Cubs need to begin trusting young pitchers in 2019

Dakota Mekkes / Photo by Stephanie Lynn

Dakota Mekkes / Photo by Stephanie Lynn

For all the talk of fixing the offense this offseason, there is hidden danger lurking within the other half of the roster that has not received enough attention.

Jon Lester, Cole Hamels, Brandon Morrow, Steve Cishek, Pedro Strop, Brandon Kintzler, Brian Duensing.

What do these seven pitchers have in common? They will all turn 34 or older during the 2019 season. Even if the Cubs move on from a couple of these pitchers this offseason, the team will still enter next year with more than a third of their staff in serious danger of entering a steep decline phase in career. In this light it is easy to understand why the Cubs balked at the idea of bringing back a soon-to-be 35-year old Jesse Chavez on a multi-year deal, especially since he is coming off a year in which he pitched the second most relief innings (95.1) in all of baseball.

Yu Darvish, Jose Quintana, Kyle Hendricks, Mike Montgomery, Tyler Chatwood, C.J. Edwards

What do these six pitchers have in common? They will all finish 2019 between the ages of 27-32.

Sensing a theme?

And what does seven and six add up to? Thirteen.

Or in other terms: the entirety of the Cubs projected pitching staff for next year. The age of 27 is roughly assessed as a player's peak, so this means that all of the pitchers the team currently has under contract is at or already past their prime. There are obvious exceptions, and health plays a big factor, but there is no question that age is becoming a huge factor on the staff.

Now, the Cubs will undoubtedly tweak their roster before the campaign begins. Expect them to add an arm to improve the left side of their bullpen at the very least. They will also likely explore adding another late inning option to provide the necessary injury insurance for Brandon Morrow. But even with those changes, and even if they manage to fill those holes with young arms, this staff will remain an aging bunch on the whole.

The situation is not completely dire of course. The front office has been preparing for this eventuality. They saw it coming and understood the dangers it represents. They also knew that the salary commitments to keep their young hitters would escalate beginning in 2019 and only continue on that trajectory for the foreseeable future.

The question now becomes, will those best laid plans they put in motion two years ago bear fruit?

Drafting College Pitchers

In the 2016 and 2017 entry drafts the Cubs selected (and came to terms with) a combined 34 pitchers. All but two were chosen from the college or JUCO ranks. They did not possess a 1st or 2nd round pick in 2016 due to the Jon Lester and Jason Heyward signings, but their pair of 1st rounders in 2017 (Brendon Little and Alex Lange) represented the first pitchers chosen at the top of the draft by the regime since they took over.

The bad news, that most fans who pay attention to the Minor League already know, is that none of those arms have developed into surefire top of the line replacements. But there is good news. Injury attrition has been minimal. And the majority of the pitchers have put up solid or better numbers as they've progressed up the organizational ladder. The impressive pitching depth the team has built at the AAA and AA levels heading into the 2019 season is due in large part to these two drafts. They may not have hit the jackpot with any of them, but by playing it safe, they have

Starters: Cory Abbott, Alex Lange, Tyson Miller, Duncan Robinson, Matt Swarmer, Keegan Thompson

Relievers: Bailey Clark, Thomas Hatch, Dakota Mekkes, Tyler Peyton, Michael Rucker, Wyatt Short

Further down the road: Brendon Little, Erich Uelmen, and a couple others

I've talked up this group a lot in the Minor League threads over the past two years. A back-of-the-rotation or setup man is not a very valuable prospect because most fail to reach their full potential. But this is where the Cubs strategy of buying in bulk figures to pay off. Individually, I would not bet much on any of these guys. But as a group? Yeah, it is a good bet that at least one or two become reliable contributors soon.

It wouldn't be a shock if one or two exceed their current projections as well. And the team has actually already received some value from these draft classes. Two of their draftees (Tyler Thomas and Rollie Lacy) were main pieces in 2018 deadline deals for Jesse Chavez and Cole Hamels.

Prior Prep Picks and IFA investments

Those are just the arms collected from two drafts. Which doesn't account for Adbert Alzolay, Justin Steele, Trevor Clifton, Dillon Maples, Duane Underwood, Jr. and others at the top two levels of the system that have a chance to contribute who entered the organization via international free agency or in prior drafts out of high school.

The Criticism of Pitching Development

It is true that few pitchers developed by this regime have panned out so far, and some of the ones that did (Paul Blackburn, Zack Godley, potentially Dylan Cease) were dealt for immediate veteran help (Miguel Montero, Mike Montgomery, Jose Quintana). They've been afforded the luxury of being able to spend freely, both in free agency and trade capital, on proven veteran arms. Such is life when most draft and IFA resources were directed toward amassing a powerhouse young lineup in the early years of the rebuild.

But that draft focus changed in 2016. The front office invested invested heavily in polished college arms with the sole intent to stock the prospect pipeline because they knew they would need to begin supplementing their aging staff with as many cheap, young options as possible for when the arbitration windows of their young hitters opened up in 2019.

It will still take a little more development time for much of this group, especially the 2017 class, before they are ready to contribute on a full-time basis in the Majors but the Cubs do need to begin trusting and using some of these players as injury fill-ins and late season contributors. The days of picking up the 20 million dollar contract of a Cole Hamels at midseason are quickly closing. It just won't be feasible when Kyle Hendricks, Javier Baez, Kyle Schwarber and others begin earning $10+ million through arbitration as they near free agency. Kris Bryant has already reached that point with an expected 2019 salary of $12.5M.

The 2020 season will be the real test. Due to the lack of previous investment I mentioned above, I've always argued the criticism directed against the front office for their inability to develop internal pitching help has been misdirected, or at least overly harsh. But I will begin leading that charge if we don't start seeing some contributions by the end of 2019 and some real results in 2020. If one or two full-time contributors are not identified by then the performance of the pitching staff could be in real trouble of falling off a cliff.

What does it mean for 2019?

Adbert Alzolay

Adbert Alzolay

Thankfully, the Cubs will be able to buy some time by turning first to some arms that entered the org prior to the 2016-17 drafts. Adbert Alzolay and Justin Steele are two of their top starting pitcher prospects, but with both coming off injury, they will likely have an innings limit. I imagine the plan will be for both to open the year in the Iowa and Tennessee rotations respectively, before transitioning to a long relief role late in the summer. This gives the team the option to transition them to the Majors as power arms out of the Chicago bullpen down the stretch.

The team can also hope for the long awaited breakthroughs by the likes of Dillon Maples and Duane Underwood. Along with James Norwood, they offer enticing velocity and MLB caliber offspeed pitches assuming they can dial in their control on a more consistent basis. The team still has the option to turn to MLB vets Randy Rosario, Kyle Ryan and recent trade acquisition Rowan Wick if necessary.

Turning to the 2016-17 draft classes the first name to know is Dakota Mekkes. He is the most MLB ready, and I argued for him to get a look down the stretch last year. He should put up a good fight in spring training if there is an open competition for a bullpen spot although his lack of a 40-man spot could preclude him opening the season in Chicago. I do expect him to finish it there, however.

Duncan Robinson (by Stephanie Lynn)

Duncan Robinson (by Stephanie Lynn)

Matt Swarmer and Duncan Robinson are extreme strike throwers that figure to offer rotation depth should a rash of injuries arise. Both should be capable of spot starts if needed. Swarmer could help out of the bullpen if the team is in need of a control specialist or help getting right handed hitters out. He excels at both. Keegan Thompson is another polished starter.

A little further down the pipe, are a few guys (Alex Lange, Cory Abbott, Tyson Miller) that we are unlikely to see until 2020, but offer a little more upside so I wouldn't rule out the possibility of one making an unexpected leap, especially if they are only called upon for relief help in 2019.



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  • I think the Cubs whiffed not having Maples with the team at the start of the year and bring him along slowly. To have a guy develop and get comfy in the big leagues with his dominant wipe-out stuff would have been useful when Edwards went down, Morrow injured, Strop got injured, etc. By the end of the year he may have been a "go to" type. His stuff is electric -- Morrow-like. The need for a Kintzler is no longer there if he was given a chance, IMO. And would have save $5MM this off season.

    I think Meekes and Underwood (less so) have a chance this year. Obviously not missing Alzolay as I expect him to break with the team in a long/spot starter role.

    Instead of dropping $3-$12MM per guy it would be nice to see some of these arms stick and provide savings that would be better served in the everyday lineup.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Yes, they need to begin getting away from the $3-12 investments on the pitching side because Hendricks and their hitters are going to start earning 8-20M+ beginning in 2020.

    If you replace a Cishek with Mekkes/Maples. Hamels or Q with Alzolay/Steele, Monty with Abbott/Lange, etc it opens up a ton of flexibility.

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    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Michael, I appreciate your coverage of our minor leagues, but I really don't have much faith in our pitching down there. You seem to be quite high on pitchers who have been moderately successful in lower minors and seem to think this extrapolates to upper minors and than the majors, the step from triple A up is huge and most of these pitchers you talk of haven't even cleared double A yet. I follow the cubs minor league system as much as most, living in AZ I see most of the pitchers you speak of yearly first hand, I have not been impressed with any pitcher you spoke of as far as pure stuff as I was with Cease, best I've seen in last three years, and second is not even close, except for Albertos, and I thought he, too ,was small for a starter.
    The cubs problem is not drafting pitchers and developing them, it's they don't draft pitchers with high upside, usually they draft pitchers who do not throw upper nineties because they fear arm problems, as with the reason Cease was not a first rounder, because he had arm problems and was going to need TJ surgery, they drafted him later with huge bonus to get him.
    They took a chance on big arm and it worked out, but he is no longer with us, and we haven't done that since. You spoke of Maples as reliever, another big arm who can't seem to throw strikes, but these are the arms who haven't been able to get past triple A, there is a big jump to the majors, planning on some of the pitchers you have mentioned taking that step is very wishful thinking, and I hope your right, but I doubt it.This front office has to start getting some big arms in the system, via trades,draft, IFA, or free agency as last resort. Sorry for the long post.

  • In reply to tater:

    The previous track record of development doesn't offer great hope and I can understand not giving them the benefit of the doubt. I can especially respect that you are coming by your opinion having actually watched most of these guys rather than just looking at stats or buying into the fear that because previous guys sucked, future guys will suck. That is how why we had to suffer through so many "sign Prince Fielder" (remember that?) and "trade Javy" discussions because surely Rizzo and Baez will fail just like Choi and Patterson did...

    And like I said I really don't expect any to emerge as word beaters, but there is at least fringe MLB talent in every one of the arms I mentioned. Again, there isn't any one or two players that I would gamble on, but I do appreciate the depth they have built and by sheer probabilities it would be highly unlikely if one or two guys did not breakthrough.

    I believe Alzolay and Mekkes have the best odds, but I admit I am higher on them than most scouts seem to be.

    To quote myself from the article: "I will begin leading that charge [to criticise] if we don't start seeing some contributions by the end of 2019 and some real results in 2020."

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    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Michael, haven't heard much from Bryan Hudson. What are his chances? Physically, I thought he had a good makeup

  • I love the depth and insight of your analysis, Michael, but I have to disagree that the FO does deserve blame for the sorry state of the pitching pipeline on the farm.

    The aging pitchers on the roster is a direct by-product of this administration's inability to develop arms in the minor leagues. I would say that they did invest heavily in pitching in both the 2014 and 2015 drafts, and largely whiffed. They should own that. The cupboard from those drafts is bare with regards to pitching. They should go back and figure out what they did wrong, and fix that.

    Now I'm a big supported of this FO. What they have accomplished is herculean, as far as I'm concerned, with regards to drafting/development/stocking the farm with position players. I have never seem so many good Cubs players come up from the farm, since Theo and co. took charge, for the 40+ years I have been following this team. They have done a fantastic job, and overall, are a huge godsend for this team.

    But they do have warts. That the pitching development is just awful is one of them. Sure, there are a few fringe guys who have contributed. But all of the major contributors have come either via trade or FA. That needs to change.

  • In reply to HefCA:

    The Cubs absolutely did not invest in pitching in the 2015 draft. The only significant pick and money was spent on Bryan Hudson, who was a prep player and always expected to be a long term project. He is still a prospect, and one that has competed against older players at every level of his development. Even if he nevers pans out, 0 for 1 is not really a big deal.

    They did invest heavily in 2014. And I would argue they did decently on that investment. They spent heavily on four pitchers, two who busted (Jake Stinnett and Carson Sands) but that isn't an unusual outcome, especially since neither was a 1st round pick.

    They also spent on two more prep pitchers, both of whom look pretty good. Dylan Cease is one of the better prospects in baseball that was traded for immediate help. That isn't an issue with development, that is a conscious choice they made to sacrifice future for present, just as they when they moved Blackburn for Monty and Godley for Montero.

    Their other pick was Justin Steele, who happens to be one of their better pitching prospects, despite missing a year due to TJS.

    2 out of 4 ain't bad when it comes to the MLB draft outside of the 1st round. In fact it would be quite remarkable if both Cease and Steele pan out.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    If the Cubs had chosen to hold on to Godley, Blackburn and Cease the angst that they couldn't develop pitchers would be far less. They simply chose another route. One afforded by their incredible hit rate on hitters.

    That isn't to say that they don't deserve some criticism. Other than Godley they haven't been able to uncover or develop a real diamond in the rough in their tenure. That is troubling. By this point they should have been able to find some middle relievers at least with some of their middle and late round picks.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    This is what I love about Cubs Den. Sound reasoning with facts to back it up. Thanks, Michael.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I meant the first two drafts this FO had, which were 2012 and 2013. Sorry, got those two years screwed up. (Draft rd. in parentheses) In 2012 they drafted Pierce Johnson (1), Blackburn (1), Underwood (2), McNeil (3), Conway (4), Prieta (5), Lang (6). Only Blackburn has done much, and that was only after he was traded to another team.

    In 2012, they drafted Zastryzny (2), Skulina (4), Masek (5), Frazier (6), Garner (7), Sam Wilson (8), Godley (9). Only Godley has done much, and again, only after he was traded to another team.

    This isn't cherry picking. These are all of the high picks they used on pitchers for those two drafts. I know not all will be hits, but they need to do better than this. Either they have a problem finding quality pitching in the draft, or they do not develop pitchers very well. Take your pick.

  • In reply to HefCA:

    In 2013, they drafted Zastryzny.....

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    Traded Tommy La Stella. There first round drafts great. Rest of draft picks ugh

  • Tommy La Stella dealt to the Angels for PTBNL or cash

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    This looks like a Torreyes for La Stella replacement on the roster, however, definitely not an upgrade. La Stella is one of the premier pinch hitters in the league, bats left also. Torreyes may be an equivalent hitter, but not close as a pinch hitter or in OBP. He is probably a better fielder, but I can't remember a single time where La Stella's defense significantly impacted a game last year.

    The only advantage Torreyes brings is salary relief(?). I'm not sure, but is that a big difference.

    The only other logical explanation is that Tommy made it known internally that he wanted the opportunity to be a starting player (or start more often) and this FO is doing him a solid by trading him to a team that provides that opportunity.

  • In reply to HefCA:

    There isn't much of a salary difference:
    TLS: 1.2M
    Torreyes: 0.9M
    Bote: ~0.6M

    I expect there is still another shoe to drop. Right now both Bote and Torreyes would be on the roster but I think there will be a signing/trade for another IF to replace Russell, and then one of Bote/Torreyes replaces TLS. The other will be stashed as depth in Iowa.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    With the trade of Torreyes coming to the Cubs, does this mean Daniel Murphy won't be in the Cub plans for 2019 ?

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    Don't think it was ever an option. He really needs to move to DH/1B.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Bummer, that guy can hit ! Will we ever see D.J.Wilson make the big club ?

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    DJ is very athletic but he needs to learn to hit the ball more frequently. He has the other tools. We might see him but we might not. He needs more development.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    That description sounds like Kyle Schwarber !

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    This makes sense. Can Torreyes play SS? That would be another advantage over TLS. If the intention is for Russell to eventually be moved, then Torreyes D will make a difference since it is now possible he will play more in the infield, not just as a PH.

  • In reply to HefCA:

    Yes. Torreyes doesn't have much of an arm but he has the range/hands to handle it.

  • In reply to HefCA:

    I said yesterday that La Stella was obviously gone with the signing of Torreyes and people (not here that I recall but in other places) said I was crazy. This was obvious. The Cubs have had a luxury the last few years being able to have an IF on the roster that didn't play SS. Without Russell they won't have that luxury so you swap out utility guys. Not that this is a surprise at all but it also means the Cubs aren't going after Machado because then you could have kept La Stella.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Jon Heyman reporting that the PTBNL is Mike Trout.

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    What an underwhelming return. Trout doesn't even have as many pinch hits as La Stella.

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    Are they throwing in Simmons?

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Nope, Ohtani.

  • In reply to John57:

    Still not enough.

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    For some reason this FO has difficulty seeing talent when drafting pitchers, but good in trading for them--Arrieta, Strop, Hendricks, etc. Other teams draft pitchers in the lower rounds and do come up with ML pitchers, so far we haven't. Now all the pitchers you've mentioned might come through in this year and the coming years. I'm particularly looking for Maples, Underwood, Alzolay and Mekkes, and possibly Bailey Clark too.
    Does trading LaStella mean Torreyes or Bote assured of a place on the ML roster starting the year?

  • Are there any thoughts on Alec Mills? I thought he pitched pretty well.

  • In reply to 1945AD:

    He's definitely in the mix next year. I didn't bring him up specifically because he isn't exactly young. He'll be like 26-27 next year.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    26-27 isn't young ? I was 26-27 once but that was before electricity !

  • When John was still alive and the Cubs were marching their way to the World Series in 2016, the Cubs optioned Tommy down to Iowa in mid-season. Tommy did not report, but instead took his bat and went home to his wealthy parents house on the east coast. I wanted to post this then, but never got around to it.

    HEY STELLA !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOL

  • In reply to shalin:

    Maybe Tommy shouldn't have parked in Theo's parking spot in spring training last year. :-)

  • AZ Phil is predicting the Cubs will sign Spangenberg or Dietrich as a left handed hitter/ utility type.

  • In reply to Hagsag:

    I assumed Spangenberg would get a long look given Hoyer drafted him. I wouldn't mind a deal for him because he hits RHP pretty well and I believe he has an option year remaining in case he repeats his 2018 performance. Would be a similar risk to Torreyes, as they would have ability to send him down if necessary.

    Dietrich I am less familiar with, despite him being around a while, I just haven't watched him much. I know he hits pretty well, but it looks like his K rate jumped way up last year. Not sure if that is a sign of a downturn or just a blip. He wouldn't have any options remaining I don't think so if they go with him they better feel comfortable with him being able to produce.

    Looking at their stats neither has had success as a PH, but they offer more defensive versatility, as both have some OF experience as well as 2B/3B.

  • The Cubs needed someone to back up Javy at ss, period. Bote and Zo lack the range. I was in the park with Bote at short and Murphy at second and counted seven times balls got through the infield that would have been outs. Whether Russell is released today or not, the team needed a mlb shortstop.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    As soon as it was a question whether Russell would be back or not it was obvious that La Stella's days with the team were numbered for that reason. Obviously the signing of Torreyes indicated that further and then TLS was traded. I do think it indicates that the FO knows what it wants to do at 2B. I would assume another acquisition is coming for the IF as I don't think you can go with Zobrist/Happ/Torreyes at 2B but it also indicates that the guys they're thinking about for that position can't play SS, because otherwise you would have hung on to La Stella at least until the decision was made.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Very logical, TC. A backup SS was needed, and that is not LaStella. The FA 2B crop is deep this year. It is likely somebody good will fall through the cracks and we’ll sign him to a team-friendly deal.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    The Cubs were the exception with 2 starting caliber shortstops on the mlb team. Most teams if they need a SS due to injury promote from AAA.

  • Russell most likely Will be tendered a contract today! According to Bruce Levine

  • In reply to bolla:

    That's disappointing on several levels but I also never believe anything Levine says. That said I have to agree it's starting to look like they might work something out.

  • In reply to TC154:

    I don't think they ever considered dropping Russell. He has value to the team but are still trying to trade him.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    Agreed in my experience sports organizations do what's in the best interests of their organization and for a team to release a player due to public pressure from the media then to me we need a little more evidence that we don't have. The only thing releasing the guy will accomplish is allowing Russell to sign with the SS needy yankees or the astros 2 organizations that have long put winning over ethics and to me people deserve 2nd chances and now it's on Russell to prove that he's actually committed to being a better person off the field. But I just don't see how being forced to release him really punishes Russell if he's just gonna sign with the yankees anyways. The only one that loses is the cubs organization

  • In reply to TC154:

    Why? Russell deserves a second chance. He’s young , all cubs fans should forgive, forget and embrace him.

  • In reply to bolla:

    I'll never ask any cubs fans to embrace him I don't have a high opinion of his character as you well know Bolla and I'm not very fond of him in general but I don't see how releasing him hurts Russell, the only one that gets punished is the cubs organization after Russell signs with the yankees. Why can't the organization use this as an opportunity to not only work with Russell but to try to do good for domestic violence as they've stated. This whole media idea of pressuring organizations to release players at the 1st site of domestic violence really doesn't hurt the players it hurts the teams. Look at the SF 49ers Reuben Foster this guy is an animal recurring women beater and yet after the 49ers released him he got claimed immediately by the Washington Redskins. In other words Foster due to his talent really isn't being punished at all for his crimes the only team that loses is the team that used their 1st round pick on him (49ers) and lost him for nothing. I'll always hold Russell in lower regard than some of our other players that are my favorites but I do support the cubs decision to retain him I don't see what firing him accomplishes if he'll have multiple other job opportunities lined up for him from our rivals also. Why should the cubs be forced into doing something that's not in their best interests that really doesn't do anything for the greater good nor does releasing him really punish Russell as many hope it would

    On a side note good talking to you and everyone again Bolla I've been out of the action for a while waiting for this offseason to heat up it's moving slowly.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Exactly! I've been saying for months the cubs aren't gonna just release russell. They aren't gonna give a good defensive soon to be 25 year old ss away for nothing.Now I don't know if russell will finish 2019 on the cubs but they were never gonna release him.I personally think they are trying to rebuild his value/hoping he bounces back(2016 Russell) now the personal issues are over.

    I know you've said russell parties a lot and doesn't seem focused but he's young,people make mistakes.When I was 24/25 I did A LOT of stupid stuff now I'm 39 and a seasoned adult who frowns upon my old behavior.I'm willing to move on and give russell a 2nd chance.

    Yea the off season has been slow but the stove is finally cranking up

  • In reply to bolla:

    Yup he's a young man and in my view I think with DV having a one strike system doesn't really help the offender grow into becoming a better member of society. i always thought it was stupid to pressure teams to release guys at the 1st site of DV when the player is guaranteed to land another job anyways followed by some Yankees team bs to the media about how they're committed to helping the offender and doing good for DV. Doesn't the employer standing by their employee and trying to help them do more good for society then washing your hands of that player and pretending this incident never happened within the organization.

    Agreed on his partying too not judging I was out doing the same stuff at his age but I do hold my favorite teams players to higher standards ESP when we're competing for a title and it goes beyond the partying he's just kinda a jerk too and he's not really very committed to his craft he Moreso just looks at this as a means to a paycheck while he enjoys the perks of being a pro baseball player. My stance is if this player isn't committed to being great then we'll find someone else that's all in but I'd soften my stance if he'd start hitting too lol

  • In reply to bolla:

    Don't you think Russell has already had multiple chances? Cubs have known about his behavior for years.

  • In reply to bolla:

    It's a done deal. Both the Cubs and Russell released statements. I wouldn't be surprised if Russell's was written by the Cubs FO, but it is what it is.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    I just read the joint statements, definitely sounds like a publicist or agent wrote it for Russellp

  • Billy Hamilton non tendered!!!!! The cubs should be on it , i know his on base % is low but look at how gores speed was such a difference maker. Cubs need more speed!

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    In reply to bolla:

    He's also an excellent defensive CF. I'd like to see the Cubs talk to him and sign him.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I'd be interested in him if the price is only a couple million. I could see him starting about half the games and batting 9th, with the pitcher batting 8th. Great way to approach not having a true leadoff hitter. Let Zobrist bat first and then bring the power bats 2-5 like they've been doing.

  • In reply to bolla:

    This is interesting. I wonder if he's more worthy of a roster spot than Terrance Gore...

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Gore joined the MLB team after September 1st. No way you could have him on the 25 man roster. As for Hamilton not sure the Cubs could have room on the 25 man roster either. Would have to see how the roster is constructed this off season.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Yeah, and he's lost some speed and his hitting has declined, too. I don't think there's room on the 25-man, unless he improves drastically.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    I agree. No way he is an everyday player.

  • He is a much better player than Gore

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