The Rundown: Relax, Cubs Not Circling Drain, Baseball Execs Predict Harper to Phillies, Boras Holds Court

Just a reminder that the Cubs won 95 games this season, they’ve won at least 92 games in each of the past four seasons, and they made the playoffs each of those seasons while winning the World Series in 2016. With that in mind, can we please stop with the narrative that this team is trending downward and circling the drain?

I’m starting to think that maybe we need to lean on that brutal end-of-season schedule a little harder because we seem to have forgotten that after 162 games, this Cubs team was tied for the best record in the National League.

A quick perusal of social media finds mostly doom and gloom on a daily basis and I just don’t see any purpose for the panic. I know the Red Sox were beyond great this season, and as the most oft-used comparison to the Cubs, it’s easy to feel just a little slighted when your team puts up a one-and-done loss in a wild card game. Boston has won four championships in 15 seasons, Chicago one in three. Can we put a little more of a long tail perspective on this for now and give this front office the credit it deserves? Everybody keep calm, things are going to be just fine. I promise.

Free Agent Profile: Craig Kimbrel

The seven-time All-Star will be in high demand on the free-agent market, though the cost to sign him will likely eliminate half the league immediately. The pitch from his agent Dave Meter is not shy on superlatives: “He’s the best all time, not just recently but all time. Lowest ERA, lowest batting average against, lowest OPS against and he’s saved all his chances, even this postseason.”

Okay – let’s pump the brakes a little and eliminate some of the erroneous information. Kimbrel did, technically, put forth a perfect postseason as far as save opportunities, but he also allowed 19 baserunners in 10.2 inning while posting a 5.91 ERA. And though Kimbrel’s overall season numbers were decent, he posted his second-highest ERA, his second-worst strikeout-to-walk ratio, and the majority of his numbers ranked somewhere in the middle of his career stats. And he actually blew five saves.

His average fastball remains at 97 mph and his K/9 rate is an impressive 13.86. There are not a lot of teams left that believe in spending for closers, including the Cubs, but when you look at the teams playing in October, they usually have a lockdown stud to get the last three outs. He’ll probably get something close to what the Rockies gave Wade Davis last season, which was three years and $51 million with a mutual option.

The Braves and the Cardinals seem to be ideal landing spots based on need but I wouldn’t rule out the White Sox. The Phillies have to be included just because they’ve got an awful lot of pocket change to spend.

Handicapping Kimbrel

  1. Braves
  2. Phillies
  3. White Sox
  4. Cardinals

Cubs News & Notes

Thursday Stove

A Corey Kluber blockbuster trade is just what the Yankees need to be all-in on a 2019 championship.

A poll of baseball executives indicates that Bryce Harper will sign with the Phillies and that the Giants’ interest in Harper is overblown.

The Yankees continue to play possum regarding Harper, though the feeling around baseball is that they have no interest at all.

ESPN continues their offseason previews with a look at the AL West.

Scott Boras held his annual, unsolicited MLB State of the Union address yesterday and called rebuilding teams “competitive cancer.”

Most of Boras’s contempt these days, however, is reserved for Brodie Van Wagenen, the former agent who renounced what Boras considers a higher calling to become GM of the Mets.

The Dodgers exercised their option on the contract of manager Dave Roberts.

The Braves intend to target bullpen help through free agency and trades.

The Zunino-Smith deal indicates the Rays weren’t  going to be players for Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto, most likely a reflection that they are disinclined to give up prospects and young players for established veterans.

Extra Innings

A cool book review by Luther Spoehr, the Senior Lecturer at Brown University:  “Tinker to Evers to Chance: The Chicago Cubs and the Dawn of Modern America” by David Rapp.

“These are the saddest of possible words: / ‘Tinker to Evers to Chance.’ / Trio of bear cubs, and fleeter than birds, / Tinker and Evers and Chance. / Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble, / Making a Giant hit into a double– / Words that are heavy with nothing but trouble: /  ‘Tinker to Evers to Chance.” – Franklin P. Adams, ‘Baseball’s Sad Lexicon.’ p.1910.

They Said It

  • Certainly Harper’s bazaar has begun. It’s fashionable. It’s historical. It’s elite. Global certainly. And certainly it has inspirations that deal with great shoes and great hair.” – Scott Boras
  • “Given where we are as a roster, [we] will probably be more focused on trade talk. We do feel like our answers are internal. We need to focus on getting our players to maximize their potential. With that said, I think we’re open to business and listening and that will probably be our focus more than shopping at the top of the market.” – Jed Hoyer

Thursday Walk Up Song

Little Lies by Fleetwood Mac. Baseball executives and agents like to call that “posturing.”

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Michael Canter

Favorite Quote: "Look Ma! Top of the World!" Cubs fan since I was five years old (1969): lover of B&W movies, the Oxford Comma, classic rock, and of course, baseball; annual roto-champ; partial insomniac; I detest the liberal use of the word 'albeit' by baseball writers; Nice guy, though somewhat brooding. Comment me, please and thank you.

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