Morrow questionable for Opening Day; Cubs finalize coaching staff; Cubs rumor mill remains quiet as Winter Meeting approach

Brandon Morrow

Brandon Morrow

Brandon Morrow Underwent Offseason Elbow Surgery

The need to add a bullpen arm has become more acute with word received today that on November 6th oft-injured closer Brandon Morrow underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow. Theo Epstein says he expects the hard-throwing right-hander to miss the beginning of the season.

Cubs Finalize Coaching Staff

The Cubs officially announced that Tommy Hottovy will replace Jim Hickey as Pitching Coach. Hottovy worked with the rotation on breaking down video and is highly thought of by the front office. Chicago also finalized the rest of the coaching staff.

Mike Borzello gets a much deserved additional title of associate pitching coach. The catching instructor puts together the scouting reports for the starting staff and sometimes will call pitches during games. He has arguably been more important to the Cubs than Chris Bosio or Jim Hickey. Sledge, a former MLB player, joins new hitting coach Anthony Iapoce. Denorfia played with the Cubs at the end of his career under the current front office.

Cubs Rumors

The hot stove is starting to heat up as the Winter Meetings approach next week. It’s only fitting the meetings are in Vegas this year, as Nevada’s own Bryce Harper continues getting a lot of the attention.

The Cubs are making very little noise on the rumor front. The reported financial concerns that are hanging over the off-season continue to dominate the conversation. Still, lets see what few rumors there are for the Northsiders.

Former Cubs Den contributor Tom Loxas says he’s heard the Cubs have talked with reliever Andrew Miller, but he is unsure how far things have gone.

Miller had an injury plagued 2018, after excellent years in 2017 and 16. The tall lefty is on the wrong side of 30 and would be a risky pick up. If he could recapture his 2016 form however, it would be a very nice addition to the pen, especially in light of the news involving Morrow.

Last week, Craig Mish, a host on Sirius/XM radio and a Marlins insider reported a JT Realmuto for Willson Contreras catcher swap was possible.

I’m not a fan of the idea of this deal for the Cubs, there have been no subsequent rumors about it so it’s unclear if it had any legs. Selling low on Willson Contreras is not a wise strategy. He did not have a good second half at the plate and his framing issues have been analyzed to death.

He is also younger than Realmuto, and had better numbers than him in 2017. If framing is important to you JT is an average receiver according to the metrics. Perhaps most importantly, Contreras is under team control for four years while the Marlins catcher only has two years left.

Everyone Else

The Cubs biggest rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals made the biggest move of the winter so far. They traded three players for Arizona Diamondbacks slugger Paul Goldschmidt on Wednesday. Goldie has a career batting average over .350 against Chicago, so that is great. Arizona got a relatively light return for their All-Star slugger, starter Luke Weaver and catcher Carson Kelly the main pieces. The big first-baseman is only under contract for 2019, so that limited the potential return. Rumors are now flying the D-Backs may be going for a total rebuild, so keep an eye on Zack Greinke among others.

Speaking of former Arizona players, left-handed starter Patrick Corbin signed a block-buster six-year $140 million deal with the Washington Nationals. This came as a surprise to many writers, cough….Bob Nightengale…cough, who thought the Yankees or Phillies were the front-runners for Corbin. 2018 was a breakout year for Corbin, who piled up 246 strikeouts in 200 innings with a 3.15 ERA (2.47 FIP).

Cleveland signed starter Carlos Carrasco to a three-year $37.5 million dollar contract extension on Thursday. The move is likely to repercussions for the other pitchers in the Tribes’ rotation.

The former Cy Young winner Kluber will draw lots of interest on the trade market. The soon-to-be 33 year old righty won 20 games in 2018 with a sub-3.00 ERA. He is due $17.5 million in 2019 and has two team options for $17.5 million (2020) and $18 million (2021).

The 27-year old Bauer had a breakout year in 2018 with a 2.21 ERA and 221 strikeouts in 175 innings before injuries kept him out in September. Still on his rookie deal, he is due a big arbitration raise after his tremendous season. Bauer will become a free-agent in 2021 so Cleveland may want to get some value on him before then. Most importantly, he has to stop cutting himself with his drone.

Harping on Bryce

dtbncpav4aa4_khThe Bryce Harper watch continues with team presentations at the slugging outfielder’s Las Vegas home. Both the White Sox and Cubs are involved in the talks at least somewhat. Not to stoke the flames of Cubs fans Harper fire even more, but the Bryant’s and the Harper’s went out together again this time to a Nelly concert.

If they keep hanging out like this, the rumors will be getting really hot in here. Yes I know I’m old making 20 year-old rap references.




Leave a comment
  • Minor Update: Ronald Torreyes signs one year deal with Twins.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I really hope this one doesn't come back to bite Theo in the hinderparts...

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Not a chance

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I wish him luck, but I wish we had signed him instead.

  • Theo is catching a bunch of crap. Ricketts is the one who is pulling in the purse strings. Guess he is waiting another trump tax cut.

  • In reply to Hagsag:

    Who said anything about pulling in purse strings? The Ricketts have the payroll higher than it has ever been.

  • In reply to Hagsag:

    Fans need to wait until the offseason is over before giving Theo crap.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    Concur. Theo is only in spring training as far as the off season. Long way to go.

  • It seems like most successful teams are built through the farm and then add key free agents or trades to put them over the top. But simply spending more money every offseason (the Cubs spent more than any team on free agents last year) is not a good recipe. The Cubs tied for the most wins in the NL last year with their best player, ace, and closer all hurt. If those three come back strong, the Cubs should be fine. If they don’t, it might not matter who they sign anyway. I am hoping for some smart trades, or a late free agent signing that doesn’t handicap them long term (think 2016 Fowler).

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    The Cubs finished second in wins last year. There were 4 AL teams who had better records so, I think there is still work to be done this off season.

    What do you mean about (think 2016 Fowler)?

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    In February 2016, the Cubs signed Fowler to a one-year contract, after he failed to sign a long-term contract elsewhere. I hope that’s the plan this year: wait for the market to come back to them.

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    OK got it, thanks.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    My guess is he means an unsigned free agent who is available at spring training time who is willing to sign a 1 year deal like Fowler did in 2016.

  • I haven't heard any legitimate reports that the Ricketts family have been reluctant to spend money. I believe that most people are underestimating the baseball reasons for avoiding successive years of exceeding the luxury limit. Not only are there penalties on draft choices, but also substantial penalties on IFA money. It goes far beyond the money issue.

  • Darvish, Chatwood and Morrow. 3 fine choice free agents from last year. Maybe Theo needs to take a year off from wasting Rickets money.

  • In reply to TheSarge#36:

    Already added Hamels for 20 million

  • Speaking of the MVP and Darvish. Per Carrie Muskat:

    “Other #Cubs injury updates from Theo: Bryant (left shoulder) is progressing without limitations. Expected to start hitting in Jan. Reports on Darvish are that he looks strong, healthy and is a couple weeks away from starting throwing”

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    Yeah, well, I'll believe it when I see it. Darvish has been due back any day for, oh, 6 months or so. Same with Morrow. Who knows about Bryant, he hasn't actually swung a bat yet.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Morrow is not any day. He will start throwing in February is the word right now.

  • In reply to John57:

    Wasn't he going to "start throwing" in August and then in September? We heard that he'd be back for the last month of the season, then, maybe, for the playoffs, such as they were.

  • I find this news very frustrating. Maybe it's time for the Cubs to fire the team doctor! It's getting really old, seeing injuries to critical players misdiagnosed, delaying needed treatment for months. If Morrow needed surgery in November, then he needed it in October and in September. Whatever tissue they removed didn't sprout up overnight. Now, his performance is impacted NEXT year too! What's next, Bryant? "Uh, after resting the shoulder for the offseason, multiple fractures were discovered, blah, blah, blah..." I realize that not every injury is easy to diagnose, but that's why they (supposedly) hire the best. We're back to the Mark Prior towel drills.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    I agree November surgery seems odd but he was going to get babied into the season anyway. Let's just hope the recovery goes according to plan, for once.

  • In reply to DarBar15:

    Same guy who got hurt putting on skinny jeans and drinking coffee.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Surgery should always be the last case option, for athletics as well as regular folks. If your body can heal itself that is the best. It does dig into the initial dl time though, but gets it back and then some on the other end. One never knows what is on the side of the knife.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Agreed, but I have lost faith in any diagnosis that says "rest" is the cure for problems that end up needing surgery to correct.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    I thought you were joking about the Dr but not so sure now. Everyone wants to blame someone else. Lets blame, the hitting coach, pitching coach or the doctor. Lets blame the players or Theo for not signing the right guys.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Because, of course, Theo has a crystal ball and knows which players will be injured, but he acquires them anyway. In Morrow's case, everything was fine and resting his arm was working, until November 4, when he suddenly developed scar tissue in his elbow while he slept. Good thing those doctors caught it right away and did the surgery in time!

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    You want to blame a cub doctor for Morrow’s injury issues???? Isn’t this the guy who has only made it thru 1 season of mlb baseball without being on the DL. Darvish had Tommy John and Theo said odds are we isn’t gonna have arm trouble again. Theo doesn’t need a crystal ball to figure out they were both low chances to stay healthy.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    I don't think anything has been misdiagnosed. The public isn't provided details of player injuries.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    Right. Morrow just grew the tissue they removed overnight. Totally not related to the strategy of resting his arm for months while the team went without his services.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Again you have no idea what the issue was and how they were treating it. I'll lean towards the Cubs medical professionals knew what they were doing and did not misdiagnose anything.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    I DO know that the treatment plan they followed caused a longer than necessary recovery time. Go ahead, lean towards those medical "professionals" who said that surgery wasn't necessary and "rest" would cure issues for both Darvish and Morrow, only to decide later that, "oops, surgery is needed after all, sorry about the missed months from your star players." Yeah, that sounds like they knew what they were doing to me...

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Thank You Dr. Cliff.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Did you have anything meaningful to contribute to the discussion or are you limited to juvenile insults?

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    C'mon guys. Don't do this.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    I've already had to remove a couple of comments today.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    You are correct Michael. Sorry.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    I believe Darvish and Morrow have had arm issues before being a Cub?

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Yes, both did. Look, I'm not absolving Theo for the choices he made. He knew the risks when he acquired these players. My only point was that it's suspicious to me that the prescribed treatment is rest, only to find out later that there is a problem that surgery is required to repair. In Morrow's case, I simply don't believe he needed surgery in November but did not need surgery in October or September. I see nothing wrong with questioning why the treatment was delayed. Apparently, that's a position that causes offense to some.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    There are different factors tho. Maybe Morrow or Darvish wanted to try a different method 1st. Nobody likes to go under the knife. Nobody is offended by your beliefs on this topic. It just sounds very unintelligent and laughable to blame and want the cubs medical staff fired.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    On the other hand, we could say that paying a medical staff for the results we've seen for both Darvish and Morrow, without even questioning if things might have been done differently, "sounds unintelligent and laughable." It amazes me that we get hundreds of comments questioning every move of Theo, Jed, Joe and the Ricketts, but the medical staff is somehow infallible.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    The way the cubs are firing hitting coaches and pitching coaches I would believe Theo/Ricketts would have no issues firing a medical staff if they thought it cost them their “star players”.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    You don't know what else was being done to treat the players. I'm sure it was not only rest.

  • DJ LeMahieu would be a terrific signing as a free agent. The rumor mill has him going to Milwaukee, Detroit, or Boston currently and you still have Scooter Gennett, and Jed Lowrie behind him if the Cubs want a replacementt for Addison Russell with Baez playing shortstop.
    And I would love the Cubs to pry Michael Lorenzen loose from Cincinnati. He is the poor man’s Ohtani, without elbow surgery. He hit 4 homers in 30 at bats last year. The guy was a two way star at Cal Fullerton and is coming into his own as a potential starter.

  • fb_avatar

    IF, and it's a big IF, Yu is healthy then it's like singing him this year. We've seen what he can do when healthy so why so down on him for last year if he was hurt? It seems most athletes aren't honest with management about how they're feeling until it's just so apparent it can't be ignored, so maybe he was hurt much before we heard about it.
    We won 95 games with Yu winning only 1 game, Chatwood awful, KB not healthy (and maybe still feeling the effects of getting beaned) Rizzo not having a good start, Addy not playing well at all, and with all that we won 95 games.
    Can anyone doubt the drive of Theo to win? It's quiet because he wants it so, I don't believe for a second that we are standing pat this off season.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    If you think my Theo is dead he's alive! If you think you're safe he's coming for you!

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Bryant feeling the effects of getting beaned???

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Respectfully I keep reading how this team won X amount of games. I don't care if they won 110. They finished in 2nd place and lost embarrassingly in the two most critical games of the year, including the wild card playoff game.

  • I don’t think Harper is coming to the North side and I’m ok with that IF:

    1) Theo signs a couple high end bullpen pieces.
    2) the team wipes the Chili Davis slate clean and goes back to Power and OBP.
    3) this aging staff still has some magic left
    4) KB and Darvish are 100% healthy

    This team has the talent to win another WS with addictions to the BP. Theo is right, the best addictions will come from development of our current young players.

    A staff of Lester, Hendricks, Hamels, Quintana and Darvish is downright nasty if they play to their potential.

  • In reply to mcoley32:

    In addition to the BP, I still think Theo will upgrade the offense which scored one run in each of the critical last 3 games of the season (last game, 1 game playoff, and WC). And scored 0 or 1 runs 39 times last year.

    Unless Theo can find a taker for a big chunk of JHey's salary, 2B or SS (with Javy moving to the other) seems the only option. And Unless David Bote is spending the offseason fixing that hole at the top of the strike zone, I'm asking Santa to put Scooter Gennett and an additional team option year under the tree.

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    Scooter would be an EXCELLENT addition, but Who do you give up to get him? Cincinnati seems to think they are close to competing seeking big FA contracts on guys like Corbin and Pollack. They probably aren’t going to want A-/A+ level prospects, especially given the low ceiling prospects like the Cubs. They are going to want players at the MLB level or a year away.

    Are you ok with giving up Schwarber and Happ plus an Alex Lange?

    1B Rizzo
    2B Gennett
    SS Baez
    3B Bryant
    C Contreras
    LF Zobrist
    CF Almora
    RF Heyward

    That’s a pretty weak hitting OF. Or maybe Cincinnati takes Schwarber/Almora/Lange?

  • I hope the Cubs shore up their pitching staff. No Morrow for how long? Miss all of April? Who's going to bat leadoff? Rizzo kept winning the Rock Paper Scissors game.

  • I just read on ESPN that former Cub Luis Valbuena and Jose Castillo were killed in a car accident Thursday night.

  • In reply to LRCCubsFan:

    Yes, terrible news. I always like Valbuena during his time here. Entertaining and one of the only guys during those tough years that seemed even remotely dangerous in the lineup. RIP Luis and Jose.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Pura Vida:

    Someone else died? Or are you referring to Fernandez?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Pura Vida:

    Nevermind, I didn't see the Jose Castillo part. I was just skimming through them.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to LRCCubsFan:

    Heard. RIP Luis. He always seemed like a good guy and teammate. He also was a really good stop gap while waiting for KB. Sad to see him gone.

  • fb_avatar

    I really hope Merrefield isn't even on the Cubs radar. I don't want him. The media hype on him is getting ridiculous. Yes, he had one good season towards the end of his prime. Pass.

  • I like the pursuit of Miller. If healthy, he could be huge for the Cubs next year. What are the chances they can sign him for 2-3 years max? Any more than that he is not worth it.

  • I was studying the Mariners-Mets blockbuster deal (structure, players, prospects, cash) and was wondering if the D-Backs and Cubs might be well positioned to do their own blockbuster:

    D-Backs would trade - Zack Grienke, David Peralta and $10M in cash

    Cubs would trade - Jose Quintana, Tyler Chatwood, Brandon Kintzler, Ian Happ, Brendon Little, and Thomas Hatch

    Year 1 would be a financial wash. Year 2 (Kintzler and Quintana would be free agents), so the D-Backs save ~$25M. With Hamels and Zobrist off the books, Cubs can absorb Grienke's salary. Year 3 (Chatwood would be a free agent), so the D-Backs save ~$35M.

    Cubs rotation in 2019 would be: Grienke, Lester, Hendricks, Hamels and Darvish. In 2020, substitute Montgomery for Hamels.

  • In reply to hoopscubs:

    That would be a sick rotation if Darvish is in fact healthy. I would make that trade. Greinke/Lester/Hendricks/Hamels in a playoff series? Yes please. I don’t know if Arizona would bite or not but I like the Cubs end.

  • D-backs- Brandon who?

  • In reply to KJRyno:

    Cubs could leave Kintzler out of the deal and ask for $15M in cash.

  • Just like the Mariners freed up 50M in cash and getting some young players by trading Cano, the D-Backs could free up $50M in cash and get some young players by trading Greinke.

    Perhaps there are better ways to structure the deal or different prospects.

  • fb_avatar

    I'd do a Schwarber for Kluber trade. Send Chatwood with him and eat a few million. We would have to replace Schwarber's bat. Find a taker for Heyward and eat cash? Could sign Brantley, but he's a glass doll the past 2 years

  • In reply to Wrigley0923:

    Replacing a .240 hitter with power that plays the OF? Not very hard to do. Other than his playoff magic, he is simply a below average MLB OF.

  • In reply to INSaluki:

    Schwarber was a 3.2 WAR player last year. That means he was an above average MLB OF. On top of that he was paid peanuts. Then to add to that his arrow is trending up. Getting an above average MLB OF who is paid peanuts, who works his ass off, who has leadership qualities and is still young is not easy to do. I would guess Schwarber is not going anywhere any time soon because it will be hard to replace him.

  • In reply to John57:

    Schwarber was a 1.5 WAR player according to baseball reference. That means he is a below average outfielder. He is a platoon player that can be replaced.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    Kyle Schwarber is a 3.2 WAR player according to fangraphs. That means he is an above average left fielder.

  • Adding Chatwood would kill the deal. You would need to add Happ to complete the deal.

  • fb_avatar

    Or both and eat less chatwood money?

  • I think my hearing aid went dead, 'cause I haven't heard a peep from the Winter Meeting yet.

  • In reply to Oneear:

    They start today and really get going Monday. By he end of next week I expect the Cubs to have completed at least 1 deal.

  • fb_avatar

    Hopefully it's trading Heywards contract or an above average SS so Javy can mainly play 2b and SS the other 1/4 of the time. Either of those 2 would be HUGE moves for us.

  • In reply to Wrigley0923:

    I don't see Heyward getting traded - wishful thinking if that contract is moved.

    I think Baez is the primary SS this year.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    I agree with you that Heyward is not getting traded. With the size of his contract, that will be very difficult to trade.

  • fb_avatar

    The SS, or backup SS & 2B should be their top doc imo. But this is Theo. He may pull a rabbit out of his damn hat and shock baseball. He's pretty good at it.

Leave a comment