The Rundown: Jason Heyward, James Shields and Poor Clothing Choices

Top Of The First

It was a slow day for baseball news yesterday, at least until the Diamondbacks unveiled eight instances of new uniform wretchedness. No doubt GMs and front office personnel spent Thursday getting their best suits dry-cleaned and finishing up those “honey do” lists ahead of Sunday’s Winter Meetings in Nashville. Or maybe MLB had a moratorium on free agent signings and trades to put the spotlight squarely on Arizona’s foray into heinous haberdashery choices.

Long-windedness aside, there’s not much to report.

I did find it interesting that the Cubs bloggers’ trade suggestion of the day was a possible pursuit of James Shields. To say I am against trading for Shields is an understatement, but I suppose I wouldn’t balk at getting him almost for free. I don’t see that happening though. And of course the Jason Heyward bandwagon hit full throttle yesterday too.

I think too many people are overvaluing defensive metrics while overlooking the crippling effect of the contract Heyward would sign. I know — he’s only 26; he leads off; he steals some bases; he can catch and throw; he can play CF; he makes contact — I’ve heard it all religiously since David Price chose the Red Sox. I hate to go old school here but there’s very little pop in that bat and I’m sorry, if I am paying $25M a year for a player I want him to put the ball in the seats.

Let’s discuss.

Is Jason Heyward A Fit For The Cubs?

I’ve read all the articles including a fine piece at BP Wrigleyville and I’m still not sold. First, it smacks of the Edwin Jackson signing. Everybody wants a marquee signing and the Cubs aren’t getting Price and probably won’t sign Greinke. Naturally Heyward is next on the hit list. I don’t like the feel of an overpriced consolation prize. Been there. Done that.

For the Cubs to take on a $25M contract they will need too make some additional moves. Then they will have to make some more moves to justify making the first set of moves. The Cubs just don’t have $25M of wiggle room right now and they certainly don’t have room for a $25M mistake. Does that upset you? Blame Edwin Jackson. The Cubs will still be paying him in 2016 to the tune of $13 million dollars.

So maybe they trade Hammel and Montero. Or maybe Travis Wood and Jorge Soler. Or maybe it is some combination of those four players. Those players still need to be replaced, on a limited budget mind you, and the Cubs are going to eat some of Montero’s contract in cash or in trade if they move him. If you trade Hammel, a team that has clearly stated that it needs two new starters now needs three. If you trade Soler, you then need another outfielder. If none of that makes any sense to you it’s because signing Heyward doesn’t make any sense, period. There is not enough payroll room to spend on one player and there is just no way to really mitigate that payroll risk with other moves. At the end of the day you are left with still needing a number of  positional upgrades and a lot less money to make those upgrades.

Is James Shields A Fit For The Cubs?

A couple of articles have suggested a possible pursuit of James Shields. No. No. No. A thousand times no. That back-loaded contract is a three-ton anchor. Even if Shields comes with a wonderfully gift-wrapped accoutrement named Tyson Ross (or Andrew Cashner), the bottom line says you still owe James Shields $21 million dollars in each of 2016, 2017 and 2018 plus another two million dollars to ask him to go play for another team in 2019. Again, this completely handcuffs the Cubs and let’s face it, Shields is not a $21 million dollar pitcher, not even with Tyson Ross in tow.

Shields is coming off the statistically worst season of his career (1.1 WAR) and his velocity has dropped since arriving in San Diego. Hard pass.

You’re Gonna Like The Way You Look. I Guarantee.

No you won’t. I guarantee.

If you haven’t seen the new uniforms of the Arizona Diamondbacks I beg you not to look. Saying they are awful is an understatement. Those new uniforms may become the biggest deterrent to the team’s ability to sign free agents — like a “not for all the gold in Fort Knox” type of hindrance.

There should be a prize for the first jersey sold, like a new car — say the DeLorean from “Back To The Future” perhaps — or at least a partial scholarship to design school. Those jerseys look like they need a cape and ticket to Comic Con. I wish I was making a joke. They’re that bad.

Maybe the Diamondbacks are just trying to start a new trend in questionable uniform choices. I certainly hope not. And shame on whomever approved those designs at the Commissioner’s Office.

Fact, Fiction, Truth, Or Rumor

Reports indicate that the Braves may be taking Shelby Miller off the market. Translation? Nobody will meet their asking price, which is exorbitant considering they have asked for A.J. Pollock plus a minor league pitcher from Arizona on more than one occasion. I don’t think Miller’s market is shifting that rapidly. Only two free agent pitchers have signed and almost every potentially contending team is in need of at least one starting pitcher. I think there is still momentum there for a trade and I’d bet the Cubs are more than curious observers. But the Braves are going to have to temper their expectations.

Will anybody trade for James Shields? It’ll probably involve a lot of creativity and more than just a few players unless San Diego can find a good match for a player who is useful in their 2016 team schematic but still kind of overpriced. Sort of like another James Shields. I suppose there are any number of package arrangements that could be considered but, as stated above, I don’t see the Cubs as a fit unless they can convince Major League Baseball to allow San Diego to pay Edwin Jackson’s 2016 salary obligation.

Mystery Team Alert: Darren O’Day

Carrie Muskrat lists the Cubs needs and their strategy going into the Winter Meetings. “[Last year] was a nice orderly winter where you’re able to check off an item in each area we were trying to address,” Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said. “Sometimes you have to follow a more creative path. We’ll see how this one goes.”

Bruce Levine says that Jeff Samardzija has a $90M offer in hand. Apparently Samardzija didn’t sign because it pales in comparison to yesterdays reported $100M offer.

The Hiroshima Carp will post ace right-hander Kenta Maeda.

Jayson Stark reports that both the Angels and Dodgers have ongoing interest in free agent Chase Utley.

The New York Mets signed RP Jim Henderson.’s Zachary Finkelstein identified five non-tendered players that could be potential bargains for 2016 (and, in some cases, beyond). Henderson Alvarez tops the list and is followed by Pedro AlvarezChris CarterTyler Flowers and Neftali Feliz. In a companion piece, John Arguello tempers that excitement for Cubs fans, and for good reason. I personally like Yusmeiro Petit as a lower cost alternative to Travis Wood.

Some college students from St. Paul, Minnesota are selling knit hats to raise money for research on childhood cancer. Please check out the excellently named website Love Your Melon if you need a new hat and you’d like to help with a great cause.

An aside: I have been out of Chicago for seven years and now that I am back I still can’t fathom after the 2015 successes of the Cubs and the Blackhawks that this is still a Bears town. I did laugh when I saw Dave Wannestedt on Sports Extra last night. I met Wanny at O’Hare airport a few weeks ago and mentioned to him that I “had a knee and a shoulder.” He did not laugh.

Bottom Of The Ninth

With the weekend approaching we brace ourselves for the onslaught of activity from this year’s Winter Meetings, real or imagined. It looks like the Cubs will enter the meetings in trade mode rather than in spend mode. Different year, different strategy, just as Theo Epstein said.

I do get a kick out of the crazy fan-suggested trade scenarios on Cubs boards and blogs. The common denominator seems to be to throw in Dan Vogelbach in order to officially consummate any potential deal, or rather, to convince fellow readers that a trade scenario has merit.

Apparently every team needs a Dan Vogelbach, except the Cubs, of course. The thing is, if every team really needed Dan Vogelbach, he would be worth a king’s ransom on his own. As it is, the portly all-hit, no-glove first baseman leads the league in afterthoughts and not much else. But hey, if adding Vogelbach to a Jeimer Candelario-for-Shelby Miller trade proposal gets a deal done, I’m all for it.


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