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How will the Cubs deal with this looming roster crunch?
Yeah, this team has so much talent, it'll be a real shame to lose any of it
One of the things that the temporarily expanded rosters coming out of spring training did was it allowed teams to avoid a couple of potentially tricky personnel decisions, at least until Monday when the rosters are going to back to 26 from 28.
The Cubs, as you can tell by watching them, are positively awash in talent on this roster, and there’s a perfect storm brewing with two spots going away and the imminent returns of Wade Miley (hey, remember him?) and Alec Mills. You’ll be saddened to know that the Cubs have told Andrelton Simmons to slow down his rehab from a sore shoulder because
they finally figured out he’s fucking terrible he’s still experiencing discomfort.
MLB had instituted a rule for this year that no more than half of your 26 man roster (by my math, half would be 13) can be pitchers. They suspended that rule for the first month because pitchers weren’t ramped up properly thanks to the owners padlocking spring training facilities for 99 days. But it was supposed to finally be in play on Monday. They have decided to make the pitcher limit 14 until May 30.
Now, you and I both know that only a moron would need a nine man bullpen, but then, well, I mean…
So, the Cubs are going to have to make some decisions. There are two pretty obvious ones, but they won’t do them.
They could finally get around to releasing Jason Heyward (more on this in a bit).
They could take a struggling infielder who still has all of this options remaining and send him to Iowa. I mean, the guy is 10 for 50 (.200) with four walks. He’s been terrible. He also missed the last four months of last season so maybe he needs some Des Moines cuisine for a while? But how could he Cubs possible do such a thing to the great Nick Madrigal?
The truth of the matter is that there aren’t enough good players on this team for there to be a “roster crunch.” Would you lose Michael Hermosillo or Rafael Ortega if you DFA’d them? Yes.
Would you really ever miss them?
Basically, Jed can do whatever as long as he doesn’t accidentally waive Seiya and in the long run it’ll all be fine.
One of the things being discussed ad nauseum is the need for the Cubs to have a real backup shortstop on the roster because the ever expanding Jonathan Villar can clearly not be that, and Nico Hoerner’s tendons are made out of the stuff that’s in circus peanuts and he’s going to need regular rest.
That, apparently, has some Cubs’ fans pining for the return of Ildemaro Vargas.
What is even the point of any of this?
The Cubs are already deep at guys who can’t really hit, so adding Ildemaro just seems like the rich getting richer in that department.
Having Ildemaro in the organization is fine. Iowa’s a good place for him. If…or, let’s be honest, when…Nico gets hurt Ildemaro can hop on a hay wagon and ride to civilization and then get on a plane and get to wherever the Cubs are the next day. They don’t need Vargas hanging out in the big league dugout.
Because here’s the thing. If it’s fine with the Cubs to waste innings and at bats on Heyward, and let Madrigal slump every day in the big leagues, then why would there be an uncontrollable impulse to have a backup shortstop on the active roster? This Cubs team has already decided that the margins are not worth worrying about, because any little edge they might get from having a guy who can actually bend over and pick up a grounder when Nico’s napping on the bench, is more than outweighed by what they give up with their $184 million dud who can’t hit at all and who is playing a position he can’t handle defensively, or what they give up by letting Madrigal slowly roll balls to the other team’s infielders, or by using an active roster spot to try to teach Sean Newcomb how to not walk everybody.
Besides, as I wrote on Monday, I’d be fine with Pee Whiz making the occasional start at shortstop. You wanna get nuts? C’mon. Let’s get nuts!
So, The Athletic apparently still has a Cubs’ podcast. They started it a few years ago and all of their Cubs writers were on it. Wait, that’s not right. I wasn’t on it. Anyway, you can be forgiven if you’ve missed it for the last five years. But a couple of things apparently happened on it this week that can’t be ignored.
First, let’s take a look at a quote they pulled from it that was uttered by my pal (and their best writer) Patrick Mooney.
Arne, roll the clip…
This is the good stuff. These are very real things that are keeping a guy who can’t play on the Cubs. Incredibly, we still live in a world where these supposed business geniuses who own baseball teams can’t understand what a “sunk cost” is. And, we also live in a world where the Cubs’ manager, who was brought in to instill a sense of discipline that was supposedly lacking, won’t want to have to tell one of his players they need to go away because they’re friends.
Does any of this reek of a well run franchise? The Cubs are supposedly a data driven organization. We heard all about how they were going to be this cutting edge team that merged analytics with clear eyed, non-biased performance evaluation. The fact that Heyward is still around is proof that they are neither. Releasing him is an easy decision and they can’t make it.
How can you have confidence that they’ll be able to make the kind of tough decisions that will present themselves as their supposed treasure trove of talent comes through the system, if they can’t even gird up their loins and tell a guy, “We’re sorry, but we’re going to have to let you go. Here’s a gift bag that contains a sock that’s supposed to be a beer coozie and $40 million in cash.”
And then, there was this.
Well, I mean, I can see his…no, I have no idea what the hell this is. So, Alfonso Rivas drives in five runs against the Pirates one day and suddenly he’s the 21st century equivalent of the 11th most valuable offensive player (by WAR) in franchise history?
There are so many holes to poke in this nonsense. Among those, but not limited to, would be that Grace spent two years and three weeks in the minor leagues and slashed .332/.403/.518, while Rivas has slashed .292/.396/.418 in four seasons, oh, and does anybody think Mark Grace would be backing up Frank Schwindel?
When Grace was the age Rivas is now he’d already finished second in Rookie of the Year balloting (to Chris Sabo, what a crock), 14th in MVP voting and posted a 1.799 OPS in a League Championship Series. But I’m sure Rivas has done something cool. He’s probably finished third in a cow milking contest before a a minor league game, or something.
Grace’s career postseason OPS was .904, he walked 435 more times in his career than he struck out, won four Gold Gloves and unlike Alfonso was never, as far as I can remember, ever traded for Tony Kemp.
I get that the comparison was more likely about the outsized uproar felt in a very small, very strange, Prospect Pervert segment of Cubs’ fans. But let’s set the bar a little more realistically for Rivas. How about he starts at Mark Bellhorn and works his way up?
Last week, the Marquee Sports Network’s lack of institutional knowledge cropped up during a broadcast when Boog and JD talked about a guy getting struck by lightning and Geremi Gonzalez’s name never came up. I get it, making a guy’s death on the beach funny is a tough line to toe.
But last night we got an even more egregious example of nobody in that booth remembering any of the key moments in Cubs’ history.
Boog and JD were talking about pickle ball, as one does, and they mentioned that former Barves pitcher Kent Mercker just happens to be one of the most accomplished pickle ball players in his age group.
What do you remember most about Kent Mercker? That he pitched on four Barves playoff teams, including their 1995 World Series champions. Or maybe that he threw a no-hitter in 1994?
No. We remember the time he screamed at Steve Stone on an airplane for being mean to the nosediving Cubs at the end of the 2004 season. Mercker also called the TV booth during a game earlier that year to complain that Steve and Chip Caray were saying nice things about an opponent.
I’m sure JD knows about this. The August incident occurred because Chip and Steve were getting a little too gooey about Astros pitcher Roy Oswalt, and JD was working in the Astros TV booth at the time. I’m sure he heard about it.
But neither Jim nor Boog took any wink-wink shots at Kent, much to our disappointment. And that was the end of it right?
No. Just a few minutes later, Boog told a story about Chip letting Seiya Suzuki try on his new Barves World Series ring before the game. They had a second crack at it! And, nothing.
Come on, Marquee. If you’re not going to be good, at least be entertaining.
Oh, and did you know that during the entire game on Tuesday night Marquee’s crawl spelled the name of one of their major sponsors wrong?
Keep up the good work.
This stuff is bound to happen when nobody can be bothered to watch their own network.