The Rundown: Coffee’s for Closers, Zach Britton Free Agent Profile, More Bryce Harper Rumors and Non-Rumors

I started writing a rant, but I deleted it instead when I saw Evan’s article about Bryce Harper. Maybe the Cubs are just playing possum, so I’ll let it all play out before chiming in. In the meantime, I’ll continue to remind myself that I have been known to  be more than occasionally incorrect when it comes to baseball predictions.

I watched Glengarry Glen Ross last night. For about seven minutes I heard Alec Baldwin but I felt like I was really listening to Theo Epstein. It was glorious. In fact, I feel like I should screen the movie at my house and invite you all over — BYOP (bring your own popcorn) of course. Oh, maybe somebody can send the DVD to Joe Maddon’s son. Coffee is for closers. I believe Epstein is more interested in finding one win than he is in worrying about Papa Joe’s contract.

And by the way, the comments on yesterday’s Rundown are beyond excellent. If you haven’t participated yet, get on over there and keep the conversation going. It’s nice to know that we have so many well-informed readers making intelligent contributions on a daily basis. I can’t thank you all enough. This site has been my go-to since they made the move from Chicago Now to their own URL, before I ever wrote a single column here. Cubs Insider come a long way. Congratulations Evan and Jon.

I do want to rant about the Phillies for a second. Their front office wants to spend stupid money. Well, they just lost out on Patrick Corbin (who I think will be this season’s biggest bust, btw). What the team has done, essentially, is set themselves up to be the biggest punchline of the 2019 season. What if nobody wants their stupid money? I don’t see Harper going to Philly, and I can’t imagine Manny Machado signing with anybody but the Yankees.

Once Harper and Machado have signed elsewhere, what do the Phillies do? What does the market hold for everybody else? There are better players available in trade than there are in free agency. In fact, the Nationals may have panicked. The smart play is to wait this market out. A savvy GM could have had this season’s best free agent pitcher for less than the Cubs gave Darvish last year, especially if players like Zack Greinke, Madison Bumgarner, and Noah Syndergaard are moved.

It’s not unrealistic to think that the Phillies won’t be able to sign anybody to a large-scale contract, over-exaggerated or not.

Free Agent Profile: Zach Britton

Zach Britton remains one of the best left-handed sinkerballers in baseball, but had a difficult year while trying to come back from injuries. After an historic 2016 season, the lefty just hasn’t been the same. Still, the Cubs were rumored to have pursued Britton last offseason and at the past two trade deadlines. Epstein must see something he likes.

Britton was extremely nasty during the final month of 2018, though, not allowing a run in 10 September appearances. But despite a 3.00 ERA over the past two seasons, Britton’s 7.3 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9 were unimpressive. That being said, the one-time Orioles closer still gets it up there at over 95 miles per hour and he’s still getting grounders more than 70 percent of the time.

Can he always be closing?

Handicapping Britton:

  1. Cubs
  2. Phillies
  3. Yankees
  4. Dodgers

Cubs News & Notes

Wednesday Stove

After signing Corbin, the Nationals are unlikely to sign Harper.

Hold the phone: Magic Johnson has denied any recent meetings with Harper, leading to a significantly revised Yahoo report. It’s not entirely clear from the current version of the story whether the Dodgers have or will send a contingent to meet with Harper at all.

Expect the Harper rumor mill to heat up considerably during next week’s Winter Meetings.

Now that Corbin has signed, the market for Nathan Eovaldi could spike considerably.

The Mets have made an aggressive effort to obtain J.T. Realmuto from the Marlins. Brodie Van Wagenen is determined to make the ‘19 Mets contenders.

The Mets are said to be targeting former Diamondbacks OF A.J. Pollock.

After whiffing on Corbin, the Phillies are now targeting another SP: former Astro Dallas Keuchel.

The Braves are working toward hiring Rick Kranitz as their new pitching coach. Kranitz, 60, was recently dismissed by the Phillies in favor of Chris Young.

The Brewers are reportedly interested in trading for Yankees SP Sonny Gray.

Things are getting real for the White Sox in the Harper sweepstakes because now special assistant to the general manager Jim Thome is officially involved.

Extra Innings

Changes to Wrigleyville that have been orchestrated by the Cubs or others due to the team’s stadium reconstruction and expansion have made the Lake View area one of the more popular city destinations, not just during baseball season, but year-round, too.

Wednesday Walk Up Song

Hey, St. Peter by Flash and the Pan. Number 18 on my personal list of favorite Top 20 MTV videos. Flash and the Pan were a new wave musical group formed in 1976 by Australians Harry Vanda and George Young, who met when they were members of the Easybeats. Young, who passed away in 2017, was the older brother of Angus and Malcolm Young of AC/DC.

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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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