The Cubs roster has shaped up (strangely), over/unders and a preview pod with David Brown
Because Substack won’t shut up about how great it is, I’m going to open a chat later today for the Cubs season opener. So, you and I can decide if it’s great or not. It will be open to free and paid subscribers and you can join either through the app (the button to download it is right up there…and it is a really good app) or through your browser. So join in on the nonsense. And if you don’t? Well, I’ll just fill it up with my pithy observations. It won’t be the first time I cracked myself up with nobody else paying any attention.
It was good news, bad news with the Cubs roster yesterday.
The good news was that negotiations on a long term extension with Ian Happ have stalled and almost certainly won’t be revisited. He’ll be a free agent at the end of the season.
I wonder if their negotiations with Happ mirrored the Nico Hoerner ones?
“Hey, Ian, we’d like to lock you up long term.”
”Great. Until when?”
There are Cubs fans who are very upset by this news. They presumably get just as upset when Jim Belushi sitcoms get cancelled.
It would be so “Cub” if after failing to re-sign truly good players like Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Javy Baez, Kyle Schwarber and Willson Contreras that they had locked up Happ.
“Great news! We got a Van Halen lead singer to play our class reunion!”
”Which one, Dave or Sammy?”
Happ’s not a bad player (although, he’s had some truly terrible stretches in his career), but he just doesn’t do anything that well. He’s got some speed. He’s a switch hitter who had to abandon trying to hit for power to not completely crater from the right side. He won a Gold Glove because…I guess it was his turn, or something.
Will the Cubs replace him with somebody better? Well, the next time they replace anybody with somebody better will be a first, but I’m willing to see them try.
So that was the good news.
The bad news?
When the plane from Phoenix landed at O’Hare, the Cubs opened the overhead compartment and this fell out.
The Cubs are going to open the 2023 season with two outfielders on their roster. I know that Trey Mancini the third, Patrick Wisdom, and Miles Mastrobuoni all own outfield gloves, but man, this is a helluva way
to win a pennant to try to stay within eight games of the final wild card spot by Labor Day.
I think the fix was in on Nick Madrigal making this team as a superfluous piece on the roster when we learned he could turn down his assignment to Iowa because even though he has an option left, he met the mysterious criteria to be a “super two” player. If/when the Cubs option him to Iowa, Nick could either just go and stay on the Cubs’ 40-man roster, or he can declare himself a free agent on the spot. Literally, he can just yell, “I DECLARE FREE AGENCY!” right there in Ross’ office and sign with any team that will have him. If I were the Cubs, I’d have called his bluff, because the next team that signs him as a free agent will be the Long Island Ducks.
The Cubs also have three catchers on the roster. Third stringer Luis Torrens can become a free agent if the Cubs try to send him to AAA, and given the dearth of catching around the big leagues (I mean, just look at the Cubs) somebody will sign him.
You know what?
He’s Luis Torrens.
The Cubs were apparently “intrigued by his offense.”
They’d be the first. Yeah, he hit .273/.386/.636 in the spring. It was in 22 at bats. Guh.
In five big league seasons he’s a career .226/.285/.354 hitter.
In 166 at bats last year in Seattke he slugged .298. He had five extra base hits.
It’s cool that a team that spent the offseason telling everyone they knew they needed to improve their offense is going to start the season with Nick Madrigal and Luis Torrens as two of their four bench players. But hey, at least Torres gives you versatility in a third catcher because he can play zero other positions. Oh, sure he’s played two games at second (11 innings), five games at first (39 innings) and two games at third (two innings) in his career, but he’s also pitched twice. So they might as well just have him sit in the bullpen.
The best news about the opening day roster is that it doesn’t last. Within a couple of weeks some of these guys will be gone, either to Iowa or back to their regular shifts at The Home Depot.
Last year Clint/Jackson Frazier made the opening day roster and he and his appendix got cut about two and a half weeks later.
Anyway, at least the Cubs don’t have a rough early schedule. They should be able to ease into things with (looks at schedule and winces). Seven games with the Dodgers, three with the Padres, three with the Brewers and three with Seattke in the first four weeks.
Thirteen games with playoff teams and three with a team that missed the playoffs by a game. Well hey, at least it gives them a chance to make an early statement.
I’m just not sure we want to hear that statement.
Podcast: Baseball preview with David Brown
Baseball season is here and who better to preview it with than David Brown, who has spent his spring galavanting through the Cacti and Grapefruit Leagues? We talk about the Cubs chances in 2023, a fun conversation Dave had with Billy Williams, Nico Hoerner's "extension", why the Cubs need three catchers and a Nick Madrigal, Freddie Freeman's love for Dansby Swanson and more, including how Ian Happ can just draft behind Shohei during free agency next winter and sucker some owner who missed out on the real prize to give him a third of the money they were going to give Shohei. We also have some fun with team total over/unders as we work their way around the big leagues.
Let’s look at what our good friends at DraftKings (use code POINTLESS to unlock all kinds of cool stuff when you sign up) have set as the over/unders for this season.
Cardinals 88.5 - Look, I hate them more than almost anybody, but doesn’t this seem low? I mean, there’s no way in hell I’d bet it, because fuck them, but is Adam Wainwright pulling a crotch muscle trying to run past the weight room door without the strength coach seeing him worth five wins? They won 93 last year. Wait…I forgot Yadi retired. You know what? They’ll be lucky to win 12 games this year.
Did you see that Willson is going to wear Yadi tribute cleats all season? I assume those cleats make it so you can’t run to first when you ground out to third and you just turn and go straight to the dugout.
Brewers 85.5 - This is one of the big problems with the Cubs half-assed rebuild. It leaves the Brewers as the only team that can unseat the Cardinals, and the Brewers just refuse to get any offense. But hey, at least on April 7 you can get two for one beer at the park.
Cubs 77.5 - Wait. Doesn’t Vegas know that the Cubs had the fifth best record in the second half in the NL last season, and added Eric Hosmer this year? Hmm? This seems like easy money as the Cubs are clearly on their way to 106 wins. By the way, DraftKings has a prop that puts 105.5 as the over under for most wins in the majors by any team this year. The Dodgers won 111 last year and the Astros won 106. It should be harder to rack up ludicrous win totals this year as more teams are at least pretending to try to contend (cough, cough, Cubs, cough, cough) than last year. So I’d pass on that.
Pirates 68.5 - Without looking, name a Pirates starting pitcher.
Yeah, me neither.
Reds 65.5 - I can’t wait for owner Bob Castellini to do his regular opening day radio interview today. Last year he basically dared Reds fans to not watch his crap team saying, “What else are they going to do?” How does he top that this year? “What? You expect us to get a hit…every game?”
Barves 94.5 - The East is going to be a bloodbath with the Phillies, Mets and Barves all gunning for the title and all three most likely making the playoffs. Last year the Barves spotted the Mets a 10.5 game lead on June 1 and still won the division. Well, sort of. They tied but Atlanta won tiebreaker by season series over the Mets. Are the Barves six games worse than last year? No. This seems like a good bet.
Mets 91.5 - Losing Edwin Diaz to the very dangerous activity of gently jumping up and down after a World Baseball Classic save is a real blow to the Mets, worse is having to close games with David Robertson or Adam Ottavino. But how many regular season wins is a great closer worth over two mediocre ones? It’s not as much as you think.
Phillies 88.5 - They’re already without Bryce Harper until midseason as he continues his treatments for Tommy John Disease, and they lost Rhys Hoskins to the dreaded non-contact knee injury and he’s done for the year and probably done in Philly for good. There’s also the strange case of Nick Castellanos who was so bad for them last year that he has to be better, right? Ehhh, maybe. But they have our large adult son to keep them afloat until Bryce shows up.
Marlins 76.5 - During the World Baseball Classic I barely recognized their ballpark, which hosted a bunch of games. I probably didn’t recognize it because there were fans in it.
Nationals 59.5 - Yikes. Under 60? I mean, that seems like a safe bet, right? Surely even they can win 60. But imagine having to hold your nose and bet on the Nationals. You know what? I might just do it.
National League West
Dodgers 95.5 - Oh, how the mighty have fallen. They won 111 games last year and they jettisoned both Turner brothers and some pitching and Gavin Lux done blowed out his knee and here they are slumming it…projected to only win 18 more games than the Cubs.
Padres 93.5 - I think Vegas just can’t quite bring themselves to post the Padres with more wins than the Dodgers, but one of these years it’s gonna happen. Then again, Mike Donohue and I just spent three hours talking about the ‘84 Cubs, so fuck the Padres.
Giants 81.5 - I adopted the Giants as my second team once Jed traded away all my favorite players at the 2021 deadline, and I’m probably biased here, but they are considerably better than the Cubs right now. I don’t think they’re a playoff team, but I’d guess they’ll win more than they lose.
And, if you haven’t, you need to take some time to watch a few Giants games while Duane Kuiper and former Cub Mike Krukow are still calling the games. They are the best.
D’bags 75.5 - If you bet on one over/under this year bet on this to go over. If the Cubs are 77.5 the D’bags should be well over 80. DraftKings is begging you to take their money.
Rockies 65.5 - I have no idea. If Kris Bryant stays healthy (we know how that goes) he’ll have a monster year, but even if that happens they could still be terrible. Do what Rockies fans do these days. Just stay away.
American League Central
Guardians 86.5 - As sad as this sounds, the Cubs are trying to build their team to be just like the franchise they beat in the 2016 World Series. They want to develop pitching and pay for just barely enough hitting to win games. Uhh…great? Somebody has to win the Central. It might be them.
Or, it might be…
Twins 83.5 - They should have won this crap division last year, but first injuries slowed them down, then they made weird trades at the deadline. But I like their trade of singles hitting machine (but not much else) batting champ Luis Arraez to the Marlins for Pablo Lopez, and then Carlos Correa just fell right back into their laps. It’s better to be lucky, I guess.
White Sox 82.5 - A couple of years ago the supposedly talent rich Sox had that annoying Change The Game ad campaign. (Not as bad as Next Starts Here…but whatever.) They finally made the playoffs in back to back years for the first time in team history in 2020 and 2021 and then last year was just a six month wet fart. They don’t have Tony LaRussa to kick around anymore, and they still have some talent. But it’s pretty obvious that they don’t have nearly as much as they thought they did.
Tigers 69.5 - Just give us Javy back. You can have Dansby and I’ll throw in Nick Madrigal. Hell, I could afford to mail Nick to you.
Royals 69.5 - Are you as shocked as I am that the Mike Matheny thing didn’t work? I really felt that the Royals were just one overly religious bankrupt commercial real estate investor away from greatness. Turns out, I was wrong. Do you know who their new manager is? I don’t think anybody does.
American League East
Yankees 93.5 - They are already touting rookie shortstop Anthony Volpe as the next Derek Jeter. I had no idea he was that slow.
Bonus: Here’s my favorite Derek Jeter joke ever. It’s from Girls5Eva and it’s Sarah Bareilles’ character explaining to her husband (played by the guy who plays Scooter on Billions) how she got a signed baseball that he found in their old stuff.
Blue Jays 91.5 - This team full of young studs is what the Prospect Perverts think the Cubs are building towards. But maybe there’s a difference between building your team around the sons of Vladimir Guerrero, Dante Bichette (and to a much lesser degree) The Beege, and building one around the kids of the lady who played the mom on Little Big League, and the nephew of a Cardinals reliever who used to pitch with a squirrel hanging off his chin.
Rays 88.5 - Silly Rays, they signed Wander Franco to an 11 year contract. They bought out his arbitration years plus six seasons of free agency. Huh. I mean I’m sure Jed could have gotten him to sign for just three.
Red Sox 78.5 - We’re all tired of Boston sports everything, right? I mean, especially with Dennis Eckersley retiring from the TV booth. But I have to tell you, I think I have a favorite Red Sox player.
They overpaid an undersized Japanese outfielder named Masataka Yoshida to play left field and bat cleanup for them. And you know what? I think it’s going to work. This guy fucks.
Orioles 76.5 - The Orioles are chic pick as a dark horse playoff team and Vegas has them finishing last, again. It makes sense. Young teams that improve dramatically (the Orioles went from 52 wins in 2021 to 83 wins in 2022) tend to backslide for a year before they really take off. I mean, it didn’t happen to the 2016 Cubs, but it happens to teams made up of mere mortals.
American League West
Astros 95.5 - Well, Dusty finally won a World Series. So maybe Bob Nightengale can stop talking about it.
Mariners 87.5 - I like this team and this number. I also think their former Cubs catcher manager is better than ours. Not that it would take all that much.
Rangers 82.5 - Jacob deGrom’s spring numbers were: Two starts, 6.2 innings, 10 strikeouts, 0 walks and 4 hits. Impressive.
It’s also probably what his season totals will be.
Angels 82.5 - They have the two best players in baseball on the same team and they have now for five seasons. During that time they have zero playoff appearances, zero winning seasons and now Phil Nevin is managing them, apparently on purpose. At least Shohei is smart enough to leave after this season.
A’s 60.5 - They are losing games on purpose to apparently prove they can’t afford to stay in their ballpark (the one that occasionally fills up with sewage) so that either the city of Oakland will build them a new park, or Major League Baseball will let them move to Vegas. Have they tried getting Federal Landmark status instead?
Regardless, baseball’s back. And not a moment too soon.
Enjoy the games. Even the ones the Cubs are in.
Eck was a great announcer because he was liable to say anything, including the time he told the story about how good it was to see his old teammate Rick Manning and his wife. Rick’s wife that used to be Dennis’ wife and who Rick had an affair with while they were teammates in Cleveland. We know that story because Eck told us that story on the air.