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It's gonna be a long offseason
And maybe not just for the Cubs
The virtual Winter Meetings were last week and nothing really happened, unless you’re really excited about the Cubs taking Gray Fenter, a 6’0 righthanded pitcher from the Orioles in the Rule V draft. Fenter can hide in the Cubs’ bullpen like David Patton once did until the requisite time has passed and then he can go to the minors never to be heard from again.
Perhaps Fenter will be the next Hector Rondon, who the Cubs took from the Cleveland baseball team formerly known as the Indians, and stashed in their bullpen on a terrible 2013 team. Hector ended up saving 77 games in two and a half years as the Cubs’ closer, he struck out Stephen Piscotty to end the 2015 NLDS and he sprayed Tinactin on Anthony Rizzo’s balls before game five of the World Series.
Wait, what? Oh never mind, it’s just a weird thing that happens when your first baseman gets naked and re-enacts Rocky fights in the clubhouse before the biggest home game in team history.
Otherwise, the Cubs have done nothing. They still only have two outfielders on their roster, but at least Cubs President of Divesting Player Assets Jed Hoyer acknowledged that he knows teams need three.
Things are so sad right now that when oft-injured former Rockies outfielder David Dahl signed with the Rangers, some Cubs fans freaked out. Man, this is going to be a looooong offseason.
Hoyer also confirmed that Commissioner Tob Manford has told NL clubs that they should prepare for the 2021 season as though there won’t be a DH in their league. This, is, of course, nonsense, but welcome nonsense to people like the garbage family that owns the Cubs, who don’t want to pay for a real DH. Hell, they didn’t last year, why should things change?
And, hey, it’s not like the Cubs don’t have a stud DH on the roster anyway. Just harken back to how great Victor Caratini was when he filled that role last season.
He hut .240/.340/.317 with no homers and six RBI when he DH’d. That’s good, right? I mean a .317 slugging is really what you’re looking for. And, it’s especially great to take advantage of getting extra at bats for a guy with 43 extra base hits in four big league seasons. Yes, Victor averages nearly 11 extra base hits a season, whether you need them or not.
It’s not that things aren’t happening around the league. The Mets hired Jared Porter, a former Cubs front office member under Theo and Jed who was most recently with the Diamondbacks, to be their general manager under Sandy Alderson. Porter had been linked to the Cubs job, but Jed hasn’t been in a rush to fill his old position, probably because he knows how important it isn’t.
You hope Porter walked into his first day with the Mets and said, “We paid James McCann how much for four years? We do know he’s only been good for half a season in his seven years in the big leagues, right?”
And White Sox manager Tony LaRussa (it’s still amazing that’s a thing) pled his most recent DUI (also still amazing it’s plural) down to reckless driving and will have to serve one day in jail. Though, he can also fulfill it with house arrest, either at his place or Mark Grace’s. Either way, it’s great that the Sox can put this all behind them now, because Tony’s obviously learned his lesson and will work hard to never get caught again. Again.
The Bears remain technically eligible for “in the hunt” on everybody’s NFC playoff scenario bracket after their 36-7 win over Deshaun Watson and whatever’s left of the Texans. It was a welcome respite to the weekly kick in the groin the Bears have been giving us since October, but it proved nothing.
The Texans have the league’s worst defense, and on offense, Watson is playing without wide receivers and running backs, which seems less than ideal. It would have been, frankly, humiliating if the Bears hadn’t beaten them soundly.
And honestly, if the game looked familiar, it’s because they played the same one last week.
Last week against Detroit the Bears scored 23 points in the first half. Yesterday they scored 30. Against Detroit the Bears scored seven points in the second half. Yesterday they scored six. The difference is that the Texans had no ability to mount anything resembling a comeback.
The rejiggered Bears offensive line played well, although it helps that JJ Watt is somehow still playing defensive end without any legs. And the Bears ran it well early and then, mind-numbingly, once again stopped running the ball in the second half.
David Montgomery broke an 80-yard run on the first Bears offensive play, and got a whopping 10 more carries the rest of the way. Matt Nagy or Bill Lazor or Laze Nagor or whoever is calling the plays these days is positively pathological when it comes to refusing the ball.
(Montgomery’s run was the Bears’ longest drive of the season both in yardage and time of possession. I kid, mostly because I need an outlet for slow jokes with Albert Almora gone.)
Mitch Trubisky put up nice numbers for the third week in a row. He was 24-33 for 267 and three touchdowns. That was nearly identical to the 26-34 for 267 and one touchdown he put up against Detroit last week. And, better than the 24-46 for 242, three touchdowns and two picks against Detroit three weeks ago.
None of this means he’s any damned good, because he’s still not. I don’t have to tell you that, because you are smart enough to subscribe to this newsletter, but there are dopes out there rallying to Mitch’s defense.
The Bears are 4-2 in games he’s started, and just 2-5 in Nick Foles’ starts. Well, first off, nobody said Foles was any damned good either, but other than Green Bay, Mitch got all of the easy starts. Mitch got Detroit twice, the Giants, Falcons and Texans, and the Bears would have lost to Atlanta had Mitch not been benched. Foles got starts against Indy, Tampa, Carolina (bad), the Rams, Saints, Titans, and Vikings. How would Mitch have fared against that bunch? Poorly, just like Foles did.
Basically, there's no reason to keep evaluating Mitch, no matter what happens in the last three games. He needs to go away. And if there’s any fear that he’s going to go somewhere else and “figure it out” I’m not worried about it. I don’t follow the Canadian Football League that closely.
In his postgame Zoom thing, Nagy was bursting with pride over the ass whuppin’ his team put on the fighting Romeo Crennel’s. I guess that’s fine. Any time a pair of interim head coaches face off in week 14 pride is on the line. Wait, what? Nagy’s not interim? Oh, whatever.
Nagy bragged about how potent his offense has become, which is truly delusional. Most of the yards they gained against the Packers came long after the game was decided. The Lions and Texans both sport bottom five NFL defenses. And, in the last two weeks the Bears have scored a whopping 13 second half points. I’m sure he’s ecstatic over the third quarter field goal yesterday which brings the season total of third quarter points scored for the Bears to 17. Ten of those are on offense. Ugh.
The Bears got the ball back late in the third and inexplicably threw, threw, threw and punted. But it wasn’t inexplicable, was it? Nagy was trying to score before the quarter ended, not because it had anything to do with the outcome, but because he knows how much fun everybody makes of his ineptness in the quarter and how it reflects on his inability to make halftime adjustments. Everything about The Visor just screams eyewash. He’s Russell Hammond in Almost Famous telling William Miller:
Allen Robinson had a nice game with nine catches, some of that is attributable to the fact that Houston picked up their starting cornerbacks yesterday at a taxi stand at O’Hare. Robinson’s a free agent after the season and why would he want to come back? After playing with Blake Bortles and Mitch so far in his career he should run to a team with a real quarterback. But I’m sure when Pace trades the Bears’ first, second and third round picks in April to move up and pick Mac Jones, that will entice A-Rob to stick around.
Defensively, Khalil Mack emerged from the milk carton for a big game. He literally stole the ball away from a Texan, leapt high in the sky to bat down a Watson pass and sacked Watson in the endzone for a safety.
Roquan Smith had 12 tackles and two sacks, and Mario Edwards had two sacks. It was the kind of defensive effort that not that long ago the Bears used to put up even against teams that don’t suck.
As of sometime today, the Cleveland Indians are no more. A few years after ditching Chief Wahoo, Cleveland took the inevitable next step and are also getting rid of their nickname. Whether you think the nickname is offensive or not, frankly doesn’t matter unless you are Native American.
While the Washington Football Team is making a meal out of not yet coming up with their own replacement nickname, Cleveland’s decision shouldn’t be that difficult. They have a perfectly cool one waiting in reserve.
From 1887 to 1899, Cleveland’s big league team was the Spiders. Until last night I thought they became the Indians, but that’s not right. The Spiders played two seasons in the American Association and then a decade in the National League. Their best player was some guy named Cy Young who won 240 games in nine seasons with them. The Spiders owners bought the St. Louis Perfectos in 1899 and sent all of their good players to that team. The remaining Spiders went a whopping 20-134 that season and went kaput. The Perfectos became the Cardinals, and both of those are stupid nicknames.
But there is an apparent connection from the Spiders to the Indians. The Spiders featured an outfielder named Louis Sockalexis. He was believed to be the first Native American to play in the big leagues. When Cleveland got its second big league franchise in 1900 (in the American League this time) they went by the Lake Shores, which is ludicrous and then in 1901 they were the Bluebirds and in 1902 changed to the Bronchos. Good lord, were they just randomly picking words out of a dictionary? In 1903 they signed Napoleon Lajoie away from the Philadelphia A’s. He was a great player (one of Harry Caray’s all-time favorite players), and Cleveland named the team after him. They were the Naps until 1915 when they became the Indians. They claimed to have taken that name in homage to Sockalexis, though more than a few historians think they retrofitted that story to try to justify the rationale behind it.
Regardless, Spiders is a cool nickname, and there’s a historic link to the city, and a fan created this potential logo for them:
Seems like a pretty easy transition.
The Indians had a long and storied history with immortals like Bob Feller, Lou Boudreau, Frank Robinson, Tris Speaker, Jake Taylor, Satchel Paige, Jim Thome, Rick Vaughn, Eddie Murray, Lou Brown, Terry Francona, Duane Kuiper, Cory Snyder, Tom Hamilton and Harry Doyle.
In 120 seasons they have won six pennants, two World Series, blew a three games to one lead against the Cubs, and lost 90 or more games 16 times.
Gee, how could they mess with a glorious tradition like that by changing nicknames?