Is Alex Gordon a fit? Plus notes on Willson Contreras, Kyle Schwarber, the AFL, and more

Some interesting news regarding one of the players we’re watching in the World Series.  Alex Gordon is expected to become a free agent and, according to Nick Cafardo, one executive says he wouldn’t give him more than a 3 year deal worth $36-$38M.

That kind of deal fits perfectly for the Cubs and Gordon’s lefty bat, contact ability, and defense is exactly what the Cubs are looking to add.

What’s more, Joel Sherman reports that the Cubs are on Alex Gordon’s preferred list of teams.

The trouble is where do you play him?  He cannot play CF and the Cubs have two of their young stars: Kyle Schwarber and Jorge Soler in the corner OF spots right now.

Willson Contreras shines in AFL game

I have seen Willson Contreras play a lot over the past 4 years and I think today was the best I’ve ever seen him play in every phase of the game.

Contreras was locked in today.  He started with a great AB in which he worked the count full and then was not fooled when he got a curve ball.  Instead, Contreras stayed back and then whipped those quick hands through the zone, lining a 2-run HR over the LF wall.  He later ripped a line drive single into LF on a 98 mph fastball.

But it was more than his good hitting.  Contreras sprang out of the box and threw a bullet right on the bag to nail speedster Lewis Brinson on a SB attempt.  Brinson got a pretty good jump but Contreras showed off his plus arm strength, a quick release, and that shortened arm action we’ve heard Mark Johnson talk about.  It took all of those things to cut down Brinson.

Lastly, Contreras really worked hard on his game management skills.  He came out to the mound on a few occasions to settle his pitcher down, but his best moment may have come at the end when DH Gary Sanchez came to the plate as the tying run.  Contreras called time, talked to closer Austin Brice, a FB pitcher, and had a quick discussion on the mound.  Instead of the heat, Brice started Contreras off with a change-up that froze Sanchez, then blew a 96 mph FB by him, then dropped a filthy  curve on the outside corner to end the game.

It was Brice who executed the plan brilliantly, but he was quick to acknowledge Contreras, slapping him on his backside twice as the team celebrated on the mound.  The change-up is by far the pitch Brice has the least confidence in.  He has that good FB and a very good curveball — but the change-up is pretty ordinary.  But with Sanchez geared up for the fastball, it was more than good enough.

Contreras appears to be learning those nuances quickly.

Other News and Notes…

  • A perspective on Kyle Schwarber’s defense from Rian Watt at BP Wrigleyville, with scouting notes on his catching ability from our old friend and colleague Mauricio  Rubio.
  • Jeimer Candelario did not get a good hit but continued to have good ABs, including one AB that was about 10 pitches and almost 5 minutes long.  He eventually popped up in that at bat but had a few loud fouls in that game.  Mark Zagunis went 0 for 3 with a walk but looked like he was making an effort to go the other way, twice taking two hard hit balls that went foul.
  • Jake Arrieta is a finalist for the Gold Glove award.
  • Evan Moore wrote about the troubling  lack of diversity among MLB managers.  As Cubs fans and/or Chicagoans, there are a few names with whom we should be familiar in this regard. It’s amazing that Dave Martinez, for example, didn’t get more consideration.  Neither did Rick Renteria, who did an admirable job under difficult circumstances and showed great ability to work with young players.  Lastly, Chicago’s own DeMarlo Hale — a manager we have pushed for here in the past — has had as much success as any manager at the minor league level while also having important roles on the coaching staffs of some of the best organizations in baseball.  It’s hard to imagine what else he needs to do to get a shot.
  • Last but not least, I am honored and humbled to be a part of an esteemed, talented staff of prospect writers for an exciting new website called 2080.com.  It will focus on the scouting/development side of baseball.

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  • Nice article on Schwarber. Contreras may change the equation on him catching. It's a tough call. I thought Renteria did a good job managing the Cubs, if he would just be presented with the evidence on sac bunts and given a cease and desist order...he was real focused and had the team playing well even after trade deadline. I'd take him over Mattingly. Hope he gets another shot.

  • In reply to wastrel:

    I do too. He would do well with a young team.

  • In reply to wastrel:

    Yeah I liked renteria, just bad timing for him. . The Doug Collins of the cubs... he'll get abother shot eventually. . He would have been a good fit for the marlins, maybe even Phillies. .

  • In reply to wastrel:

    Renteria seemed like a perfectly adequate MLB manager. He wasn't given much to work with, but he kept the team focused. He helped get Castro straightened out and Rizzo had a breakout year under him. He also handled what could have been a very ugly departure with class. I really hope he gets another shot somewhere.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I'm really surprised he didn't get a single interview but there weren't a lot of great fits out there for him either. Most were "win now" situations and I'm not sure I'd hire him in that position. It looks like he's going to Washington to be Bud Black's bench coach again and if there's success there he'll get another look eventually.

  • John, Austin Brice is a hometown boy for us here in our little NC town. What's your thoughts on him. I saw him this winter and could not believe how big he was. Seems his problem has always been command. Had electric stuff for us in high school, but it was usually walk the bases loaded and strike the side out. Love your coverage and am a daily reader.

  • In reply to PJS24:

    Will write a bit more on my Appraising Arizona blog, but the height does help. Gets good plane on a 95-96 FB and he threw a couple of nasty curves. Also liked his attitude in regard to discussing with Contreras how to approach Sanchez. Not sure whose idea it was, but Brice's reaction afterward seemed to indicate he was thanking Contreras. He can at least be a late inning reliever and if that change-up comes around, maybe he can still start.

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    Would love to get Alex Gordon as a FA.... I have read other reports that his agents will be looking for a 4/5 yr deal though...

    Bringing him in would open the club to either re examining whether Schwarber should get some serious reps in AAA at catcher. Soler could easily be moved in a trade for Teheran or Carrasco as well.....

    Alex as a LH contact bat would be a perfect fit in the lineup...

    Another interesting name to look at is Jackie Bradley Jr of the Redsox..... They could be in on Alex Gordon and use Bradley Jr as trade bait... Wouldnt mind seeing him in CF

  • In reply to rynofan74:

    Yeah bradley Jr would be a nice addition in between schwarber and soler.

  • In reply to rynofan74:

    I like Bradley's defense but he's another guy with contact issues, so not sure that is a guy they're going to target. Span still makes the most sense to me.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I think Span would make the most sense contract wise as well coming off his injury filled season...

    Bradley's defense though would prob be something nice to see in between Bryant/Schwarber and Soler....

  • In reply to rynofan74:

    His defense is superb.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    The buzz on JBJr is that the Redsox would be looking for young pitching..... We dont have any MLB ready young pitching unfortunately

  • In reply to rynofan74:

    I'd be very surprised if they pursued Bradley at all, to be honest.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I wouldnt expect the Cubs to go that route either... Surprised to see his name come up but with Castillo waiting in the wings.... Redsox can afford to give up Bradley if the price is right.. Wouldnt surprise me to see the Cardinals make a play for him.... Put him in Cf and have Grichuk in RF.. Cards still have young pitching in AAA

  • In reply to rynofan74:

    Very true, cost effective has the defense and lead off ability we will need.. you wonder if it's really am upgrade from fowler though. We want to improve

  • In reply to Maddon4Mayor2015:

    They may be equals overall, but when healthy, Span improves the defense and the contact rate. Two areas they specifically want to upgrade.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I would be fine with Span on a pillow contract, but if he's healthy this off season, why would he have to take one? With Boras as his agent, a 1 or 2-year deal will be tough to pull off.

    If he's not healthy this off season, then they might be able to make that happen. Last report on Oct. 9th, was that his X-rays looked good on his injured hip.

    Span will likely cost any team their 1st round pick. Is it worth giving up that pick for a short term contract? Truly asking...

  • In reply to Quedub:

    I've seen this a lot regarding Span and Boras and I'm not certain it's true. Boras does ask a lot for his players on 1 year value rebuild deals but he does use this tactic. He'll float a multi year option at 5/$100 or something similar but frankly given health whoever would have given him that deal will look at Fowler first. In the end I think Span signs the 1 year deal at $12-$14 mil and look for 3-4 years next year. My concern, and this is typical for boras guys, is that he'll wait it out and the Cubs may not wait that long.

  • In reply to rynofan74:

    Living in Kansas City I have seen much of Alex Gordon. Complete player who keeps in very good shape.

    Problem would be the brick walls of Wrigley. I'm afraid he would kill himself.

  • In reply to rynofan74:

    If Gordon can't play CF, he's a no go. There is no way Schwarber spend any time in AAA again and Soler is a keeper. Do agree that Bradley might be a fit though.

  • This offseason is going to be even worse as far as the cubs getting linked to every free agent possible.. all mere speculation. . And unless it's someone who could play cf like heyward do we really want him ? Schwarbs and soler are a huge future.

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    In reply to Maddon4Mayor2015:

    Heyward is not a CF by trade though.... He is above avg in RF but just avg in CF...... Willing to spend 200M on him and outbid 7 or 8 other teams..... Still wouldnt solve our leadoff hitter issue

  • In reply to rynofan74:

    Heyward could lead off just as efficiently as fowler.. better obp and avg

  • In reply to rynofan74:

    All we need is average especially with the bat he brings to the plate. Could take below average defense and still be in good shape.

  • In reply to mikep527:

    What bat are you referring to? The one that was 20 in OPS and OPS+ in the NL this year (Coghlan was 23rd and 24th respectively and topped Heyward in 2014).

    Everyone who wants to sign Heyward talks about his great bat but unless there are some secret statistics out there that only Heyward supporters are privy to, all that talk of Heyward having a great bat is just conjecture based on the high praise since his rookie year. He really is still just projection, a great defender with nice stats, though average to below average production for a corner OF.

  • In reply to springs:

    Except, Coghlan wouldn't qualify for any awards and he has inflated numbers thanks to playing out of a platoon. Heyward was 11th in the MLB in WAR. Coghlan also has 0 playing time at CF. I'd be OK using Coghlan as our CFer if he were capable, but the fact that he has 0 games there with the Cubs would suggest the Cubs don't view him as a potential CF candidate.

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    In reply to Maddon4Mayor2015:

    However it plays out, I really just don't see the Cubs having an OF of Schwarbs-Heyward-Soler on opening day. I just don't. Theo was pretty specific about improving the OF defense, and that configuration doesn't really fit with that.

    That isn't to say we won't sign Heyward, I just don't see us having those 3 OF next year

  • The and Jed drafted JBJr. I am sure they have a strong point of view. He was much better this year and has good OBP history.

  • In reply to AZBobbop:

    Wrong. Jed wasn't with the Red Sox when they drafted Bradley.

  • fb_avatar

    Dexter's career Obp is higher than Heywards...... Jason was traded to be a power guy in RF for the Cards.. only 13hr and 60 rbi's and everyone is predicting him to be a 8/200M kind of guy..... He could be the kind of signing for some team that could turn into a bad contract very easily

  • In reply to rynofan74:

    A couple of factors you're leaving out of your reasoning...

    1. Heyward is not merely above average in RF. He's considered one of the best in the game, if not the best. He's considered above average in CF and the long term plan, if the Cubs were to sign him, is that he would only play CF for a season, maybe two.

    2. If Heyward signs for 8/200, it won't be with the Cubs. And "everyone" isn't predicting that's what he'll get. So that's pretty much a straw man argumentative point.

    3. Fowler will be 30 at the start of next season. Heyward will be 26 until next August. Heyward will be in his prime for the next several seasons. Fowler is exiting his prime years. So using Fowler's career OBP (10 points higher) and ignoring the fact that his was 9 points lower than Heyward's this year when Heyward is beginning his prime years doesn't hold up to scrutiny.

    4. Heyward wasn't traded to the Cardinals to be a power guy and disappointed. He was acquired by them because he'd been a 5 WAR player on average over the previous 3 seasons with the Braves, and he exceeded that this year with a 6 WAR campaign. (Fangraphs).

    When you consider the facts and statistics, any way you slice it, Heyward is the superior player. He's the far superior defensive player who won the gold glove in RF last season. His K% 14.8 was much better than Fowler's 22.3. He's 3 1/2 years younger and will very likely be performing better offensively over the next 4 seasons than will Fowler when the Cubs are in the heart of their championship window. Improving the team defense and contact rate is exactly what the Cubs have stated they'd like to do this offseason.

    The Cubs front office is known for making very well thought out decisions. They make trades and signings based on value. Given a contract, for either player, that isn't exorbitantly out of whack with the player's value, and given the Cubs currently payroll flexibility and window of contention, I can't see why the Cubs would want Fowler over Heyward.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    You wouldn't want Fowler over Heyward even given the extra years. I read something a few weeks back that Heyward wouldn't be looking at an 8 year deal at all. He'd be looking for 10 and if it's not out there he could go for a 6 year deal getting him a shot at a second payday at 32 something that most players don't get. Made a lot of sense to me. Still I think Heyward is a longshot. I think they'll get into the process but won't be high bidder.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Any chance Heyward see's a 4/5 year deal now as best option knowing the market get's reset by Harper whenever he gets paid? He'd hit free agency around 30 for his 8-10 year deal if he plays well. I'd love a 5/$125.

  • In reply to mgoodw2:

    No idea. I was kind of surprised when I heard Bob Nightengale say he thought he would be amenable to a 6 year deal but it made sense. 6 years would make him 32 when he's a FA again.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Great post, Quedub.

    I know others have pointed this out, but I will reiterate. If one compares these two options:

    a) sign Heyward, trade Soler for cost-controlled pitching
    b) sign Price (or other high-end starter) and keep Soler

    Option A seems less risky. I know there are other factors involved (Soler's ceiling etc) which may mean A is not the best baseball decision, but I am simply looking at the risk analysis of the two options from a FA cost/performance perspective.

    Personally, I would not mind signing Heyward for CF and trading high MiLB stock for cost-controlled pitching, but it always takes two to tango in such scenarios.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    I like option C: sign Zimmerman and Span, and trade Baez or Castro for Ross. Option A seems like a tough poker hand to play; whichever you do first signals move number two.

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    I'm with you although I would much prefer Salazar or Carrasco to Ross if for no other reason that Salazar is controlled until 2021, Carrasco until 2019 and Ross has just 2 years of control left. of course a trade with Cleveland costs Soler while it is still possible that the Padres could take Castro, but I think it will take one high prospect along with him and maybe some money changing hands. If it's me I don't trade Castro and eat contract. I just don't think that's value.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to TC154:

    I honestly don't know Ross or Salazar or Carrasco or a lot of the pitchers out there well enough to say which is better. I just prefer the idea of trading Baez or Castro instead of Soler. I'm enamored with a middle of the lineup of Schwarber, Bryant, Rizzo, and Soler. I think Castro is probably a better player than Baez right now, but Baez is cheaper. I also understand that the Cubs value defensively flexibility. But I think one way of improving the defense would be to quit moving players around so much. So tell Castro (or Baez) he plays second. Bryant, you're at third. Schwarber, spend the offseason learning how to play LF. Soler: get better at doing the routine plays.

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    If you watched much Rays baseball when Maddon was there you'd realize he doesn't do fixed lineups.I haven't seen the 2015 Cubs number but he used 129 different lineups with Tampa Bay in 2014. That said he did move more players around different positions than I've seen in the past. Maybe that changes a little bit in 2016. I would like to see Bryant play where he's going to be long term, Personally I think he's destined for RF but in Soler, Bryant and Schwarber they have one too many corner outfielders. If Bryant were in RF and Baez at 3B you'd improve your defense at both positions. That doesn't mean that I think they have to give up Soler. Bryant CAN play 3B and Baez would be fine at 2B. So many possibilities.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to TC154:

    I'll be curious what they do. It seemed to me that most of the moving players around was designed to optimize offense, not defense, with Coghlan at second an obvious example. The exception was moving Russell to short. I personally don't see Bryant as a huge defensive upgrade over Soler in RF. I think Baez's defense is much more value at second than third. And I think replacing Soler's bat with Baez's bat is a fairly significant drop, and not worth the defensive improvement. Maybe we'll all be surprised, and Baez will move to CF!

  • fb_avatar

    Gordon has been linked to the Cubs before. He is a high contact low K guy. So it may help balance the lineup. But I agree, not sure where to put him. Unless someone moves. Alex can't play center, so I like Span more.

  • I know Gordon is an above average left fielder but can he handle right (does the arm pass)?

    If yes he makes a lot of sense to bring in, especially on a 3/4 year deal. Make Schwarber your every day left fielder and give him the time to improve his defense out there. While no one will ever confuse him for Heyward defensively, he should be able to be at least average. Center remains a question mark though I imagine they either resign Fowler, sign Span, trade for Brett Gardner, or maybe making a run at Ozuna to fill the spot. Gordon can then come in and play right which allows the team to trade Solar (Indians for Salazar/Carrasco?, Padres for Ross+, Braves for Teheran+).

    While I hate to lose Solar that could still be a very nice lineup and the rotation would get that top young arm to go with Lester and Jake. Would still have plenty of cash left over as well to possibly add another bullpen piece.

  • fb_avatar

    I don't see the Cubs signing Gordon. If he's in left, where does that leave Schwarbs? He can't catch full time, and the way you talk about Contreras he might never catch. WC sounds like the next impact player to come up and he sounds exciting. Could we go straight from Miggy to WC?
    Great article John and we look forward to your new gig too.

  • I agree with John. As perfectly as Gordon fits our offensive diversification needs, CF seems to be as much of a priority. Hence, the obvious fit for Span.

    Unrelated, I'm thinking more and more that Castro stays. I'm not sure that Epstoyer will find the appropriate "value" for Castro in the mkt that they feel he warrants. His offensive improvements have been well-documented but I was really impressed by his D , for somebody new to the position. John, did you get any feedback from scouts on Castro's D there. He passed my naked eye test.

  • Gordon fits as a hitter but I don't see where you put him in the field. He can't play CF, I suppose you could put him in RF if Soler but now you've position locked Bryant at 3B. I'm not sure I can see an overall fit.

  • In reply to TC154:

    You hit on my issue with bringing in Gordon. I really like Gordon as a player, but that means that it would most likely relegate Bryant to 3b where he's at best average. Plus, it diminishes one of his best traits which is speed.

    The Cubs need a CF, not a cornercorner outfielder.

  • In reply to AJWorld:

    Bryant is BETTER than average at third base and should be for at least the next couple of years, probably more.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to KSCubsFan:

    I'm with you. I really hope they don't make moves that push Bryant off third. And I'd just assume they clear the decks so he never plays OF.

  • Congratulations on the 2080 position--very much look forward to it.

    Back to the AFL, yesterday was the first time I've seen Candelario play in person. He seems to have kind of a funky throwing motion, almost submarine, at least in warmups. Is he a legitimate defensive third baseman?

    On a personal note, I was kind of discombobulated after catching Diaz's (a Cardinal prospect, naturally) helicoptering bat with my right leg behind the Mesa dugout. Is it my imagination, or are more and more bats flying into the stands these days? If so, why?

  • In reply to wthomson:

    Are more bats flying into the stands? Yes.

    Why? Because Addison Russell is in the bigs.

  • In reply to wthomson:

    Thanks, Bill. That was you" I was right there in the well by the dugout taking pictures. Sorry I missed you. Glad you are ok.

    And thanks on 2080baseball, looking forward to it.

  • Your Soler question was answered in the radio report on this story, which said that Castro and Soler were on the trading block.

    But it still seems like someone in the FO thinks that the Cubs are an AL team.

  • Is Baseball 2080 com based on when they think the Cubs will win the World Series?

  • In reply to jack:

    Funny, but unfair! (:-)

  • In reply to wthomson:

    It's actually not all that funny. It's something I would expect a StL fan to say.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    So, what's the explanation in Norway, Norway?

  • In reply to jack:

    The name of the website 2080.com most likely refers to the rating scale for prospects.

  • Not sure the Cubs want to sign Gordon. Gonna be stacked in corner OF with Bryant Schwarber and Soler as it is unless you make a trade. Gordon might also come with an additional price of a draft pick, which I would only consider if we are giving up our first draft pick for a different signing, say a Heyward or a Greinke. Unless they are left short via trade, CF is the only signing they will be interested in and they may not make a major one at that, with a lineup of CFers ready to come onto the scene. Almora might be called up sooner than later most likely letting his defense carry him while he works on the bat a la Russell. They may just sign Jackson to fill in as a bridge to Almora. If Almora doesn't work out we have Martinez with a fairly short path to the Majors behind him. Would also still not mind seeing Castro take some reps there maybe send him out for some winter ball to get the reps.

  • John,
    Would the Cubs be interested in getting a mid-rotation starter(Lackey/Kazmir, etc.), signing Span/Hayward, and trading a Soler/Baez/Castro plus a minor leaguer or two for a/two young AA/AAA TOR/MOR type of pitcher from a team that has some surplus of pitching? Trading Cubs surplus hitters for another organizations pitching. Are there organizations that have surplus pitching that would match up with the Cubs surplus hitting?

  • Given that I am a layman, and have no insight into the Cubs management thought process, I will say this.

    Maddon seems to value a well rounded skill set, which leads me to believe that

    1) Javier Baez will not be part of any package, contact issues notwithstanding, since he can play 3 positions, runs the bases well and he seems to have a high baseball IQ.

    2) Starlin Castro does not play anyone position well, is baseball stupid, although he does have good contact skills.

    3) Jorge Soler can only play RF, not too well by most accounts, has durability issues, and is still maturing as a hitter. However, I will say this in his defense, hitting is the hardest thing to do in all of sports, and I believe that his hit skill is the best of the 3 and has MVP potential, but since it is just potential at this time, I think he will be in the trade pool.

  • fb_avatar

    I thought I read somewhere that although Gordon can opt out of his contract, the Royals can then offer him a QO. If so, it's even one more thing that this FO does not really like to do. We just don't give up a draft pick if we can help it.

  • Sorry for possible duplicate post, as my other comment got stuck in administrator review land.

    I agree with John that Gordon fits , in terms of the goal of diversifying offensive skill sets. However, the other stated Theo objective of improving OF defense might not be met , if you find yourself playing Gordon and/or Schwarber out of a "best fit" defensive spot. All that being said, Span or Heyward seem like the most obvious fits to achieve the- I guess it's a triple mandate- of OBP, contact, and defense.

    Unrelated, as far as Castro, I'm beginning to think that they may bring him back, as the mkt is unlikely to bring back the value that they think he has. He's far from "bad contract swap" material in my eyes and , I suspect, those of Epstoyer. John, did you get any feedback from scouts on his defense @ 2B? For me, it certainly passed the eye test but I'd be curious to get the opinion of those who do that sort of thing for a living.

    Johnny Cueto : possibly drifting into a great value play in this FA class or exhibiting classic signs of someone who is destined for a date with Dr. Andrews? What says the crowd?

  • fb_avatar

    Nick Cafardo is the only person on earth who thinks Alex Gordon is going to sign in the 3/36 range. He's a good writer generally, but that's ludicrous.

    Gordon is 31, this is his only chance at a big FA payday. Any agent worth his salt is going to get it for him. He's "Heyward Lite"; anyone without the bread for Heyward is going to be targeting him.

  • That was an informative article about Schwarber. I'm not one to chase around the net looking for Cub info, so I really appreciate when the Den connects me to pertinent stuff. Thanks.

  • An important point to remember...MLB and the Players Association are negotiating the next basic agreement as we speak. The MLBPA and the Comissioner both want to standardize rules and bring the DH to the National League. 6 of the 15 NL teams are now run by management teams that were formally in the American League. The Cubs, as constituted today are well set up if that happens. If the NL is considering a DH for 2017, I would keep every young player and add help with $ and future prospects.

  • In reply to AZBobbop:

    I know denizens get tired of hearing from me on the DH, but it's a better game without it. I enjoyed the FO and Joe's mix and match with the roster and double switches sometimes starting in the 3rd inning. The AL game is often almost boring especially late, not to mention authenticity factor. I fail to see the enthusiasm in honoring one dimensional players over those capable of excelling on defense as well. It's a little disparaging, to me that so many on this site champion the DH. To me its would be like putting defenseive player at one end of the basketball court and an offense 'shoot the every time every time he touches it' at the other. I like your chances of seeing the DH soon, but it has always compromised and diminished baseball. I'll be noisy and loose the fight, but I won't dishonor the game.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I'm with you completely 44. I really dislike the AL, mainly because of the DH. I live in WI and have always been a Cubs fan because the Brewers were in the AL when I was growing up in the early '70's and I couldn't root for an AL (DH) team. I will always be a Cubs fan and baseball fan, but my enjoyment of the game will diminish quite a bit if the NL screws up and add the DH.

  • In reply to Cubpack:

    I boycotted the AL for decades, but started going occasionally after interleague play. It's still a good version of baseball. I like better than kittenball or home run derby. It's not real baseball. I'd say that it is my second favorite sport.

  • In reply to Cubpack:

    Ditto, I can't stand the prospect of the DH in the NL.

  • I'm all for the nl getting a DH.I don't want to see pitchers bat it's a waste.

  • In reply to bolla:

    Not always.

  • Not to rehash it (again) - but unless Alex Gordon can cover CF - as much as I also like his offense - he's not a great fit into the lineup with Bryant, Soler, Schwarber, Cogs and maybe Castro in the mix for OF time already on the roster.

    And since it is unlikely that Gordon could be an adequate day-to-day CF - the corner spots are already loaded even before you take on his bat.

    You either have to trade one (or more) of Soler, Cogs, Bryant or Schwarber to make room enough for Gordon's bat to get regular appearances - or pass on Gordon.

  • I'll never be a 'fan' of the DH,.... but it is seemingly inevitable that at some time in the near future the NL will be getting the DH.

    And - for these Cubs of the next few years - a DH would definitely help with the juggling of the bats fighting for time in the lineup.

    What I would like to see (barring a DH appearing over this Winter) is the Cubs getting Bryant, Soler and/or Schwarber some reps at 1B defensively,.... Schwarber getting some more experience behind the plate (ideally IMO with Ross retiring and taking on a coaching spot) backing Montero,.... and seeing Castro get some reps in the OF (preferably CF).

    Hire or trade for a couple of pitchers to replace/supplement Haren, Hammel and Hendricks in the rotation,....

    And run with it from there.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    I think that you are correct that implemented the DH sooner might be an advantage for the Cubs, but I was thinking big picture.

  • I still haven't fully made up my mind on how I would want the Cubs to attack the offseason and acquiring the necessary pieces needed to contend and win a championship. I am loving the Royals high-contact approach but I'm not convinced we have the right folks or if that strategy is the right one even though a little bit more offensive skill diversity in this respect would serve the Cubs well.

    One approach I have recently been considering is going all in on spending $ on bats and defense. And using existing bats to get elite pitching. What if we trade Soler and Schwarber to acquire elite, controllable, high end pitching. What if we use free agent money and sign Gordon and Heyward to man the corner OF spots and bring up Almora for CF. You're talking about elite defense from LF to RF. Think about the range and the defensive runs saved. While you lower your power potential with Gordon and Heyward over Soler and Schwarber, the OBP should still be strong and improved contact and K rates.

    Now imagine the return that two elite bats like Schwarber and Soler can bring on the trade front in acquiring front line pitching. I dont even want to speculate what the return would be but I'm pretty sure you we can go 4 deep in the rotation and be set for any playoff game.

    My only pause is that you are taking the two guys who actually starred in the bright lights of the postseason and trading them away but I still think that overall, this might make the team more well rounded and better.

    Again, I'm still not sold on one approach yet but this one is the leader of the pack for me right now.

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    In reply to ripiceman:

    That's an intersting way to go. I know that the Mets have done well with pitching. And the Royals have done well with high contact, good defensive players. But I really think the Cubs aren't going to suddenly change their approach (which did win 97 games, a Wild Card game, and a playoff series). They aren't going to suddenly become a great defensive team, or a team that doesn't strike out a lot. I think they keep their younger hitters who control the strike zone, strike out a lot, and walk a lot, and have a lot of power. They'll acquire pitching through free agency and maybe one trade.

  • In reply to ripiceman:

    Again intriguing, but I'd hate to loose Schwarber' s patient power bat from the left side.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Agreed - if the Cubs have a pair of Lefties (Rizzo & Schwarber) who are each capable of batting >0.275 BA, 30+ HR, and pulling in an OBP over 0.360,... that's going to be hard for a lot of teams to pitch around,.... especially if those two can hold up solid numbers against both RHP and LHP.

    If everybody is healthy, and if everybody gets enough at bats - there could be at least 3-4 guys who hit 25-30+ HR (Rizzo, Bryant, Soler & Schwarber), and another 2-3 (Russell, Castro, Montero)who could give 15+ HR. Get some guys on base consistently intermixed with that power - and that'll make a lot of SPs pretty comfortable.

  • How obnoxious is it to think that Javier Baez is going to be the starting CF next year?

  • In reply to AJWorld:

    He's never played there and it would be a huge gamble. They would then have to find a lead off hitter to play somewhere else. I don't see how that works.

  • In reply to AJWorld:

    I could for it occasionally with Javy being the modern version of Jose Hernandez.

  • John, I am planning on heading to Mesa for spring training in March. Do you have any recommendations for hotels that are in close proximity to nightlife and the Cubs facilities?

  • In reply to JoeV10:

    I'm not sure that there is any. Be prepared to do some driving. If I were looking for nightlife I'd stay in downtown Tempe or Scottsdale and drive to the game.

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    In reply to JoeV10:

    dont do a hotel
    go to:

    vrbo.com

    you can rent a condo or house - close by - with a kitchen
    for less $$ than a hotel.

  • * I think they go after Price with Happ or a deal for Odorizzi (TB) or Ross (SD) as back-up options. I think they’ll get one pitcher this off-season and go with Hammel since he usually is very strong in the 1st half. After the All-Star break, they will get very aggressive in getting another pitcher if they are contending for the division and or wild card.
    *A deal with the Yankees…Castro (or a group of prospects) for Gardner. We need a CF and lead off guy and they need a regular 2B or could use the young talent. I’ve settled on Gardner because Fowler strikes out too much and struggled against right handed hitting while Span is too risky coming off of hip surgery.
    *I don’t see them signing Heyward or Gordon. If they can deal Castro (or a group of prospects) to the Yankees for Gardner go get Zobrist. I’d rather see them sign Zobrist at 3/$30-some million than drop 7+/$140m+ on Heyward or Gordon (3/$36 for Gordon is laughable). Zobrist allows the flexibility for a different line-up every day with a majority of the time at 2B or some players to strengthen their farm.
    *If Castro stays, Baez should start the year in Iowa to get regular ABs. If they trade Castro and sign Zobrist, Baez should stay on the club because he can get frequent ABs due to the line-up flexibility the get with Zobrist. Regardless of where Baez starts the season, he’ll be a utility player getting time at 2B, SS, 3B, and all the OF spots.

    -B. Gardner, CF
    -Castro/Zobrist, 2B
    -Rizzo, 1B
    -Bryant, 3B
    -Schwarber, LF
    -Soler, RF
    -Montero, C
    -Pitcher
    -Russell, SS

    The line-up has perfect left-right balance with Zobrist possibly as a switch hitter batting 2nd.

  • In reply to CoconutMeat:

    Edit...only go get Zobrist if they trade Castro. Makes no sense to sign Zobrist and keep Castro.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to CoconutMeat:

    Zobrist will be more than 3/30, bank on that. He's likely more than we want to pay

  • In reply to CoconutMeat:

    How do you go after a free-agent by trading?

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    the yanks did ok when yogi played lf

  • In reply to Kenny Kerr:

    And Billy was not exactly Mr Gold Glove but he sure hit!!

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    I understand John's point about having the same kind of hitters so that pitchers can have the same approach to them, but I'm not sure I agree completely. We obviously swing and miss a lot--lead the majors in SO, but we also have a high OBP, i.e. we do see a lot of pitches too, and we hit a lot of HRs. If these hitters have such good eyes to lay off pitches how can they miss so many? I think they should start thinking like Rizzo--when he has two strikes he chokes up and just tries to make contact. It really hurt us this year with RISP, especially on 3rd.
    One more point on defense. Baez is a superior 2nd or 3rd baseman, much better than KB. He got better, but I still think his quick twitch isn't as fast as Baez or Russell and some critical balls got by him. But if Soler and Schwarbs are playing then it's either CF or 3rd. What do you think? Can he play center until Almora, Happ, Dewees or EJM are ready? I actually think that if AA has a really nice first half of 2016 he will be brought up just like Schwarber was and his defense will really strengthen the Cubs. In just a few years our strength up the middle could be Contreras, Russell, Baez and Almora. That's a beautiful lineup.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Also, why the Cubs would need left hand hitters in the corner outfield and infield.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    ^^ This - our inability to push runs across with runners at 3rd and less than two out wore me out this year. My big hope is that all our young guns get better at situational hitting like Rizzo has. If Mallee does nothing else next year, this would be a big score.

  • I actually think signing Gordon makes a lot of sense.

    If the front office thinks that Almora and Contreras are the long-term fits at CF and catcher respectively, the lineup become very right handed. Plugging Gordon in at RF? allows them to have 3 lefty bats in the lineup every day (with Rizzo at 1B and Schwarber in LF). Gordon give them perhaps a non-traditional leadoff man and a high OBP/contact bat along with improved OF defense.
    They then can perhaps resign Austin Jackson for a short term, low cost CF (if Span wants more money or years than they are comfortable with). Jackson and Gordon in OF are both upgrades defensively.
    They can use cost savings in CF to sign a next tier starter -- Zimmerman/Lackey??
    Then trade Soler and either Baez or Castro for a cost controlled starter -- Carrasco/Ross?? and bullpen help.
    When Almora and Contreras are ready they fit in a year or two they also upgrade the defense. Almora for Jackson and Contreras as part of catcher platoon for a year after Ross retires. Then when Montero's contract is up or he is traded, Contreras can then become primary catcher.
    This gives team solid or plus defenders at every position except Schwarber in LF, who should improve with time to, hopefully, average in LF. And, the lineup has 5 R and 3 L and a good balance of power and contact guys.

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