and it put those guys on its team."

Player              WAR ERA+  WHIP OPS+   Age    IP
Adam Wainwright    13.1  142 1.049   72 31
-33 496.2
John Lackey         9.4  119 1.216   94 34
-36 605.1
Lance Lynn          9.0  115 1.312   95 26
-28 580.2
Trevor Rosenthal    4.9  143 1.255   78 23
-25 214.1
Jaime Garcia        4.5  127 1.111   79 26
-28 228.2 


Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 12/11/2015.

So who did the Cubs trade to get Wainwright?
   8. Walt Davis Posted: December 11, 2015 at 06:13 PM (#5112980)
Hold on now, let's wait a bit before we anoint ourselves WS champions. (If MLB wants to anoint us WS champs now, that would be fine.) The Cubs still have plenty of holes and question marks, they just have fewer of them than most other teams. For example, we're just an Arrieta injury (or Arrieta return to human) away from a pretty blah rotation.

Lackey is an improvement over last year's rotation ... but even if Arrieta is a 6-WAR pitcher, all we do is break even. Lackey's also 37 and hardly a guarantee to even be good. Zobrist is 34 and might already be in steep decline. Schwarber's future is somewhere between a poor-fielding Rob Deer and Jim Thome. There are a lot of ways this can go pear-shaped.

On Cubs-Card vs. Yanks-Red Sox, the main difference is that the Cubs should be able to outspend the Cards by a wide margin. We should have been the big bully for the last 30 years. The Sox under Theo both built through a good farm system and some shrewd pick-ups that worked out really well (Ortiz) but they also greatly boosted their spending -- not to Yanks level of course but I'm pretty sure they were always #2 or #3 in the AL during that run.

The Cubs may finally be boosting their spending to the sort of dominating levels it should have been all along (with proper management on the fiscal side). I don't think they can keep pace with Yanks-Dodgers but should be up there with the Red Sox, Angels, Phillies, etc. for the #3 spot. They don't have Heyward yet but, per Cots, 2016 guaranteed payroll is around $130-135 right now with major arb awards coming to Arrieta, Wood, Rondon, Strop and Coghlan so they should be pushing $160 plus incidentals. About damn time. (Adjusted for baseball inflation, that is probably still less than 2010's $144 but it's substantial progress.) Cards will probably be around $140, assuming they sign Gordon.
   9. McCoy Posted: December 11, 2015 at 06:15 PM (#5112981)
McCoy: embracing that turd in the punch bowl role.

Yes by all means single me out out of the first 4 doomsaying posts.
   10. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: December 11, 2015 at 06:15 PM (#5112982)
First off, this was written by a Cards fan. Second, last year Lackey was arguably the Cards' best pitcher.

I figured there'd be plenty of serious analysis pieces posted, a good ol' fan rivalry should be a little less serious.

Where's cfb when you need him?
   11. Dan The Mediocre is one of "the rest" Posted: December 11, 2015 at 06:16 PM (#5112983)
Lackey is an improvement over last year's rotation ... but even if Arrieta is a 6-WAR pitcher, all we do is break even. Lackey's also 37 and hardly a guarantee to even be good. Zobrist is 34 and might already be in steep decline. Schwarber's future is somewhere between a poor-fielding Rob Deer and Jim Thome. There are a lot of ways this can go pear-shaped.


I think it's more likely than not that the Cubs win fewer games than last season. They were lucky in a ton of ways, and they could be a better team but have average luck and it will look like they got worse.
   12. Commissioner Bud Black Beltre Hillman Fred Posted: December 11, 2015 at 06:18 PM (#5112984)
So who did the Cubs trade to get Wainwright?
Haha, good one! That idiot Leitch must not know much about the Cardinals to make a stupid mistake like that huh?
   13. McCoy Posted: December 11, 2015 at 06:20 PM (#5112985)
As it stands now I would peg the Cubs at 90 to 95 wins and in the running for best team in the division. I mentioned it elsewhere but it isn't like the Cards and Pirates have vanished. Cards lose Heyward but probably pick up Gordon and possibly pick up Cueto as well. It is probably all going to come down to injuries and how well the various teams manage them that will decide the division.
   14. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: December 11, 2015 at 06:23 PM (#5112987)
Will it be like 1985, when 4/5 of the starting rotation ended up on the DL almost simultaneously? Will it be like 1990, when the young kids all regressed and stopped performing? Or will it be like 2004, when the manager/team went batshit crazy paranoid and collapsed down the stretch?


meh, this is shaping up to be the best looking Cubs team I've ever seen.

The 1984/89 Cubs were over performers, those team's true talent was closer to their 1985/1990 performances- and I'm a Met fan not a Cubs fan, so I've seen worse collapses than what the 2004 Cubs did.

THIS team OTOH looks like an effing turbo powered freight elevator going up.
   15. Textbook Editor Posted: December 11, 2015 at 06:29 PM (#5112990)
OK, so I'm not really a Twitter person, but could someone explain @BestFansStLouis to me? Is it like a parody account? Or one that just reposts tweets from Cardinal fans when they are nasty, etc.?

Thankfully Twitter wasn't around when Clemens left Boston for Toronto. My guess is the Twitter reaction in Boston would not have been kind.
   16. Darren Posted: December 11, 2015 at 06:40 PM (#5112995)
I'm not sure I'd be looking for even more pitching. Maybe see if I can use some of my prospects to get a good CF. Maybe Inciarte? Bradley? Gardner? Gamble on Ozuna?
   17. Man o' Schwar Posted: December 11, 2015 at 06:45 PM (#5112997)
The 1984/89 Cubs were over performers, those team's true talent was closer to their 1985/1990 performances-

People forget that that 1985 team was 35-19 through the first 1/3 of the season, before the injuries all happened. That's a 105-win pace (for as much as that's worth).

It was definitely an old team, such that it didn't take more than a cool breeze to blow them over, but it would have been interesting to see where they ended up if everyone had stayed healthy. The NL East was stacked that year, between the Mets and the Cardinals - even if the Cubs had kept it together, I'm not sure they would have finished higher than 3rd.
   18. bbmck Posted: December 11, 2015 at 07:07 PM (#5113009)
Cubs signed some washed up has been who rode 1.2 WHIP, .679 OPS allowed and Cardinal magic to the corner of Clark and Addison to collect his paycheck where dreams have gone to die for over a century. The Cards are keeping the far superior Jaime Garcia and his 1.05 WHIP, .574 OPS allowed who was in high school the 2nd last time Lackey had an excellent season by b-WAR or ERA+.

If this is a creative writing site let me know, I'm not all that good at it but I'll give it a try.
   19. Sit down, Sleepy has lots of stats Posted: December 11, 2015 at 07:20 PM (#5113014)
On Cubs-Card vs. Yanks-Red Sox, the main difference is that the Cubs should be able to outspend the Cards by a wide margin. We should have been the big bully for the last 30 years.
It's not really a difference; Theo is just putting on his Emperor Palpatine costume and twirling his mustache, instead of playing the underdog (with the second-highest payroll in baseball). You're the Evil Empire now.

Embrace it :)
   20. Joe Bivens, Slack Rumped Rutabaga Head Posted: December 11, 2015 at 07:32 PM (#5113021)
The season hasn't started yet and the Cards are fading?
   21. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 11, 2015 at 08:06 PM (#5113034)
Man this hubris is going to make it sweet if the Cubs fail.
   22. Commissioner Bud Black Beltre Hillman Fred Posted: December 11, 2015 at 08:36 PM (#5113044)
If this is a creative writing site let me know, I'm not all that good at it but I'll give it a try.
Nah you can stick to the facts (preferably in tabular fashion); like, Lackey posted 5.7 bWAR last year, top amongst Cardinals pitchers by a fair margin.
   23. McCoy Posted: December 11, 2015 at 08:43 PM (#5113049)
I don't see Lackey and Arrieta combining for over 14 WAR next year. I think you got to be happier than a clam in white sauce if the two of them manage more than 10. Maybe Hendricks improves a bit to 2.5 and Lester comes in at 3.5 and the Cubs cobble together 2.5 WAR out of their 5th spot. If all that happens you're basically in the same position win wise as you were in 2015. So that has to be comforting. The key for pitching of course has to be health and the key for hitting has to be development and maintaining, right? Do that and they are going to win a bunch of games.
   24. Spahn Insane Posted: December 11, 2015 at 08:52 PM (#5113055)
Whose "hubris" are you talking, snapper? As noted, a Cardinal fan wrote this piece. (Pointing out McCoy's turd in the punch bowl status doesn't count as "hubris" by any meaningful definition of the word.)
   25. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: December 11, 2015 at 08:53 PM (#5113056)
Man this hubris is going to make it sweet if the Cubs fail.


I don't see any here. This thread or site in general. But OK.
   26. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 11, 2015 at 09:00 PM (#5113058)

OK, so I'm not really a Twitter person, but could someone explain @BestFansStLouis to me? Is it like a parody account? Or one that just reposts tweets from Cardinal fans when they are nasty, etc.?


The latter.
   27. Walt Davis Posted: December 11, 2015 at 11:44 PM (#5113132)
Man this hubris is going to make it sweet if the Cubs fail.

See, this makes me happy. You had to say "if" not "when" -- that right there might mean this is the best Cub team of my lifetime (tall midges clearing low hurdles, etc.)
   28. TVerik - Dr. Velocity Posted: December 11, 2015 at 11:55 PM (#5113134)
I don't see Lackey and Arrieta combining for over 14 WAR next year. I think you got to be happier than a clam in white sauce if the two of them manage more than 10.


I'm not sure I catch the idiom. Clams are personally fulfilled in white sauce but not other sauces?
   29. zzz Posted: December 11, 2015 at 11:57 PM (#5113135)
How could you not be excited by this team?
   30. Spahn Insane Posted: December 12, 2015 at 12:13 AM (#5113138)
Moses: I don't see any here. This thread or site in general.

Of course not. Like the rest of the dead-ender caucus, snapper's tilting at windmills here.

Walt: See, this makes me happy. You had to say "if" not "when" -- that right there might mean this is the best Cub team of my lifetime (tall midges clearing low hurdles, etc.)

You're jesting in part, but this of course illustrates just how well the rebuild has gone to this point, and just how much its success has gotten under snapper's skin, whether it ultimately culminates in no World Series titles, or five of 'em. (That alone provides me a certain perverse pleasure, however things go from here on out.) The team arrived as a legitimate contender--indeed, among the very best teams in baseball--a year ahead of schedule, and looks to have improved itself since, and that just kills him and his sense of aesthetics.

Obviously nothing's guaranteed, and I concur with the Mediocre one's forecast that says the Cubs are likely to win fewer than 97 games next year, even if the team's better (of course, they could do that and still end up world champs); they may catch fewer breaks, and both the Cardinals and Pirates have a lot of talent and are run by people who know what they're doing. But while your points about the Cubs flaws and potential for regression in certain spots are fair enough, there's not a single team you couldn't say that about.

But the rebuild has already succeeded, and it rankles snapper no end. Good. Let him fill unfillable voids in his life through some other means.

Orange Julius:How could you not be excited by this team?

By being a curmudgeon. Or a turd in the punch bowl. I'm convinced by McCoy's comment re Arrieta getting hurt next year (acknowledging that same is a possibility, pitchers being pitchers and all) that he quite literally does not want the Cubs to succeed, because he's more interested in scoring points on an internet discussion board (or being "proven right") than he is in seeing his purported rooting interest win its first World Series in his great-grandparents lifetimes. It's ####### pathetic.


   31. Roger Cedeno's Spleen Posted: December 12, 2015 at 01:28 AM (#5113147)
It turns out that the forced move to the AL is the best thing that could have happened to the Astros.
The NL Central is going to be Hell on Earth for the next decade...
   32. Vertov Posted: December 12, 2015 at 03:34 AM (#5113154)
Gosh - I'm 55 years old. I remember '69. I'm not interested in snark, but I have to say I'm more excited in next year than, say, ever. What a collection of kids and acquisitions. I have to say that I think Theo is as good as a GM as there's ever been, (I know Jed). What a way to put together a ballclub. My 75 year old mother is pysched. Who knows how next year will end up, but I wouldn't be surprised if Wrigley isn't sold out for every game next year.
   33. McCoy Posted: December 12, 2015 at 07:39 AM (#5113160)
By being a curmudgeon. Or a turd in the punch bowl. I'm convinced by McCoy's comment re Arrieta getting hurt next year (acknowledging that same is a possibility, pitchers being pitchers and all) that he quite literally does not want the Cubs to succeed, because he's more interested in scoring points on an internet discussion board (or being "proven right") than he is in seeing his purported rooting interest win its first World Series in his great-grandparents lifetimes. It's ####### pathetic.

This is odd. The start of this thread was basically snark until a few over sensitive cub fans took exception to it. Snark aside I do think Arrieta will probably get hurt next year because like you I know pitchers get hurt and also he had a heavy workload and wore down at the end there. Sure that isn't scientific but I also later stated that I think the Cubs are going to get the same production out of the rotation as they did last year and that that is pretty good. But by all means continue with your own strawman narrative.

As for scoring points the points I'm scoring this offseason have made the Cubs a better team. So again have fun with your strawman narrative. Secondly the points of contention this offseason were about spending. With several people saying they couldn't afford it and several people saying it would hurt the future. Where are those people now? What do they have to say now? So far all I've heard is kudos to a plan that I backed and was derided for backing. So who is more interested in scoring points than seeing a good team?
   34. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: December 12, 2015 at 08:25 AM (#5113163)
Obviously nothing's guaranteed, and I concur with the Mediocre one's forecast that says the Cubs are likely to win fewer than 97 games next year

Yeah. They were 7 games over their pythag this year and extremely healthy. (Four starting pitchers made 30+ starts. And often times injuries to position players helped the club out - LaStella and Olt's early DL stints opened the door for Russell & Bryant. Montero's injury opened the door for Schwarber. And due to Maddon's positional merry-go-round, Soler's second DL stint opened up playing time for a suddenly revitalized Starlin Castro).

On paper, they look better in 2016. But I can't see them winning 97 games. My biggest fear is what McCoy posts in #3.

Sure is a fun off-season so far, though.
   35. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: December 12, 2015 at 09:34 AM (#5113179)
But I can't see them winning 97 games.


Really? You can't see a way that this team might win 97 games? That doesn't seem like a possibility at all?
   36. "RMc", the superbatsman Posted: December 12, 2015 at 09:57 AM (#5113184)
The Cubs will make their first World Series in 71 years...and then get swept by the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Nobody will know how or why the IronPigs will play in the Series, and if anyone asks they will be told, "Shut up, you racist!"
   37. Lassus Posted: December 12, 2015 at 09:57 AM (#5113185)
As a Yankee fan, snapper can't properly define hubris, much like a fish can't really define water.
   38. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: December 12, 2015 at 10:01 AM (#5113186)
Really? You can't see a way that this team might win 97 games? That doesn't seem like a possibility at all?

Sure. I can see a way it happens. I just doubt that will happen.
   39. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 12, 2015 at 10:18 AM (#5113190)
I'm guessing Dag meant "can't see them projected to win 97 games."

The 2015 team won 97, but they clearly had kismet and serendipity working for them. A team that projects to 97 is one that might win 108 if all of the cards fall for them; it's stocked from top to bottom and has solid Plan Bs for every eventuality. I guess the excitement I am feeling right now is that the Cubs are actually using the offseason to shore up the weaknesses on their 97-win team (which rightfully no one projected). This is something the Cubs mostly in the past have either not done at all, or done rather poorly. 2003 was an exception -- they added Derek Lee, Todd Walker, Michael Barrett and Greg Maddux in the off-season that year, which pushed them from an 85-win Pythagorean team to a 90-win Pythagorean; unfortunately this only translated to one additional real win and no postseason. Because the entire Cubs operation was built on a foundation of landfill, thing quickly fell apart after that.

Maybe this year the new additions will push the Cubs to a 95-win projection, moving from a 90-win Pythag to 95, and they win 97.
   40. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: December 12, 2015 at 10:20 AM (#5113191)

Sure. I can see a way it happens. I just doubt that will happen.


Okay, that makes more sense. I'm more sanguine on the team than that, but 97 does seem a little high for any team in today's game.
   41. BDC Posted: December 12, 2015 at 10:40 AM (#5113195)
I'm kinda bummed out that the Rangers draw the NL Central next year – and play both Chicago and St. Louis only on the road. The two interleague series I'm likely to be in town for in '16 are Rockies and Brewers.
   42. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: December 12, 2015 at 11:22 AM (#5113203)
   43. zzz Posted: December 12, 2015 at 12:42 PM (#5113229)
The Cubs have built a team that should win 90+ games into the forseeable future. A solid, growing young lineup topped by an ace and solid pitching behind him. Not to mention the mgmt of the place.

What more do you want from your favorite team?



I know.
   44. Walt Davis Posted: December 12, 2015 at 07:35 PM (#5113366)
I guess the excitement I am feeling right now is that the Cubs are actually using the offseason to shore up the weaknesses on their 97-win team

Well, the bullpen's not really been addressed at all yet. We're pretty much where we were last year -- a flotilla of decent 5th starter/bullpen options. That Hammel has dropped to #5 from #4 is a "step up" but then he looked worse in 2015 than we were expecting. Top 4 SP and top 2/3 RP are solid then it's Hammel/Wood/Cahill/Warren/Ramirez/Richard/Rosscup/fliers to fill out the rest which is not much different than Wood/Wada/Straily/Dubront/Turner/Ramirez/Motte/whoever else was around.

Not that this is a major problem it's just one that got exposed a bit in the playoffs. Still plenty of offseason left to add another top bullpen arm (preferably LHP) ... and I'm still at least half-expecting one more move ... suspect that one of Soler, Baez, Coghlan won't be on the team in 2016.

Anyway, a very scary lineup that's reminiscent of those classic Yankee lineups. Rizzo, Heyward, Bryant, Zobrist should project as 4 of the top 20-25 in OBP in the NL and only Russell and Baez are serious threats to finish below league average. Schwarber, Bryant and Rizzo (and Soler? Baez? Russell?) bring plenty of power to the table.

Some key questions for 2016:

Is Arrieta God, a very good pitcher or the greatest fluke in history?

Is Zobrist done as a 2B?

Can Lackey hold it together at ages 37-38?

How much does Russell improve as a hitter? If he does turn into Barry Larkin then holy crap that's a lineup!

Can Bryant refine his approach? Does his average defense maintain?

(As it stands now) can Heyward handle CF on a daily basis while remaining an elite defender and healthy?

Can Schwarber catch and how much risk are the Cubs willing to handle to find out? (The curse of being good 1-2 years earlier than expected)

Was 2015 the best year we'll see from Lester?
   45. Spahn Insane Posted: December 12, 2015 at 09:15 PM (#5113391)
44's a good summary of what questions exist for the Cubs (I can't know the answers to them for sure, of course, but the one for which I'm most confident the answer is "no" is the last one. I think it is extremely likely that Lester has at least one or two better years for the Cubs than he had last year, perhaps significantly better.). As for Schwarber's defense, yeah, I guess that is one downside of the team's arriving so quickly, isn't it--it really forces them to pick a path for Schwarber defensively, none of which are assured of particularly good outcomes. But man, that bat...
   46. Khrushin it bro Posted: December 13, 2015 at 12:25 AM (#5113426)
I'd be a bit worried about Russell staying healthy too.
   47. Walt Davis Posted: December 13, 2015 at 03:23 AM (#5113446)
I'd be a bit worried about Russell staying healthy too.

Good point but as long as we get the other parts of the Larkin comp, I can take it.
   48. McCoy Posted: December 13, 2015 at 06:27 AM (#5113453)
At this point we've got enough up the middle players within the organization that 120 or so Larkinesque games out of Russell will be okay. Heading into the offseason I was saying that with this lineup I would be fine with an offensive hole in center. Well, with Heyward on board that basically switches to any other spot you wish.
   49. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: December 13, 2015 at 08:18 AM (#5113460)
I'd be a bit worried about Russell staying healthy too.

I wonder about overall team health. As I noted in post #34 (and other places this off-season), the 2015 Cubs were remarkably fortunate in their injuries. That is unlikely to happen again.

That Hammel has dropped to #5 from #4 is a "step up" but then he looked worse in 2015 than we were expecting.

Random thing about Hammel: last year was the 5th time he topped 170 IP in a season. He has never thrown 178 IP.

Was 2015 the best year we'll see from Lester?

I really doubt that. Among other things, by FIP he the 15th best pitcher in baseball last year (out of 126 who qualified for the ERA title**). But his ERA was 0.42 higher than his FIP (2.92 vs 3.34). Throughout his career, his FIP and ERA normally line up well, so it reads as a blip. For the record, of the 126 guys who qualified for the ERA title**, Lester had the 97th worst difference between his FIP and ERA.

**Wait, no. I clicked on qualifying for the league W-L % leader title instead. Ah well.

Also: B-ref now has FIP. Is this new or am I just slow?

Looking more into FIP... you know who FIP really expects to be better in 2016? Kyle Hendricks. 3.95 ERA but a 3.36 FIP. Only 19 guys had a differential worse than his 0.59.

At the other end, Lackey & Arrieta should both due worse by FIP. Lackey's ERA of 2.77 was far lower than his 3.57 FIP. Arrieta: 2.35 FIP w/ his 1.77 ERA. Well, yeah - no one really expects Arrieta to be that good. And I don't think anyone thinks Lackey will have a 2.77 ERA again. But it's nice to see good news for Hendricks on this front.
   50. McCoy Posted: December 13, 2015 at 08:26 AM (#5113461)
I don't think we were really all that fortunate with team health. Beyond of course our starting rotation basically staying healthy all year, which of course doesn't happen a lot. In terms of positional players they had their share of injuries the difference was that we had a loaded farm system that was chomping at the bit to get starting time. I mean how many teams have a big bat just sitting waiting to play catcher, a third baseman that should have been up the year before, and three players that can be starting middle infielders.

This year beyond catching the Cubs are a little stretched in that you obviously don't want Bryant to go on the DL, you already should be expecting Zobrist to miss some time, Soler is going to miss time, and Russell is likely to miss time as well.
   51. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: December 13, 2015 at 08:27 AM (#5113462)
OK, now looking at guys w/ 162 or more IP (78 in all), Hendricks had the 7th worst FIP/ERA split last year. Interesting - ranking 4th and 5th were Jeff Samardizja and Chris Sale. Getting back to the Cubs, Arrieta & Lackey (and Haren) were all in the top 10.

Arietta, Lester, Hendricks, Lackey, and Hammel all ranked in the top half by FIP. (Dan Haren was 6th worst).
   52. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 13, 2015 at 09:35 AM (#5113464)
The 2015 Cubs were very lucky health wise. They had four pitchers make at least 31 starts. The only everyday players they lost for very long (a month or so) were Montero and Soler. A few others played through some nagging issues. This is about as healthy as you can hope a team could stay. And it is very unlikely to happen again in 2016.

Just about any time you have a 73-win team win 97 the next year, a lot of things have to fall precisely into place, and that isn't something you can count on going forward. So you try to have a strong bench to cover the guys that might have chronic issues, and you make sure you have backup plans for multiple starters getting hurt. You don't worry about things like random year-to-year fluctuations in ERA-FIP -- nothing you can do about that. Not much the Cubs can do if any of last year's rookies show some regression at the plate either, except to manage/coach through them.

In terms of 2015 players who were/are likely slated to be on the 25-man for significant amounts of time, it looks like the Cubs are - Castro/Herrera/Motte/Fowler/Haren/Wada and + Lackey/Warren/Ryan/Heyward/Zobrist (likely with more to come on both lists). That's a big improvement.

The bullpen still needs a good amount of work -- I am sure we will see new quality short relievers. If the Cubs can replace Hammel with someone younger and better, that would also have a key impact.
   53. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: December 13, 2015 at 10:05 AM (#5113473)
In terms of 2015 players who were/are likely slated to be on the 25-man for significant amounts of time, it looks like the Cubs are - Castro/Herrera/Motte/Fowler/Haren/Wada and + Lackey/Warren/Ryan/Heyward/Zobrist (likely with more to come on both lists). That's a big improvement.

Add Denorfia to those on the lost list, as he's been granted free agency.
   54. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 13, 2015 at 10:29 AM (#5113478)
Add Denorfia to those on the lost list, as he's been granted free agency.

Good point, and this raises the issue of OF backups. Right now it's Coghlan, Zobrist and Szczur, but if the Cubs were to trade Baez or Soler, RF or 2B could open up completely, leaving the Cubs fairly short.
   55. Willard Baseball Posted: December 13, 2015 at 10:38 AM (#5113482)
I will look for the study later, but I believe the difference between FIP and E.R.A. is accounted for mainly through OF defense. I am hoping that if we make a Soler trade to get pitching/whatever, we get somebody like Abraham Almonte (Cle) thrown in to play CF. Or if we trade with Tampa, try and get something centered around Kiermaier.

I will also be happy to just keep what we have now. That lineup will be fantastic and I think Soler is going to turn into a big-time hitter in next two years. He had a lot of hard/up the middle contact late last year.

I am hoping Zobrist can help Baez become another version of himself.

I know that TheoJed says they aren't done, but I am fine with the roster that is currently there. If we keep the minor league depth into the season it will help us make trades to support any other depth moves.
   56. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 13, 2015 at 11:45 AM (#5113503)
I will look for the study later, but I believe the difference between FIP and E.R.A. is accounted for mainly through OF defense.

Yes, I think this is true, and I am concerned about OF defense as a key factor. Last year, with OF defense that had a total UZR of around 4.5, the Cubs overall team ERA was very close to their league-leading FIP. Leading the pack of Cubs OFers were, you guessed it, the two Chrises: the remainder of the Cubs offense did not look so hot. But Coghlan's UZR of 9.0 as an OF sticks out like a sore thumb compared to the rest of his career, so I am not sure I believe that. But then you look at the Cardinals' lead best team OF UZR of 26.4, and see that their team ERA was more than half a run lower their FIP (by far biggest gap in NL). The two best OF UZR teams in the AL (Rays and Royals) also had some of the bigger gaps.

It is worth noting that 22.9 of the Cardinals' 2016 total OF UZR of 26.4 came from Jason Heyward.
   57. Walt Davis Posted: December 13, 2015 at 07:00 PM (#5113674)
this raises the issue of OF backups. Right now it's Coghlan, Zobrist and Szczur, but if the Cubs were to trade Baez or Soler, RF or 2B could open up completely, leaving the Cubs fairly short.

As it stands we need somebody to back up Heyward in CF which, as it stands now, will probably be Baez on any short-term quasi-emergency basis and possibly Almora/Szczur for a longer injury until they work something out. If Soler or Baez is traded, I'd assume it will be either as part of a package for a CF or for a good reliever with a Denorfia-type thrown in to platoon with Coghlan and back up CF (if it's Soler traded, just a straight back-up CF if it's Baez).

I still don't see how Ryan keeps a spot unless Baez is traded: Montero, Ross, Rizzo, Zobrist, Russell, Bryant, Baez, LaStella, Schwarber, Heyward, Soler, Coghlan is 12 already. Unless Maddon is going to cut back to 7 relievers, Ryan is out (unless it's LaStella). And a trade probably brings back a position player as speculated. I still don't know why they asked for him back but it's just $1 M and he can hang around through spring in case anybody gets hurt. Or is he Lester's personal infielder? :-)

I don't think there's any (realistic) way you get Kiermaier away from TB, almost certainly not in exchange for Baez or Soler (i.e. Kiermaier is young and cheap). Jennings though is probably another matter. 2 years before FA, career average in CF, RHB, probably cost $12-15 M over the next two years. Pending physical, I'm pretty sure I'd do Soler (plus something I suppose) for Jennings/McGee -- generous of me I know. :-)

Anyway, if Baez can play a passable backup CF, I'm fine with the position player roster as it is. Even if he can't, I'd probably rather just get a backup CF and let LaStella go than trade away Soler/Baez for less than genuinely good return.

On Lester, I'm reasonably agnostic -- I think 2015 could essentially be both his best and his worst in that he's maybe more Andy Pettitte, David Wells or Chuck Finley ... consistently good, not great pitchers in their early-mid 30s. But, sure, there are plenty of reasons to think he's got another excellent season or two left in him. I will note that while his ERA was a lot worse than his FIP, his last two years have been the two best FIPs of his career and you only need go back to 2011-13 to find a much less impressive pitcher by FIP. Over the last 5 years, he's averaged 3.1 bWAR per year; over the last 4 it's under 3; over the last 3 it's 3.5 ... last year it was 3.1 and he's getting older. Of course a 3-WAR average doesn't rule out a 4-5 WAR season mixed in and he does look a lot better by fangraphs, a clear 4-WAR pitcher.
   58. Misirlou gave her his Vincent to ride Posted: December 13, 2015 at 07:24 PM (#5113680)
Or is he Lester's personal infielder?


This made me chuckle.
   59. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 14, 2015 at 10:07 AM (#5113841)
On Lester, I'm reasonably agnostic -- I think 2015 could essentially be both his best and his worst in that he's maybe more Andy Pettitte, David Wells or Chuck Finley ... consistently good, not great pitchers in their early-mid 30s.

Yeah, pretty much. I file Lester under "not something worth worrying about." He has been steady as a rock for a long time. There was some disappointment in his start last year, particularly as Cubs fans became acquainted with his foibles with the glove and bat, but there is really nothing to suggest that he will experience anything but ZIPS-predictable decline over the coming years. Of course, all kinds of things could happen: he could get hurt, he could get fat, he could forget how to pitch, but in a business where you really can't count on anyone, he's about as reliable as they come.

The only thing you can do to insure against that is to add another high-quality starter, which could happen.

I still don't see how Ryan keeps a spot unless Baez is traded: Montero, Ross, Rizzo, Zobrist, Russell, Bryant, Baez, LaStella, Schwarber, Heyward, Soler, Coghlan is 12 already.

With 13 pitchers, the bench becomes tight, but most teams want a legit SS on the bench, and the other three players capable of handling the position (Russell, Baez, Zobrist) are all starting. "Legit SS" is pretty much the only line on Ryan's resumé, but he fits that bill. At the same time, most teams also want to have a CF who fits that description, and with 12 position players, I don't see how you can have both.

I think La Stella and Coghlan are the two elements that have to go on that list, but trading Soler and Baez is also an option. I say trade one (probably Soler) and keep the other (Baez). That leaves room for two more position players, one IF and one OF. Three if they go with 12 pitchers, and they might.

As it stands we need somebody to back up Heyward in CF which, as it stands now, will probably be Baez on any short-term quasi-emergency basis and possibly Almora/Szczur for a longer injury until they work something out.

I think cobbling together CF out of Heyward and Baez might work, but you definitely want someone on the bench to come in for defense in that scenario. There is not a single experienced CFer on the roster other than Matt Szczur on the roster, and he isn't on your list above. I suppose things could change but I don't see Almora in that role over Szczur any time soon. Something has to give here, and I think it involves a trade, and I think a trade involving Soler for a legit CFer and a pitcher is what makes the most sense (Soler+ for Jennings+, sure why not).

The Cubs have multiple tradeable major league players right now. I would not be at all surprised if the Cubs pull off a big trade involving five or more players, perhaps involving multiple teams.
   60. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: December 14, 2015 at 10:23 AM (#5113861)
With 13 pitchers, the bench becomes tight, but most teams want a legit SS on the bench, and the other three players capable of handling the position (Russell, Baez, Zobrist) are all starting. "Legit SS" is pretty much the only line on Ryan's resumé, but he fits that bill. At the same time, most teams also want to have a CF who fits that description, and with 12 position players, I don't see how you can have both.

I think La Stella and Coghlan are the two elements that have to go on that list, but trading Soler and Baez is also an option. I say trade one (probably Soler) and keep the other (Baez). That leaves room for two more position players, one IF and one OF. Three if they go with 12 pitchers, and they might.


Baez isn't starting with the current roster. That might mean we're in a LaStella or Coghlan situation. If the Cubs actually want Ryan's glove, that would imply LaStella is the odd man odd.

I think cobbling together CF out of Heyward and Baez might work, but you definitely want someone on the bench to come in for defense in that scenario. There is not a single experienced CFer on the roster other than Matt Szczur on the roster, and he isn't on your list above. I suppose things could change but I don't see Almora in that role over Szczur any time soon. Something has to give here, and I think it involves a trade, and I think a trade involving Soler for a legit CFer and a pitcher is what makes the most sense (Soler+ for Jennings+, sure why not).

The Cubs have multiple tradeable major league players right now. I would not be at all surprised if the Cubs pull off a big trade involving five or more players, perhaps involving multiple teams.


I tend to agree with all of this. I think Soler is the guy who is most likely on his way out. I think LaStella would also have some value in a trade, so perhaps he's part of that +.

---

I understand why the Cubs appear to still be considering arms - either SP or RP - in spite of everything they've added. Every arm has been more of the depth variety, and there's a lot of scratch off lottery ticket types there. That's not to undersell someone like Lackey, but the overall pitching staff appears to be better prepared to cover the innings needed that last years (either at the start or finish of the season). From my fan/gut side, I still would like at least one more really, established guy somewhere in there. That could definitely lead to a bigger trade.
   61. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: December 14, 2015 at 10:31 AM (#5113869)
From my fan/gut side, I still would like at least one more really, established guy somewhere in there. That could definitely lead to a bigger trade.

I don't disagree but I don't think there is any urgency to do it now as opposed to at the deadline unless the Cubs believe their own trade bait is going to be worth less on the open market in 6 months.
   62. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 14, 2015 at 10:39 AM (#5113881)
I don't disagree but I don't think there is any urgency to do it now as opposed to at the deadline unless the Cubs believe their own trade bait is going to be worth less on the open market in 6 months.

There were all sorts of rumors swirling late last week, and the Cubs have a lot of potential trade bait -- urgency comes when the guy you want is available for the right price. Whether that is true now, I do not know, but you do have to strike while the iron is hot.
   63. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: December 14, 2015 at 10:42 AM (#5113882)
Agreed that there isn't urgency. They could easily start the season with this roster.

To add to Andere's point, there's also some risk that the pieces lose value - what happens if Soler gets hurt again and misses a huge chunk of the season? I don't really want them to trade Soler, but his value might be pretty close to a high now.
   64. Zonk Has Two Faces, Both Laughing Posted: December 14, 2015 at 11:59 AM (#5113954)
I'll echo all my Cubs fan brethren --

It's really hard not to be excited, optimistic, and just downright thrilled with what we have right now - but every Cubs fan has his/her eyeore side, concerned that anything that can go wrong will, and thus I doubt you're gonna find any Joey B prognosticators or boorish count the ringzz sorts until we actually, truly have one of those ringzz (then, katie bar the door!)

Anyway, I'm still humping the Braves trade as the final masterstroke. Soler can be made redundant, and while I hate to see him go - a package of Soler + more (I'd even consider Soler + Baez + MAYBE more) for Teheran + Inciarte would be an almost OOTP-style offseason. The more I ponder it, the more I really don't think I want to move Heyward to CF. He might well be fine - even better than fine - but I think I'd prefer to keep him comfortably in RF and see if perhaps Mallee and company can finally tap into that offensive potential to get him to the next level.

My suspicion is that Thed wants to see what happens with the Span and Jackson market before they decide to make a move for a true/tested CF, so we may be waiting a bit until we get teh final roster.

   65. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: December 14, 2015 at 02:44 PM (#5114093)
Julie DiCaro ‏@JulieDiCaro 3h3 hours ago
Cubs still talking to #Rays and #Braves. As I said last week, #Cubs want Inciarte, but he would cost Soler plus.

Julie DiCaro ‏@JulieDiCaro 3h3 hours ago
Sounds like #Cubs are trying to determine internally if Inciarte is worth what the Braves are asking.


That better be Inciarte+Teheran for Soler+ (I'm only with the + being significant in that case).
   66. Zonk Has Two Faces, Both Laughing Posted: December 14, 2015 at 03:40 PM (#5114124)
On the one hand, I can see the Braves' perspective -- Inciarte and Soler are roughly the same age (Inciarte is about a year and half older), but Inciarte has already posted 3.7 and 5 WAR seasons.

On the other, though - I think Soler just has a much broader offensive skillset. I suppose it comes down to how much you believe in dWAR.

Perfectly fair to say that I'm nuts to think Soler is too much for Inciarte (much less Soler+) - the case that Inciarte should cost MORE than just Soler is much easier to make - I just really distrust players, especially OFers - with such a limited offensive skillset.

   67. Charles S., looking 4 band-aids instead of dreams Posted: December 14, 2015 at 04:27 PM (#5114167)
If we're talking about packages the Cubs could put together, would Soler + Hammell (with cash) + Candelario (coming off a great AFL) + Vogelbach bring a good, young starter and a defensive CF? I have no sense of how our second level minor leaguers are valued.
   68. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 14, 2015 at 04:55 PM (#5114195)
I'm not sure I catch the idiom. Clams are personally fulfilled in white sauce but not other sauces?


Not sure about an idiom, but there's a metaphor there at the very least.
   69. McCoy Posted: December 14, 2015 at 05:21 PM (#5114218)
Have you never bathed in cream? Delightful.
   70. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: December 14, 2015 at 05:28 PM (#5114225)
If we're talking about packages the Cubs could put together, would Soler + Hammell (with cash) + Candelario (coming off a great AFL) + Vogelbach bring a good, young starter and a defensive CF? I have no sense of how our second level minor leaguers are valued.

I don't really know either but if the Cubs picked up a young guy like Inciarte then McKinney, Almora and Happ all become expendable as well. One of the advantages of a young lineup is that you don't need so many position prospects kicking around in the minors.

I would be very, very sad to see Torres go. Other than that, have at it.
   71. Spahn Insane Posted: December 14, 2015 at 05:28 PM (#5114226)
#Cubs want Inciarte, but he would cost Soler plus.

Sorry, but that's ####### insane. I'll be severely pissed if the Cubs do this.
   72. Spahn Insane Posted: December 14, 2015 at 05:31 PM (#5114228)
I don't really want them to trade Soler, but his value might be pretty close to a high now.

See, I kind of think the opposite, due to his disappointing offensive stats in 2015. I feel like people are selling him short. I don't think his current trade value reflects his offensive potential; perhaps my fanboy goggles are unduly minimizing his injury and defensive issues.
   73. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: December 14, 2015 at 05:36 PM (#5114233)
I don't really know either but if the Cubs picked up a young guy like Inciarte then McKinney, Almora and Happ all become expendable as well.

I'm not sure about that. McKinney supposedly is only a corner OF, and Happ could also play 2b (or a corner); Dewes is a CF, plus now Martinez could be a CF (the recent Cuban signing). Almora's ceiling might be a 4th OF anyway, unless his bat takes another step forward. And just because the position is filled on the big league club, it doesn't mean they have to move the guy or they're blocked/expendable. I'd say Vogelbach is probably the only guy in the system who really is completely blocked - even Candelario could have value somewhere besides 3b.

I would be very, very sad to see Torres go. Other than that, have at it.

I feel the same way. I also don't think it's a coincidence that Torres's arrival could be timed with Zobrist needing to move off playing 2nd every day in a couple of years.

If Schwarber is going to stay in LF*, then perhaps Contreras is the next closest to untouchable, but he isn't nearly as highly ranked as a prospect to meet that purely on merit -he's high because of position scarcity and he might project to a plus bat for the position that can also handle the position defensively. Next year with Ross retiring (2017, I mean), perhaps it's a good situation to break Contreras in and see what they have in him.

*I think I'm finally at the point where I'd rather they just left him there and let him rake.
   74. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: December 14, 2015 at 05:39 PM (#5114238)
See, I kind of think the opposite, due to his disappointing offensive stats in 2015. I feel like people are selling him short. I don't think his current trade value reflects his offensive potential; perhaps my fanboy goggles are unduly minimizing his injury and defensive issues.

I think the playoff hitting helped him there. The injury downside will be there until he plays a full season, and even then, there'll be people who want to see multiple seasons.

Maybe I can add, it's about as high as it can go without him making the Cubs not want to trade him. Which, to be fair, is not at all a negative. But weighed against the negative, it might be the ideal time to trade him if they're going to trade him.
   75. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: December 14, 2015 at 05:40 PM (#5114240)
Their relative value really depends on how much stock you put in their defensive numbers. They have quite similar career OPS+ though nobody will doubt that Soler's offensive value going forward is a much better bet. The defensive difference the systems give to Inciarte's glove, however, is massive. Add in Soler's durability issues and I don't think it's crazy at all to trade Soler + for Inciarte (who is only one year older).

The real questions, for me, are whether they are uncomfortable putting Heyward in center field and how much do they believe in the current crop of CF prospects?
   76. Spahn Insane Posted: December 14, 2015 at 05:41 PM (#5114242)
I think the playoff hitting helped him there. The injury downside will be there until he plays a full season, and even then, there'll be people who want to see multiple seasons.

Maybe I can add, it's about as high as it can go without him making the Cubs not want to trade him. Which, to be fair, is not at all a negative. But weighed against the negative, it might be the ideal time to trade him if they're going to trade him.


That's certainly a reasonable take.
   77. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: December 14, 2015 at 05:43 PM (#5114244)

I'm not sure about that. McKinney supposedly is only a corner OF, and Happ could also play 2b (or a corner); Dewes is a CF, plus now Martinez could be a CF (the recent Cuban signing). Almora's ceiling might be a 4th OF anyway, unless his bat takes another step forward. And just because the position is filled on the big league club, it doesn't mean they have to move the guy or they're blocked/expendable. I'd say Vogelbach is probably the only guy in the system who really is completely blocked - even Candelario could have value somewhere besides 3b.


Sorry, I didn't mean to suggest all of them could/should be traded this offseason. Just that at least one of them probably should be if you can get equivalent value.
   78. Spahn Insane Posted: December 14, 2015 at 05:44 PM (#5114247)
To play resident skeptic, is there something about the Arizona stadium (whatever the hell it's called now) that skews OF's defensive stats upward? We've got Inciarte, and Gerardo Parra put up some ridiculous numbers there as well (which, IIRC, he didn't replicate outside Arizona, but I could be misremembering).

That said, I don't doubt that Inciarte's a much better glove than Soler, who looked pretty bad out there last year apart from his arm.
   79. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: December 14, 2015 at 05:53 PM (#5114258)
Sorry, I didn't mean to suggest all of them could/should be traded this offseason. Just that at least one of them probably should be if you can get equivalent value.

Understood. I guess if Schwarber is going to stay in LF, Heyward's signing probably McKinney a lot more expendable than the other guys. I guess he could replace Coghlan in a year if they want to save money on a 4th OF bat type, though you'd probably rather have a righty as that guy with Schwarber/Heyward also lefties.

The Cubs are actually starting to skew very heavily lefty now, wonder how much that is taken into consideration by the FO.

That said, I don't doubt that Inciarte's a much better glove than Soler, who looked pretty bad out there last year apart from his arm.

Right. So what the FO has to decide is does Inciarte/Heyward > Heyward/Soler including defense? Is Inciarte's offense too dependant on a high BA, or would his defense (which to be fair, probably means a little less in Wrigley's CF than elsewhere) worth more than Soler's bat if he reaches his ceiling? That's why it's easier for me to accept a trade that includes Teheran and giving up other prospects, but it would even more clearly help the team in 2016.

   80. Kiko Sakata Posted: December 14, 2015 at 05:58 PM (#5114263)
The Cubs are actually starting to skew very heavily lefty now, wonder how much that is taken into consideration by the FO.


You're probably right that a right-handed version of Chris Coghlan would fit the team better, but for their current 8-man starting lineup, they have 4 LHB (Rizzo, Schwarber, Heyward, Montero), 3 RHB (Bryant, Soler, Russell), and Zobrist is a switch-hitter. And if Baez shapes up as their 9th position player, he's also a righty. They actually look perfectly balanced to me.
   81. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: December 14, 2015 at 06:05 PM (#5114275)
That's why it's easier for me to accept a trade that includes Teheran and giving up other prospects, but it would even more clearly help the team in 2016.

Man, if they could swing that I sure wouldn't mind parting with a big ol' chunk of the Cubs top 20 prospects.
   82. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: December 14, 2015 at 06:07 PM (#5114278)
They actually look perfectly balanced to me.

Until Russell's bat becomes an actual plus, they're gonna be starting him, Ross*, and two lefties with big splits against LHP this year. Here's hoping that Schwarber's closes his gap a lot (.953 ops vs .481 -though only 61 PA), but for his career Heyward is .838OPS vs RHP and .660 against LHP. The guys Baez can play for right now also hit righty (Bryant, Russell, Zobrist); if he takes to CF, you're not going to make Heyward a strict platoon guy and Soler is definitely starting that game in RF. You also don't want to make Schwarber a strict platoon guy until you have to, but that's another new position for Baez or Bryant is in LF (which isn't a terrible idea).

I'm not saying it's a problem, I'm just wondering how much it's considered when making these moves. Perhaps this is as good of a reason as any to flip Coghlan for something else. And also to bemoan Alcantara's terrible 2014.

*You could start Montero, since his split isn't that bad, but he's still worse against LHP for his career. Ross will get starts against RHP when they pitch the same day as Lester.
   83. Kiko Sakata Posted: December 14, 2015 at 06:13 PM (#5114283)
Yeah, looking at their lineup, the problem is that all of the lefties are their best players who they're not necessarily going to be inclined to platoon. Unless they were willing to sit Montero vs. LHP with Schwarber catching and a righty moving to the OF (Zobrist w/ Baez @ 2B?). But I suspect the Schwarber-as-catcher ship has sailed (and probably rightly so).
   84. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 14, 2015 at 06:18 PM (#5114286)
Next year with Ross retiring (2017, I mean)


Sssh. Don't jinx it.
   85. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: December 14, 2015 at 06:51 PM (#5114298)
Sssh. Don't jinx it.

He already said next was his last.
   86. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 14, 2015 at 08:40 PM (#5114342)
He already said next was his last.


Has anyone told Lester?
   87. cardsfanboy Posted: December 14, 2015 at 10:07 PM (#5114398)
For the record. I will read all the comments on here later, but for now I'm just looking at the article.

This guy is an idiot. I don't disagree with the title of the article, going into the next season right now, the Cubs are probably as good as the Cardinals, AND have a better ability to handle adversity than the Cardinals, as currently constructed do. At the same point in time, this guy is still grading based upon last year.

1. His fascination with Lackey needs to take a step back, yes Lackey was the Cardinals most successful pitcher last year, but is there really anyone on this planet who knows about baseball, that is going to argue that Lackey is better going into 2016 than any of Wainwright, Martinez, Wacha or Garcia? Lackey is a nice pitcher and a guy a team that doesn't have good pitching needs, he's also an innings eater, a professional, a winner and everything in the world that anyone wants to say about him positively, I'll concede, but if the Cardinals signed him, he was also going to be their fifth best pitcher on a rate basis.

I don't have a problem with the Cubs signing Lackey, they had a hole that he fits into nicely, but the Cardinals had no pressing need to sign him, which is why they didn't pursue him more than a courtesy option.

2. Heyward, I hate the fact that the Cardinals lost Heyward, I wanted him and think the Cubs signed him below his future value, meaning that they probably made a killing here, even if his defense is going to take "triple" hits as a Cub (smaller outfield, moved to centerfield and of course aging) while his offense is going to gain on one or two levels, he is losing some of the gaps he takes advantage of, but has the ability to hit the ball out to compensate for that, and has the encouragement of the coaches to go for the fence. I think he'll continue to be a 5 war player over the life of the contract and that more value is going to come from the bat than it did previously.

Having said that, the Cardinals again didn't have to sign Heyward, he was like Price, an improvement and depth addition, but not technically necessary for continued success.

3. This writer makes assumptions that are ridiculous. He says Heyward signed with the Cubs because he thought it was his best chance for the ring, and that is something I haven't seen anywhere in print. Heyward signed with the Cubs for reasons only he can explain, and it could be because the Cardinals clubhouse is a bunch of old fogey attitudes, it could be because Maddon is awesome, it could be because he likes the idea that if the Cubs win the World Series he would be a major face instead of just another in a long line of good players who have helped win it all, heck it could be because he likes the challenge of trying to win it for the Cubs. Ultimately Heyward made a choice beyond money, and as a fan of the sport, in which people constantly complain about players making choices because of money, it's nice to see a guy making a choice beyond the dollar contract, and I have to salute that(even if I hate it)

4. Having a ton of money doesn't mean you have to spend it, it would be ridiculous for the Cardinals to feel the sting of the rejections they have had this off season to overspend on someone like Davis or whoever is out there. You can't let rejection force your hand. You still have to make long term considerations.

about the only thing this writer gets right is that many people have claimed that this isn't a real rivalry and that it's been ratcheted up.
   88. cardsfanboy Posted: December 14, 2015 at 10:32 PM (#5114408)
On Cubs-Card vs. Yanks-Red Sox, the main difference is that the Cubs should be able to outspend the Cards by a wide margin. We should have been the big bully for the last 30 years. The Sox under Theo both built through a good farm system and some shrewd pick-ups that worked out really well (Ortiz) but they also greatly boosted their spending -- not to Yanks level of course but I'm pretty sure they were always #2 or #3 in the AL during that run.


That is one of the things I have talked about, the Cubs Cardinals rivalry has always felt like a Peter/Greg Brady type of rivalry, the Cardinals didn't take the Cubs seriously because the Cubs don't take themselves seriously. Cubs, like the Phillies have a tremendous market advantage and their ownership refused to leverage that for years. Now that the Cubs are taking themselves seriously, the Cardinals(and rest of baseball) has to take them seriously. Not only do the Cubs look good this year, they look good for years to come AND look to have a plan to maintain that level.

I've always said that if I was a free agent and was given a choice to sign with the Yankees or the Red Sox(prior to 2004) that I would want to sign with the Red Sox, because I would want to be remembered as the guy who helped them win a ring, than be another guy who happened to be on the team when they won. (and said similar stuff when Werth signed with the Nationals)
   89. cardsfanboy Posted: December 14, 2015 at 10:36 PM (#5114409)
OK, so I'm not really a Twitter person, but could someone explain @BestFansStLouis to me? Is it like a parody account? Or one that just reposts tweets from Cardinal fans when they are nasty, etc.?


it's a troll account on Cardinal fans, they hunt for the worst posts by self proclaimed Cardinal fans to 'prove' that they aren't good fans....it gives you an idea of how pitiful this guys life is, that he spends time searching daily for crappy things said by Cardinal fans just to make them look bad. It's like he's a geek in his basement who loves the Cubs because they gave him a reach around one time in Wrigley and now wants to try to recreate that action by hopefully outing the Cardinal fans as bad humans, and thinking that maybe he could become Mark Grace next slump buster.
   90. Walt Davis Posted: December 14, 2015 at 11:34 PM (#5114435)
The Cubs are plenty flexible and not overly LH/RH unbalanced. Yes, against LHP, barring some real gymnastics, one of Schwarber/Heyward have to play, but not both. That's true of almost any team and at least it's nice to have the choice between Schwarber actually making contact and hitting it 500 feet or Heyward drawing 2 walks and being generally annoying while playing good defense.

vs. LHP: Zobrist LF, Bryant 3B, Rizzo 1B, Soler RF, Baez 2B, Heyward CF, Russell SS, Ross C ... or move Russell up near the top if you want. Alternatively Baez in CF, Schwarber in LF and Zobrist at 2B. We'll probably have plenty of games where Montero Cs anyway -- he doesn't hit much worse than Ross vs LHP -- or Schwarber at C although that doesn't help get another RHB in the lineup. An RHB version of Coghlan would be nicer (Cubs could always put LaStella at 2B and Zobrist in RF when they want to load up on LHB) but so be it.

Now if Baez can't play a passable backup CF then the Cubs will need to find one ... or trade for a starting CF and move Heyward to RF. A backup CF would cost Coghlan or LaStella their job.

I'd probably do Soler for Inciarte straight up. I like Soler and agree he's probably being under-valued at the moment. But Inciarte looks to be, at a minimum, an overall average CF and most likely more than that. You don't need to believe in all of his Rfield -- whack him a full 20 runs of Rfield and he's still a 1.5 WAA player last year. A good-fielding CF is a nice fit to this team, especially if he doesn't embarrass himself with the bat. He'd also be a perfect guy for Maddon to slip into the #9 spot. It would increase our LHB "problem." And he has 5 full years of service time left, same as Soler.

So he'd be a fast, good-fielding, good-baserunning CF for his age 25-29 seasons. As long as he hits above Billy Hamilton 2015 levels, he'll be at least an average player over that span. There's very little risk there. The problem is the Braves might actually know this!

   91. SouthSideRyan Posted: December 14, 2015 at 11:46 PM (#5114444)
[89]Well that escalated quickly.
   92. Norcan Posted: December 15, 2015 at 12:29 AM (#5114454)
I don't really want them to trade Soler, but his value might be pretty close to a high now.


Yeah, I don't see how Soler's current trade value could be even close to a high. He was a fabulous prospect who had a disappointing year and then starred in the playoffs. Unless you expect him to continue to disappoint (which I guess could happen), he should be a whole lot more valuable if he reaches or comes close to his prospect projection in the coming seasons. Trading him for Inciarte and having plus-plus defenders in both center and right would be tempting but it's still really hard to trade someone capable of putting up a 900 plus OPS.
   93. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: December 15, 2015 at 05:31 PM (#5114981)
Looks like Heyward himself might agree with Leitch:

Jesse Rogers ‏@ESPNChiCubs 11m11 minutes ago
Good stuff from Heyward after the formal presser. Basically said -- respectfully -- Cards window kind of closing with Holliday/Molina etc.
   94. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 15, 2015 at 06:02 PM (#5115020)
I'd probably do Soler for Inciarte straight up. I like Soler and agree he's probably being under-valued at the moment. But Inciarte looks to be, at a minimum, an overall average CF and most likely more than that. You don't need to believe in all of his Rfield -- whack him a full 20 runs of Rfield and he's still a 1.5 WAA player last year. A good-fielding CF is a nice fit to this team, especially if he doesn't embarrass himself with the bat. He'd also be a perfect guy for Maddon to slip into the #9 spot. It would increase our LHB "problem." And he has 5 full years of service time left, same as Soler.

I agree with this. I would still like it to be part of a larger trade that involves a SP and/or reliever going to the Cubs.
   95. cardsfanboy Posted: December 15, 2015 at 06:35 PM (#5115053)
Looks like Heyward himself might agree with Leitch:

Jesse Rogers ‏@ESPNChiCubs 11m11 minutes ago
Good stuff from Heyward after the formal presser. Basically said -- respectfully -- Cards window kind of closing with Holliday/Molina etc.


That seems rather short sighted, when you consider the quality of the front office and the massive amount of money coming in on the new TV deal, sure Molina and Holliday are not all star caliber players, and Wainwright is iffy over the next two years, but you still have Martinez, Wacha(and Garcia who is pretty much a guarantee to miss at least 30 starts over the next three years) and Reyes for a pretty decent rotation before any other acquisition. And of course Heyward was supposed to be the guy that helps the team tranitions Holliday from the team. You get Heyward, and you slowly phase Holliday out with younger developing players like Grichuk, Piscotty, Pham. The point of trying to sign Heyward was to have a nice transition and confidence of quality going from Holliday to Heyward over the next decade.


The Cardinals do have a big ass gaping hole coming up at catcher, it's going to be impossible to replace what Molina provides to the team regardless of whatever numbers you like. Teams have lived frequently with crappy catchers though, and there is a very real chance Matheny/Molina will still be in the dugout to coach in some respects for anyone who is given the unenviable position of taking over for Yadier. But it makes zero sense to argue a team with a

1. 2.2 war second baseman at 24 years old
2. a 3.2 war outfielder at 23 years old
3. a 3.9 war 29 year old old third baseman
4. a 4.0 war 23 year old pitcher
5. a 3.9 war 29 year old pitcher
6. a 3.0 23 year old pitcher,

as being on the decline. Especially when the team has 80mil a year being added to the budget in 2018 and beyond.

Edit: just to point out, yes I listed a couple of 29 year olds, but there is no reason to think that they will turn into pumpkins at 30, sure 32 that is arguable, but we are still dealing with a 3 year window. (and note I used war as a quick down and dirty, I think it understates the quality of a few of these guys, but it's just a quick simple argument...the point of which is to show that the Cardinals are not an old team nearing the end of their window)
   96. cardsfanboy Posted: December 15, 2015 at 06:47 PM (#5115063)
For the record, I absolutely agree with the argument, that the Cubs have to be the favorites going forward, not just this year, but over the next three years, simply because Theo and team have shown that they are willing to make the decisions to be good and have gotten the player buy in, and have added a manager who isn't going to sabotage the front office goals, and in fact works very well with them.

I honestly think if the Cubs don't win a World Series in the next five years, it just proves beyond a doubt the crapshootness of the post season, as it's very likely over the next 8 years, the Cubs will probably have at least three seasons as the clear best team in the game. I think the NL Central is going to be by far the best division in baseball for a while going forward, and I feel sorry for the Reds and even the Brewers because their fans deserve better than being the Toronto Blue Jays from the early 2000's.


edit: and yes I realize my comment messes around with years, the point is that in theory consistently competing should give you a world series, even if you don't get it in your best years(see Cardinals 2004-2006 for evidentiary support of that argument) The post season is a crapshoot, but being the best, while being there constantly should hopefully result in a positive outcome. (yes I get the Giants...exceptions don't make the rules)
   97. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: December 15, 2015 at 10:48 PM (#5115161)
#95
Totally agree. Does the Cardinal window ever really close? They are just so well run both from a financial and personnel standpoint I can't really ever see them having a long period where they are not successful. Whatever the mantra is, the club sticks with it and the players buy into it and it works.
Ironically the biggest issue the Cubs have over the next 5 years is the Cardinals. There is no way they will sit idly by and let the Cubs roll off 5 division titles in the next 6 years.
   98. Spahn Insane Posted: December 15, 2015 at 11:29 PM (#5115175)
Let it be said that however good the Cubs are in the next however many years, I don't expect the Cardinals (or the Pirates) to just go away. Ever. Too much money, smarts, and talent in those organizations for that.
   99. Howie Menckel Posted: December 16, 2015 at 12:56 AM (#5115191)

"it's very likely over the next 8 years, the Cubs will probably have at least three seasons as the clear best team in the game."

that has never been a sane comment in the last 40 years and it isn't one now. where do I go to bet the under?

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