A Closer Look: The Cubs new look bullpen depth

This offseason may be slow when it comes to big name free agents flying off the board, but changes to the makeup of the bullpens in Chicago and Iowa have been rapid.

After a postseason bullpen meltdown littered with walks and punctuated by home runs, the front office made a public proclamation they would look to improve the situation by acquiring players more capable of throwing strikes. Though I never heard them make the same type of announcement in regards to home runs allowed, it is clear by the type of arms they have acquired via waivers and the free agent market this season that it is just as high a priority. Based on the moves made late in the season to let go of key components of the 2017 Iowa bullpen, it is also apparent to me that the front office identified the issue prior to start of the playoffs, and had already begun the process of overhauling their depth heading into 2018.

There are a few key elements when identifying potential relievers:
1) Missing bats (K%)
2) Limiting walks (BB%)
3) Limiting fly balls (FB%)

bullpenrefrangeMake the other team string together multiple hits during an inning. Don't give them extra base runners and most important of all don't give up the big fly. Ideally, relievers are advanced in all three areas, but most can still excel if they are strong in two of the three.

The Departed

Walk rates between 8-10% are difficult to overcome, but once they start climbing into double digits your stuff better be truly elite. Justin Wilson (20.4%), Carl Edwards (14.5%), Wade Davis (11.6%), Pedro Strop (10.4%) and Mike Montgomery (10.2%) are the type of pitchers that can erase their mistakes and get away with putting extra runners on base. But even they can struggle when their walk rates climb too high, Wilson and Edwards being the prime examples.

So the core of the 2017 Chicago pen was occupied by a handful of guys that miss bats and the strike zone with regularity. As the season progressed the Cubs ran into the issue that the available help in Iowa was more of the same, only less proven and just as volatile. When you peruse the tables below it will be apparent why the need to diversify is apparent, and as we will see later, the organization has made an effort to rectify the situation this offseason.

First, lets take a look at the relievers the Cubs let go, both late last year and then in the offseason. As the season wound down the team moved on from the core of the Iowa Cubs bullpen. Felix Pena, Matt Carasiti, Jack Leathersich, Pierce Johnson and David Rollins were traded, sold to Japan, lost on waivers, or allowed to walk in free agency.

bullpendepartures2As for the departures from the big club, the guys let go all posted solid numbers in the categories being discussed, so at first glance it would seem to indicate the numbers being utilized do not paint an accurate picture, but a combination of escalating costs and peripheral numbers trending in the wrong direction made each poor investments moving forward. The key now is replacing them with younger, less expensive and more reliable options.

The lone exception might be Brian Duensing, who was the most consistent reliever the Cubs deployed last season, and it should be no surprise that the lefty was solid-average in all three categories. The option to bring Duensing back remains but the question must be asked if the soon-to-be 35 year old can replicate that performance moving forward.

Koji Uehara was a pleasant surprise early in the season, but the 42 year old ran out of steam in the second half. I don't think anyone is clamoring for his return at age 43 despite his good command and solid whiff rates.

bullpendeparturesThe big blow, of course, is the loss of closer Wade Davis. Reliable, consistent, often dominant, Davis was many things. But he is also an aging veteran whose numbers have been trending in the wrong direction. They were still acceptable last season, but as a long term investment, he is risky because if his peripherals continue drifting as they have he will soon reach a tipping point.

The Cubs also relinquished their final year of team control over former closer Hector Rondon when they declined to offer him a contract for 2017. He posted similar numbers to Duensing in the three key categories, and given the going contracts for relievers, on the surface his estimated arbitration salary was reasonable. But a closer look reveals a troubling trend, easily recognizable by fans following the Cubs the last few years: Rondon has become increasingly homer prone.

While in general HR rates are linked closely to FB rates, in the case of Rondon, a two-pitch reliever who has struggled with consistency of both pitches in recent years, his HR/FB rate has steadily (and dramatically) increased from 4.1% in 2014 to a still acceptable 7.7% in 2015 before jumping to 18.2% in 2016 then an unbelievable 19.6% last season. That total was the 8th highest among qualified relievers in 2017. His teammate Justin Grimm recorded the 4th highest.

Justin Grimm

Justin Grimm

Which brings us to a good point for addressing the decision to retain the services of Justin Grimm. It was a move I was against, despite his modest arbitration salary. Grimm continued to miss bats last season, although his K rate declined for the second consecutive season, but he also showed no improvement with his spotty control while his flyball rate inched up as he gave up more fly balls than league average for the first time in his career.

The reason for hope in regards to Grimm is precisely because of the horrific HR/FB rate he posted. Yes, it was the 4th worst in the majors, but it was also double his previous career high. He has hovered around league average in that category throughout his career so 2017 is more likely a fluke than a new normal for him. So with a little better luck Grimm could well justify the decision to bring him back, and if he doesn't the money owed to him is not so great that the team can't just place him on waivers and move on.

The Newcomers

Brandon Morrow and Steve Cishek exhibited better than average K and BB rates while limiting fly balls in 2017. It is clear to see why the two were attractive options for a team that lacks well-rounded relievers of their ilk. The key to both will be whether they can repeat their 2017 performance. Cishek's numbers were in line with much of his career so the risk with him is low, but the opposite is true with Morrow. Not only has the right hander always been an injury risk, but his 2.06 ERA last season is less likely to be reproduced. Morrow did not surrender a home run last year. A 0.0% HR/FB rate, regardless of the changes he made to his repertoire, is simply not going happen again. If Grimm suffered an extreme case of bad luck last year, Morrow benefited from extreme good fortune.

bullpennewcomersObviously the number of proven, departing pitchers outnumbers the incoming players. But a handful of 40-man roster returnees riding the Iowa shuttle last season will be competing to step up and grasp full time roles come spring: Eddie Butler (out of options), Alec Mills, Rob Zastryzny, and Dillon Maples.

bullpenholdoversButler and Mills offer good control and the ability to work multiple innings and spot start if necessary. They won't punch many guys out but they rarely hurt themselves and generally keep the ball in the park. Zastryzny is of a similar mold, only from the left side, but offers a bit more pure stuff while showing improved control in 2017.

There really is no MLB player comp for Dillon Maples. It is truly unique for a player to generate ground balls AND whiffs at the rates he does. Usually it is an either/or outcome. Yes, his lack of control is a huge issue, but there is a reason the team choose to retain his services while letting go the rest of the Iowa bullpen that also offered high strikeouts and lots of walks. His stuff is just on another level, more in line with the elite offerings of Edwards, and Maples is more likely to work his way around any free passes he issues.

In addition to the in-house options available the club also went out and picked up five relievers entering their age 26-29 seasons. Plenty of previously struggling pitchers found MLB bullpen roles at that point. But most importantly, when you compare the numbers this group put up in the minors last season in comparison to the outgoing group from Iowa, the contrast is stark (ignore the MLB stats as they came in small sample sizes). Fewer strikeouts, but better control and fewer fly balls.

bullpennewcomers2Lefties Randy Rosario, acquired off waivers from Minnesota, and Kyle Ryan did not excel at throwing strikes last season but both posted exceptionally low fly ball rates in both the minors and majors. For Ryan his walk rate may scream that he is more of the same that was let go, but the lack of control last season was atypical in his career, as he posted average or better walk rates in all previous seasons. There is potential for a rebound for him and perhaps a return to his 2016 form when he posted solid numbers in 56 games for the Tigers.

An under the radar acquisition this offseason may well be former San Diego hurler Cory Mazzoni. His two cups of coffee at the Major League level have been nothing short of disastrous (17.28 ERA over 14 appearances in 2015 and 2017), but the former 2nd round pick did amass a 48-3 K/BB ratio in 30.1 Minor League innings last season (0.59 ERA). 

Ryan Weber, along with veteran Anthony Bass, were signed to Minor League deals and each fit as potential starters or relievers in Iowa. The front office also retained the services of a pair of their own Minor League free agents, Pedro Araujo and Daury Torrez, both of whom are strike throwers that also manage to miss some bats. Unfortunately, Araujo was selected in the Rule 5 draft, but if he fails to make the Baltimore bullpen, a distinct possibility given he has just one game of experience above High-A, he should fit in nicely as well.

Dario Alvarez doesn't fit the criteria but his slider is a proven plus pitch at the MLB level which allows him to miss bats at a rate higher than most free agents with a Minor League option available. If he can harness a touch more control, Alvarez can be more than just depth, he could be a late inning find. He is an upside play, plain and simple, and one worth the risk.

The Cubs will still rely on C.J. Edwards and Pedro Strop to get the team out of jams with big strikeouts. Justin Wilson and Mike Montgomery offer similar ability from the left side if they are able to bounce back from their late season struggles. Grimm, Alvarez and Maples also provide volatile swing-and-miss stuff the team can call upon. But the rest of the staff, including Morrow and Cishek, along with most of the options being assembled at Iowa offer the Cubs a more diverse set of options that can help Joe Maddon and new pitching coach Jim Hickey navigate their way out of jams with methods other than the strikeout. It certainly is not a foolproof plan, but given the failures last season a new course seems prudent, and I look forward to watching how it plays out.

If their is one popular idiom proven correct out on the baseball field most often though, it is the notion of best laid plans in regards to bullpens.

Comments

Leave a comment
  • This is exactly why I didn't want davis back.His velocity was declining,walks increased,gb % decreased,fly ball% increased and he gave up more hr's in 2017 than the last 3 seasons combined, think about all the saves davis labored thru because he couldn't throw strikes & all those full counts because of it. Add the fact he's 32 and that's a recipe for disaster.

    great article lot's of good info

  • In reply to bolla:

    Agreed. He was also not used in back-to-back situations until very late in the season. He was honestly put in as cozy of a situation as any closer in baseball last year. He performed as well as hoped when the trade was made, and bailed the Cubs out many times, but he was just not a good long term investment.

    There were better, younger closer options on the FA market last year, and the team still chose not to invest long term in anyone, instead trading for Davis. I just don't believe the FO wants to spend big money on a closer, and I agree with that approach. Too volatile, especially as those guys start showing signs of decline.

  • These color charts are always so helpful in seeing actual performance laid out. Nice piece, Michael.

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    Thanks

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    I sometimes worry they clutter up the articles too much when I include them. And I also think that it might cause people to paint me as a stats-only guy, but I do think they are very helpful for illuminating certain points of view.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I think your content highlights that you aren't stats-only. And the charts definitely do no clutter the articles. They illuminate your talking points. They're very simple but also super informative. I don't think I've seen a better comparison method.

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    I appreciate the feedback.

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    I agree, the stat charts aren't distracting at all.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    No, no...excellent article as is. Very helpful to understanding relievers.

  • fb_avatar

    Wouldn't mind seeing the Cubs add Addison Reed.

  • In reply to Ray:

    Me too. I like his versatility to work anywhere from the 6th to the 9th inning. Throws strikes, 50+ games for 6 straight seasons, only 29 years old. I felt going into the offseason that he was the best investment on a 2-3 year deal.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I don't know about Reed. When he was with the Dbacks, he was a disaster. Nobody in Arizona was sorry to see him leave.

  • In reply to NilesNorth:

    I think that was more of an issue with expectations. He was expected to go there and be a shutdown closer and savior for their pen. They went from a .500 season and were hoping to compete that season, but crashed and burned instead. Reed became one of the scapegoats and was never as bad as he was portrayed.

    He has also gotten better since he left. Really found himself in New York the past three years.

  • In reply to Ray:

    5:1 K/BB last year, 7:1 in 2016. He's the exact type of guy Theo was describing in his end of season presser.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Ray:

    I like this idea, too.

  • Thanks Michael...another great article and you nailed it with your last sentence...by their very nature, bullpens tend to be unpredictable.

  • Good summaries as usual Michael - and let me put a positive plug in for the tables/colors as well. Nicely highlights your points.

    I'll have to disagree with you about bringing back Grimm - he's got some great stuff (when he's on) and his pricetag (as you pointed out) was more than reasonable. He's a bit less roster-friendly at this point as he's off the Iowa/Chicago shuttle now - but he's had stretches where he's just been unhittable.

    I'll be interested seeing how Maddon uses the Ciseck/Morrow combination. Both have had some success as closers, but both have flaws/weaknesses. Edwards or Maples may be a future closer, but still are works in progress. And add Strop in there - that's a pretty solid bunch.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    I'm not upset they brought back Grimm. As you said, he has a good arm and has past stretches of production. I also subscribe to the notions of "there is no such thing as a bad 1 year deal" and the best way to build a bullpen is just collect a bunch of good arms, then "throw them at the wall and see what sticks." I just think there was better ways to utilize that money. I'd have preferred they just give a guy like Reed a couple extra million on a deal in order to get it done.

    The key to me is getting one of Monty or Wilson right. Both were terrible down the stretch. One has to re-emerge. If both do, then the bullpen will be in great shape and the Cubs will have about a half a dozen options available to close out games.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Yeah - Wilson was just disappointing to close out the year. Cubs won't really miss Candelario as he had nowhere to play on the roster, and it was too early to tell how Paredes was going to turn out, but if Wilson doesn't pan out, it'll still end up as spending a few trade chips for somebody you end up getting no value back on.

    Montgomery really only had a bad July (ERA >7), and I have got to wonder if he didn't transition well in going back & forth between SP & RP. I would still like to see him get a chance as SP #4/5 going into 2018, but if he doesn't make the rotation out of Spring Training, I think they need to consider just keeping him in the Pen.

    Have never been a fan of the 'closer by committee' idea, but the Cubs may have put together a decent committee.

  • Very complete write up on the bullpen. Looks like we will be pretty good there. Might not be done either.

  • Wow, Michael! Outstanding analysis. THIS is what John Arguello's Cubs Den is all about. Thank you.

  • In reply to TTP:

    I appreciate that more than you know.

  • As posted in a previous thread, there is an eye-opening article by Nate Silver (inventor of PECOTA) which describes a new relief pitcher statistic, the “Goose Egg” (after Gossage). He contends that the emphasis on “Saves” is actually costing teams wins, since in order to maximize saves, teams are not utilizing their best reliever (the closer) optimally. In fact, currently only Cleveland’s use of Miller is optimal — perhaps the Cubs are also headed down this path. Silver’s contention is that modern pens are built around the Save, and that leads to a waste of resources.

    The article: https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/goose-egg-new-save-stat-relief-pitchers/

    Quoting Silver, “The basic idea — aside from some additional provisions designed to handle inherited runners, which we’ll detail later — is that a pitcher gets a goose egg for a clutch, scoreless relief inning. Specifically, he gets credit for throwing a scoreless inning when it’s the seventh inning or later and the game is tied or his team leads by no more than two runs. A pitcher can get more than one goose egg in a game, so pitching three clutch scoreless innings counts three times as much as one inning does.”

    Silver further contends that “…a team shouldn’t be spending a lot for average relief pitching — the average relievers just aren’t that much better than the replacement-level guys. Pick up a few failed starters off the waiver wire, tell them to limit their repertoire to their two best pitches, and test them out in Triple-A or in low-leverage situations. You won’t necessarily have the next Gossage or Miller — those guys are scarcer and more valuable commodities — but you’ll probably find a couple of pretty good late-inning relievers without paying a lot to do it.”

    Historically, the season leaders for “Goose Eggs” are Gossage (’75 - 82), Hiller (’74 - 80), Stu Miller (’65 - 79), Perranoski (’69 - 79), and Marshall (’73 - 79), with totals of 60 fairly common. However, since 1990 the leaders are Jones (’92 - 67), Shields (’05 - 60), Thigpen (’90 - 56), Wetteland (’93 - 56) and Hoffman (’96 - 55). The leaderboard for the 2016 season (the most recent available for Silver's article) were Familia (42), Miller (42), Britton (40), Reed (39) and Thornburg (39). Note the MLB-leading decrease over time. Normally each team would have about 150 “Goose Egg” opportunities in a season, and that number has been increasing in the “Strikeout Era”.

    Of course, calculating a similar but more sophisticated statistic using Win Probability is possible by computer, But Silver claims that the Goose Egg is simple and highly correlated.

    In any case, I highly recommend reading the original article.

  • In reply to wthomson:

    I agree with much of this article. I wish teams and the industry would adopt the moniker of stopper instead of closer. I think there is a psychological aspect, likely tied to confidence levels, when it comes to relief pitching. A stat, such as the goose egg described in the article (or a similar such stat), could be adopted. This would allow agents/FOs to use it as a league-wide accepted point of reference for salary structure, just as saves have historically been. It would also help pitchers develop confidence as middle and late inning relievers that may allow them to overcome that mental hurdle of getting the last three outs that seems to hold some back. If they are ingrained to believe that a game can be won and lost in the 7th/8th inning just as much, and they see that coaches and FOs value those outs just as highly, I think it could have a positive impact on their versatility as not just 7/8th inning guys, but 9th inning guys as well.

    However, there are factors that need to be considered when deploying a bullpen. For instance, Wade Davis was the Cubs best reliever, but may not have been well suited for an Andrew Miller-like stopper role given the Cubs reluctance to pitch him on back-to-back days throughout the season. Some guys just don't bounce back as quickly. Edwards was probably the next best option and the Cubs pretty much did deploy him in the stopper fashion for much of the season.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Michael, I agree that there are individual differences in relievers (age, injury risk, etc.) that need to be taken into consideration, and I further agree that Davis could not have handled Miller-like use (can't think of much anybody that could). And your point about the mental hurdle (esp. to me as a psychologist) is critical. Silver addresses some of these points in the original article. But my main takeaway from the article is that emphasis on saves has led to less-than-optimal bullpen construction, and that considering the "Goose" or Win Probability equivalent is the way to go. The "Goose" is simple enough that fans, players and even (perhaps) sportswriters can understand it, and I thing that emphasis on the Goose might well also address part of the mental hurdle issue.

    When I get a chance, I'll try to access the new Cub relievers in terms of the Goose, but right now life is seriously impinging on my free time. I would invite any Denizen with interest in this issue to take on the task -- it should be a relatively straightforward analysis.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    You need to distinguish from the guy who can finish out the inning (be it 7th, 8th, or 9th) from the guy who only faces 1 or two batters, or who can give you one or two outs but needs to be bailed out as soon as he gets in trouble. The former would be useful to have a separate term (if he doesn't close the 9th inning), but the latter two types are more common, and frankly, not as valuable as the inning-closer is.

    This, to me, is where stats like ERA for RPs provides an incorrect view of the quality of the relief pitcher. (ERA for starters, on the other hand, is very straightforward and a valuable stat). I think a guy like Duensing saved the ERA for a lot of the Cubs RPs last year. He bailed out a lot of folks.

  • I'm hoping maples can build on last season & become a key part of the bullpen. He definitely has to cut the walks but he's nasty that slider is absolutely nasty.

    Reed & Darvish are who I really want the cubs to sign if theo can pull that off this off season gets an A+ but cobb and another bullpen guy may be more realistic.

  • In reply to bolla:

    If Maples could step into a C.J. Edwards like role by the end of the season it would give the Cubs multiple stopper options in the 6-8th innings. That has proven vital in recent postseasons. Could be a key.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Multiple stoppers is the way to go!

  • I guess the thing that worries me is that there is so many 'ifs' with this bullpen bunch.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Every bullpen is a bunch of 'ifs'. While they certainly failed in October it should be pointed out that Strop, Wilson, and even Edwards, have been pretty consistent over the past several years. We know what to expect from them, even if that expectation includes a few too many walks. Cishek is about as reliable as pen arms come as well. Morrow, when healthy has never lacked stuff. Wilson and Monty have been fairly volatile though.

  • fb_avatar

    Great article Michael, and I do like the charts. They really show where a pitcher is beyond the “feeling” that he’s good or bad.
    To me, the 2 keys to this bullpen are Maples and Wilson. Can Wilson regain his confidence and accuracy and can Maples throw strikes. If they come through then we’re going to have an elite bullpen.

  • Terrific work on composing all this.. The Cub defense is so good that working around walks here and there can be handled. But even Maddon can't station a defender in the bleachers!

  • OT, but when will Darvish and Jake sign -- with anyone? Can this go all the way to the start of spring training?

  • In reply to TTP:

    And if one of them announces he's going to some other team, do we expect the Cubs to cave or increase their offer to snag the other?

    It will be a huge disappointment if we don't get one them.

  • In reply to TTP:

    I know it is frustrating as fans, we want to see action and movement in the market, but it really makes little difference when they sign. These guys stay in shape all year so they'll be ready to go as long as they sign by spring training.

    I do believe the Cubs will end up with at least one of the big starters or relievers remaining, potentially two. One thing I do not believe however is that this FO will make a panic signing.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Agree Michael......more than likely Jake, Cobb or Darvish wind up a Cub....

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    And all three are good pitchers. They are going to get a good pitcher at their price, not the agent's price. This FO knows what they are doing. I am just going to sit back and watch the experts at work.

  • Excellent, thorough piece. I love this stuff.

    I will toss out a few other names. Matt Albers had a fantastic year in 2017. He is old and fat, but his stuff and numbers were remarkable. He did not do it with magic. Overpay him for 1 year, because nobody seems to want to sign him for two.

    Bring Duensing back. He was terrific last season and might do it again. If he can, Montgomery becomes your 5-6 starter. Perhaps you are better off signing Addison Reed for 2 years than Darvish for 5.

    If the bullpen is really 12 or 13 guys including Iowa, beef up the top 10 and lighten up the payroll for starters, by using Montgomery in the last starter slot 12 times a year.

    Rather than pay $110 mil for Jake or Darvish invest in a killer bullpen. Maybe Luck smiles on the Cubs and Smyly works in the pen in September, October. And It’s Maples’ turn when the maples turn.

  • fb_avatar

    I just read at MTR that Rene Rivera just signed with the Angels. He'll be catching Ohtani this year. They are building a very good team that will contend and could very well be in the playoffs this year.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Avila, Ruiz and AJ Ellis are still available.

  • In reply to Hagsag:

    Maybe Cubs are just planning on using Caratini as a backup. Switch hitter, plays other positions as well. He'd see quite a bit of playing time as a backup, double switch and pinch hitter. He gives a solid at bat and is a pretty good game situation type for the late innings.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to 44slug:

    I like Caratini a lot. I hope he stays up with the Cubs this year.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Yea I’m glad for him, he seemed solid. Going to another organization that has some excitement going on....

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Bummer. I thought he was the backup catcher that was going to be signed.

  • Stop the bleeding.
    I think an overlooked aspect of the bullpen is how do they pitch when the team isn't leading. Too often last year teams tacked on runs against the bullpen. A four run deficit became eight ect. As important as that shut down inning is when the cubs take the lead I think a shutdown inning when they are losing is just as crucial. This offense will keep us in most games as long as the pitching doesn't implode.

  • Really interesting choice of words from Maddon in an interview with Carrie Muskat about the bullpen yesterday:

    "I like the 'pen," Maddon said. "There's some really good arms. ... By the end of this offseason, we'll have a really firm bullpen again."

    Now of course, could be nothing, or it could be something... but to me, it sounds like what we currently have is NOT the finished product. I'd expect one more arm to really solidify it. The question is, do they do it the trade route, or the free agency route. If they can bring in a Darvish, that won't leave them enough money to bring in a Reed, Holland, etc. I think they'd acquire another cost-controlled reliever (like the Dodgers just did with Alexander).

  • Yea I liked rivera and was hoping the cubs could bring him back but caratini should be ready this year,can switch hit and can give rizzo & contreras rest.

    Gerrit cole is about to get traded to the astros. Trade imminent according to jon morosi

  • In reply to bolla:

    The guy they DFA to make room for him looks like a decent flyer. Wonder what Cub brass thinks?

  • Cole going to the Astros being reported on MLB TR.

  • One less team to compete for darvish too. Astros were the only real threat imo

  • In reply to bolla:

    Rumors are all over the map. Some sources are saying it's a done deal, others are reporting that it's all bogus. It definitely impacts the Cubs and our pursuits, so something to keep an eye on.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Deal is off, and the off-season from hell continues

  • In reply to bolla:

    I wouldn't go as far as "the offseason from hell". For fans who like a monster-headline-a-minute, maybe. The way this is playing out may benefit us greatly in terms of the talent and terms we acquire. I'm bored, but excited.

  • Great article. I especially like how it fleshes out the numerous under-the-radar guys who get signed during the offseason. It makes me realize why the FO might've taken a shot on these particular arms rather than just throwing mud against the wall.

  • This is article is SO good that all the other Cub sites are afraid to link it for fear of being made to look bad.

  • In reply to refugee:

    Wow. Thank you.

Leave a comment