Taking Stock and Looking Forward: The Bullpen

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The Cubs offseason is off to a start I don't think any of us expected. A coaching carousel, reports of financial constraints, and rumors of discord within the clubhouse have chipped away at our utopian visions of baseball domination. We were supposed to sign Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, trade our spare parts for Jacob deGrom, and cakewalk our way to another World Series title. Yeah, that's the ticket...

Instead, a cold, hard reality has blown in like a stiff November gust, leaving us with actual work to be done. There are several areas the Cubs can improve upon over their disappointing 2018 season. The stove will be hot and rumors will continue to fly (did you hear that Kris Bryant is on the trading block?), but things really heat up at the Winter Meetings next month in Las Vegas. Before things get too carried away, I'd like to take a look at each unit of this team, what we have and what we may target, starting today with the bullpen.

Jed Hoyer had this to say at the GM Meetings:

The key is not just to have a good bullpen all year, but you’ve got to have that bullpen pitching well down the stretch, and part of it is having the depth to not overuse guys… Our bullpen performed exceptionally well last season, but we have to make sure it does that again by adding enough depth. I’m actually impressed our bullpen held up as well as it did given the short starts early in the season.

WHO'S HERE:

The Cubs' bullpen, as a whole, was arguably the most consistent and effective unit in 2018. That changed down the stretch, first from injury and then, possibly, overuse. Most of the core unit returns, but questions abound.

  • RH Brandon Morrow: The joke was Morrow could hurt himself putting on his pants, but his fragility is no laughing matter. When healthy, he's about as good as they come, and the closer's job is his. He is expected to be handled even more cautiously in 2019.
  • RH Pedro Strop: After agonizing over such a difficult decision,  the Cubs decided to pick up Strop's $6.25M option for 2019. Strop stepped in admirably in the absence of Morrow, saving 13 games before going down with a hamstring injury of his own. He courageously pitched the wild-card game in severe pain, later admitting that he lied to the coaching staff and that if we had won, he would not have been able to appear in the division series. I like this guy.
  • RH Steve Cishek: As reliable as they come, Cishek appeared in 80 games in 2018. There's no reason to believe he cannot do the same in the final year of his contract.
  • RH Carl Edwards Jr.: Edwards Jr.'s raw stuff is as nasty as it comes, but questions remain about his durability, control, and poise under pressure. He struggled through shoulder issues throughout the season, and ended the year amid questions regarding his elbow. I love the kid, but have concerns about his health going into 2019.
  • RH Brandon Kintzler: The Cubs turned down Kintzler's $10M team option, as expected, and he picked up his $5M player option, as expected. He was bad as a Cub, but has had a solid career. Decent production is not out of the question, or he could be moved if we can unload his contract.
  • LH Mike Montgomery: One of the best swingmen in the game, Montgomery was impressive again in 2018. He threw 124 innings in his 19 starts and 19 appearances out of the pen. If all the starters are healthy, Monty begins 2019 in the pen yet again. There is a chance he is dealt if the Cubs can get good value, but the trade of Drew Smyly makes that less likely.
  • LH Brian Duensing: Duensing parlayed a solid 2017 season into a new two-year deal. 2018 didn't go well, but I believe a bum shoulder had a lot to do with that. If he isn't moved this offseason, he will have to prove himself in spring training, and his $3.5M salary could be eaten for a more valuable roster spot.

We have several depth options in-house. Michael has recently highlighted Dakota Mekkes, Dillon Maples, and Trevor Clifton. Alec Mills made a good impression while with the big club, and Adbert Alzolay may be ready. We always stockpile fringe arms, hoping one of them will break out. Bullpens are weird. 

POTENTIAL FA TARGETS:

The free agent market for relief pitchers is deep, and this is one area where our cheap owner may actually spend some money. The focus on a dominant LH reliever will be a priority, but will not come cheaply. Fangraphs has posted it's 2019 FA Tracker, with a crowd-sourced estimate of contract length and value that has been historically very accurate, though none are precise, of course.

  • RH Jesse Chavez (1y/$5M): I start here due to familiarity, and because of his desire to return. Chavez was a revelation upon his his arrival from Texas, notching a 1.15 ERA in 39 IP with the Cubs, and without him we may have lost the division ouright. At age 35, he is one of the older viable free agents available, and his 95.1 IP was 2nd in MLB only to Ryan Yarbrough, who accumulated more IP due to some wacky staff usage in Tampa Bay. The Cubs coaching staff made some mechanical tweaks when he arrived here, and he also nearly abandoned his curveball and changeup, becoming more of a traditional fastball/slider reliever. I wouldn't expect that level of dominance, but those changes lead me to believe his success could be sustainable.
  • RH Craig Kimbrel (4y/$64M): Due to the price tag, and the fact he is the only reliever attached to a QO, I'd be shocked if the Cubs made a serious pursuit. It would be nice to have him on the team though.
  • RH David Robertson (2y/$22M): A closer earlier in his career for the Yankees and White Sox, Robertson spent 2018 in a setup role in New York. Despite the lack of elite velocity, Robertson still managed 11.76 K/9 IP to go along with 3.36 BB/9 IP. He's also durable, having thrown over 60 innings in each of the last nine seasons. I can see the Cubs having interest, especially considering the injury concerns surrounding Edwards Jr. and Morrow, but I'm afraid the bidding may go higher.
  • LH Andrew Miller (2y/$22M): Miller has been the darling of the high-leverage, multi-inning relievers over the last several years, but had an injury-plauged 2018. A hamstring strain, knee inflammation, and shoulder issues limited him to just 34 IP. It's possible he could settle for a one-year deal to re-establish value before hitting the market again next season. Anything longer could leave a team paying for his name and past success, rather than future performance, which is something Theo and Co. don't like to do.
  • RH Adam Ottavino (3y/$30M): The set-up man from Colorado had a solid bounce-back year in his quest for a new contract. After undergoing TJ surgery in 2015, and shoulder issues in 2017, he may cash in. He sported an impressive 12.98 K/9 IP.
  • RH Jeurys Familia (3y/$30M): A very good reliever. He was an All-Star in 2016 when he led MLB with 51 saves. But Familia was arrested for domestic violence on October 31st, 2016. No criminal charges were filed, but he was suspended 15 games during the 2017 season. I said I would be shocked if we made a serious pursuit of Kimbrel, and I would be beyond that if we pursued Familia, given the current situation with Russell and our previous experience with Chapman.
  • RH Joakim Soria (2y/$16M): Still going strong at age 35, Soria has amassed 220 career saves. Despite a lack of elite velocity, he still baffles hitters to the tune of 11.13 K/9 IP with a skinny 2.37 BB/9 IP. A little long in the tooth but still effective, so you never know.
  • LH Zach Britton (3y/$36M): Britton has been linked to the Cubs on several occasions in the past. He was once perhaps the best closer in baseball, but tore his Achilles in December 2017, and did not pitch again until June of 2018. If healthy, he is the type of dominant LHR reliever I expect the Cubs to make a strong push for.
  • RH Cody Allen (2y/$18M): Despite being on the losing end of the World Series to a certain team that starts with a"C", ends with an "O", and in the middle is "hicag", Allen was the closer for some very good Indians teams from 2014 through 2017. In 2018, despite saving 27 games, his ERA ballooned to 4.39 and may have depressed his value just enough to make us interested.
  • RH Joe Kelly (2y/$14M): Despite being one of the hardest throwers in the league, Kelly doesn't fan the amount of hitters you would expect for a reliever whose fastball averages 98.1 MPH, yielding "only" 9.32 K/9 IP. He also can get a bit wild as evidenced by his 4.39 BB/9 IP. He did have a very nice postseason with Boston, allowing only one run in 11.1 IP, with 13 K's and nary a free pass.
  •  RH Kelvin Herrera (3y/27M): Another fire-baller who sits in the high 90's, Herrera K's many and walks few but is prone to inconsistency. He underwent surgery on his left foot in August, and the timetable for his return is uncertain. For that reason, estimates of his projected contract fluctuate greatly. MBLTR has him at only 1y/$8M. He could be another one-year "pillow" candidate to re-establish value and re-enter the market. If so, and the price is right, the Cubs may be willing to gamble.

There are many other possibilities, from lesser names to former bullpen arms who are now seeking contracts as starting pitchers. Nathan Eovaldi is one who has probably earned a contract to start, and for that reason may be out of our price range, but maybe not. Bud Norris is another, but, no.

TRADE POSSIBILITIES:

As much fun as it could be to ponder and propose specific trade proposals, I'm not foolish enough to try. But it is a very real possibility. The FO has stated they are more likely to explore trade opportunities than to shop at the high end of the FA market. One or more of our young outfielders may be traded, and if we acquire a veteran OF bat, that trade becomes a near-certainty.

If the rumored fire sale in Seattle comes to fruition, I would love to peel away Edwin Diaz. With oodles of talent and cost control, I'm sure the price to acquire him would make me throw up in my mouth a little, but a boy can dream, right?

 

 

 

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  • Nice first installment, BP. Noticed a bit of sarcasm (our ‘cheap owner’), which I know you do not mean, but the uninitiated may be caught uanwares...

    I saw on MLBTR that Texas decided not to bring back their pitching coach. I couple that with the stories that Hickey was moving on, and I cannot help but wonder.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Good point on the Ricketts, Norway. We discuss this stuff all the time and know we couldn't be more fortunate as far as ownership goes, but not everyone is a regular. In fact, I just started tweeting (you can find me BarleyPop @BPPilbean) to try to spread the Cubs Den love, so to anyone who may be confused: the Ricketts ARE NOT cheap! Hearing that tired narrative from meatball fans gets old.

    As to Hickey, I think it was a straight-up firing due to poor performance. He could go to Texas, but that would be a lateral move. It's not like he's voluntarily leaving for a promotion. Best of luck to him, but like Chili, it just didn't seem to be a good fit, and with both those hirings on Maddon I think that's a big reason why Joe isn't being extended.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I just read my comment and realized I made it sound as if Hickey has already been fired. He hasn't been, but all signs point in that direction. The delay in an announcement is odd, though.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Seems like a "justify your job" situation to me in regards to Hickey but that actually surprises me because I didn't think this club operated like that. He's probably gone but I can't say I'd be completely surprised if he was back.

  • I know I've been a broken record on this but I never worry about this team assembling a bullpen. If you look at the pen at the start of the last three years you'll see that going into the season you would call it a top five pen in all of MLB each of those years. Also, in two of the three with the exception being 2018, they finished with a top five pen and the exception was largely due to the injuries to Strop and Morrow. In that light I see Hoyer's comments a little bit differently. Last year they went searching for depth in season, whereas in the other years they had several viable arms tooling around in the minors before the season. Some were eventually released for various opportunities because they weren't needed in fact, the ultimate test of depth. For whatever reason they weren't able to do that last year and went scrambling looking for arms. The fact that they ended up with the likes of Chavez and Kintzler (who for whatever reason suddenly got bad when he arrived, call it "Wilson Disease) mid-season is a testimony to their perseverance. The thing is that they have to look for guys with some upside. Dylan Floro is a great example, he didn't work for us but then got to LA and was very, very good. We need to find those types and stick them in Iowa and that way if Morrow has to take a week to rest his arm he can before it's a crisis. To me that's far more important than signing FA. All that said they have to look there too.

    I like a few of the names you brought up, BP, but maybe the one that catches my eye the most is Soria. He'd be reasonable in terms of money and was very good for Milwaukee last year. The issue of course is the every other year reliever thing. We all know that's real because we see it year after year. Here's the thing though, Soria is remarkably consistent for a pen arm. He's only had one year with a FIP over the mid 3's and his K/9 is actually improving year to year in his mid thirties. Yes please. Miller is a guy I would look at it if his market doesn't develop. He could be a guy you use sparingly in season and let him do his thing late. I'm not sure I go a dime over 2/$15 mil though and that might not happen. The rest of the names on your list either have performance concerns or will be too expensive. That's the other thing about this FO and the bullpen, they rarely overspend. So, again, I'm not concerned in this are because they're so darned good at it but I'd start watching to see what depth arms they start picking up for Iowa as much as the splashy names.

  • In reply to TC154:

    I've been listening to you spin that record and tapping my foot right along with you. You hit on an important point in that we always have a good pen. That is due in large part to a top payroll and the ability to buy talent from outside the organization. Most other teams don't have that luxury, at least not to the exexnt we do. It would be nice to have something come from within.

    I think, as a unit, the pen needs the most work, has the most question marks, and will receive the most attention. I wanted to spend more time breaking down the actual performance and how to attack it specifically, but with so many viable options available I chose to list quite a few, figuring we'd finish the discussion in the comments as usual. For the upcoming units I plan on doing a more thorough analysis of what we have.

    I do think we will spend money in free agency on the pen. I can see all those guys except Kimbrel and Familia as legitimate targets. I think the biggest acquisition will be a lefty capable of closing to compliment (and insure) Morrow. That could be Britton or Miller through free agency, or we may choose to spend FA dollars on an outfielder, freeing up one of our young guys to deal. Either way, I'm about as confident as one can be that we make a significant addition. There are too many question marks not to, and not enough impact internal options to count on.

  • Have a comment stuck in the filter if someone could dig it out. Thanks.

  • In reply to TC154:

    I have new toys. :) You're welcome.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Thanks, or maybe more appropriately with you being the song lyrics guy:

    "I want to thank you falettinme be mice elf agin
    Thank you falettinme be mice elf agin"

  • In reply to TC154:

    You taught me something. I've heard that song a thousand times and thought you were making a joke. I was going to crack back that your autocorrect must be stuck in "Motown" mode. But those lyrics are legit. I didn't know that.

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    Enjoy your writings, we have needed some new blood on this web site since John's passing, wouldn't mind a few more cub denizens doing some creative writing, there are a few out there.
    Off topic I would like to chime in on a few moves cubs could make, these are fairly easy and would improve our team immensely.
    First off your list of relievers the cubs have, I would keep the top 3' everyone else I would try to move or get traded. Than I would sign Miller and Ottavino, would use my last remaining spots from the minor league system, which I am not nearly as high on as other cub followers. Would like the cubs to move Schwarber and Happ
    this off season, just don't think their is a chance they will put up the numbers Theo envisioned when he chose them in the draft.The one player I would really like the cubs to attain would be Realamuto, maybe move Contrares and a player for him. Much more consistant player, not as flashy, but better overall.

  • In reply to tater:

    BarleyPop is a welcome addition to our crew.

    If anyone is interested in writing a guest post, please feel free to reach out to me at mikejernst@live.com. Most of us got our start on the site in that capacity.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Thanks to you and tater. I'm still feeling my way, but I'll do my best. Cubs Den deserves nothing less.

  • In reply to tater:

    I have a hard time getting my head around trading any of Schwarber, Happ, and Almora. It's not that I'm not disappointed in their progress of reaching their ceiling, but each brings so much to the table. Kyle's left side power bat would difficult to replace short of paying Harper. Not that they are compatible, but that second lefty power in the lineup are rare. Happ' s speed and switch hitting is equally rare, and Almora's defense and ability to punish lefty pitchers would be missed as well.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Cubs are going to have to make trades this off season to improve the team. You need to trade value to get back value. I will be shocked if a couple of the young position players are not moved to improve the team. The focus is always who you are giving up and no consideration on what you will be getting back in return.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    It's no secret how I feel about Schwarber but there is a catch 22 with him right now, he's a valuable part of the team but is also one of the two most valuable trade chips with the other being Quintana. How the FO handles that is going to be most interesting. If he goes I expect it to be a significant deal, anything less would be disappointing. If he stays and they fill their needs in other ways I'm good with that too. Right now I would lean towards signing Harper and trading Q and Kyle for a young pitcher saving about $15 mil in the process helping to pay for the signing and giving us a young arm who could start as a BOR and develop into a more valuable arm down the line.

  • In reply to TC154:

    I am hoping that Kyle Schwarber is spending his offseason working on handling that borderline 3rd strike pitch. My recollection is that he ALWAYS takes that pitch and gets rung up EVERY time. Perhaps he can pull a page from Anthony Rizzo's book, choke up, and take that pitch to LF. Or at least learn to foul it off.

    I am also hoping that David Bote is working on that hole in his swing. Pitchers finally figured out that he could not hit the high fast ball.

    And, last, I am hoping that Kris Bryant's shoulder exercises are having the desired effect. And, if he needs to change his swing to keep both hands on the bat, I hope that is coming along.

    (So much for keeping on the "Bullpen" topic, BP)

  • In reply to tater:

    Did you see Realmuto second half. It was worse than Willson’s . He’s a good catcher but not a significant improvrment from GOOD WILLSON.

  • I really like the way Chavez would come in and throw strikes. I know that BP spots are limited and that dollars are already committed to others, but I'd like to see him back for 2019.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Agree, the way he attacks hitters is the strategy I'd like to see with all our relievers. It's hard to watch those that are called on, who struggle to throw strikes.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Me to. He's expressed a strong desire to return and something obviously clicked here. A one-year deal to me is almost a no-brainer and I'd be OK going something like 2/8. He absolutely pounded the zone, posting a ridiculous 42 K's and only 5 BB's in his 39 IP here. He's started and relieved throughout his career, so he boasts a full starters arsenal. But pitching strictly in relief in 2018 he all but ditched his curve and change-up, throwing the two for a combined 8.6% of the time as opposed to 25%-35% throughout his career. He relied on some form of fastball/slider combo over 90% of the time, with the added bonus of about 1 MPH in velocity.

    There's room for him on the roster, but the problem will be that the pen is going to be loaded with guys with no minor-league options. Edwards and Monty do (I think), but after that we'll have to make creative use of the DL, or at least hopefully and not necessarily.

  • We seem to always leave 24 year old LHP Randy (the GOAT) Rosario out of the bullpen discussions.

    He pitched in 44 MLB (and 15 MiLB) games last season, ending up 4-0 with a 3.66 ERA. If one could throw out his six duds (16 ER over 5-1/3 innings), his ERA would have been 0.65. Or just throw out his two August duds (7 ER in 2-2/3 innings) (remember he was caught up in the numbers game and was being optioned to Iowa every other day), his ERA would have been 2.45.

    Your thoughts on Randy Rosario?

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    My thoughts are I should apologize to Mr. Rosario for not mentioning him. We have many filler types but are shorter from the left side. A lot of what he did last season was smoke and mirrors, without the peripherals to back it up, and that left him exposed at times. He has minor-league options, so I expect him to reclaim his seat on the shuttle if necessary, but if he's counted on for anything more than that I'll be disappointed.

    I noticed you veered off-topic earlier, and I'm somewhat disappointed. I'm a stickler for such things and try to set an example by never, ever going off-topic. :)

  • I think Robertson is the best bet. He’s consistent, durable & maybe even underrated. Ottovino would be like watching Carlos Marmol all over again. He’s as wild as weeds. And unless Miller comes at a discounted price (he won’t) I wouldn’t feel confident enough in his return to form.

    You touched on my other dream situation and that is trading the projected rebuilding Seattle Mairiners for Edwin Diaz. Morrow and Strop May be gone after next year and this could lock down potentially one of the best closers in the league who is also on his ascent (unlike Kimbrall, Britton or Herrera). Sure the cost would be high, but last year we were complaining about our embarrassment of riches. A deal centering around Ian Happ (proven big league talent with the most team control) along with some minor league talent could help us fill a big position for the next 4 years.

  • fb_avatar

    I keep reading the same BS articles of trade KB? And he is 99.9% untouchable. Unless were talking Mike Trout, KB is a Cub.

  • In reply to Wrigley0923:

    Yeah it’s all nonsense. He’s the best player and biggest name on the team, hence it generates the most intrigue and clicks. Hence... clickbait.

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    It is not nonsense. No reason not to listen.
    The nonsense is they are not actively shopping him.

  • In reply to Wrigley0923:

    Are you comfortable that the healthy KB will return or do we have a chronologically injured SUPERSTAR. Two years in a row isn’t chronic but it’s a trend brought on by head first slides.

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    In reply to stix:

    The shoulder is concerning, but all his other injuries were what? Maybe 2 weeks tops? I could be wrong, idk. Unless the shoulder is going to get worse & the Cubs aren't saying anything. I know they do extreme physicals, but the Cubs doctor's are a step ahead compared to others.

  • In reply to Wrigley0923:

    Theo was asked a general question about whether anyone was untouchable and as a smart GM, nobody is untouchable. You listen to all offers but it doesn't mean you have to accept them. And yes, he is probably 99.9% untouchable. But it does make for rumor mill fodder and clicks. BTW, I wouldn't mind seeing Mike Trout in a Cubs uniform.

    And to go along with the media trend, nobody outside of Tom Ricketts and Theo knows how much the Cubs are willing to spend this offseason. So any articles about how the Cubs are or aren't constrained by finances is just opinion and guesses.

  • Doubt M's would trade Diaz, but Alex Colome would be available as he's a FA next winter. I'd ask for him and Segura in exchange for Russell (replaces Segura cheaply), Schwarber (replaces Cruz cheaply), and whatever pitching it would take to get to yes-- Montgomery, and Morrow or Chatwood, if they want either. We'd get a 4.3 WAR potential leadoff hitter (they had him in the 2-hole) and Colome closed for TB. Not sure what it would take to balance value evenly but the needs match up well and the single year of Colome fits with the arrival of the internal pipeline such that taking on Segura's salary less the offset heading west is affordable.

  • fb_avatar

    What about Nathan Eovaldi? Is he a starter or reliever? He has great stuff and it seems like he's back from TJ surgery. Also, we have Underwood and possibly Alzolay waiting in the minors.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Eovaldi is going to cost at least the same as Chatwood got in 2018 and will have a bunch of suitors.

  • When Theo drafted Schwarber, I think Theo was thinking American League player. I really don't think Schwarber was or is a good fit with the Cubbies. First base is taken ( With A. Rizzo ) and there is no DH in the National League. Its no secret the Cubs need more team speed and a legitimate lead off hitter. Is D.J.Wilson ready for the big club ? Only time will tell.

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    Theo was thinking that Schwarber, a catcher at the time, could be converted to outfielder if necessary. The myth that Schwarber can't play defense and is only suited for DH has long been dispelled. He'll never be a gold glove LF, but he's at least average. There is no need to trade him to an AL club.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Yeah - I think Theo Jed and Jason were smitten over his power potential and attitude. I think I have read that dozens of times since he was drafted.

  • The idea was that, if he hit to his capabilities, they'd find a way to get him in the lineup. The idea that Theo drafted him with the belief that he was only suited to DH on an AL team is laughable. If he hits .260 with 40 HRs and a .320 OBP next year, we won't hear anyone complaining that he's "really a DH..."

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Is it possible that Schwarber spent the entire last offseason focusing on increasing his agility and elevating his outfield defense? It seems he has acclimated to a major league defender and one thing is clear is that Theo is unhappy with the Cubs offensive output. I predict that we see a big year out of Schwarber in 2019 and it is going to be a lot of fun.

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    In reply to ronvet69:

    I like DJ Wilson a lot, but he's only hitting .148 in the AFL and .219 in 2018 in the minors. He might be ready in the field, but he's got to hit better to advance.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    We have seen this movie before. Hendry liked to draft an athlete, then make a hitter out of him, but the skill to hit a baseball
    thrown by an mlb pitcher is a gift. Hitters are born and come in all shapes and sizes. If one wants hitters, it's a good idea to draft them rather than invent them.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Yes. DJ Wilson simply can’t hit. He was an overdraft to begin with. He struggled to hit in HS for cryin’ out loud.

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    I'm not sure Schwarbs could be adequate first baseman. It takes finesse and good hands. Kyle has neither and probably would be limited to the more blue collar positions of leftfield and catcher

  • In reply to 44slug:

    He was a catcher for most of his career. I’d imagine he could scoop a ball outta the dirt, no?

  • In reply to good4you:

    Maybe, but, catching is more about blocking balls in the dirt. Receivers who have good hands get burnt because the ball goes to the backstop when they fail to pick it. Schwarber certainly has improved his foot work over the last winter and I've heard that 'it really pisses him off when people tell him he can't play first'.

  • I'm going to suggest that Schwarber stays. I'm not sure how the boys will attack the off season, but Kyle plays an adequate left and there is good reason to believe that he will progress at the plate. His knee injury was devastating and Kyle has not hit his stride since. I think that he has become a bit pull happy. I'm still looking for a break out from him. A less vigorous winter might extent his 2019 production. Getting value in a trade will be difficult.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I'm with you on this. He'll never be Jason Heyward defensively, so he needs to hit to earn his keep. The Cubs need to solidify the outfield and I won't be upset if Schwarbs is traded, but improvement on his part could be the answer the team is looking for.

  • If the Cubs make a big trade this winter I imagine it would include Addison Russell. His value is at an all time low but it’s not unfathomable a rebuilding team wouldn’t have interest in a change of scenery candidate to potentially unlock that ‘Barry Larkin” potential Billy Beane once sold us all on.

    That said, in order to get a Cubs caliber player in return they would most likely have to include someone else of value. If we are dealing from an area of abundance it would seem to be Schwarber, Happ or Almora.

    Of those 3 who would you find easiest to part with?

  • In reply to good4you:

    Tough to answer without knowing who the Cubs get. For example, if the Cubs were to sign Harper (doubtful), Schwarber is expendable. If they obtain a CF, Almora could go. I don't have an issue parting with any (or ALL) of them, depending on what the 2019 lineup looks like.

  • I don't think Billy Beane thought Addison Russell had "Barry Larkin” potential when he traded him. He wouldn't have traded him to the Cubs for the players he got.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Billy Beane had a team with the potential to go all the way, but needed starting pitching in order to do it. The trade was a classic example of giving up value to get something the club needs NOW. If Beane knew how Russell would turn out, then he fooled the entire baseball world, including the writers who predicted Larkin-esque performance from Addy.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Exactly. There seems to be this belief among fans, and Cubs fans in particular, that if you trade a guy away it's because you don't think he's going to be good or that you think that the players you got in return will be better than the ones you gave up. That thinking is completely wrong. If you have a need, particularly at the deadline, you're going to overpay for that need. The team you are trading with knows it, and you know it. You try to mitigate it the best you can and strike the deal that causes you the least pain but in the end it is what it is. Addison Russell was one of the top prospects in all of baseball in 2014 when the A's traded him for a pair of starting pitchers they hoped could get them to a World Series. Beane was was not trading Russell because he had lost faith in him and his value as a Barry Larkin type talent was consensus throughout baseball. I believe he was a 60 grade prospect at the time. I think, in the case of Cubs fans, they like to believe this because it makes the Quintana trade look like a clear mistake on the part of the FO, instead of the calculated gamble that it was. The Cubs traded Eloy Jimenez knowing full well what he was and what he would be. They likely had decided Dylan Cease was going to be a closer not a starter and they could still be wrong on that, I don't personally think they were, but we'll see, They knew darned well they were overpaying for need. Billy Beane traded Addison Russell with the full expectation he was overpaying for need. Any other conclusion is just being reached to affirm a bias.Trades are unpredictable.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Do we know what Eloy or Dylan will be yet?

  • In reply to TC154:

    Oh sorry, that was your point.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Now worries, it was but so was the fact that Theo and company knew it would be an overpay when they did it. Pitching is expensive, the Brewers were close to landing Quintana and they did what they did. In Oakland's case it was the same thing. GMs that survive in this business don't tyr to "pull one over" when they make a trade. Nobody would ever deal with them.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    According to Peter Gammons:

    When Beane and Theo Epstein agreed on the deal, Beane told him, “you got Barry Larkin.”

  • I would trade Bryant straight up for Degrom. The Mets need a big time hitter and we need another front line pitcher.

  • In reply to cubbie forever:

    I love deGrom, but Bryant's numbers are hard to replace and the Cubs rotation is pretty solid. I wouldn't make that deal and I'm not only a pitching first guy but deGrom is one of my favorite pitchers. The other thing is that the Mets hired Brodie Van Wagenin to win now and the best thing they have going for them are those two aces at the top. He's not being moved.

  • In reply to cubbie forever:

    The Cubs need a big time hitter too. Probably more than a pitcher

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    Really Have you checked the ages of our pitchers lately. Everyone will be over 30 this season. We stunk the 2nd half hitting do you really think that will happen again next yr.

  • In reply to cubbie forever:

    I agree with you and I think this is the last hurrah for the pitching staff but I think totally retooling the pitching staff and adding impact on offense is unrealistic going into 2019. I've suggested many times that one way to help with the money to afford Harper is to trade Quintana and another player for a younger pitcher that could start as a BOR and hopefully has the upside to MOR or even TOR. That gives you a start and there will be impact pitchers available in FA for 2020. For now though, assuming they don't do that, Lester, Hamels, Darvish, Hendricks and Quintana (or a young replacement) is a very good staff and the depth with Alzolay, Montgomery and Mills is a good start in terms of depth. Add an impact bat like Harper and I think the staff is more than adequate for a contending season.

  • fb_avatar

    What does anyone think of this. Schwarber for Brad Hand straight up. Cleveland needs another bat and we could use a solid closer. Both become FA in 2012.

  • In reply to From the burg:

    With the hitting issues the Cubs experienced in 2018, trading a hitter for another potential closer, and one with worse numbers than Morrow or Pedro Strop, doesn't make much sense to me. I'd rather hang on to Schwarber and see if he can get it together with the help of the new hitting coach. All could change if the Cubs sign a FA OF, of course...

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