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Jake Arrieta may still be the biggest key to season and other notes

Jake Arrieta may still be the biggest key to season and other notes

The Cubs have added John Lackey, Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist, Adam Warren, and a whole lot of bullpen depth.  Jon Lester, Miguel Montero, Jason Hammel, and David Rosss return from last year's haul.   All of these veterans surround what is perhaps the best young core of hitters in baseball.

The Cubs seem well on their way to dominance.  They have top end talent.  They are deep.  They are versatile.

There is one scenario that worries me, however and that is losing Jake Arrieta for an extended period.  The Cubs could withstand the hit on the surface.  Adam Warren would likely move to the rotation and Lester would take over as the ace with Lackey still giving them a solid 1-2 punch.  The back of the rotation would be solid but not a group that the Cubs can count on to eat a lot of innings.  That leads to more bullpen usage.  And while Joe Maddon's creativity and the offense will still carry them through the regular season and keep them in contention, the loss of Arrieta would do more to knock the Cubs off their perch as favorites than the loss of any other player.

The player position portion of the  roster is so deep and versatile, that it is hard to imagine any one injury significantly derailing their chances.  Even the nightmarish scenario of Anthony Rizzo getting hurt can now be handled with moving Kris Bryant to first and Javier Baez to 3B, or possible Kyle Schwarber to 1B and Chris Coghlan to LF.  Ben Zobrist and Javier Baez give the Cubs a ton of versatility when it comes to playing just about any position on the field.

But losing Arrieta is the new biggest nightmare for this team,  Losing Lester or even Lackey would also be difficult,  It would help explain why the Cubs would like to get themselves a young, healthy cost-controlled pitcher with top of the rotation potential.  But as we have seen, that is easier said than done.

Addison Russell to wear #27

For uniform number fans, Addison Russell will wear #27 in a tribute to his boyhood idol, running back Eddie George.

 

 

What impressed Jason Heyward, however, was how Russell was so willing to defer to the veteran -- and that the only thing that matters to him is winning.

“That was very classy on his part to say that winning is the most important thing. That’s awesome,” Heyward said during his introductory news conference. “I’ll send him an IOU, and we’ll agree to terms on something I can do for him. The number’s very special to me.”

This team gets more likable everyday.

Cubs may have to wait for market to settle

We mentioned yesterday that the trade of Todd Frazier took one more team looking to add RH power off the board. Fortunately for the Cubs, it was not a team with which they had serious trade talks (as far as we know).

The signing of Johnny Cueto took the last big impact arm off thee market, so teams with pitching to trade: the Rays, Indians, Orioles, Braves, Miami, etc. will now have a more focused market that may include the Cubs, Dodgers, Cardinals, Royals, and others.

The Cubs have managed to significantly  improve their roster without trading any of their young core except for Starlin Castro, who was immediately impressed by Ben Zobrist, whom the Cubs feel is a better fit for their current roster.

It means the Cubs have maintained much of their prospect capital, but as Epstein notes in this Patrick Mooney piece as well as this Jesse Rogers article, it can be more difficult to deal prospect in the offseason, when all but a few teams are optimistic about their chances.  That can quickly change once the season starts and teams may be more willing to take on prospects at the trade deadline.

Things can also change -- for better or worse -- during the spring.  Injuries happen, teams find that a prospect may not be ready, or that a bargain free agent isn't the answer.  Whatever the case, teams get a better sense of what their roster will look like as we get late into the spring training season, so it is possible something can happen then as well.  Of course, something can happen at any time if the right deal comes along.

For right now, the Cubs are going under the assumption that Jason Heyward will play CF and that the rest of their MLB roster will remain in tact.  They are already the favorite, along with the Giants, to win the World Series, so there is no sense of urgency at this point.

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  • Still like the idea of trading with the Os, who need OFs pretty badly. Would love to get Guasmann from them . hed likely cost less than what the Indians want for Carrasco/Salazar or what the Friars want for Ross.

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    In reply to mutant beast:

    O's - really only have 4 SP - so if they trade Gausmann - they create another hole. Plus they did just sign an OF for LF today.
    That deal looks good @ 2 yrs 7 mil.

  • In reply to deport soriano com:

    If the Cubs must trade Soler I am not sure I wouldn't call the Mets and see if they would deal Wheeler and a lower prospect type deal. I do however think they should keep Soler and Baez but havnt heard any Wheeler talk. Mets say they wouldn't but I bet they would.

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    Trading with the Mets is problematic as it would be for them trading with the Cubs. I realize folks are saying the Giants and Cubs are the class of the NL but I wouldn't sleep on the Nationals, Diamondbacks, Cardinals or...the Mets. Them trading Wheeler to Chicago potentially makes the cubs stronger and vice versa if you're talking about Soler. Both have risks and if I'm dealing in risk I'm not dealing with a team that could be playoff competition. Not when things are already this defined.

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    Mets don't want to trade any of there current big league starters. They'll try to push Montero or one of there other minor leafgue arms instead. there FO is supposedly on of the most difficult in baseball to deal with,

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    I understand but they are going to realize at some point they might need another bat

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    I could see them parting with Montero or Ynoa at the deadline for a bat.

  • I would rather not see the Cubs trade for a young cost-controleld arm in the offseason. I think you let this roster play out in spring training, and the first half like John said. Then in July you reevaluate your team, see where you stand, and make a move the front office believes will help this team down the stretch and into the playoffs. This was already a 97 win team before these recent additions. Plus, with the price of pitching being sky-high (Thanks D-Backs) I say wait until the mid-season.

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    In reply to JLynch2247:

    The thing is that what the d-backs gave to Greinke was not too far off what everyone expected, maybe a couple million AAV. Where they MASSIVELY distorted the market what what they sent to the Braves. That haul was likely better than what the Cubs got for Samardzija-Hammel from the A's. And the A's, at the time, were well on their way to the playoffs.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    The Dbacks and the A's just show what teams that are all in for win mode will do: They will overpay to get who they really want/need. Any team in Chicago in that mode? Just be careful Cubbies.

  • In reply to NilesNorth:

    Teams with short windows deplete their farm systems. The cubs have built an organization that shouldn't ever have to do that which is why they've been careful in not moving Soler who I think they had every intention on moving.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I should have clarified. I listed the D-Backs in terms of the prospects they gave up for Shelby Miller. I wasn't talking about what they gave Greinke, but yes it was a market changer for sure.

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    In reply to JLynch2247:

    I understood that and simply took your comment a step further.

  • John, to follow on your point, we're looking pretty good right now, and if a glaring hole presents itself it will be apparent in the Spring Training or the first half. Same with other teams. This will create opportunities. Many intriguing teams potentially in sell mode in July.

  • Dexter Fowler 2015,.... a career year for him,.... age now 29.
    0.250/0.346/0.411 with 46 RBI, 102 runs, 20 SB

    Jason Heyward 2015,.... not his best offensive year,... age 26
    0.293/0.359/0.431 with 60 RBI, 79 runs, 23 SB

    Dexter was never known as a superior defensive CF but excelled most of the time with Chicago. Heyward can certainly cover CF but has had limited exposure there,.....

    Slot Heyward in as the #2 or leadoff hitter for the Cubs next year,... and I think you'll see the runs go up - especially with the wrecking crew that'll be batting behind him.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    I was concerned about losing what Fowler did for our lineup last year--then came Heyward and Zobrist and now I'm like, Wow.

  • You don't have to put another jinx on the Cubs. Next you'll be writing a column on what happens if Bartman returns :-)

  • In reply to jack:

    Lol @ "jinxs"

  • In reply to CubfanInUT:

    or Bobby Jencks

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    So essentially because Tom Ricketts is too busy cruising to his own personal island in the Bahamas and refused to spend that money on a sure thing like a 32 year old pitcher who has already lost velocity the Cubs are one Jake Arrieta injury away from disaster. I hate the stupid cheap Ricketts family. Maybe Todd should be put in charge.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Totally agree... it's pretty obvious to everyone that this hair-brained "rebuild plan" by this new regime has gone completely off the rails.... just the same old "lovable loser" Cubbies, and "wait until next year" for the North-side faithful. It's too bad, why couldn't they have just listened to the talking heads. ;-)

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    In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Me and my friend Gordon Whittmeyer were saying the same thing today. If those cheap owners would ever use some of that TD Ameritrade jack on some impact talent. Maybe the Cubs would have a snow balls chance.

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    In reply to Sean Holland:

    The Cubs are light years away from impact talent. I guess we are playing for draft picks again.

  • Injuries to a major impact player would cause any team problems. The question is not managing that risk but the systemic risk of multiple injuries simultaneously. Cubs now go conceivably nine deep, but essentially moving Warren from bullpen weakens the pen, the same for Cahill, Wood, and Richard. Adding a 3-4 fWAR pitcher pushes either Hammel or Hendricks down to swing and that would cover the injury. Think the Cardinals with Wainwright and Carpenter.

    Eventually you have to use your resources to maximize your roster. The only creative is use of the one resource that the Cubs have that still others don't and that is money and the better use of it. Shields is out for $$ and a minor return and then there then probably Norris for prospect currency. If the Padres are willing to include $$ with Shields and include Norris, Cubs could then move Montero to other teams that want a catcher. This way they swap payroll and add a young catcher.

    It is a pathway if young TOR pitchers are not available for the right prospect price.

  • In reply to rnemanich:

    ask where the Dbacks will be if Grienke gets hurt?

  • We must prepare ourselves for the possibility of a regression year. Now mind you, the developmental system in place and the current constructs of this team, I am not suggesting a full team regression. For people like Soler and Bryant, they have been up for a year. They have made multiple noticeable adjustments. They may still have to make adjustments as the league adjusts to them. Given their hitting ability, I have confidence in their approach. For Russell, offensively, he did not have the best success and will still have to make further adjustments. The teams overall offensive output masked his offensive output. He is a candidate for status quo which would be below average. Schwarber had only a half of year. His solid approach benefitted him but there are still adjustments to be made. There is a potential for a regression but not a deep one. Baez, with his brand new approach had limited run down the stretch. He will still have to make multiple adjustments as time goes on.

    Arrieta is a physical freak. Can his overall physicality allow him to throw another 200+ Innings?

    Will Hendricks add a little leg strength. He made adjustments as the year progressed and was pitching his best in September. Will that maintain?

    Last year was pretty magical. A lot of things fell into place. They have made some great additions to shore up some potential soft spots (not weaknesses). But 97 wins is awfully hard to do. It does not happen all the time. So my expectations is they will not win 97 again this year but still will be very close to that. Given how the division regressed as a whole, I think even with some regressions to the mean potential, the Cubs ability will still be enough to win the division.

  • In reply to Gator:

    There was an article on the BP Wrigleyville (yesterday?) showing how lucky the Cubs were last year. We won more than our share of extra-inning games, one-run games, and were minimally impacted by injuries. We can expect some regression in all three of those areas. However, the additional talent will go some toward mitigating the expected regression.

  • In reply to wthomson:

    They finished 7 games above their Pythagorean win total which shows the luck right there. If they were really a 90 win team last year you'd have to figure the upgrades of Haren to lackey, Heyward to Fowler and Zobrist to Castro makes them a 94 win team via projections. Nate Silver has them at 100 but I don't buy it. Too difficult to predict 100 win teams.

  • In reply to TC154:

    IF the Cubs can stay healthy,.... and IF the youngsters don't regress,... I don't think they will have any big issues in winning 90-95 games. 100 does seem like a stretch,.... but then again, they did win 97 last year,....

    The biggest problems with last year's team early were some inconsistency from the BP, a hole where the #5 starter should have been, and some very inconsistent offense.

    By the end of the year the only one of these problems that hadn't really been fixed was the #5 starter issue,..... although Haren was serviceable, and luckily Hendricks got better as the year went on.

    They may have fixed the #5 starter hole,.... and the bullpen is at least as solid as it was most of last season,....

  • In reply to Gator:

    Seems like Lester and Hendricks are slow starters and are much better May onwards. Hammel seems opposite where he starts hot but fades down the stretch. But we were definitely lucky last year, especially with starter health.

  • Jake going down is something to definitely worry about with such an increase in workload last year from prior years. Go into the season as is and see how the team sits at the trade deadline and fill holes at that point or prior to the deadline if need be after season starts.

  • Off topic, but the Dodgers nightmarish off-season continues as the Iwakuma signing is on hold as apparently the physical didn't go well. If they don't get him they will have:
    1) Lost Grienke over failing to go for another year on the contract,
    2) Had a trade for Chapman scrapped due to domestic violence issues,
    3) Had their top (potential) FA acquisition fail to materialize because of lingering physical problems for Iwakuma,
    4) Made a trade that nets them a pitcher who will likely end up in the bullpen and an infielder who will likely be a back-up instead of just trading for Frazier himself and moving Turner to 2B to strengthen the line-up since they should really be going for it all right now (I'm piggy-backing on what Law said yesterday about that trade. I know some like the move so this point is debatable and if they use some of that talent for a trade for Fernandez or something, it does change the dynamics).
    5) Failed to sign any of the other top FA pitchers (Cueto, Price, etc.).

    It's not over yet, but it's hard to see how this off-season isn't viewed as a fail (even if you disagree with the assessment of the trade in #4).

  • In reply to Pura Vida:

    I thought that Andrew Friedman was one of the members of the League of Geniuses.

    But if he weren't there, Maddon wouldn't be here.

    Also, remember, Rick Hahn won the offseason last year. So, maybe the offseason being a "fail" doesn't mean much either.

  • Hey John, looks like I have a comment hung up in the spam filter.

  • In reply to Pura Vida:

    Thanks. Got it.

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    This is what happened to the Cardinals last year when they lost Wainright--as Coach Q says it's next man up, and they only won 100 games w/o him. That's why I still worry about them, they always seem to bring someone up to fill the void. If we lost Arrieta we still have depth now with Lackey and Cahill and Hendricks, not to say that someone might impress in ST too.
    I agree that it's a worry, but other teams have to worry about their #1's too. The one concern I have is that Arrieta pitched 229 innings last year, 156 the year before and the past 3 years were all under 100. That's a huge change and what will it do to him this year?
    My other concern, as you said John, is Rizzo. He is the heart of this team and has always been there, both offensively and defensively. He would be hard to replace.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Which is exactly why the Cubs brass is obviously trying to emulate them by singing a parade of arms. This team could withstand a short term injury to Arrieta, Lester or Lackey. A longer term gets dicier as do the playoffs as John wrote. Losing two or one of them being bad derails this thing. On the other hand, with the exception of landing another starter, the Cubs have prepared themselves for most eventualities and have far more depth than say the Nationals of 2015.

    The Miller trade drastically raised the price of the very pitching Theo and company were seeking but again I agree with John in that things can change quickly. The Indians plan on competing in 2016 but the Brantley injury could put them in a hole early. One more position player injury in ST or early in the season could force them to make a move or even, eventually, start to retool by June or so. They play in a very competitive division with KC, Detroit, the resurgent Twins and even the White Sox all having aims of the playoffs. Tampa Bay could get lost in the AL East pretty early as well and god only knows what the Padres are doing.

    I believe the Cubs will get an arm. Probably not now with the Miller inflated prices but there will almost have to be a correction to that as there was when Shark was traded to Oakland. No more trades like that were made until the Diamondbacks cam a callin'.The team has constructed has depth and should come roaring out of the gate early. After that, well baseball is going to baseball.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Jonathan, I would also count the playoff innings which makes it 249.2 innings. Thats nearly 90 more innings. I also have your same concerns.

  • Cubs do not have to trade Baez or Soler, but if they do they must
    get a young pitcher controlled for 4-6 yr. Include some non-top
    if needed

  • The important part of any risk mitigation plan, who are the No. 6 thru No. 9 Starters waiting in the wings.
    6. Trevor Cahill (unless he wins the 5th spot)
    7. Adam Warren
    8. Travis Wood
    9. Pierce Johnson, Dallas Beeler, Eric Jokish, Ryan Williams, Carl Edwards Jr.

    So the issue with our pitching staff is No. 8 and 9. Travis can fill in, but don't expect long outings. No. 9, none of these pitchers are ready for a 2016 pennant race. This should be the last year for Beeler and Jokish in no. 9. In 2017, Underwood, Tseng, Blackburn, along with Pierce Johnson and Ryan Williams will vie for the 8th and 9th spots.

    I figure that the FO will continue to look for SPs recovering from TJS to add to the 6th to 9th spots this year. Matt Moore, etc.

  • In reply to TROS:

    Richards can start too.

  • John, I would be interested in some possible 24 man roster lists.

    With all the depth we have now, I think it will be hard to be able to keep all of them to serve as depth, especially in the bullpen.

    I know ST will sort out some of this but say we make it through March with no major injuries. How can you keep all these pieces together? Not everyone can go to AAA. It can be more of an issue if you sign a center fielder without any options left.

    Assuming this is the 40 man roster we go to ST with, can you give some insight on who stays and who gets sent down?

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    In reply to Peanuts:

    Just for fun:
    Arrieta
    Lester
    Lackey
    Hammel
    Hendricks

    Pen: Cahill, Richard, Wood, Warren, Strop, Rondon, Grimm, Ramirez (8 man 'pen that Maddon seems to like with 4 guys capable of going multiple innings if starter struggles).
    1B: Rizzo
    2B: Zobrist
    SS: Russell
    3B: Bryant
    LF: Schwarber
    CF: Heyward
    RF: Soler
    C: Montero

    Bench: Ross (R), Baez (R), Coghlan (L), La Stella (L)

    Depth Chart:
    1B: Rizzo, Bryant, Schwarber, Baez, etc.
    2B: Zobrist, Baez, La Stella, Russell
    SS: Russell, Baez, Zobrist (emergency)
    3B: Bryant, Baez, Zobrist, La Stella
    LF: Schwarber, Coghlan, Baez, Zobrist, Soler?
    CF: Heyward, Baez, Zobrist, Bryant?
    RF: Soler, Bryant, Heyward, Baez, Schwarber (PNC Park?)
    C: Montero, Ross, Schwarber, Baez (You know, for fun!)

    Szczur and Villanueva traded or waived and offered minor league contracts.

    I would be a little concerned about CF and if we could get something for Coghlan that didn't need to be on the 40-man roster AND Alcantara can show some adjustments I would LOVE to add his switch hitting and defensive versatility to the bench. But if we get "normal health" I would be OK taking that 25-man roster up against anyone.

    FWIW: I have a sneaking suspicion that I forgot about someone in the bullpen.

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    In reply to Joel Mayer:

    you forgot rex brothers (L)

    they really have 1 extra guy right now

    its usually an 11 man pitching staff - sometimes 12 man
    but never 13.

    I dont think they are counting on Rameriez & he has options for AAA.
    But having 3 leftys in the pen is a little odd.

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    In reply to deport soriano com:

    I had a feeling I had forgotten someone.

    As for numbers on pitching staff I think Maddon had 13 for a good chunk of the year last year. And then carrying 3 catchers really hurt.

  • I hope Maddon keeps his workload light the first month of season when its cold so He has some gas in the tank late.

  • I worry about the starting rotation as well. Arreitta was rode hard and put away wet at the end of the season. His last two starts in the playoffs he didn't seem like himself. That has me worried. Could be nothing, but we'll see.
    Also a good point about how teams are less likely to trade away MLB ready players for prospects in the off season. On the flip side, it seems like it would be cheaper to obtain pitching via a trade now than it would be at the deadline in July.

  • In reply to couch:

    240+ innings and I am not sure if he had ever hit 200 before, He needs to be limited the first 4-6 weeks of the year for his own good.

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    In reply to Bryan Craven:

    Bryan, I just wrote about that. 229 innings last year, 156 the year before, and the 3 years before that were all under 100. I am concerned too.

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    In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I think Jake will be fine - any one watch that guy in warm ups? he's got his own pilates ritual.
    Wouldnt suprise me if he is a yoga guy.

    On a somewhat related note - I'd love to hear Fergie - talk about pitching 300 innings which he did like 7 times. I know its a totally different game today - but I wonder if he rolls his eyes when there is talk of guys being over worked. Like in the pen if a guy throws 80 inn. Would just be interested in his opinion.

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    In reply to deport soriano com:

    thats actually a good trivia question -

    Who was the last guy in MLB history to throw 300 innings ?

    I dont know ? any ideas ?

  • In reply to deport soriano com:

    Randy Johnson I believe. 2001 Dbacks.

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    In reply to mutant beast:

    i looked

    steve Carlton in the NL & Jim Palmer in the AL
    last to throw 300 inn -

    was that when teams went from 4 man to 5 man rotation. ??

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    229 in reg season + 19.2 in the postseason = 248.2 IP for Jake last year , he needs limited work early in the season or the Cubs are morons period , that's a 90 IP jump past his career high

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    No recent record of moronship in FO.
    Plenty of evidence by some posters though.

  • In reply to Cubfucius:

    Cubs FO aren't stupid but I have seen teams at all levels push guys too far It wasn't long ago some Cubs manager I wont name rode 3 arms into sawdust , but now we can watch him break Max , Strasburg and company.

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    No recent record of moronship in Cubs field manager.
    Without Dusty, Cubs are free to clog bases with runners and do conga around home plate.

  • In reply to Cubfucius:

    That's hilarious! Lol

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    Minor league innings count. Its still a big count, but it is now more like 150ish to 176 to 248.2.

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    This is a real concern. Of course any team needs to keep it's ace. I think Arrieta is the reason the Cubs were so far ahead of schedule last year. But while no team can really handle losing an ace the Cubs should be at least better off than many. The lineup which was good last year should be even better. I think I like the bullpen. But losing an ace still is devastating. One could argue while the Cardinals thrived after losing Wainwright look at the playoffs. The rotation was exposed Lackey forced to pitch on short rest which ended in disaster. So the playoffs is where it would hurt.

  • In reply to Sean Holland:

    Losing Carlos Martinez at the end of the season was huge for them too. Could of been a very different outcome with him on the mound in the nlds.

  • Let's just spend more on Kasmir and be done with free agency. He would be a welcome #3 and give us the depth we need. Trade off Coghlin for relief help or a backup CF because he is an everyday player and won't get the AB's he needs or deserves. Then trade Wood for prospects since he his overpaid for a reliever.

  • In reply to CubsBuck22:

    Aside from the monetary aspect I don't see how Kazmir helps. Much like Hammel and Hendricks he's a guy that increasingly can't make it through the third time through the order. You'd be replacing one of those righties with a left hander with the same issues.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Bosio magic?

  • In reply to TC154:

    I'm pretty sure there is no draft pick compensation for Kazmir as well.

  • In reply to CubsBuck22:

    I'm more interested in how he works with Adam Warren. with 5 pitches you have to figure there's an effective starter in there and he looked very good in that role for Yankees early in 2015.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Kazmir's metrics are essentially the same as Hammell's, and significantly worse that Hendricks's. I rank Hendricks #44 among MLB starters based on 2015 stats, Kazmir is #64 and Hammell is #69. With a 5-man rotation, somebody goes to the pen.

  • In reply to wthomson:

    Absolutely. I want no part of Kazmir. I don't think he helps/

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    Listening to Theo, to me it isn't a matter of "if" the Cubs will trade young hitters for young pitchers, but "when." This offseason, before the deadline, or next offseason: he'll wait out the market.

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    Exactly, and even more than that it was ALWAYS part of the plan. The Miller trade skewed the market but as I posted above it should come back. All the pitching in the world doesn't get you anywhere with out scoring runs. See White Sox or even the pre deadline Mets of 2015.

  • I have wondered too about what we can reasonably expect from Jake Arrieta next year. I haven't taken the time to look through his projections that are available for next year, but we should expect that even if he is not injured at any point (something we really got pretty lucky with in 2015 - no major injuries), he is not likely to replicate his 2015 performance, especially what he did in the second half of the season.

  • Back to big arms off of the market and Giants a co-favorite. I don't like the Giants signings. They needed SP, but paid high for questionable pitchers coming off of down years. I can't see both Cueto and Shark bouncing back better than ever. I see Giants still in trouble.

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    In reply to NilesNorth:

    If they get the 2014 versions of Shark and Cueto they have a really good team. 2015 versions, not so much. They will likely have three pitchers who hit 200 innings.

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    Of course the encouraging thing for them is that both Samardzija and Cueto are returning to the NL where they were both very successful in the recent past. Plus it's a pitcher friendly park. If Matt Cain is anything close to what he was and Jake Peavy continues to pitch well with no arm that's the best staff in the NL.

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    In reply to TC154:

    NL, big ballpark. I would also add a great pitching coach, and a catcher who is ranked as the best pitch framer in the league, and is great at calling a game. And don't kid yourself: that lineup is pretty solid. A perfect fit for them would be to sign Fowler. Fowler, Panik, Posey, Pence, Duffy, Belt, Crawford, and whoever plays left (maybe Pagan).

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    I'm hearing a lot of talk of them signing either Gordon or Cespedes. That makes them very, very good.

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    In reply to TC154:

    The rumor out here is that they are done. Bochey said he's good to go. But, Gordon would also be a perfect fit.

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    In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    And not to make it all Giants, but at least statistically they had the best defense in the league last year, while the White Sux had the worst. Shark must be pumped.

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    Could be they're for real on standing pat, could be they're waiting for the prices go down on those guys. Cespedes, Upton, Gordon, Span, Jackson and Fowler are all still out there so there could be a bargain eventually. Either way that's a heck of a team. I really do see the Cubs, Giants, Mets, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Pirates and Cardinals as the real contenders. The Dodgers are still loaded in some ways but could have a tough time in a resurgent west.

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    Actually, the 2015 versions had pretty good years. My evaluation of their 2015 metrics puts Cueto at #19 (#1A MLB pitcher) and Shark at #34 (strong #2 MLB pitcher).

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    I forgot about Warren. I think he could be a big part of our pitching rotation next year. He was great as a reliever and did pretty well as a starter too. Maybe we have our MOR pitcher now and just don't know it. Maybe Pierce Johnson pitches well enough so that by July he's available to bring up.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I think Warren is likely the first man up if there is an injury to the rotation.

  • In reply to KC Cubs Fan:

    With 5 pitches in arsenal I wouldn't be shocked to see him beat out Hendricks for a spot. If nothing else he should be able to go deeper into games than Hendricks and his 2 main pitches.

  • John, I wasn't sure if I should read between the lines of your article. Are you hearing that the FO is worried about Arrieta? Certainly, as several of today's comments have pointed out, he didn't seem like himself in those final two games. Then again, Kershaw really struggled in the 2014 postseason but he didn't look too shabby last year.

  • John hit the nail on the head , 1 thing to take away from alst year other than Jake was historically good, He pitched 248.2 Innings last year , a 90 inning jump from a career high. Cubs need to keep him semi limited the first month or two for Jakes sake as well as the Teams in the late season pennant run.

  • I love the Cubs Den! I don't know what to do when there is a day or two without a post.
    When Theo calls me and asks for input, I'll advise him to sit tight. Having Soler and Baez going into the season would be great. Once a few teams fall from the 2016 playoff race, opportunities will likely be available.
    Four things I would like to see:
    1. Start the season with Heyward and Szczur as your CF. Start Almora in AAA, but if he has a decent offensive approach, look to call him up mid-season.
    2. Starting next month, have Lester lob 30 throws to first base, alternating with 30 throws home, several days weekly, before pitchers and catchers report. Work with hypnotists/voodoo doctors/psychiatrists, etc.
    3. Keep Hendricks in the rotation, he is young and good. Work on his cardio/stamina.
    4. Have Joe work out a way to keep total innings down for Arrieta, Lester, Lackey and Hammel. Two starts skipper early and another two after the All Star break?

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