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The Cubs plan is that they have no plan
Finding a few bucks in the couch in January and wanting credit for it is sad.
It’s a great time to be a big market baseball team. All you need to add really good players are some middling prospects, a willingness to take on some money and, well, if you deal with the Rockies they just give you cash.
Boy, are we lucky that the Cubs are in America’s third largest market, and the family of billionaires that owns them has the resources to take advantage of the current situation.
Why just last week the Cubs dipped into their vast reservoir of cash made possible by their highly profitable team-owned TV network and signed…
Joc Pederson and Trevor Williams?
Oh, for fuck’s sake.
Hey, at least one of them led the National League in homers last season.
Well, homers allowed. Williams gave up 15 of them in 11 games. Impressive.
The Cubs are paying Joc $7 million to do a Kyle Schwarber impression in left field. Meaning he’ll hit a lot of homers, hit for a low average, struggle embarrassingly against lefthanded pitching and wander across the street after batting practice each day to play with the fire trucks.
At least we can spend the season commenting on how punchable Joc’s face is:
Williams will “battle” for a rotation spot behind Kyle Hendricks and Zach Davies amid a cluster of mediocrity (or worse) headlined by Alec Mills, Kohl Stewart, Shelby Miller, Adbert Alzolay, and, I assume Rick and Paul Reuschel.
Ladies, just so you know, that’s actually Paul on the right. Topps had a 50/50 chance.
Williams was pretty good in 2018, going 14-11 with a 3.11 ERA in 31 starts and he tied for the NL lead in shutouts with…one.
But in 37 starts since over the 2019 and 2020 seasons (well, as much of a “season” as 2020 was, anyway) he had a 5.60 ERA and gave up 42 bombs. So, that’s not good.
And right now, he’s the Cubs’ third starter.
The Cardinals made a trade on Friday night for Rockies’ third baseman Nolan Arenado. Arenado, as we all know, is a really good player, and the “haul” the Rockies demanded from the Cardinals was, well, pretty sad. All it took was Austin Gomber and none of St. Louis’ top prospects, and just to put the cherry on top of the turd sundae the Rockies are kicking in $50 million dollars to help cover Arenado’s contract.
Teams are so hell bent on getting out from under big contracts they’ll basically give players away, and are the Cubs out there trying to flaunt their big marketness to take advantage of any of this? No. They’re picking through the retread bin and going to watch old friends Jake Arrieta and Jeff Samardzija throw for scouts and checking in on former Cubs’ farmhand Chris Archer.
Arrieta reportedly looked “good” on Sunday which means he’ll probably want more than the Cubs are willing to pay (which just means he’ll actually want actual money). But as much as I loved Jake’s original run with the Cubs, I don’t want him back for the death rattle of his career. Jake gives up a lot of hits now, still walks too many and doesn’t strike as many guys out. That’s not a recipe for anything good.
And Samardzija? He’s 36 now, he’s been bad in four of the last six seasons and I think the ship sailed on “he hardly pitched in college so his arm is fresh!” about nine years ago.
Archer is probably worth a flier. He’s the youngest of the three (32) and missed all of last season after surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome. There are two types of surgery for that and one of them involves removing part of one rib:
Archer was last good in 2015, and for some reason Pissburgh thought trading Austin Meadows and Tyler Glasnow for him in 2018 was a good idea. It wasn’t.
The Cubs goal in signing one of these three (or some other former ‘name’) is to run them through the vaunted pitch lab, fix something and then either ride them to the playoffs (hah) or flip them at the deadline for more 12 year old prospects.
The Cubs are supposed to be the team that looks around for other teams to do this and then traded their 12 year old prospects for them to sure up their pitching staff for a playoff push.
The Cubs also are still in need of a second baseman. Kolten Wong is still hanging around waiting for a job, but you just know the Cubs are just going re-sign Jason Kipnis—did you know he’s a local kid? (They could go super local and sign Kipnis for second and Minooka’s very own Mike Foltynewicz for a shot at the rotation.) They also should really should prepare for there to be a DH, because we’re all pretty damned sure there’s going to be one in the NL again this year and then, unfortunately, forever after.
I’m going to play Devil’s Advocate here for a moment and this should in no way be seen as a defense of the financial approach of the garbage family that owns the Cubs.
I’m not sure it’s smart for any team to pay big money to acquire any pitcher this year. Last year, most likely due to the abrupt end to spring training and the three months off before guys started working out again to get ready for the half-assed season, pitching injuries occurred at a rate greater than at any time since all the Mets pitchers were doing coke at Studio 54 every night.
Only two NL pitchers threw as many as 80 innings (German Marquez and Hendricks) and fewer than a dozen pitched as many 70 innings. Ramping back up to 200 or so that the leaders typically pitch won’t be easy in 2021. Was it worth trading Yu Darvish to the Padres for the cast of the Saved By The Bell reboot? No. But pitchers get hurt during the best of circumstances and last season and this season aren’t going to come anywhere near the best of circumstances.
Back to shitting on the Rickettses, why weren’t they the team trading middling prospects (lord knows they have a bunch of them) to get Arenado and $50 million bucks? It’s inevitable that they’re letting Kris Bryant walk or tossing him overboard at the first chance during the season. They could have replaced KB with Nolan and either traded him to bolster the 2021 roster or even better, had both of them all season. A real team would have tried to figure out how to have both long term. The only “good” reason they can give is that they don’t want to pay anybody anymore for anything.
As for the panic that set in amongst Cubs fans when the Cardinals got Arenado, it’s misplaced. Other teams are going to get good players from time to time. The only reason this is a thing is because the garbage family apparently isn’t allowing Jed to get anybody good to counteract it.
When our good friend Dave Kaplan reported on Friday that Tom Ricketts had authorized an increase to the payroll and then the Cubs went out and splurged on half a player like Pederson it was actually just another kick in the nuts reminder of how shoddily this team is currently run. It was basically he baseball version of Judge Smails offering Danny Noonan a Fresca.
“You know I, I know how hard it is for young baseball executives and I want to help. Well, just ask our other president guy Crane, he and I are regular pals! Are you my pal? Mr. President of Baseball Operations. A-huh, a-huh, a-huh! How about $10 million to go buy a couple of baseball players? Ahh! [tousles Jed’s hair]”
This is the team we choose to root for.
Major League Baseball leaked to the usual gaggle of owner sycophant writers the news that they made a generous offer to start spring training late (for “player safety,” sure, whatever), shorten the season to 154 games but pay the players for all 162. The players told the owners to shove it.
Part of it is that they’re negotiating, and with the regularly scheduled start of spring training still a couple of week away they have time to haggle.
But there are other reasons. First off, the shortened season comes with the return of expanded playoffs. Players are tempted by the idea of more playoff revenue for them, but then their agents remind them that the more teams that make the playoffs the less incentive there is for owners (like the garbage family that owns the Cubs) to max out payroll knowing that the playoffs are always a crapshoot and if you can make them with 85 wins why bother to try to win 105?
At least the latest proposal “only” includes seven playoff teams in each league instead of eight like last year. The Cubs still would have lost to the Marlins, regardless.
The other carrot is the NL DH. It was in the latest offer, and it’s supposed to mean 15 brand new high-paying jobs, but the reality is that most teams are content to do what the Cubs did last year and just waste those at bats on somebody already on the roster. Last year it was Victor Caratini, this year, who knows? Could be Phil Ervin.
The reality is that starting the season on time and playing all 162 games is wholly unlikely. The dumb assed seven inning doubleheaders and the even dumber runner on second base extra inning thing are already coming back. Expanded playoffs and the DH in both leagues are inevitable. The owners and players will piss and moan and threaten each other and in the end it’ll all just happen, just like last year.