January, Chicago's Hottest Month of the Year
I love baseball newsy days in January. I love roster moves. You can see that I don't even mind listening to a baseball guru or two.
Fox's Baseball analyst, Ken Rosenthal was on WGN Radio's "Sports Central" show hosted by David Kaplan tonight. For those not able to listen, here's a summary of his take on all things recently swirling in Cubsville. He takes on Milton Bradley vs Lou Piniella (a dangerous mix). Could these two ever be as lovable as Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson in the 2003 film, Anger Management? Somehow, I just can't see LouPa getting Bradley to sing, "I Feel Pretty".
Plus a bit more on the shrinking odds to acquire some guy named Jake.
On to the details, after the jump...
David Kaplan: You're thoughts on Milton Bradley.
Ken Rosenthal: I love Milton Bradley, but wonder if Bradley can stay healthy playing RF. They've got to keep him on the field which is going to be the challenge. He is a guy who plays really hard and that's one reason he gets hurt a lot. Fans will like his fire and they are going to like a guy who led the AL in OPS, but they'll only like him if he's on the field producing.
Kaplan: Is Bradley a good teammate? People I respect around the game that I've called say he's an excellent team mate, just leave him alone and let him do his job.
Rosenthal: It may be a challenge for Lou Piniella to leave him alone. Bradley's primary goal is to win. Bradley had no problems with Ron Washington in Texas and Washington did really well with him. Lou can't rip him in public like he's done Fukudome. It's potentially a dangerous mix as Lou is volatile too. You can say the same things about Lou (his temperment) that you can say about Milton Bradley. Some thought he should go to Tampa with the DH, but you saw Tampa extended themselves financially to get Burrell $16M, so you can see why Bradley wanted to come to the Cubs as he almost got twice that much from the Cubs. Plus there is an appeal to every player to play with the Cubs. If they win you're a made man.
Kaplan: Handicap the Cubs today vs the end of the 2008 season.
Rosenthal: He likes where the Cubs are but he understands the criticism. Not a cop out, merely an acknowledgment of the value of DeRosa to the team. The reasons for the DeRosa trade were to
1) get more left handed (Miles, Fontenot, Bradley), they are much more of a balanced lineup then thay have been in the past. Even though they lead the NL in runs scored last year, they felt all season that their imbalance was not a good thing.
2) $ savings
3) DeRosa's is a free agent after this season and they wouldn't have DeRosa forever. The value they got back seemingly wasn't great but they won't know that for several years. They've reconfigured themselves to be a more of a balanced offense. If he stays on the field, Bradley is a dynamic offensive player and he's also what Cubs fans are looking for as far as on base skills. The key is keeping him going and if they do that Jim Hendry is going to look good.
Kaplan: Do you think a Peavy deal will occur?
Rosenthal: Now that the Padres ownership is going to change it's much less likely. New owner Jeff Moorad's first move is not likely to trade Peavy their best and most popular player. Can it still happen, Sure. Any owner who is logical about things can trade any player at any time if the value is proper. Given the PR damage the team has suffered all off-season it seems hard to believe the team is going to make this deal when they haven't made it under duress. He said his guess is that the odds of a trade happening have dropped to about a 10% chance.
Kaplan: When the Marquis and Bradley deals are finalized, do you believe the Cubs are done or will they get themselves another starting pitcher?
Rosenthal: I have a hard time believing they are going to pay big money for another starting pitcher, say Derek Lowe. The Dempster deal was a top of the market deal. The Bradley deal was sticker price. These are not bargain deals. If the (Cubs) ownership change happens and the new owners say get one more pitcher, then they might be in on Lowe.
Kaplan: Why give up Josh Vitters who they say is the jewel of the system or other prospects when you could keep those guys who cost you nothing and just sign Lowe, for less years and less money, a sinkerballer who would fit in at Wrigley?
Rosenthal: The answers are simple. Peavy is in the prime of his career. Lowe is 9 years older than Peavy. Peavy would probably be under contract for 4-5 years, you'd have to give him another year in a deal. Peavy is a young ace type pitcher. Lowe might be on the decline although he hasn't shown it yet.
They've mentioned Henry Rodriguez (2013), Chris Carpenter, and Andrew Cashner as Cubs who have gone 100+. They said Rodriguez was tops at 100.8. Who knows before 2008?
He'll play regardless of what he does, just like Soriano played for seven years before they finally ditched him.
What can they do? All I can think of is they can keep hiring and firing hitting coaches until they find one who can get him to stop hitting balls with the handle of the bat.
(All those broken bats added to his paycheck is just a bit much.)
Lester will probably be all right.
I think Arrieta might have added too much muscle preparing for that butt-naked ESPN photo shoot. Pitchers are supposed to be loose, not muscled up.
I have basically written off Heyward for this year -- if you are working on major swing changes in late July, you are going to struggle. Hopefully, he can be more productive at the plate next year. It will be interesting to see what they do with him if the Cardinals keep winning and close the gap. Heyward is dead last in the NL in slugging and in the bottom 5 in OPS -- yet still has a positive WAR. Hunh.
Has anybody in a Cub uniform ever thrown a ball 103 before?
He certainly looks better, no doubt, and is a different player than what we saw when he first came up. Full credit to him for changing his approach and saving his career.
But he has zero walks in 35AB since the break, and 10 in 251 AB all year. He does seem to be able to hit some pitches out of the zone, but, a guy with his pop should be drawing more walks. However, it's easy to forget he is still only 23, and probably trying to make an impact to prove he should be an everyday player.
The usual suspects, Molina and Wong. Gyorko drew a walk with two outs, none on. I recall us (particularly Szczur and Bryant) swinging at everything Familia threw.
Yup. Thanks Q
Here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTNekUcY-XM
I for one hope that Sosa comes back soon.
O/B interesting you should mention that. Google ESPN Science Aroldis Chapman and you'll be treated to how his mechanics and delivery are possibly historic. It's the 120% of his body stretch plus the torque. They compare him to the Unit and NRyan.
Amazing how much lower the production gets when Bryant runs into a mini-cold streak. He doesn't stay cold for long. If just one of Zobrist or, gulp, Heyward, gets hot, they oughta have one more really nice winning streak in them. Having a closer that you have absolute confidence in can't hurt.
I hope they hold onto Jimenez. Outfield depth is questionable, especially with McKinney, who struggled this year but still, gone.
You don't think he's improved? He looks completely different out there than he did when he first came up. The last I checked his K rate was in the low 20% range - 22-23 or so. When he came up it was 40%+.
To me, what is scary about him if I'm the other guy is that he IS learning the strike zone. This guy could easily be the MVP someday.
So, playing .500 for the rest of the year puts them at 91 wins. You would think there is enough talent to do a little better than that, right?
First team to 60 wins! Onward to 70, 80, 90 and 100!