Is Scott Baker a keeper?

Is Scott Baker a keeper?
Scott Baker

His velocity isn't all the way back. At least not yet. But its becoming rather obvious that Scott Baker knows how to make the most of what he has.

In what looks like yet another shrewd starting pitching value signing, Baker has shown that his stuff is already good enough to compete at this level and at this stage of his comeback.

I was admittedly worried about that velo after having seen him in Kane. His slider had good bite and he was locating his slider with precision -- to the point where I turned to my wife and I said, "That's the difference between a major leaguer and a the pitcher we usually see here." That's no knock against the pitchers who have passed through, which includes top pitching prospect Pierce Johnson, but watching Baker command his slider with such consistency was a rare treat you don't normally see at the A ball level.

As for that velo, it has improved by 2 or 3 ticks and while it's still an average fastball -- at best -- it is at least serviceable. Especially when he is commanding everything he throws, which includes that good slider and an occasional change-up. But he's primarily led with that fastball, which only further emphasize his ability to locate early and set hitters up.

But let's step back for a second. It is two starts and there is no chance he can remain this dominant over a larger sample size. At the same time, he's been good enough to be a solid #4 starter, perhaps looking a bit like we might expect from Kyle Hendricks some day.

All that being said, should the Cubs keep Scott Baker?

It's a tricky question with no easy answer. The Cubs aren't exactly strapped for starting pitchers. They rank around the middle of the pack in the NL. They have enough depth to where they'vey had to go with a 6 man staff and are confident enough to approach moving Justin Grimm to the bullpen on a full-time basis. Hendricks will await in AAA next year while Pierce Johnson and C.J. Edwards may start the year in AA next season.

While trades are always possible, in general we can assume that the Cubs will return with Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood, and Edwin Jackson.  Jackson is signed for 3 more years, the front office considers Jeff Samardzija a core piece and would like to keep him if they are able to come to terms.  You may also remember that I talked about Travis Wood as a core piece back in May.  Those three could be around for the next few years.  For his part, Wood seems very amenable to signing an extension this offseason and I think Samardzija will be more willing to talk after getting his full year to prove himself -- though it hasn't quite worked out as well as he'd hoped.

As reported early this month, we also expect the Cubs to make a serious run at Masahido Tanaka. If that happens, it leaves one spot in the rotation between Chris Rusin, Jake Arrieta, and Scott Baker. Even if they don't, one of those pitchers will be the odd man out and will have to move to the bullpen or perhaps Iowa.

Panning back a little, we also understand that teams that stick with 5 starters all year long are rare, not to mention lucky, so the Cubs have often talked about building an "8 or 9 man pitching staff". The he re-signing of Baker, the one year remaining on Carlos Villanueva's contract, and the emergence of Hendricks would give the Cubs 8 starters along with the previously mentioned pitchers. Tanaka would give them 9.

The staff could look something like this:


  1. Masahido Tanaka
  2. Jeff Samardzija
  3. Travis Wood (L)
  4. Edwin Jackson
  5. Scott Baker/Chris Rusin (L)/Jake Arrieta


  • Pedro Strop
  • James Russell (L)
  • Blake Parker
  • Carlos Villanueva
  • Justin Grimm
  • Zac Rosscup (L)
  • Rusin (L) or Arrieta (R)

The bullpen also has Daniel Bard, Chang-Yong Lim, Neil Ramirez, and Alberto Cabrera as hard-throwing options.  Cabrera is out of options so he will find himself on the roster or the Cubs will have to move him somehow, someway.  If he earns the job this spring and they want to keep him in the bullpen then Grimm, Arrieta, Rusin, Parker, and Rosscup all have options.

So, getting back to Baker -- it's tricky.  There is a numbers game here both with the 40 man roster and the 25 man roster.  But if you want to look at this in the positive light, it's a sign that the Cubs are making progress when they have so many options heading into the offseason.  They won't be scraping to fill spots like they have the first two years.  They'll be looking to see how their current pieces fit best.

It may take Baker coming back on an incentive laden deal, one that would give them some flexibility going into the spring.  Baker is making it difficult for the Cubs to bring him back on a minor league deal and spring training invite, though that would probably be the ideal situation.

It has taken until September, but Baker is finally making that audition for the Cubs 2014 rotation that we expected him to start a lot earlier.  And while it's a small sample and he's still not quite the Scott Baker of old, he's doing everything you could ask for at this stage -- and that is to give the Cubs a glimpse of what he can do.  If an offseason of rest and more rehab can bring that fastball up to its normal velocity, then the Cubs might have that steal the Cubs thought they were getting last offseason.  But even if he doesn't come all the way back, he's shown he can be plenty good with what he has now.

What do you think?

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  • I like Scott Baker a lot.

    If space is a problem, I move a short-term asset. I trade Samardzija.

    I have more confidence in a strong several years out of Baker than I do in any hopes of Samardzija developing a mind for starting pitching. I know it makes little sense to tie these two pitchers together, but I can't seem to separate them. And I love the potential return for an arm like Samardzija's. He won't sign an extension anyway.

  • In reply to HackWilson09:

    I've always liked Baker as a well. I'm not sure his fate is tied with Samardzija's though. I think it's best for the Cubs if both come back on friendly deals and perform well -- at least that's the ideal scenario!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    If they both come back and succeed, couple that with Travis Wood's emergence (who knows, maybe he's just one of those guys that can beat the peripherals), Edwin Jackson having a bounce back year, and managing to snag Tanaka, there might be a four-team race for the Central in 2014.

  • In reply to Jim Weihofen:

    I've wondered if Wood can be one of those guys. I compared him to Buehrle once as a guy who may one day be able to consistently outpitch his peripheral numbers. I don't think he'll be a sub 3.00 guy, but I think he can be in the 5.50-4.00 range for most of his career along with double digit wins. One advantage is he can keep himself in the game longer because he can hit, run, and even help himself in the field. Really like that type of pitcher.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I think Wood will be more of a 3.50-4.50 Career ERA guy as long has he keeps pitching low in the strike zone (thus avoiding the HR issue mostly) with a decent defensive team behind him - but otherwise agree - basically an innings-eating mid-rotation lefty starter.

    There's always room on a roster for a mid-rotation, inning-eating, lefty starter.

    I didn't follow the Twins much while Baker was playing with them, but did roster him then on some Fantasy teams. Good mid-rotation guy who as long as he keeps the ball down generally fares well.

    That Baker I would like to see starting half his games in Wrigley.

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    I think if the Cubs get Tanaka, then Shark will be traded. Shark is the perfect piece to headline a trade for that lefty bat the Cubs want. With a few legit arms getting closer, Travis Wood's emergence and Tanaka, Shark actually could be expendable. Next season is when the Cubs need to make a push, and it is starting to seem possible.

  • In reply to Demarrer:

    Those two could be more tied together though it'd be nice to have both (if Samardzija pitches the way he is capable).

    I do expect the Cubs to be a lot better next year and they'll be a surprise team in 2014 -- which will be nice heading into 2015 when they should start to get infusions of homegrown talent.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Imagine Tanaka, Shark, and Arrieta headlining a rotation. All under 30 with top flight stuff. Don't think many teams can match that. Really want to see growth from the last two in 2014.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    That's a lot of upside right there.

  • I think I saw a 92 on the gun last night. The velocity seems to be improving with every start.

    As for right now, while I like what Arrieta could be, and what Rusin's done this year, I'd really prefer someone more established in the rotation. Baker can always be flipped at the deadline and Arrieta/Rusin/Hendricks called into action.

  • In reply to Jim Weihofen:

    Did he? I missed that one. That's even more exciting. Even if he can consistently be 90-92 consistently -- which I don't think is unrealistic, he can be very good.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I know I saw a few 91's without a doubt. I think he got a strikeout on a 92. Which is very promising, because, to me, learning to make the best of what you've got, and then getting your old stuff back, this can only lead to even more success.

  • In reply to Jim Weihofen:

    Agreed -- and he always knew how to pitch but it's possible that could even improve with this experience. And if he does get his old stuff back, he could be a sleeper for next year.

  • I think we definitely need to give him a chance. If there is one thing I have learned about baseball in my life that people are happy to overlook once they have their starting rotation in their head, is that you never can have enough pitching. Look at the Dodgers at the beginning of this year. Had 8 established starters, and still needed to go get Nolasco at the deadline. So you think you have enough SP's? You don't, go get one more.

    Also, Baker has made it clear he wants to come back cheaply for the FO being so patient and sticking with him this year. Seems like a guy I want to be around Shark the whole year to see how to Pitch, not Throw. Not to mention I believe he will be a very effective 3-4 guy. Feldman 2.0 possibly.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    "You never have enough pitching"

    Truer words have never been spoken in baseball. It seems that just when you feel satisfied with your starting five, something goes wrong and you need that depth.

    I also think Baker can be effective. Not sure he can still be that solid #3, but I'm not ruling it out either depending on how strong he comes back next year -- and a #4 starter certainly seems pretty realistic.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    And if/when you have an abundance of pitching, there's always a team looking for it. A known quality pitcher is a blue chip.

  • In reply to Jim Hickman:

    That's a great asset to have.

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    I also do like Baker a lot. But if I had to choose between him on another incentive deal and giving one of the young arms a shot at the rotation i'd choose the latter. I want to see what we have in guys like Arrieta, Grimm, and Cabrera as major league starters first before we shove them in the pen permanently.

    In my opinion, If Grimm and Arrieta can't make the rotation send them down. Cabrera is out of options so if he doesn't make the rotation you kinda have to send him to the pen but I wouldn't let him go just yet. The still is too good and he's still young. Could end up being the 8th inning guy at some point but I still want to see what he could do starting.

    Id like to see the rotation go.

    4. Wood
    5. one of Cabrera, Grimm, Arrieta(the last 2 go to AAA if they don't win it)

    In the event we don't land Tanaka(which we can't rule out) then bump everybody up a spot and those 3 I mentioned along with Rusin can battle it out for 2 spots. Either way even if we stand pat I like our staff. Lots of good, young arms in the pen and hopefully the rotation. We have 2 guys in Arrieta and Samardzija who have TOR stuff but need fine tuning, Grimm and Cabrera have good stuff. So does Jackson. Woods athleticism is off the charts. I'm not too worried about the rotation.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    That's another interesting take. You and Jim have different views, but both of you back it up well. there's a good case to be made either way.

    Cabrera is an interesting guy. I didn't put him on the list, but I actually expect him to get one of the spots. I also think it's possible he gets a legit crack at the rotation this spring. The main reason he's in the bullpen now is to cut down his innings load.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I think it's sink or swim time with Arrieta, and if he doesn't make the rotation in the spring, it's bullpen time for him (I think he will be even more effective there anyways). He is already 27 and next year will be his 28 year old season. I don't think there's anything at AAA that he needs to discover, he knows his problems already he just needs to adjust.

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    You cant send arrieta down, same situation as cabrera.

  • In reply to marcf:

    If I may add a litle here, I want to say it's a bit different between the two. Arrieta does have options but because he has accumulated enough MLB service times where they need to get his permission before they send him down. If they get that permission, however, they can put him on waivers -- but it's revocable waivers, meaning they can pull him off instead of losing him. Cabrera has no options, so they have to put him through waivers before they can send him down and if someone takes him, he's gone.

    I do agree with your main point, however, because I think the Cubs would rather not have to go through that process with Arrieta, so essentially it's the same.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    you are right. I mainly meant he is either on the mlb club or another team. Do not see him making it to aaa

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    In reply to marcf:

    Good points, John and Marcf. That tweaks the dynamic a bit.

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    Why is there no mention of Chapman? Have the Cubs moved on?

  • In reply to Phil James:

    Yes. I think Chapman may be that kind of guy who rides the shuttle between Iowa and Chicago as needed, but there really isn't much there to suggest he can have more impact than that.

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    I think you bring him back. He should relatively inexpensive, so if you like what you see keep him, if not trade him or just cut him. I really think this season is the time to either resign shark or trade him at the deadline if he wont meet our terms. I understand he isnt thought of as highly as gio gonzalez or mat latos, but the packages they brought were really good. If we wait till after the season to trade him then him not signing an extension becomes an issue with the team trading for him. I really want to see what a package for 2.5 years of shark could bring. Or an extension of course.

  • In reply to marcf:

    I think the two go hand in hand. If they can't get Samardzija to agree to talk about an extension, I think the game changes and trading him becomes more of a serious consideration.

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    Regardless of whether or not the Cubs bring in Tanaka, I think Baker should be brought back. Injuries are going to happen. Because of that alone, you simply can never have enough pitching. Furthermore, one never knows what trade opportunities might present themselves at the winter meetings that allows the Cubs to sort the numbers situation out, and there is the potential to trade Baker for prospects before the 2014 deadline should he prove healthy and pitch well. Were that to be the case, I suspect he'd bring more than Feldman but less than Garza. Finally, I can't think of a better stable pony to have around the young pitchers.

    Samardzija and Jackson don't strike me as the mentor types, although Wood does, but he is still pretty young himself. Baker strikes me as having the character and the mentality to fill that role well.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I think Baker fits your stable pony theory perfectly. He has everything the Cubs want in a pitcher except plus velo -- from makeup, to pitchability, to command...he's the prototype of what they like.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    It wouldn't surprise me if Baker's velo comes back. He may still be holding back some.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I was actually wondering if he was holding back at Kane because it seems unusual to jump 2-3 ticks overnight.

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    I meant to say Vizcaino. Haven't had my coffee yet.

  • In reply to Phil James:

    Vizcaino should make an interesting x factor for next year. May end up having a big impact, especially out of the pen.

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    Kind of a random thought but does anyone know what bard is doing? he is another guy who will have to make the club next year or be exposed to waivers.

  • In reply to marcf:

    He threw on the side but apparently cut his finger, so he had a minor setback but they want to get him in a couple of games.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    do you think he starts the year with the cubs? and if not how much would they owe if they cut him?

  • In reply to marcf:

    I think he gets every chance to make the team. He has a special arm and the Cubs don't have a whole lot of those. If he shows he's healthy and can throw strikes, I think he makes it.

  • I am with Marcel, give the young guys a shot. However if we don't get Tanaka I would really like to get Baker back with a incentive ladden deal.

  • Fellas, the Tanaka sweepstakes are going to be crazy. I think we need to take the approach that signing him would be a pleasant surprise rather than a fait accompli. The Yanks & others have as big of a need & heftier pockets. Not trying to be a wet blanket but.....

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    In reply to Carl9730:

    Agreed. Should be looked at as "it'd be great if we got him, but wouldn't surprise me if we don't" kind of thing. I do believe the Cubs will go all in. That doesn't mean another GM won't get himself fired signing him.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Completely. It would be foolhardy to predicate our offseason plan on the idea that he's a lock.

    Another thing that has me a bit puzzled here is the sense that people feel Shark is pretty expendable. No question, he has had a rough last 1/3 of the yr but he's still , by far , our most talented SP. I realize an important dynamic is the contract negotiations but we shouldn't be in any hurry to deal him. Imagine a scenario where we miss out on Tanaka and we deal Shark for either a LH bat or young arms, after negotiations fail. That is a SERIOUS step backwards.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    I don't think anyone thinks it isn't going to be a battle -- but I think the Cubs will be in the thick of it. My understanding is that they'll be among the major players.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    Did anyone see recently? There's speculation that the posting process may change as early as this November. Three of the top bidders would be allowed to try to sign the posted player. So, just because you may be the top bidder, you won't have exclusive rights to that player.

  • Good post, John... I like the position the Cubs are in when it comes to their pitching depth... They have 3 starters that are set (Tr Wood, E JAckson, Samardzija) and 3 vying for spots (Arrieta, Villanueva and Rusin)... Bringing back Baker on an incentive laden deal would give them 4, but there are also more options, they could go out and get Tanaka, Ubaldo Jimenez or Scott Kazmir (just to name a few options) and then have the last spot disputed between Arrieta, Villanueva, Rusin and Baker... The losers can either go to the pen, get traded or sent to the minors.

    And when it comes to the pen, they have many options... Rusin, Rosscup and Raley could make Russell expendable and if Rusin ends up in the pen, then one of Raley or Rosscup could go to AAA, Justin Grimm has options too and this could open a spot for Alberto Cabrera... Rafael Dolis can be DFA'd in the offseason and could make it back to AAA since not many teams will gable that spot on an injured player (same scenario with Marcos Mateo)... A lot of names in play with many options to shape up the bullpen... Add to that Arodys Vizcaino.

  • In reply to Caps:

    Thanks Caps.

    This is the first year that I feel like the Cubs are going into the offseason with so much flexibility and so many options in terms of their pitching. Excited to see how they play it.

  • In reply to Caps:

    It's all well and good trying to obtain a # 1 SP if possible,but that doesn't improve our anemic offense any heading into 2014.Rizzo and Castro need to put up better numbers. I don't see any immediate help coming through our farm either.Choo (FA) at the top of our line up would be a great improvement (OBP) too start. Now where is that RBI guy coming from ? I don't want to have to rely on Valbuena @ 3B or even Barney at 2nd. Base for next year either.It's time to add a few pieces too build on offensively.If the Cubs don't get some of these guys then those empty seats will drastically hamper our building for the future plan.

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    Didn't even think about Vizcaino. Cubs have said they will give him every chance to be a starter but probably ease him into that role, starting with the bullpen. So when he's ready does he pitch in our BP until they send him down to stretch him out as a starter or stay in the minors all year?

  • I know you can never have enough pitching, but this team is bad because of their lack of bats. I'd absolutely move Shark for a good hitter. You can then bring back Baker on the cheap

  • In reply to Ike03:

    They do need offense. Especially guys who can get on base.

  • Maybe someone can answer this but, it seems to me that with Tommy John surgery, pitchers who do come back well, do not get their best stuff back until 24 months after they return or almost three year after the operation. Baker may not get back to true form until the second half of 2014 or even 2015. With that in mind, he appears to be pitching decently on that road back, he has been appreciative of what the Cubs have done for him and he has worked hard. He has demonstrated some good "team" attitude.

    The Shark on the other hand 1) has been project for a number of years 2) did not seem too "team" oriented with his grumbling during the trade season this year 3) has been inconsistent in the second half and 4) while he does have a live arm, does he have the pitchers mentality or is he still just a thrower? Not to turn this into a Baker vs. Shark issue, but if it came down those two, and there was decent trade return available for Shark and Baker took an incentive laden two year deal, I might give that some thought.

  • In reply to All W Days:

    I think you're right, I remember Wainwright, after TJ he missed a year, but then it took him about 3-4 months last year to regain his old form and velocity.

    As for Samardzija, I think he's trying to be a starter with a reliever's mentality, basically he is going there trying to throw his fastball past hitters as hard as he can, but not really spotting it... He was new to pitching when drafted and he was poorly developed during the Hendry regime, as they kept bouncing him between AAA and the bigs, the bullpen and the rotation... So next year should be his make or break... I'm starting to wonder if the Cubs will have the same offer on the table for him, I doubt it.

  • In reply to All W Days:

    That is pretty much the case with most pitchers and it's an excellent point.

    As for Samardzija, I think his future depends more on his willingness to sign an extension than anything Scott Baker does. I'd guess the Cubs would prefer to have Shark if they had to choose one or the other.

  • John, taking a step back, what do you think is the single biggest priority for the offseason- from Epstoyer's perspective not us as fans? I'm thinking a 130-150wRC+ OFer. Curious as to your thoughts.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    I think Tanaka might be because he's impact and fits their profile -- and they don't have to give anyone up.

    I also think they'd like to acquire the type of player you're talking about. If they have a general goal, it's to improve OBP -- but much of that has to come internally.

  • Isn't the question less whether the Cubs want Scott Baker back and more if he would want to come back. Cubs have been able to sign players like Baker, Feldman and Maholm to short above-market deals that allowed them to show off their wares to other teams before moving onto playoff teams. If Baker fares fine in his next two starts, why wouldn't that be his goal this off season? And if he is attractive to other teams (which one would expect), the numbers won't make sense for the Cubs. He'll cash in with a contract not worth the Cubs risk level over multiple years, but would be for a win-now team.

  • In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    My understanding here is that he does want to come back, in part because he's grateful of how he's been treated. Of course, terms make a difference. If the Cubs say minor league deal only, he may want to check his options. I don't think he's done nearly enough to warrant a big contract offer, though.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Interesting. Technically what's the difference between a "minor league" deal and a "regular" deal? Is it just a guarantee of making the main roster? Are there 40-man roster implications? Obviously it's not money, because he made $5.5 million this year with no guarantee of making the major league squad.

  • In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    Yep. It's all about saving a spot on the 40 man roster-- at least.until Opening Day.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I don't think you will get Baker back for less than he got this year. He isn't going to be cheap, and I doubt that he would sign an incentive laden deal.

    He is showing he is healthy, and that makes him more valuable than he was last winter.

    I think the Cubs will try to sign him to a 2 year, 12 million deal and then try to trade him in July or next winter.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    If they could get him for 2/12, I'd be thrilled. I'm thinking that would be base salary with incentives on top of that...

  • In reply to DaveP:

    I mean, they paid him 5.5 while he was still rehabbing this season...

  • I think you absolutely sign Baker to an incentive laden deal. Let them battle it out in Spring Training and take the best 5. Between injuries and ineffectiveness, I think he'd be a big plus on this club. I don't think it would be a great idea to just hand Arrieta and Rusin or Raley or whomever and think they they will both perform and not get hurt all season long. Baker is a nice insurance policy and I have a feeling that all of the above will have a shot at the rotation at some point next year regardless of who we break ST with in the rotation.

  • In reply to Pura Vida:

    This seems very reasonable. It makes a lot of sense. Bring in a few guys and bring your best ones north. The rest become depth or trade bait.

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    I'm surprised that a lot of folks want to trade Samardzija. The way I see it, this next offseason will be the perfect time to reach an agreement on a somewhat team-friendly extension, since he certainly didn't have the kind year he was expecting to have. And, in any case, depth is not equivalent to upside. While the Cubs have a lot more pitching depth now than in the last two years (especially if they manage to sign Tanaka), I can't envision them putting together a top-notch rotation without Samardzija. Most of our guys are really just back-of-the-rotation starters, and the few ones with TOR potential (Arrieta, Cabrera) are far from a sure thing right now.

    If the Cubs are to have a legit rotation to compete next year, they need Samardzija.

  • In reply to João Lucas:

    I agree with you Joao. I don't think there's any reason he can't come back next year and if you get him to sign this year then I think that's a win.

  • Can you remind me again why the Cubs, with the worst save % among real MLB teams, have no use for Kevin Gregg and his 32 saves in 37 opportunities?

    I know, I know! We've got lots of guys with closer material and we'll figure it out in ST. Just like this year.

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    I think part of it has to deal with Gregg possibly pricing himself too high and you don't normally go free agent to fill bullpen especially in the volatile closer or shouldn't because expensive. Also for most people tend to feel like Gregg way outperformed himself. I think they will definitely consider bringing him back, but not too expensive.

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    I don't think they've ruled out bringing back Gregg -- especially with no obvious replacement.

  • Great points all around. Yes, you can never have enough starting pitching, and a rotation of Tanaka, Wood, Samardzija, Jackson and Baker, backed by Arrieta, Rusin, Hendricks, Cabrera and Grimm... Yeah, that is impressive.

    One more thing Baker offers that I just don't see out of the rest of the group is some very strong, smart, veteran leadership.

  • I believe that baker is a win win situation for the cubs. I like baker and am glad that he is doing well but he has only had two starts in the MLB this season. And will only get another 2-3 starts this season. So we are getting ahead of ourselves. Another team will not be so quick to trade for him this winter. He will have to got to spring training and throw well and be in the cubs rotation come April to have any value. Once he has 10 or more starts other teams will get a handle how valuable he is. He could be this years Feldman deal if he continues to throw well. I am glad to see the cubs actually have 8-9 guys that could be in the rotation.

    Is and were any of you guys shocked that cubs signed Jackson for as long as they did?

    As for tanaka I am not so sure on. A lot of ppl are so high on him. We signed guy in the off season who didn't pan out. I just feel like he is over hyped. Not many Japan pitchers have come to MLB and been a top line guy. Just don't want to over pay for a guy like this. Any thoughts?

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Baker can't be traded this winter because he will be a free agent. Not exactly surprised by the Jackson deal. We all expected better results, but will see some better years to come. That durability helps to avoid going to farm that was quite barren with starters. Of course some more trades have given the Cubs better backup options, but still not enough yet. It is definitely tough to tell with Tanaka, but depends on how expensive he gets. I like the idea of being able to spend on a player without losing prospects. We need those prospects to fill holes or be traded to fill the holes. We haven't gotten the waves and waves yet. I can see front office looking at this as a way to make their free agent splash. Sometimes have to overpay to send a message to fans etc. Remember the Werth signing? He was nowhere worth that, but it was a signature signing and almost worked (not that it is over or that he has done poorly). Even if Tanaka doesn't hit ace level I think he can do very well. I'm sure scouting is on top of it. This front office doesn't want to be the one who got outbid on Darvish, Ryu and Tanaka.

  • In reply to Cubs Future:

    Didn't realize baker was 1 year deal, but that makes sense. Still think Jackson for 4 years is a bad deal and isn't worth the money and sends a bad message for signing shark or wood. This will use Jackson as a gage or leverage and that back fired on cubs.

    You listed two top end pitchers out of all the pitchers that come to MLB. Just a very risky deal. I would rather over pay for a position player then a pitcher.

    So there is a chance we may not sign baker anyway. He can chose where he wants to go.

    Don't need to send me a message, if there is nobody out there that FO thinks can help us so be it. Last guy did that!

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    I don't want to trade shark. but if an extension becomes unlikely then trade him at the deadline to get max value. we can get a Feldman or maholm to replace his actual production, but they don't come close to his upside.

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    You ask, "Is Scott Baker a keeper??" and I ask is Dale Sveum a keeper???

  • In reply to Gordon Dibbern:

    Sveum will be back.

  • Cubs are getting no-hit! But it appears Liriano won't make it through 9.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    When the Cubs No Hit Streak Twitter Contest started, you just knew Cubs fans were challenging the baseball gods.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Lake just broke it up. The streak lives!!

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    What's gotten into Castillo?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    He's good. He's always had power. He's just coming into his own now.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I don't think 7 home runs means a guy is coming into his own as a power hitter. Time will tell on Wellington if he is a 15 Hr a year guy or this. I do think this is the highest his average will be as a pro.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Well, you're right about one thing, 7 home runs in a season means a guy is coming into his own as a power hitter. But that's only one statistic.

    When we take a closer look, we see a 26-year-old catcher who SLG'd .459 and .498 in AAA last year and the year before respectively, showing that he has the potential to put up good power numbers. In his first 444 major league at bats, he hadn't shown the power he had in AAA, but at 26, is still young enough to be developing his power stroke at the major league level. In his next 128 at bats (since the all-star break), he has SLG'd .453 and has lit it up in September with 3 doubles and 3 HRs in the last two weeks.

    So, when you look deeper than just the most basic stat, it does seem that Welington is indeed coming into his own as a power hitter.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    *doesn't mean a guy is coming into his own...

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    This isn't fluke power either. Most of us believed he had 10-15 HR power, we just weren't seeing it till now. I think he's legit.

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Not sure how much time you've had to watch games, but JD was saying the other day that he'd made minor adjustments to his swing to generate more power.

    I think it worked. He's gotta be in line for an extension.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    That may be, but Castillo has always had power in the minors. Maybe the adjustment helped tap into it a bit, but I'm also giving some credit to the cold, dark, chaotic universe.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Also possible that he'd slowly picked up some bad habits that, cumulatively, sapped his power, and he adjusted away from those.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Yes, very true. He may have gotten away from some things he'd done well in the past.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I think it comes down to the comment Sveum made about him. He has been working his butt off defensively from the start and paying dividends so can start focusing on his offense. Also it helps being in the majors a full year to make adjustments and adjustments to the pitchers' adjustments. I really think the extension will be strongly talked about to lock him up. I still think front office might wait a little on Wood a little longer to make sure he is going to be the pitcher who outperforms his peripherals and possibly to duplicate a 200 inning season.

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    Sveum commented the other day how they like Justin Grimm in the bullpen heading into next year. Today, noticed that Grimm's fastball was touching 95, which is a tick or two higher than advertised.

    I'd like to see if he can make it as a starter, but if he can sustain mid-90s with an array of pitches, he can be pretty good in the bullpen

    Another reason, to your earlier comment, why we think the Cubs have alot of internal bullpen options for next year

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I like Grimm in the bullpen. His command issues become less of a concern in shorter stints and he has two legit out pitches out of the bullpen.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Not that you can have enough bullpen arms, but our pen looks pretty full next season. I really would have liked to see grimm stay stretched out as a starter in aaa, but if the club thinks that is his best use then i guess ill trust them. I just dont see a spot for him with the other guys we have who are either locks for the pen or possible waiver guys(bard, arrieta, cabrera, stropp, villanueva, russell, parker, fujikawa, rusin, raley, rosscup, etc.) I like grimm to stay in aaa as our 6 or 7th starter for after the deadline or injury insurance.

  • What's the outlook for N Ramirez?

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    I think he's another bullpen guy. Stuff plays really well in that role.

  • I've been adamant about us going balls out after Tanaka. Whether we get him or not; and whether we trade Shark, or not (I'm not suggesting we do).... I think we should bring Baker back. Especially, if he signs a team friendly deal.

    We can speculate about the rotation until we're blue in the face . Inevitably, some personnel changes will happen before Spring. Then again in ST, some will outperform expectations, some will under perform. Doesn't matter, the key is having more chips. Baker represents a very valuable chip that we should bring back. It is in the teams best interests to have him, period.

    It's nice to think that we can actually be 8+ deep in the SP rotation with reserves in Iowa that when called upon, can come up and the MLB team not miss a beat. In a couple of years, we'll be in that situation at most/every position. That's when you can really make some noise about "dynasty". Which is I think, ultimately what we all want...

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    "Balls out" is a rather vague term. How much would you bid for Tanaka if you were the GM?

    And then how much would you offer him and for how long?

  • Interesting note on MLBTR on the Japanese posting system. Looks like there could be changes this fall.

    In essence, instead of the top bidder getting negotiation rights, the top 3 get a chance and then the player has a choice of who to sign with based on contract offer and opportunity.

    Might make it a bit easier for the Cubs as they compete against other deep pocket teams.

  • I disagree . Tanaka gets down to say TEX, NYY, and us and then decides based on opportunity to win + marketing opportunities. Our best shot would be to just blow everyone out of the water in a blind bid. In a few yrs , if might be a different story.

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    I give Baker a shot in 2014.
    Mostly as candidate the accrue value and then flip to a contender.
    We've got a lot of middle of the rotation guys coming through the pipeline.

    I wouldn't mind trading Samardzjia in the offseason. Especially if he can net us a top pitching prospect.
    And with his promise and low milage on the arm, I think he can.

  • I don't understand why some ppl are quick to want to trade shark and keep baker. Why not both? People have said that reason why we signed Jackson is because is is durable. Shark has been durable and has better stuff then Jackson. As far as baker goes, he has only made 2 starts in the MLB. We don't know if he'll have another set back or get soreness. Need to wait til season is done.

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    In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    I guess I question whether or not Jeff Samardzija is a long term core piece.
    His value may be at his greatest right now while he still has "untapped TOR" potential.

    We have a few good middle of the rotation guys in the works. And at the MLB level- Enough to spare one, actually.
    If Samardzija could bring back a possible ace like Bradley or Taillon, I'd absolutely sell high. Or at least test the waters again.

    I think we'd get more in return by dealing Samardzija than Wood.
    And by next year, we'll have a better idea of what we have in Arrieta, Vizcaino and Cabrera. And maybe Hendricks.
    And by then, we lose a little leverage with Jeff being closer to free agency and teams feeling like we're selling out of necessity rather than big picture positioning.
    But that's just how I feel about it.
    He could still easily turn into a top of the rotation pitcher. I hope I'm wrong.

  • for the simple fact that the cubs can possibly flip him next year. yeah why not

  • Who are some free agent pitching names?

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Nobody that exciting except for Tanaka. Josh Johnson might be an interesting flyer.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    What can you tell me about this guy? How old? How long has he been pitching in Japan's top league?

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    He's 24 and this is his 7th year (he started when he was 18). He's 20-0 with a 1.24 ERA, for what that's worth.

    Have more on him here...

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Suffice it to say, WTNY, he's good and the people who want the Cubs to sign him know what they are talking about...

  • I think they like Baker enough that they bring him back on a club friendly if he's willing. I don't think we land Tanaka and it would be great for Arrieta to work on his control in tripA. To me, spring training edge for the 4th and 5th starters go to Baker and Rusin. The FO has hinted in the past at possibly extending Baker, but I also can see him being a flippable piece at the deadline, since most of the other starters we have aren't, and we know how valuable that return can be. Though if the FO and Samardzija can't come together on a deal over the winter, I can see him bringing back a nice haul next July.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    I agree, Carne, Baker ideally should be re-signed to an incentive-laden deal with a team option on the 2nd year. Baker should be amenable if the incentives are attainable. He has expressed more than once to the front office his gratitude for the deal they gave him this year and has actually apologized for how long it took him to get healthy. Apologized. When was the last time you saw that? The Cubs should want him back and he certainly seems to feel as if he owes the Cubs.

    I love the idea of Baker coming back, pitching well, while Arrieta/Rusin/Hendricks/whoever else takes another step forward in their performance which allows the Cubs to deal him at the deadline. If indeed his contract has a team option at a reasonable rate, he could bring back something good.

    As far as Arrieta, it is highly unlikely that he will see time at AAA next season. He would first have to give his permission to be sent down and after that, he would have to pass through waivers and I just don't see that happening.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Isn't Arrieta still in his option years? Orioles optioned him down to tripA after an emergency start this year.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    I think Baker would be a nice choice to bring in and possibly flip at the all-star break if they have younger pitchers knocking at the door.

    It'd be interesting what they'd do if the team was playing well and Baker was having a solid year.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm holding out hope. I think we're going to be big spenders this offseason and that's why we were clearing space with the DeJesus kind of moves. Not only for flippable pieces, but I'm coming around to the idea that they're going after Ellsbury or maybe Choo.

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    It's nice to be able to say that at this stage it looks like their biggest needs are to add 1-2 proven bats to the lineup instead of scrounging for pitchers. We'll probably start to see the next wave of prospects arriving by the end of 2014, and then things should really get exciting. Finally looking up.

  • I like Baker. I don't see any reason not to bring him back. If nothing else it will create more competition in the spring and beyond on the pitching staff. The more guys that can be brought in/up to compete for rotation spots, the better. He's looked really good in his two starts and I have to say that ON THIS DATE I have more confidence in Baker keeping the Cubs in a ballgame than Samardzija or Arrieta and their wobbly commands. Load up on guys with good stuff like Arrieta, Grimm, & Ramirez to go along with Cabrera for the pen. I love the direction the bullpen is headed more so than any other aspect of the team right now.

    Just my opinion but I'll take the guy who makes pitches while keeping his walks down and posts a 3.75 ERA over the course of a season over the guy with great stuff, spotty command, and a 4.25 ERA. Over the course of a season being the operative phrase. Starting game one of the division series or the wild card play in game, that's when I'd want the guy with the lights out stuff. If you have to win one game, go with the stuff.

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