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Monday Morning Cubbin' Down
The Cubs signed more kids and an old stiff, Theo got a job, and new rules!
It was an action packed few days for the Cubs last week. They signed seven international free agents including Cristian Hernandez who is purported to be a five-tool shortstop and who carries the nickname “Baby A-Rod.” But don’t get too excited, he didn’t get the nickname because of his tools, he got it because he smells salsa jars with the lid on, too.
OK, maybe that’s not why:
I pay zero attention to international free agency so I’ll take people who do pay attention to it at their word that the Cubs were more aggressive this year (actually these announcements would have been made months ago if not for some little pandemic thing) than they have been since the class where they signed a couple of guys named Gleyber Torres and Eloy Jimenez. Whatever happened to those two?
The Cubs also came to terms with four of their five arbitration eligible guys. Kris Bryant agreed to $19.5 million, Willson Contreras $6.65 million, Javy Baez $11.65 million and Zach Davies $8.25 million. Ian Happ filed at $4.1 million and the Cubs at $3.25, so we’ll see if they find a way to split the difference before his hearing. If I were Happ, I’d just tell the arbitrator that “I was the only guy who scored a run in the playoffs.” And then wait for my win.
The Cubs still seem hell bent on trading Bryant and Contreras, and now that the garbage family that owns the team knows how much they’re on the hook for them for 2021 the pressure on Jed Hoyer to cast them away should only increase. That’ll be great.
But hey, at least all of the best prospects they have are all 18 or younger, so it’s not like we’ll have to wait five or six years for any chance at new talent to arrive.
Nothing appears to be happening right now with Bryant, and the rumors of the Marlins trying to trade for Willson seemed to take a wet thud when negotiations devolved into both teams complaining to the other about how they can’t afford him. This is a helluva way to run a franchise.
Former Cubs President of Things Crane’s Not Botching, Theo Epstein has a new phony baloney job. He’s going to work in the Commissioner’s Office as a “consultant regarding on-field matters.” Not long after that was announced, word leaked out that two of the dumbest ideas in baseball history—the ludicrous park-a-dude-on-second to start every extra inning and seven inning doubleheaders—are both expected to return for 2021.
When I was working in Midwest League it was fine to play seven inning doubleheaders. It helped take some of the pressure off of pitching staffs full of 18-21 year olds and honestly, none of us, not the players, the coaches, stadium workers or front office people wanted to spend seven hours watching class A baseball on any given day.
I’m sure they’ll tell us that the seven inning doubleheaders are still necessary because Covid is still going to have a major impact on the season, and that’s not wrong. But since the decision was made this early, it really feels like something that’s going to be lingering long after the virus is otherwise under control. But enough about Ryan Braun…
Anyway, this really seems like the kind of shit that Theo was supposed to protect us from. Apparently he’ll be as effective at this as he was at drafting and developing pitching.
I have a rule idea that I’d like to run by Theo, however. Jayson Stark wrote a piece last week in The Athletic (go find the link yourself, I only link to my old shit, like this Cubs Convention piece I wrote last year—the Convention should have been last weekend. Did you miss it? Of course not.)
Anyway, where were we? Oh yeah, Jayson Stark. He reheated a Jim Deshaies idea from last summer about how if the NL is forced to permanently use the DH (and they will be, eventually) that baseball should tweak the rule. Your DH can only stay in the game as long as your starting pitcher. Once you take your starter out you need to start either pinch hitting for that spot or let the relievers bat. I like that idea. But I have a better one.
Instead of forcing a team to empty their bench if their starter flames out in the first or second inning (which will happen to the Cubs about 78 times this summer), I do not think teams should lose the DH if/when they remove their starter.
I think that once your team takes the starting pitcher out the opposing manager gets to pick who becomes your DH. They can’t pick a pitcher, they have to pick from whoever is on your bench, unless you have somehow burned your bench by then, then they can pick a pitcher.
Think about how great that would be? The Cubs are in St. Louis playing the Cardinals and Adam Wainwright suddenly remembers he’s 52 years old and he shits the bed in the third inning. Energy vampire Mike Shildt saunters out and brings in a reliever and David Ross then walks to the home plate umpire and lets him know that Yadier Molina and his .457 OPS will be now be DHing.
Can’t Shildt just pinch hit for Yadi? I guess. But then he’s burned two players, and in that case I’d advocate that if you have to take your replacement DH out of the game for any reason (like an injury, or in Yadi’s case that he’s somehow pine tarred himself to the bench) then you lose the DH for the rest of the game. So you burn a player and have to start winging it every time the DH spot rolls around.
There you go, Theo. The first idea’s free. But I’ve got a million of them.
The Cubs are not just hemorrhaging talent on the field. Tribune beat writer Mark Gonzales announced he’s leaving, which continues to erode the number of writers covering the team that we can actually trust. As newspapers continue their demise, more and more of what we do get from the team will be coming from the in-house clowns at Marquee and Cubs.com. I mean, that’s cool if what you really want to find out is if the first down marker the Bears used at Wrigley is still in the groundskeeper’s shed. It is:
The Ryan Dempster-fication of Cubs media accelerates whenever somebody like Gonzo or Bruce Miles or Hire Jim Essian’s main squeeze Carrie Muskat retires or moves on. Just imagine, there might actually be morons out there who get their Cubs news from Forbes.
Sully had a nice piece on Gonzales, and I’d like to remind him that he’s not allowed to leave any time soon, especially since he just won the Cubs Reporter Room Rater contest a couple of months back.
Speaking of beat writers, I did officially throw my hat in the ring to return to The Athletic last week. Mark Saxon announced he was not returning to the Cardinals beat and I let it be known that I’m just the guy they need to provide fair and balanced coverage of that team.
I’m already working on my first article. It’s about how all of the arrests from the January 6 Capitol Hill riot will affect attendance at Busch Stadium this season.
I know Trump’s expected to hand out upwards of 100 pardons before noon Wednesday, but that’s not going to be enough to get the Cardinals back to three million, even if they still keep counting this as a sell out.
The Cubs were one of several teams who watched Corey Kluber throw the other day. The Cubs are in dire need of starting pitchers, but Kluber turned down their offer of some Big Star Wrigleyville coupons and a personal bike tune up from Todd, and instead signed with the Yankees for actual money.
But that didn’t stop the Cubs from signing a different injured Texas Ranger. No, not Chuck Norris (who might or might not have been at the riots two weeks ago)
The Cubs signed Shelby Miller. I know, try not to get too excited.
Miller was once traded to the Barves in a deal that sent Jason Heyward to the Cardinals. And he later was the guy Dave Stewart had to have when Stewart traded Dansby Swanson and Ender Inciarte to the Barves. It was the soonest after the draft that any number one overall pick (Swanson) was ever traded away.
Miller was last good in 2015 with Atlanta (and even then he led the league in losses with 17). Since then he’s made only 38 starts and he’s 6-21 with a 6.89 ERA, striking out only 139 in 189 innings. He last pitched on June 25, 2019 for the Rangers.
He’s currently the Cubs third starter.
(Not really, but you had to think about it, didn’t you?)
Miller’s contract is $875,000 with up to another $600,000 in performance bonuses. So he’s going to be making $875,000.
There are two coming up this week. Mike Pusateri and I will break down the stupefying end of the season Bears press conference. I honestly thought we were done last week and had pre-emptively covered it all, but then George and Ted talked and…yeah, there’s more.
And, Remember This Crap! with Mike Donohue and I doesn’t need upcoming Bears opponents to provide our content. Last week we broke down the 1984 Bears-Redskins playoff game in DC and this week we’re going to relive the Monday Night Football game against the Jets in 1991. You should remember it for the epic comeback, but what you do remember it for is Cap Boso pulling up a yard of sod with his facemask.
For those of you wondering when Mike D. and I are going to get around to the Cubs. Well, spring training is (supposedly) just four weeks away, and that will kick off a spring and summer long run of us remembering Cubs crap.
Remember This Crap never ends: