Archive for the ‘General’ Category

The Cubs’ Weird Week

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

 

A lot of strange things happened in Cubland this week. Let’s recap.

1. Tarpgate

There was a LONG rain delay Tuesday night as the Cubs’ groundscrew had some issues with the tarp once rain hit. It was only about a 10-minute shower, but it dumped enough water on the field to make the surface unplayable. The grounds crew took a ton of flak for this (and they were no doubt embarrassed), but this really seems like a freak occurrence. There was no rain in the forecast – and no rain visible on the radar – so the morning crew was cut from 20 to 17 (a standard procedure). There were also reports that the tarp was put away improperly the previous time, but you have to believe that a full crew would have been able to handle it. Bruce Levine has the full story here.

In any case, after about a 4 1/2 hour delay, the game was called – and since 4.5 innings had been played, and the home team was in the lead, the game was deemed official, and the Cubs were awarded a win. The Giants were understandably upset and filed a protest. Amazingly, against every pundit’s prediction, the protest was honored and the game resumed on Thursday (after another rain delay!). It seems like a dangerous precedent to set – after all, it’s in the rules that a game is official if called after 5 innings (or 4 1/2 if the home team has the lead). To their credit, the Cubs’ did apparently offer to resume the game the next day. It all didn’t matter in the end in this particular case, as the Cubs held on to win 2-1.

2. Starlin Castro takes bereavement leave.

Starlin Castro’s cousin and three close friends were killed in an auto accident in the Dominican Republic, and Castro has taken bereavement leave. We wish Starlin and his family all the best as they try to get through this difficult time.

3. Edwin Jackson goes on the DL with a “lat injury.”

Edwin Jackson has not been good at throwing baseballs this season. His stuff is still there, but he seems to have no command or confidence. Although he’s long denied that he was hurt, he finally went on the DL with a “lat injury” this week. Call me cynical, but I think this is simply a phantom injury that accomplishes a couple of things: 1) It gives Edwin an excuse to take a breather and get his head on straight and 2) it gives the Cubs a chance to get some starts for their new pitchers Jacob Turner, Felix Doubront, and Dan Straily (and maybe others). If Jackson comes back this season, I predict he’ll pitch out of the pen. Who knows? Maybe he’ll have some value down the road as a reliever. To his credit, Jackson is making no excuses and stated that he has a lot to prove to the team and the fans. Let’s hope he finds his way back into a productive role.

4. Some rooftops sue city, but not Cubs

They’re challenging the Landmark Commission’s decision to allow for the outfield signage that blocks their views, claiming that the view of the rooftops from Wrigley is part of what makes it unique, and thus a landmark. Seems like a stretch.

5. Matt Szczur, Logan Watkins, Zac Rosscup called up

Not weird, but notable. Logan Watkins was once an exciting, fast-rising prospect, but his bat has really cooled off over the last couple of years, and Arismendy Alcantara has surpassed him as the super-sub of the future.

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GirlieView (08/21/2014)

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

GirlieView Definitions

  • Lizzie = A funny, timely quote made on the VFTB site by our writers or commenters.
  • Lizard = The best Lizzie.
  • MVL = Most Valuable Lizzie’er: The person with the most Lizzies in the period under review (usually the past two weeks.)
  • Top 10 of the 2014 Season = The folks with the most aggregate Lizzie points YTD (1 point for every Lizzie, 3 points for every Lizard.)

As you already know, this is all completely subjective and according to my whims.

Lizzies

  • Ok, I’ll bite. What is a walk tool?
  • I’m trying the saber thing where you say a baseball word and then “tool.” Then you say a number that doesn’t really mean anything.
  • Excellent! One thing I often think of when reading about advanced metrics is what great tools they must be.
  • Wax cup toast, bud. Not as definitive as a glass glass, but the ice does make some noise when it bumps around in the Mountain Dew.
  • Nate Schierholtz was DFFC, designated for fantasy camp. Nate will now be free to roam the fantasy camp locker rooms and dine with Seymour. What will it be, Italian baked with provolone, turkey and swiss or tuna melt on squaw?
  • I wonder what type of Sun Chips Nate will go for. I’m thinking Garden Salsa.
  • I’d like to thank the lowest common denominator, the source of all good grade school humor.
  • I’m not so sure this team will make the playoffs next season, but I do think they will be a definite improvement over this year (it really can’t get any worse than 0.0% playoff odds).
  • In years past the Cubs have took a lot of losses after the trade deadline. This year they seem to be getting better after the trade deadline.
  • It’s been fun to follow these prospects in the minors the last few years, but I am looking forward to shifting my attention to the big league club.
  • All Cub fans are welcome on the bandwagon, genius fans and ignorant fans……………why argue over who is who…..
  • You guys are starting to get that late season chippyness. Where’s the April love on VFTB?
  • My guess is one or two guys will not vote Jeter in the first year. Then they might get interviewed to explain.
  • The differences in talent between this group and the current one is fully understood, but it does show why we shouldn’t worry about a logjam of players at one spot.
  • My sweat factor is way down with this years pen compared to last year.
  • Amen. I have cut my Rolaids bill down by nearly 50%!
  • There is no money going into the curse jar.
  • Do you believe man can control the climate?
  • More importantly, I know it’s possible for a man to control the climate in his bedroom. It’s very easy to make that a very cold place, so be careful.
  • Will you be my friend?
  • Do you have chocolate?
  • Yes. Come over and have some with me.
  • At which exhibit at the National Zoo would you feel most comfortable naked?
  • Definitely the monkey / ape house. I’m a hairy dude.
  • Monkeys are known to throw some pretty unpleasant things,
  • it’s true, but they have good aim, and usually target cardiologists and optometrists….
  • What happened to the prom dress link?
  • Unfortunately, the demand for prom dresses appears to have decreased as more and more girls are skipping the prom and just going right to the hotel with their date. No need to spend the money on a fancy dress.
  • When you dine with Seymour do you bring reading material so you are not bored?
  • I have only had the privilege of dining with capn obvious (he paid), Tom C (he always pays), and Chet (comped meal). In the event that Seymour would like to visit, I’d be glad to let him pay and I would be facinated to know how he took the photo at that angle for his avatar.
  • Len Kasper was intrigued by The Pumpkin Eaters new release “Banana Jack”. He said he couldn’t wait to see them live in October. DeShaie’s was busy breaking down the quality starts delivered by Kyle Hendricks and that Wada guy. Len thought Wada was a hip hop artist.
  • I’ll always have a spot for Jackson in my Cubs history books, but unfortunately a good thing can’t last forever. Goodbye, Brett.
  • Now if only the Cubs could find someone to take the other Jackson off our hands.
  • 2 Johnsons are missing, maybe it’ll be 2 Jacksons next.
  • As Met’s broadcaster said, “The Cubs have always lived and died, mostly died, with free swinging teams. Sure there have been exceptions like Mark Grace and Bill Buckner but this free swinging team are easy outs for guys with good sink or good sliders like Familia (the Mets reliever at the time). Len was heard commenting on the Beatles show at Shea Stadium back in the day and how he wished he could have been there. “Maybe the Beatle tribute band Fab Four will play at Citi Field soon, that would be fun. Strike 3, that’s 14 K’s for Met’s pitchers today. It’s really hard to tell the difference between the Fab Four and the real Beatles sometimes”
  • Len said the ball landed in what will be back stage seats for the upcoming Night Ranger concert next weekend at Citifield. Sister Christian will be the warm up band for the show, Len is stoked.

Lizard

  • I think the Cubs are getting better with every call up and trade and it has been a long time since the Cubs finished a season stronger than they started.

Shout Outs

  • Big shout outs to Bryan, and Michael Rice for their first 2014 in-season Lizzies!!!! Thanks for being here!

MVL

  • Congratulations to Doc Raker, our Most Valuable Lizzie-er this time! Way to go Doc!

Top 10 of the 2014 Season (one point for each Lizzie, three points for the Lizard)

1. jswanson
2. Doc Raker
3. Seymour Butts
4. Eddie Von White
5. Joe Aiello
6. Doug S.
7. Dork
8. Chuck
9. Mark From Toronto
10. Noah Eisner
10. Sean Powell

Chit Chat

Are you watching/listening to more, less, or the same amount of Cubs baseball as you were before the All-Star break? And how much is that?

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Five Burning Questions : Turning the Page

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

 

In Cubs lore we will look back at the years 2009-2013 as the lost years.  What is also known in baseball circles as the “rebuilding years”.  2014 peddled along at the same disastrous pace until some new faces, showing new promise, arrived at the ballpark.

I personally link the downfall of the Hendry regime to the signing of Milton Bradley, but many will say, and they are probably right, that the tire fire started long before that.  Whatever you want to call the last four years is your choice, but it’s apparent as Cub fans, we may actually have to get around to thinking as winners sooner than later.

With so much young talent in the pipeline there is no doubt that the Cubs will soon be dealing in the opposite direction than we have become accustom to at the trade deadline.  With that in mind it is time to pop on our thinking caps and ask some questions….

 

1) If the Cubs are to part with one of their heralded prospects at next years trade deadline, out of the following, who would you let go of:

A) Javier Baez

B) Addison Russell

C) Jorge Soler

D) Albert Almora

 

If I had to choose one it would probably be Almora.  He is still yet to prove he can hit a AA.  My regret would be that we are dealing from a mild weakness in that we have less outfielders in the immediate pipeline than we do infielders, but I would probably get over that if Almora turns in another season next year like this year.

 

2) If you could bring back one Cubs manager to manage the team going forward, maybe somebody who did not get a fair shake, who would it be?

A) Lou Pinella

B) Jim Riggleman

C) Dusty Baker

D) Lea Elia

E) Jim Frey

F) Your Choice, but tell us why

 

I think I go with Jim Frey, he may be the best bet to play the young guys.  Dusty Baker would just go find Lenny Harris and give him a zillion plate appearances again.  I think he is still waiting for Lenny to get hot.

 

3) If you had the choice between sitting on a rooftop or sitting in the standing room only at Wrigley, which would you choose?

No comment.

 

4) The Cubs current payroll this season is at $73,546,000, which ranks them third last in all the league.  What will the Cubs player payroll look like next season:

 

A) $60,000 – $80,000,000

B) $81,000,000-90,000,000

C) 90,000,000 – 100,000,000

D) 100,000,000-$120,000,000

E) Over $120,000,000

 

I gotta say it sits around $100 Mill. tops.  They would have to add quite a bit to get higher in one off-season.  Personally, I don’t think Ricketts heart can handle that, he doesn’t strike me as a spender.  $100 mill would put them at about midway point of the league in spending by the way.

 

5) How many games will the Cubs win this season?

 

A) 65

B) 70

C) 75

D) More….and you better explain yourself!

 

Thanks for playing guys.  Leave your answer in the comments and here’s to a promising end of an era!

 

 

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Should the Cubs Pass on Signing an Ace this Off-Season?

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

Last week I asked you all to ask me anything. I think that post went really well, so I think we’ll make that a semi-regular feature here on the site. So as to not get stale, we’ll probably run it once a month or every other week. Something to that effect.

I was intrigued by one of the questions and I wanted to give it a little more depth than I did in the comment section. Bryan asked:

Would you rather the Cubs have a starting rotation of one #1, one #3, and 3 #5s, or five #3′s?

I went with my gut reaction when I answered the question and as I reflected on it that day, I was paranoid that it went against all that I had done in terms of research on the topic recently for ESPN.

You’ll remember that I did a study on what defined each slot in the rotation. Looking at the numbers, we found that the average WAR produced by each spot in the rotation was:

#1 – 6.0

# 2 – 3.9

# 3 – 2.8

# 4 – 1.8

# 5 – 0.2

So, the simple answer to Bryan’s question would be to map it out. If we add the WAR for his two proposed rotations, whichever one is higher from a combined total would be the better option.

Option 1 (Mixed Rotation) – Total WAR = 9.4

Option 2 (All # 3 starters) – Total WAR = 14

So, not only is it option two, but it’s really not even close. With that said, would the Cubs be better off trying a non-traditional route as they seek to build around the plethora of young bats that are on the verge of breaking into the Majors? Perhaps the strategy shouldn’t be to invest this offseason in an ace, but rather to stock up on a two or three second and third tier type guys to fill out the rotation around what we have already?

I ran a list of what a “number three” starter would have looked like over the last four seasons to get an idea what we’re talking about. Using the Baseball Reference Play Index, I searched for pitchers who qualified for the ERA title and posted a WAR between 2.5 and 3.0 from 2010 – 2013. It yielded 34 results. What those results told me was that a pitcher in this category typically looks like the following:

12 – 10 record with an ERA of 3.58 over approximately 198 innings pitched. In 2013, the pitchers that fell in that category were Gio Gonzalez, Mike Leake, Jon Lester, Ervin Santana, Patrick Corbin, John Lackey, David Price, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Andy Pettitte. As you can see, there are some guys that may have had a down year, but other guys that aren’t really considered aces, like Corbin or Lackey.

So far this season, Jake Arrieta has posted a WAR of 3.9, so even if we pencil him in with a regression, we can expect at least a WAR of  3 from him. Kyle Hendricks has posted a WAR of 2.3 so far. Let’s assume he doesn’t get to three next year, but can be around 2.5, knowing that Arrieta can make up for him. That gives us two of the five we’ll need.

Looking at the internal candidates for the rotation next year, we’ve got Travis Wood, Dan Straily, Jacob Turner, and Edwin Jackson. I think it’s safe to say that we can rule out Jackson as being able to produce what we need, and I’d venture a guess that we can get 2.5 WAR out of one of Wood, Turner or Straily. That would mean we need two guys off the free agent or trade market to give us a rotation of at least five number three starters. That’s entirely doable. Chris Neitzel took a look recently at the market this 0ff-season. I think we can find our guys there and it doesn’t have to include someone like Lester (though I really want him), and given the nature of pitcher injuries these days, I think that may be the best route to go.

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It’s Time to Stop Comparing Javier Baez to Gary Sheffield

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

Javier Baez has truly amazing, turn the wind around with the power of his wrists, bat speed. I saw him live for the first time last Wednesday, when he sent a screaming line drive on to Waveland for his first Wrigley Field home run. His bat speed led to comparisons with the king of elite bat speed from the prior generation of players: Gary Sheffield. You heard the comparisons when Baez was drafted. You heard them as he sped through the minors. You heard them when he was promoted to the Majors, and over the past two weeks numerous outlets have shown side by side swings of Baez and Sheffield.

But is Sheffield actually a good comparison Baez?

In short, no, he is not. Sheffield had elite bat speed that went along with an advanced approach at the plate not only from the day he hit the Majors Leagues that led to him walking more than he struck out over his career (13% walk rate, 11% strikeout rate), but also in his short time as a prospect in the Minor Leagues, where Sheffield struck out in just 8.5 % of his plate appearances and walked more than he struck out. On the other hand, Sheffield was a very poor defender both as a shortstop very early in his career, and as an outfielder after that. Despite his defensive issues, the primary reason Sheffield is a fringe Hall of Famer as opposed to a sure fire one is time missed due to injuries, particularly in his prime.

Aside from the bat speed, Baez has nothing in common with Sheffield aside from being drafted and moving through the Minors as a shortstop. Baez has an approach at the plate that needs a lot of work, with a 38.7% strikeout rate and a 3.1% walk rate in his brief Major League career. His similar issues in his minor league career, particularly a high strikeout rate (26% for his minor league career), were also widely reported. On the plus side, Baez should be at least an average defensive second baseman, with good odds of ending up as above average to plus at the position.

In other words, aside from the bat speed and some bat waggle, Baez and Sheffield have nothing in common as Major League baseball players. If you want a better comparison for Baez, look to recent Cub Alfonso Soriano, who had elite power but also tallied a lot of strikeouts. Baez won’t steal nearly as many bases as Soriano did through his prime (Soriano stole at least 30 bases in 4 of 5 seasons before joining the Cubs), but should play far superior defense to Soriano at second base, where Soriano was terrible. And if Javier Baez ends up being Alfonso Soriano with better defense, that would be a great result for the Cubs. Well, as long as they don’t decide to lock him up to an 8 year, $138 million contract starting his age 31 season.

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Baseball Gets A New Boss, Pair of Aces’ Streaks End & More!

Monday, August 18th, 2014

Postseason races are heating up as we’ve now reached the middle of August. All of the moves made at the trade deadline are now starting to make their impacts (one way or another), and it excites me to say that there’s still a month and a half of regular season baseball to play. There was some big news this week, so let’s get to it!

MLB Chooses Selig’s Replacement

After 21 years at the helm, Bud Selig decided that one more year would be enough for him. It was a historic reign over an era, which will probably stand out in history (the Steroid Era), but it also meant that the league would have the exciting task of choosing a new commissioner.

On Thursday, the owners finally picked their man, deciding to go with Rob Manfred over Tom Werner of the Boston Red Sox. Manfred, who has worked with the MLB since 1998, will be the 10th commissioner in league history and will be tasked with injecting some youth into an old sport.

By all accounts, Manfred seems like a great choice. He was vital in the labor negotiations that have gone on over the years, which should help once the current bargaining agreement expires (some feared a lockout). Along with that, he was also vital in the joint drug agreement between the MLB and the Players Association.

While some might not be happy with the choice (they expect more of the same since Manfred was Selig’s right hand man), I am staying optimistic about it. His work with the labor agreements is incredibly promising and as shown by Adam Silver taking over for David Stern in the NBA, progress is still possible even with an internal replacement.

Rockies Lose Two Stars For The Year

It’s safe to say that things haven’t went as planned for the Colorado Rockies this year, and the bad news continues to pile up. After a relatively hot start for the first 30 or so games, the team has completely fallen off the table, and that slide will continue with the announcement that they will be without their two stars for the rest of the year.

Early in the week, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki was ruled out for the season with a hip injury, and now outfielder Carlos Gonzalez has been sidelined for the remainder of the year with a knee injury. Given the injury history of both of these players, as well as their status on the team, this is not good news for Colorado.

Realistically, there’s a pretty decent chance that both of these two have played their last games in the Mile High City as members of the Rockies. Tulowitzki has been growing increasingly disgruntled with the seemingly endless rebuild and Gonzalez could fetch a pretty hefty haul should they decide to move him.

It’s pretty unfortunate that both of them are out for the year (you never want to see anyone get hurt), but it’s unlikely that they would’ve made a difference anyways. The Rockies have been one of the worst teams in baseball all season long and they weren’t going to change that. Should Gonzalez or Tulowitzki hit the trading block, would you want the Cubs to go after either? If yes, which one, and what would you be willing to part with for them?

Aces’ Streaks End

With the two best pitchers in baseball throwing on the same day, fans were expecting the continued dominance of both Clayton Kershaw and Felix Hernandez, but surprisingly they both faltered and in doing so, lost two lengthy streaks that they were both riding on.

First, in Detroit, King Felix snapped a streak of going 7 or more innings and allowing 2 or fewer runs that spanned all the way back to May 12th, as he was pulled after just 5 innings in a loss to the Tigers. It’s not that he was pitching poorly (2 runs through 5), but more likely it was a ball that he took off the leg in the 4th inning that contributed to his early exit.

Next up in Los Angeles, Kershaw went the distance and allowed only three runs, but the Dodgers bats failed him and in turn snapped the streak of 11 straight decisions going his way. His last loss, prior to this one, happened all the way back on May 28th. In allowing 3 runs, his ERA jumped all the way up to 1.86.

It was truly incredible what these two aces were able to accomplish over the last few months, but I’m sure they’ll pick right up where they left off in their next starts. I think it’s pretty unquestionable that Kershaw will win the Cy Young in the NL this year, but the AL race seems to be up for grabs a little bit more. My pick is still Felix, but there’s a few different ways the voters could go. How do you see the Cy Young races playing out?

This Week’s MVP: Chris Carter (.333/.345/.778, 4 HR, 10 RBI)

This Week’s Cy Young: Carlos Carrasco (2-0, 0.00 ERA, 12 K)

(All C’s for the awards this week)

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Random Thoughts from an August Day Game

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

So, I missed my post time earlier today and the craziness of college athletics preseason has already turned me into Robin Williams’ (RIP) character from the horribly directed 90′s children cult classic Flubber—a forgetful buffoon.

In hopes of restoring the trust between writer and reader, I bring to you a few random thoughts from a meaningless August game.

  • Those two weirdly placed home-and-home series with the Rockies has helped get the Cubs out to a six-game lead in the race for being the worst team in the National League. The battle between the Rockies and Rangers to be the worst team in the league will be fierce over the next month. Barring epic collapses, neither preseason favorite (Astros and Cubs) will be blessed with the title of MLB’s worst at the end of 2014.
  • Leave it up to Edwin Jackson to be the guy who breaks a streak of seven straight games with a quality start. I’m still unsure if I’m surprised that Jackson hasn’t been DFA’d yet, but in a season that has been over since the first week of April, it makes sense just to let him try for the occasional win. I wasn’t completely opposed to the Jackson signing at first, but we can strike it up to Theo’s only really poor move thus far in his three-year tenure. Jackson didn’t last five full innings…..again, but his poor performance made room for my next point.
  • Jacob Turner made his Cubs debut, pitching 2.1 innings of no-hit ball out of the ‘pen. Turner was sharp and his velocity on his fastball continues to stay around the 93 mph mark. A week later, it still amazes me how clueless both the Marlins and Rockies were regarding Turner, especially with the quality of players given in return for controlling the 23-year-old for a few more years. Turner relied on the two-seam fastball a lot—17 times—14 of which went for strikes and three were whiffs. The two-seamer topped out at 94 on the gun, which is good news for the Cubs depending on how they use him the rest of the season. I said on twitter last week this deal could be one of the most important Theo makes when the “rebuilding effort” is all said and done. It’s a strong statement, but Turner has that type of talent.
  • Meanwhile the Cubs’ hitters made Brewers Mike Fiers look like a Cy Young candidate. Fiers has been very good in three starts this year, but 14 strikeouts in six innings of work is awesomely depressing to watch. To put it in perspective, Fiers had 15 TOTAL strikeouts in 22 innings of work last season for the Brew Crew. 15. Javier Baez must have lost a bet to Fiers before the game because he was swinging at the high cheese with enthusiasm and grandeur all afternoon. He finished with the infamous Golden Sombrero. Anthony Rizzo seemed to be the only guy who could put the fear in Fiers, going 2-for-3 with a double against him.

Other News

  • Rob Manfred was elected as the next Commish of baseball with a 30-0 election. Good thing baseball voters aren’t involved. That would get complicated. I am also pleased Tom Werner was not elected, because I can only take so much of this.
  • When did MLB Singles by Match.com become a thing? When did baseball dating become a thing? Are there happy endings between Cubs and Cards fans who meet through this weird baseball dating site? The internet, where baseball and farmer dating happens.
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Ask Joe Anything

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

We’re going to try something new here to see if it goes over well. If you are good, you can have nice things, but if not, we’ll take it away. The design here is an open forum for you to ask me anything. Maybe it’s questions to get to know me better. Maybe it’s questions regarding the Cubs or Major League baseball in general. Maybe it’s a sports question. Maybe it’s just a quirky random question. Whatever is on your mind, have fun with it. There are just a few rules.

1. The CAPS rule – Do not blow up the comments with a zillion questions by one person.

2. The Seymour rule – Try to keep it semi-clean knowing that if it’s too far past the line it won’t get answered.

3. The Sherm Rule – Don’t post something and then disappear. Come back and see the answer.

Follow those rules and we’ll have a lot of fun. Just to give you an idea on quirky questions, see one of the editions of the Deadspin Funbag and you’ll know what I mean.

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2015 Free Agent Pitchers: My Quick Take

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

I think the Cubs signed Jon Lester this week…at least that’s what I heard? No really, apparently his “friends” expect him to sign with the Cubs. I am not sure which of his friends said this or even how many friends Jon Lester has. I have a lot of friends…many of whom I am not sure I would label as “friends” more like “acquaintances” or even “potential acquaintance”.   Hopefully these were some of the closest friendliest friendly friends that Mr. Lester has. I just imagine this: Jon Lester’s cousins’ friends’ sister said she saw Jon at 31 Flavors last night; and she said she heard Jon say he is most definitely possibly considering thinking about the idea of signing with the Cubs.

All rumors from “friends” aside (and the cast of Friends), the Cubs will have money to spend, and Lester could be a prime target. If you want to see a FULL list of potential free-agents…I would advise against looking at it. It’s a bit like going through your grandparents attic…you will find some valuable things…but much of it is worthless and smelly. So, I did the digging for us…and I will list some potential Cubs’ targets. I will examine the possibility of that player becoming a Cub, and add my own take/opinion. I decided to focus on pitchers this week, because we all know the Cubs’ are totally set at ALL other positions forever!(seriously, I may tackle other needs later)

JON LESTER

I am going to have to disagree with Jon’s friends; I am not sure I see it happening. If he would sign a contract similar to what Cole Hamels has left on his deal (4 years at $90M plus) then the Cubs will be in. If it takes a 6-7 year deal…I wouldn’t blame the Cubs’ for passing. I will give this a POSSIBLE. 4 for 100(maybe)… 5 for 125(pushing it)…6 for 150(no thanks)

MAX SCHERZER

If it’s true that Scherzer turned down a 6 year $144 M deal during the offseason…I see no way Cubs top that. If they pass, it’s not because they are cheap…I just think without a warranty guarantee on his velocity…it would be a really bad signing. I give this signing a chance of NO WAY. Some team is going to over pay…and they may be stuck with a Justin Verlander type contract…without the benefit of Kate Upton being around.

JAMES SHIELDS

Shields has been a consistent starter for the past for seasons. Shields will be 33 on Opening Day 2015 and unless he goes to the Roger Clemens’ Fountain/Pharmacy of Youth (…hey, I worked that one in again!) he is not going to improve. Never underestimate the AL to NL benefit though…Shields could be dominant for a year or two in the NL. I give it a chance of SLIGHTLY POSSIBLE, but with most of the guys in this group it will all come down to the length of the deal.

JUSTIN MASTERSON

Masterson’s has a history with Theo and Jed; therefore this is definitely POSSIBLE. I hate to rely on my fantasy baseball experience here…but I would say, please GOD NO! The Cardinals (the smartest baseball organization in the history of the universe)…are finding out that his velocity is down, and his “rockings” are up…way up. Masterson is currently sporting a 5.94 ERA this season, and 11.25 for the Cards. (Geez…that’s too bad) He may yet turn it around this season, but he is maddeningly inconsistent….and he is murder on your fantasy team’s ERA.

JORGE DE LA ROSA

If you are a Simpsons’ fan like me; when you see his name you may think of Santos De Los Halpos. If the pitching market doesn’t go completely crazy (not bloody likely), De La Rosa is a lefty who could benefit from playing somewhere not named Coors Field. De La Rosa has put up pretty decent numbers including an ERA plus of 126; for non-Saber types, this adjusts for his ball park and 100 is considered league average…so De La Rosa has been good again this year. He will be 34 next season, so a 3 year deal would probably be max. POSSIBLE

SCOTT FELDMAN

Maybe we can sign him to a one year deal, and then flip….oh yeah.

JOSH BECKETT

I am highly in favor of the Cubs signing Josh Beckett…as long as they have a time machine and get the 2003 version of Josh. NO CHANCE

JASON HAMMEL

Whenever players get traded away midseason…there are usually people who say “They can sign him over the winter anyway”….the problem is, it almost NEVER happens. However, I would not dismiss the possibility with Hammel. Hammel found his greatest success as a Cub, and a return to the NL on a reasonable 3 year deal (?)…and I would say SLIGHTLY MORE THAN POSSIBLE.

FRANCISCO LIRIANO?

MLB Trade Rumors does not list him as a free agent, but Baseball Reference does…I am saying he is…and if he is, I want him. His injury history may deflate his price, and he will only be 31 next season. If anybody out there could settle this for me, I would greatly appreciate it…Free Agent or Not? Assuming he is, I would still put him as DOUBTFUL due to teams that will overpay. Full disclosure, I watched him pitch the other night and I was just drooling over the way his change-up was diving away from righties and he was hitting 95 on the gun…that was just one outing…so I probably shouldn’t ever be a scout.

BRANDON MCCARTHY

While not the sexiest name on the list, he has been pitching really well since being traded to the Yankees. McCarthy will be 32 next season, and peripheral numbers outshine his traditional baseball stats. Example: McCarthy’s FIP (fielding independent pitching) has been much lower than his ERA, the last 4 seasons…meaning he has pitched better than his ERA suggests. I could see the Cubs taking a “flyer” on McCarthy if he remains unsigned close to spring training, but otherwise…I say HIGHLY DOUBTFUL.

There are too many variables for one to accurately predict if the Cubs will wind up with any of these arms…but just for the fun of it…I will complete a quick wish list, then I am interested to hear what you have to say. Mine would be

  1. Lester 2. Liriano   3. Shields  4. De La Rosa   5.Hammel

I have already mentally prepared myself for the possibility of the Cubs getting NONE of these guys. Oh, and before we get your opinion…here are the guys I deemed not good enough to include:

Kevin Correia, Chris Capuano, Gavin Floyd, Aaron Harang, Roberto Hernandez, Josh Johnson, John Lannan, Colby Lewis, Paul Maholm, Jake Peavy, Edinson Volquez, and Jerome(we had him like ten years ago) Williams

I told you there wasn’t much else to see on the list.

I did not include pitchers that have either a club or player option and are likely to remain with their current clubs.

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