Arizona Fall League Report: Week 5

Another slow week has dropped David Bote (.333/.395/.536) out of the top 10 in batting average and on-base percentage but he is still hanging on to 8th in slugging. He did knock in 3 runs in his 2 games, going 2-for-10.

He hasn't managed to get his bat going with consistency but Charcer Burks (.242/.338/.339) did reach base 8 times (4 hits, 4 walks) over 4 games. He scored 4 times and drove in a pair.

Jason Vosler (.216/.333/.351) still hasn't found his home run stroke, hitting just two in his first 21 games, but he is beginning to reach base more consistently. He drew 3 walks and collected 3 hits in his 3 appearances last week.

He appeared in just one game last week but Ian Rice (.297/.422/.432) did double and score during the contest.

I'm going to copy and paste the same update I included in the last installment: Another week, another 4 inning, 1 run performance by Alec Mills (1-3, 3.91). It is a result he has now replicated in 4 of his last 5 starts. He is throwing strikes (6 walks), punching out his fair share (20 in 23 innings). Mills isn't overpowering, but his fastball-changeup combo generates ground balls and enough swings-and-misses. His lack of a good breaking ball limits his upside as a major leaguer, but don't be shocked if Mills gets an opportunity as a fill in starter or middle reliever at some point in 2018.

Jake Stinnett (0-0, 2.08) stayed on a roll, striking out 2 in his lone inning of work. He has now punched out 12 in 8.2 IP.

Pedro Araujo was less successful. He gave up 2 runs (1 earned) in 2 innings. He did strike out 3 but walked 1 and gave up a hit as well.

Adbert Alzolay did not appear in a game last week.

 

Filed under: Arizona Fall League

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  • Sorry, I haven't been around much the last week. Been down and out with the flu of late.

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    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    That's ok Michael. I hope you're better. That's good news about Stinnett. The better he is, the more we might have in-house help in the bullpen next year.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    All four of the guys pitching down in Arizona are sleeper candidates to contribute to the 2018 bullpen in some capacity or another.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Whenever I'm sick all I do is lie around, immerse myself is baseball, and read and comment on Cubs Den. That's my therapy. :)

    I like Mills. Not a lot of upside, but guys who throw strikes and induce ground balls have value. I've got him pegged at about #8 on the SP depth chart with a chance to creep a little higher if he can maintain his consistency.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I kept thinking I should sit up and write an article or two, but I was laid out flat all for 3.5 days and its tough to write thousands of words in that position.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I like Mills better as a reliever than a starter, but I fully expect them to have him stretched out in Iowa as a starter just in case. While Tseng likely has the inside track to be the 1st call up, it is honestly completely up for grabs between him, Mills, Z, Farrell.

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    I still like Eddie Butler. Is he still with the Cubs?
    When I get a bad cold (never had the flu) I get chicken soup and eat ice cream. So far it’s worked.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    He is still on the roster. Tough spot though. Out of options next year and hasn't shown enough to go into next spring to be counted on for roster and night be too good to pass through waivers

  • Do they sign a FA and give up draft picks and international
    slot money or trade a young player?

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I expect they'll do both. Darvish wouldn't cost anything but cash and lots of it. Should be a great hot stove season. Especially with the Cardinals expected to be active. What if they line up on opening day with Dexter, Jake, and Wade in red hats?

  • In reply to NoDoubtAboutIt:

    I expect them to do both as well, but steer clear of the big FA pitchers (Darvish and Arrieta). I'm also leaning more towards that big trade for a young, TOR arm possibly not happening this offseason. I think we could sign two lower-tier FA's such as Cobb and Chatwood (or even Lackey on a one-year deal) and re-assess the situation at the 2018 trade deadline.

    I really think we want to avoid long-term, big-$ commitments this offseason, and make a serious run at Harper or, to a lesser extent, Machado next year. We may even need that money to extend Ohtani.

    This is going to be a wild offseason with innumerable possibilities.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Speaking of a wild offseason with innumerable possibilities, this year's FA prediction contest should be fun. It's about as wide-open as it gets, on the pitching side anyway, and the winner will need a good bit of luck. Educated guesses are valuable, but I equate it to making a 3/4-court shot in basketball: you need skill to get the ball in the general vicinity, but luck for it to go through the hoop.

    It should be fun and I am looking forward to it. Thanks to all who offer their time and effort putting it together.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I love Bryce Harper, I do not want him in Chicago. The idea of a $400 mil contract when a couple of years later Bryant is going to demand $350 plus makes me itchy. This from a team that wants to stay under the luxury tax? It just doesn't make much sense. Also a Cobb/Chatwood combination doesn't make this team a legitimate contender in 2018. They really have to do better than that.

  • In reply to TC154:

    We are a legitimate contender even if we dont get Cobb/Chatwood. The team is better than you think.

  • In reply to TC154:

    The Cubs FO keeps saying they take the long view on FA classes. They splurged to an extent in 2014-2015 with Lester, and blew their load in 2015-2016 with Heyward, Zobrist, Lackey, etc. knowing this year's class is relatively weak. They have shown a willingness to break the bank on a position-player FA who is young, and Harper and Machado will both be in their age-26 seasons in 2019. The luxury tax is not a hard cap, and I think with the new TV revenues by that time, they may be willing to go beyond it to extend the competitive window. Just reading the tea leaves, I think they are interested.

    On the rotation, I've fully expected them to trade for a young, TOR starter and sign a lesser FA to round out the bottom. Alex Cobb throws a wrench in that plan, IMO. With Lester, Hendricks, and Quintana at the top, we have 3 legitimate arms that go 2-3 on a contending team. I think Cobb slots in there as well, just a touch below. No one is a true ace, but that is a solid front 4, certainly enough to keep us afloat in the division race. One or two could step up in addition to the #5 and we could be fine, or we could still make that trade for a TOR with the same pieces we are mentioning now, only with an additional 2/3 of a season to help enhance their value.

    I think Cobb is as close to a slam-dunk FA signing as there is, and his position as a solid MOR arm has made me re-think things a little. Just my opinion, and of course anything is possible.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    IMO you have a good feel for what might happen.

  • In reply to John57:

    Thank you, John. I'm probably wrong, but because I mentioned it, no one else can pick Cobb in their FA predictions, right? :)

    We have money to spend, but I expect that to be on short-term deals. I'm not advocating it, but Britton intrigues me. I expect the Cubs to load up with closer options, not pay for a closer. We have a couple options in Edwards Jr., Wilson, and Rondon (if he is tendered), and Britton makes sense to me in that he is in his last year of control and scheduled to make about $12M in his final year of arbitration. He wouldn't cost much in prospects and we could easily take on the salary for one year, which I think is exactly the kind of deal we will be targeting.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I haven't posted any lyrics for a while, but I'm listening to this song right now, and it kind of sums up the uncertainty and hope of this offseason. Do we love it, or hate it?

    "I'm so happy, 'cause today I found my friends
    That are in my head.
    I'm so ugly.
    That's OK 'cause so are you.
    Broken mirrrors".

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I'm not sure we will go for a TOR type via trade or FA. I always look at world series winners and then look at their pitching staffs. They rarely are loaded with TOR types. The Astros this year had this rotation: Keuchel, Verlander (an 8/31 trade), Brad Peacock and Charlie Morton. On paper, are those 4 guys better than our 3 plus whomever becomes #4? I believe you need a stable of healthy pitchers. 2 guys from the bullpen need to pitch well and you have a fighting chance to win. We need starting pitching depth to win the division and then health ans a bit of luck to get through the playoffs.
    And, why would Tampa want to trade Archer this off season? They were 5 games out of the wild card. They have a strong group of minor league position players and pitchers. I believe trading Archer this year is not in Tampa's best interest.
    And, and....why does StL keep getting the national press that they have a surplus of good-great-elite outfielders that they can move for any player they need to fill a need?

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I think you're probably right but I think Cobb is a 5 and Lester at this point is a 3 at best. People wanted no part of Samardzija, when that discussion was happening, and I don't think Cobb is a good is as he is. That's what worries me. As far as Harper I just don't see them signing a $400 million contract, but hey I could be wrong.

  • In reply to TC154:

    I don't like the idea of a $400M contract either. I remember you literally saying you'd trade your mother for starting pitching, and I'm in the same mindset. I love pitching, defense, and baserunning. But knowing this FO and how they value talent, along with what they say, I really think they plan on targeting Harper or Machado. I loved having Soriano and Heyward on the team but hated both of those contracts as soon as they were signed. That's the price of baseball, I guess.

    A lineup of Schwarber, Almora Jr., and Harper across the OF with Bryant, Russell, Baez, and Rizzo manning the IFand Contreras behind the plate won't hurt my feelings, and could help hide some minor warts on the pitching staff.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I'm curious what TOR pitcher you envision the Cubs acquiring via trade? And who do you think they will use for trade bait?
    Baez and Russell are nearing their arbitration years. Both of them will probably will earn $10 million plus in their arbitration years. Not so attractive to teams on a super tight budget, such as Tampa, Miami and Oakland. Most of baseball does not share the Cubs' optimism for Schwarber. There are not enough pieces in the minor leagues to use for a TOR pitcher. That leaves only Almora & Happ?

  • In reply to Rosemary:

    That's why I'm having second thoughts about a deal this offseason. If we can sign Cobb and any #5, I think that is enough to contend for the NL Central title. If necessary, we could pick up a TOR arm at the deadline.

    The most obvious trade pieces are Schwarber, Happ, Almora Jr., Russell, and... and... say it.... Baez. I don't see Russell or Baez being dealt. Almora Jr. isn't enough to get a big arm and would have to be packaged with Alzolay, De La Cruz, etc. I think if anyone goes it will be Schwarber or Happ. Schwarber had a down season, and Happ is still building value. I can see us waiting a bit longer to maximize their value.

    For all the talk of the "monster" FA class of next year, there isn't much pitching we would be interested in. So it comes down to trades, or does it? With Lester, Hendricks, and Quintana, we have a solid front for the next few years. I've all but inked Cobb in there as well. Could we use an ace? Of course, but at what cost?

    I've heard what we all have. Archer, maybe Fullmer or Stroman. But if (when) we sign Cobb, I think we may be set for a couple years and ride it out until we see Alzolay, De La Cruz, Hatch, etc. making waves at the big-league level. The situation is fluid, it always is, and the way things have played out and look like they may play out leads me to believe that "Schwarber for Young Starter X" deal may be put on hold.

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    In reply to BarleyPop:

    First off, every team could use "a TOR arm." But, as you say, at what cost? To me the acquisition of Quintana had huge implications for this off-season. Suddenly we can go in and try to get a MOR starter which generally seem to go for around $15-20M AAV 3-5 years rather than 25M+ for 6 years for a TOR arm. In trade a TOR starter takes some SERIOUS assets. Much more so than a MOR arm. And that MOR arm can be a 3/4 rather than a 2/3 so that can also keep the cost down. Remember, Arrieta was good for the Cubs in 2016-2017, but he was NOT the same Arrieta that we saw in Aug-Oct 2015. To me he will be replaceable by someone much less expensive than he will be. Let's say we get a MOR starter then all we need is a #5. These guys can be found in FA or can be had "relatively" cheaply--at least compared to an MOR or TOR starter. We could find a starter looking for a 'make good" contract, we could find simply sign a starter that the coaching, scouting teams, as well as the FO, simply likes. Or we could say: "Butler, Tseng, Montgomery, Mills et al. the prize is the last spot in the starting rotation. Who is going to take it?"

    If we can cover those last 2 SP spots for $20-25M then we suddenly have plenty of money to go out and shore up other needs such as, possibly, veteran back-up catcher (if the team decides it doesn't want a catching combo of Contreras and Caratini), 1-3 good bullpen arms, some "depth" pieces etc.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Joel, this team will not compete for a World Series without a TOR arm. Lester is going to continue to decline in 2018 and Quintana and Hendricks at the top isn't good enough. I've been afraid of 2018 for two years and have taken some ribbing about it around these parts but now here it is and I think the team is in trouble. Archer (and maybe Ohtani) seem to the only viable solutions and longshots at that. A pitching staff of Q, Hendricks, Lester, Cobb and say Chatwood doesn't scare anybody when you have teams like Washington with Scherzer and Strasburg, Arizona with Greinke and Ray and even the Dodgers with Kershaw and a bunch of rotating situational guys. I can't see how it's even an option not to get a guy and yet they might not be able to.

  • In reply to TC154:

    I am not sure why you see Archer as the only pitcher that can get the to another world series. I don't think Archer is close to a TOR guy any longer. The last 2 years he has been just average if that. Cobb may be a better pitcher then Archer now or maybe his equal.

  • In reply to TC154:

    2016 Cubs, Archer was a 4.6 WAR pitcher with a 3.40 FIP and 11.15 K/9 in 2017. Cobb was a 2.4 WAR pitcher in only 22 fewer innings with a 4.16 FIP and only 6.42 K/9. I'm not saying that Cobb isn't a reliable BOR pitcher and I'm not saying that Archer is an ace but the comparison doesn't hold water and Archer might be the closest thing to an ace that's remotely available.

  • In reply to TC154:

    I guess we will have to agree to disagree. I know ERA and wins and loses do not mean what they use to mean but an ace does not go 19-31 with an ERA over 4.00 the last 2 years. With that said would I like to see Archer on the Cubs? You bet I would.

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    In reply to TC154:

    I will accept your arguments about Lester, Hendricks and Quintana at face value not because I agree with them but because debating that will be debating opinion/prognosis.

    I do disagree with the statement, "This team will not compete for a World Series without a TOR arm." I see this argument as overly simplistic. Did the Cubs have a TOR arm this year because I consider making it to the NLCS to be "competeing for a World Series." Yes, the Dodgers and Astros have very good pitching. But they also have very good hitting. The Nationals and Indians were both considered strong teams and both have at least one TOR arm. Yet both were eliminated by lower seeds in the Division Series.

    To me the trick is making it to the playoffs as often as possible. Once we get into the playoffs, I still contend, there is something to be said for talent, but there is also something to be said for just plain weird things happening when given a short series (5 or 7 game series).

    One example, admittedly anecdotal, can serve to illustrate--I won't pretend that something anecdotal can "prove" a point--was the Cubs-Nats series this year. By most reconnings the Nationals have at least 1, more likely 2 TOR arms (depending on definition). Those two pitchers (Scherzer and Strasburg) pitched REALLY well. Yet their team LOST 2 of the 3 games they started--through no fault of theirs. Weird things happened in that series.

    There are similar horror stories of the post-season failures that have peppered the careers of Kershaw and David Price.

    Again, this is not to say that a TOR starter won't REALLY help the Cubs. But the addition of ANY supremely talented player can help a team. I am not opposed to acquiring a TOR starter if the FO believes that it makes sense for the organization. I am opposed to anything that smacks of "we NEED to get a TOR starter to compete." It is certainly possible to succeed based largely on the exploits of an outstanding TOR starter (see SF Giants). But it is also possible to win using good, if not elite pitching, if paired with really good defense and a solid offense, it can work to have 4 pitchers that do the "5-and-dive" routine and hand it over to an elite bullpen, it is possible to win using a player going on an insanely hot streak at the plate and carries his team to victory. It is also possible for any one of these "strategies" to fail in post-season play just because of the vagaries of play over a short series. To me saying that "X is needed to win" seems like a really formulaic way of assembling a team. And if that is the case then EVERY team would be trying to build the same team. And the same team(s)--the ones able to assemble this agreed upon formula--would win every year.

    To me it is analogous to football. Many fans insist, "You can't win if you don't have a franchise quarterback." Often citing the fact that the AFC Champion has been quarterbacked by one of: Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning or Tom Brady in all but 1 season in the last 15 or so. But this completely negates any credit given to the defenses of the Baltimore Ravens winning a Super Bowl despite a marginally effective Trent Dilfer, or the Steelers winning a Super Bowl in which Roethlisberger had one of the, if not THE, worst quarterback performance by a winner in history, or the Broncos winning while carrying an aging and increasingly ineffective Peyton Manning.

    There are multiple ways to win in almost every sport. If it weren't that way then the results could be predicted with near 100% accuracy. The combination of multiple ways to win in a given game in addition to just the vagaries that happen result in the unpredictability that most fans enjoy about sports.

    To me the FO has done a spectacular job of assembling a group of players that CAN compete for a spot in the WS for multiple years. As I said, a TOR starter would certainly help. But the team CAN COMPETE without making such a significant addition. They do need at least 1 more pitcher but it need not be a TOR starter.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Both of the premier TOR arms didn't make it out of the first round -- Kluber and Scherzer had nice views from their couches to watch each LCS. I think it is over-rated to say you need a TOR arm. Quintana on the WAR metric is a TOR as he has been a Top 15 guy in MLB.

    IMO, the bigger issue facing the Cubs is you cannot afford the Butler's and Mills' making 10-15 starts out of your 5 spot. Then this team will struggle to get to the playoffs.

  • In reply to TC154:

    rbrucato, you know I respect your opinions, so this isn't about that and I agree with you about the bottom of the order being important, but you mention Scherzer and Kluber not making it out of the first round but you don't mention that the Dodgers don't get the the NLCS without Kershaw and Houston doesn't win the WS without Verlander. Now, there is an argument to be made that Lester is a guy who is so good in the playoffs that even doesn't perform like a 1 in the regular season that he will in big games in October. I think that's certainly possible but too big a risk for a team in the fourth year of its window. Then again I thought Verlander was done three years ago. The division is going to be better in 2018, I don't really buy that the CArdinals can be a WS contender with a couple of moves but their not going to sit on their hands either. I think Milwaukee seems as likely a destination for Arrieta as anywhere and I think the Pirates should be better barring more injuries. Then you have the Dodgers, Diamondbacks and Nationals all who look to be very good again in the NL. I'm not down on the team, I think the offense will be fine, but bullpens are unpredictable so your starting staff can't be. Say they sign Cobb and Chatwood, does Q, Hendricks, Lester, Cobb and Chatwood seem like a contender's rotation to you? It does not to me but I sure hope I'm either wrong or they trade for a guy like I'd prefer.

  • In reply to TC154:

    I am not disageeing with you, per se, other than "this team will not compete for a World Series without a TOR arm" comment. I think they will compete and I do not believe they "need" to have a TOR type. From a roster construction standpoint, a #1 looks like an area of opportunity. But is it? 92 wins this year and no one really assumed a #1 profile adn the offense was putrid for much of the sesason. I think Lester being the alpha make he is rebounds to a #1 level, Q is about as good a #2 in baseball, and Hendricks is probably the best #3 in baseball. So really what are we trying to solve for? I think we could find some MOR types that aren't going to break the bank and roll with it. You can always get the Verlander of 2018 at the deadline, if needed. Is trading our young hitters for 1 pitcher a wise investment?

    However, if Darvish wants to come and brings you Otani (Ohtani on his jersey :-D), then you have to make that move. I still want them to gear up for a run at Harper and Machado next off-season.

    There are a lot of ways to slice it up. I know you love your pitchers. And I am always in favor of creating more Offense. I respect your takes and always look forward to seeing your way as it makes me look at other possibilities. Fun times to see this unfold. This is why we have the best front office in the game.

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    In reply to TC154:

    rbrucato and TC154: These kinds of exchanges are why I LOVE coming to Cubs Den. Not only do you write words of your respect for one another but the tone is respectful (beyond "civil") and the disagreement is acknowldeged without resorting to ad hominem attacks. Well done, both of you.

    rbrucato, you and I seem to see eye-to-eye on this. Like you I don't believe the team can't be a strong contender for the WS title. My earlier comments and your further comments along the same line spare me from writing another "novel" (and everyone else from having to scroll through it or read more of the same).

    Well done, both of you.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I want to punctuate your importance of the Quintana trade. One can easily imagine the hole that we would be in without Q, as we would be looking for two or three starters instead of one or two. Plus, do the Cubs win the division without that trade. The team just took off afterwards.

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    In reply to 44slug:

    I am not prepared to give much credit to Quintana for "turning the team around." In 2015-2016 the Cubs were a very good team after the ASB, and in 2015 they didn't do much at the trade deadline to help themselves. I am inclined to say that the Cubs are just plain better in the 2nd half. Not a bad situation to be in.

    That said if we didn't have Q we would be in a worse position going into the post-season with the exception of still having a high end prospect to deal.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I like Cobb but I think MLBTR's projected contract of 4yr/48m is gonna be too low. Cobb has alread mentioned 5 yrs and I think with the lack of SP's available, he'll get more than $12m per year. They know more than I do so we'll see.

    In 2015 when Jake was Cy Young there was no doubt about who was our ace. The rest of the staff fell into place nicely behind him. In 2016 everyone pitched so well it didn't matter. We had 3 aces plus Lackey. But this past year nobody, including Quintana, stepped up to be our stopper for any consistent stretch. And while most of us think Hendricks will be better and healthier next season, Lester's age is a concern. Can he get back to being 3.5-4.5 WAR pitcher, or are we seeing the decline of a great career? I think this team is missing that true ace that most of the playoff teams have. Kershaw, Scherzer, Kluber, Sale, Greinke and Keuchel, etc. Obviously, we cant just go out and get one of these guys, but with the $32 mil we save on Arrieta/Lackey, I think Darvish makes us a stronger team than Cobb.

    Darvish was a 4.5 WAR pitcher before TJ surgery, and last year his velocity was actually higher than at any point since he has been in the US. If you can get him at 26-28 mil per year, with no young players, draft picks, or bonus slot money involved, I think they should do it. Steamer projections, for what they are worth, are not high on Cobb, although I think he will be a fine MOR pitcher. Darvish World Series meltdown is a concern, for sure. Those were the 6th and 7th times he has faced the Astros in the last two years, and the two shortest outings of his career. The other 5 times he faced them he pitched pretty well. Was it a choke job, or tipping pitches as a lot of people speculated? Can't really say until he gets another shot to redeem himself. I just think he and Archer are the closest thing we can get to an "ace" anytime soon, unless Kershaw and Keuchel go all the way to free agency next year.

  • In reply to NoDoubtAboutIt:

    Cobb worries me as a pitcher who was vastly helped by pitching in a pitcher's park. Look at his road/home splits for the last 3 years. That's a fairly large sample size and shows his ERA is almost 2 runs higher on the road (5ish). He has pitched well against NL teams, but Tampa seems to be a very cozy place for him.

  • In reply to NoDoubtAboutIt:

    Joel mentioned the addition of Quintana, and I think he is being overlooked a little. Everyone knows we need to replace Arrieta and Lackey, but we've already done some of that. For most of 2017 we rode a rotation of Lester, Arrieta, Hendricks, Lackey, and a revolving door at the #5 spot. Now we have Lester, Hendricks, Quintana, and very possibly Cobb, which I think is very equal to the front 4 we had for most of last season. I'd bet we add an established #5 that makes the rotation stronger as a whole than what we had going into 2017.

    An ace would be great, but the FO has said paying big $ and years for a FA is not their "preferred method". They have also said the time has come to consider dealing a youngster of the ML roster, but I don't think they are actively shopping anyone. The right deal will have to present itself, and that may not happen this offseason with the two most likely candidates (IMO) currently having depressed or non-maximized value.

    Again, this will be a fascinating offseason with so many storylines to follow.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    On a side note, more and more FA projections keep coming out, and all that I have seen seem to be a little lower on Arrieta than he or his agent are on themselves. MLB Trade rumors has him projected at 4 years/ $100M, and the crowd-sourced projections at Fangraphs just came out and have him at 5 years/ $110M ( and they have been one of the most accurate over the past few years). In previous extention discussions between the Cubs and Jake, it was often reported the Cubs were willing to go 4 years, with Jake famously countering that "Aces get 7 years". If all these projections are accurate, and they are all beginning to somewhat agree, the Cubs may see where the market goes and make a legitimate offer after all.

    This is why this is called the "silly season".

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    In reply to BarleyPop:

    And if Jake DOES sign, even if not with the Cubs, his contract will be seen as a benchmark contract. And, as such, can affect the market, if only just a little.

    At the same time, it is also possible that people will see his contract as an anomaly if he signs for less than $150M and someone says, WOW, that team got a good deal." and move on from there.

    But if Arrieta is in the 20-25M range for 5 or fewer years I would be inclined to roll the dice. But, as one columnist put it, for that to happen he likely needs to go into Jan-Feb without a contract. Would the Cubs be willing to wait that long?

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    In reply to NoDoubtAboutIt:

    As I have said before, I am not opposed to getting a TOR starter. I am just not sure that is the best use of our resources.

    Trading for a TOR starter is going to cost us a ton of talent off of the MLB roster. A team like Tampa is going to ask for multiple really talented players so the question is whether or not the team is better off after that trade. You may contend that the organization will be. I am not so sure. But we can disagree about that.

    If the Cubs can get Cobb for $12-15M/year for 4 or fewer years I am tempted to try it. I do not like the sound of signing someone to a 6+ year contract. IF Lester is in decline then I don't want another huge contract.

    But the main reason I am hesitant to go out a lot of years is that the team is going to start getting expensive this year. Players like Baez, Hendricks, Bryant and, I believe, Russell are eligible for arbitration. And some, if not all, of those salaries will start to increase dramatically and the team payroll commensurate with it. And after 2021 things start to get REALLY expensive unless we trade 1 or more of these guys. And these are all followed in quick succession with possible raises needing to go to Kyle Schwarber, and, later, Ian Happ.

    There is something to be said for "strike while the iron is hot" and go for as many championships in as short of a span as we can. I choose not to embrace that. I want to maximize our chances of making the playoffs every year for as many years as possible. And to do this it might mean not making huge moves during the off-season. This team is good enough to make it to the NLCS and, if some things break our way, we can win the whole thing. Once you get to that level it isn't always the best team that wins but the team with the most "luck."

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I expect the Cubs to sign Cobb. Everyone on both sides are saying the right things. The only way I see it not happening is if a team goes nuts in years and dollars over what we offer, and I don't see that happening. There is half the solution to the holes in the rotation. We could go high or we could go low on the other half.

    We also have huge holes in the bullpen. I expect us to be aggressive with one arm and sign him early. This reliever market is deep. Many of the big-market clubs have established closers, so I think guys like Reed, Morrow, and Shaw may not have the demand they are hoping for.

    All of this is to say yes, I expect us to sign Cobb and possibly one targeted reliever early, and then wait out the market to fill the rest of our needs. With such a crowded reliever class, there will be guys left at very reasonable prices in January. I think we sign a few closer options, to go along with Wilson (who Steamer has projected at 37 saves with the Cubs), Edwards Jr., and possibly Rondon rather than spending big on Davis or Holland.

  • Sorry to hear about the flu issues Michael - have managed to avoid it the last few years and haven't missed it.

    Its good to see that some of the drafted / international signings of pitchers are starting to be MLB ready. Stinnett, Mills and Tseng would be nice additions or at least ready Iowa call-ups for next season.

  • Do you think Dillon Maples breaks camp with the big league club? He might be the guy I'm rooting for the hardest.

  • In reply to bwitty:

    If he throws strikes in the spring I don't see how they keep him off the roster. He does that and he can be as dominant as Edwards is when he throws strikes.

    If he doesn't, they can send him to Iowa for a while until he finds his groove. Edwards did the up-and-down thing for a while and Maples could see similar situation.

  • In a June 11, 1997 playoff game, Michael Jordan scored 38 points while suffering from the flu. Every time I even get a cold, I wonder how the heck #23 did that.

    Best wishes, Michael Ernst.

  • I will be interested to see the results of Jim Hickey working with a few pitchers in spring training. I want to see the results with Eddie Butler, Duane Underwood, James Pugliese, Stephen Perakslis and David Garner. I an interested to see if a new voice might bring out a little more from the potential.

  • In reply to Gator:

    Cubs have a bunch of guys in AA/AAA/AAAA with enough stuff to contribute if they figure out a way to throw enough quality strikes. You can add Zastryzny, Rosario, Hancock, Black, Clifton, Brooks, Norwood, and others to that list. A new voice may help some of them, so could just natural progression or experimentation with new grip/arm slot/mechanics/etc.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    How many games will Alzolay start for the Cubs in the 2018 season? How about Hatch? De La Cruz?

  • In reply to Rosemary:

    Perfect world? Zero.

    Alzolay will likely make his debut this year, September call up at the latest. He needs to improve his changeup. If it becomes a dependable 3rd pitch he could become a viable rotation option in 2nd half. If it still requires further development Alzolay will be more likely to break in as a reliever then transition to rotation down the road.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    De La Cruz needs to concentrate on staying healthy and getting into a rhythm. Similar situation to Underwood last year. Pitch a full season, maybe in Tennessee, and then go into spring 2019 ready to compete for a job.

    Hatch fall in between. He has the starter repertoire ready, he just needs to tighten up his command and consistency. If he does his 2nd half outlook can be similar to Alzolay as a guy that could help in pen or rotation if needed.

  • Looks like the Mesa Solar Sox are playing for the AFL championship again.

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    Our first 5 prospects are pitchers and all are 22 or younger--Albertos is 19. That means that we do have a wave coming within a year or two and if not a clear cut #1 it really depends on how healthy they are next year. This bodes well for us, and I don't want us to sign a 30+ year old pitcher for a number of years. We do have help coming, and with our core so young we can and will be in the playoffs for years to come.

  • I just read on Bleacher Nation that the DirtyBirds have been awarded there annual extra draft pick for being so awesome, this time pick #39 overall. The token gift is officially labeled as a competitive-balance pick, given to teams with low revenues and who cannot field a competitive team without the additional assistance, which is clearly THE CARDINALS, their 7th-highest revenue and obvious lack of competitiveness over the last several decades.

    For some scale, the Cubs will get a pick somewhere around 76-85 for losing Arrieta and Davis, but the DirtyBirds get an absolutely free pick at #39 simply because they are so cool. Don't even get me started on the kiss-on-the-neck punishment they received for hacking the Astros, especially in light of what the Braves are facing in light of their IFA violations.

    DirtyBirds president Bill DeWitt Jr. is a very powerful man in MLB. Too powerful, IMHO, for the fairness of the game.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Agree on the Dirty Birds getting away with general skeeviness and underhanded dealings. It's hard to believe the Director of Scouting was the only person involved in the theft of the Astro's drafting and trading information. To me it's clear that the MLB did not fully want to know the truth about what really was going on with this dirty business.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Well, it is harder for these little river 'towns' to compete with the likes of NY, LA, etc. The Cardinals are the exception. KC, Cinn, Pit, & Cleveland struggle to keep any of their top players past free agency.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I fully support competitive-balance picks and any measures that aim to foster parity in the game and give hope to the fan bases of every team. I am disgusted by the obvious influence of DeWitt and the Cardinals, from the fuzzy math that turns the team with the 7th-highest revenue into beggars needing handouts to survive to the League's unwillingness to impose penalties nearly equal to the (literal) crimes committed.

    I just feel DeWitt has too much influence, and it rubs everyone who isn't one of TBFIN the wrong way.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Luckily, the Card's billion dollar TV contract kicks in in 2018 and should be able to keep them afloat for a few more years.

  • Congrats are in order to Jason Parks, a former Baseball Prospectus writer who has spent the last several years as a Cubs Special Assistant and scout. He has been hired and promoted by the D-Backs as Director of Pro Scouting.

    There was a Twitter campaign to wish him well, and recall fond stories of his time with the Cubs. Someone shared a quote from Parks, which I absolutely love. When asked his opinion of the futures of Carlos Correa and Javier Baez, in July of 2014, Mr. Parks dropped this classic line:

    "Both could be All-Stars; Baez could be a religion."

    I like your thinking, Jason. Best of luck in your new endeavour.

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    In reply to BarleyPop:

    Wasn't he the guy who quipped, when asked, "What's Baez ceiling?" and he replied "Unicorn."

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Yes, he was. As his new job title suggests, he obviously has an eye for talent, and the creative writer in him often came out when describing young players with the potential of someone like Javy.

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