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Season preview: Cubs Report
Part one: The pitching staff
After a longer than normal wait, the baseball season starts for real today. Cubs’ fans are so excited that tickets for the opener are going for as low as $13 on Stubhub. Stunning really. Apparently refusing to pay your best players and then giving them away, all while charging the most for tickets and concessions, will eventually piss your fans off so much that they’ll just decide to not come to games.
The roster that Jed Hoyer and Otto Pilot…
…I mean Carter Hawkins, have put together doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
Jed incessantly talks about “building the next great Cubs’ team” and we don’t expect this to be it, but why is the bullpen stuffed with retreads and Jason Heyward still wandering around if that’s the case?
Today we got some interesting news. Stephen Nelson, best known for being Kevin Millar’s new sidekick on his unwatchable MLB Network show, broke the “news” that the Cubs, maybe, perhaps made a significant contract offer to Carlos Correa’s agent only that agent wasn’t his agent anymore and then they didn’t make the offer to his actual agent.
Nelson took to the Twitters himself to explain the “offer” in greater detail.
So, we’re supposed to believe that the Cubs were superserious about signing Correa, but they couldn’t figure out who to give that offer to and then Correa was still a free agent for several days after the lockout ended—with no more agent confusion—but they were what, too busy driving around parking lots trying to figure out where Daniel Norris parked his house?
Anyway, even though we don’t 100% know who made the Cubs 28 man opening day roster, it’s time to cruise the roster for another exciting Cubs Report!
Kyle Hendricks - He’s making his third straight opening day start, and he’s hoping to bounce back from a pretty ehh 2021. His ERA was 4.77, which would have been significantly lower if he didn’t allow 47 homers in two starts against the Barves. He’s been working on a new pitch thanks to the geniuses down in the pitch lab, which means he’ll get pounded for a few starts before he scraps it. He’s one of only three remaining players from the World Series team, and I’m sure Jed will have taken care of that by August 2.
Marcus Stroman - He’s very excited to be a Cub1, and is rightly impressed by the home pinstripes, which he correctly observed are the best looking uniform in baseball.
The Garbage Family that Owns the Cubs™ so values those uniforms that they make the players dress like Jiffy Lube employees on home Fridays now.
Stroman’s a good pitcher, though he’s had trouble staying healthy. It was a genuinely good sign to see them go out and get him, but confusing that he has a two year contract with a player option. He’s going to be long gone by the time any of the Cubs’ precious prospects are ready to help.
Justin Steele - He will get slotted in between Kyle and Stroman because David Ross wants to go righty-lefty-righty-lefty-righty with his starters for…reasons, I guess? This is a big year for Steele. He’s got the stuff to be a good starter and when he got his chance last year he got hurt running the bases (something he won’t have much chance to do anymore.) I like him, and that probably dooms him.
Drew Smyly - Oh, finally! The Cubs rehabbed him in 2018 but then had to trade him away before the 2019 season because GarFam slashed Theo Epstein’s budget and he couldn’t afford to keep Smyly and pick up Cole Hamels’ very handsome option. In reality, losing Smyly was no big deal, but it was a very bad sign about how willing the Cubs were going to be to spend money. Very bad.
Alec Mills- Remember the time he threw a no-hitter against the Brewers in Milwaukee? He did it while wearing the windshield from a ‘78 Impala on his face. Impressive.
Keegan Thompson - With Wade Miley on the DL, Keegan will get more innings. He’ll either get some starts or be ready to piggyback somebody like Smyly (so, start the second inning.) The more I see him pitch, the less likely I’ll be to confuse him with Keenan Thompson.
Jesse Chavez - He’s back!
Three years too late, but hey, it’s something.
David Robertson - He pitched on the Olympic team last year. Yeah the one that former Cubs’ greats Tim “T-Fed” Federowicz and Edwin Jackson played on. Todd Frazier, too! Oh boy.
Daniel Norris - Sahadev wrote about 42,000 words yesterday on how the Cubs pitch lab guys really did teach him a new pitch. I’m sure that’ll go great. Won’t be long before he realizes living in his van wasn’t the worst decision he’s ever made.
Mychal Givens - He’s already hurt. Yet another market inefficiency that Jed has exploited. He’s the best.
Rowan Wick - Rowan’s the closest thing that the Cubs have to a closer, I guess. If they only use him in save situations, he’ll end up alone in the bullpen like the knight at the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Chris Martin - He was serviceable on the team that won the World Series last year. This was the best gig he could get?
Ethan Roberts - The video of him finding out that he made the big league team while sitting in the dugout was pretty cool, I will admit.
Turns out, what he was really crying about was that he found out the deposit he made on his condo in Des Moines is non-refundable.
Michael Rucker/Scott Effross/Whoever Else - Here’s the thing about the season opening roster. Smart teams only worry about making sure they don’t lose players on waivers. So, if the Cubs are at all strategic, the moves on Thursday will be about keeping as many players for the long haul as possible, not about picking the “best” 28 for the first day. Hell, having Heyward around already proves they aren’t interested in the “best” 28.
He’ll get over that.