The Rundown: Cubs Land Exceptional Reliever, Lester Champing at Bit, Tons of Notes, Brewers Try to Stop Cubs Migration…Again

The Cubs filled that 40th roster spot pretty quickly yesterday, signing an exceptional relief pitcher that I had forgotten about but one I kind of like. I believe Xavier Cedeño will thrive with the team and give Joe Maddon another arm to burn through by mid-July. What a good, under-the-radar signing. The Cubs created the opening by placing Kendall Graveman on the 60-day injury list.

The Cubs bullpen made more relief appearances than any other team in the National League last year, led by Steve Cishek, who pitched in 80 games. All told, a reliever finished 162 of the team’s 163 games.

Cedeño’s had a 175 ERA+ in 2018, which would have placed him fourth on the team behind Brandon Morrow (295), Cishek (197) and Perdro Strop (190). This is a very good pickup and represents a solid bargain at $900,000 (non-guaranteed).

So now the roster is complete and, barring any trades or last-minute free agency signings, the bullpen actually looks like a strength on paper. Cedeño and Brad Brach replace the gone-but-not-forgotten Justin Wilson and whichever guy they traded for or called up from the minors. For those of you who struggled seeing Jesse Chavez sign with the Rangers, rest assured Cedeño was just as effective over the course of the season.

Cubs News & Notes

  • Yu Darvish feels much more relaxed this spring and wants to be himself this season. I hope that means he will start using emojis when he tweets again. I think things really unraveled when he went text-only last year.
  • The team officially announced its partnership with Sinclair Broadcasting on its RSN, set to launch for the 2020 season. They’ll catch a lot of backlash for their affiliation with a right-leaning network, but trust me when I tell you most networks are right-leaning despite what they say publicly. Left side sells and broadcasting is all about the Benjamins. I spent six years in that industry.
  • The Cubs have broadcast a large portion of their games on WGN for more than 70 seasons. After this season, WGN-9 and ABC-7 will no longer broadcast games.
  • For those wondering, WGN’s last Cubs telecast will be a September 27 game against the Cardinals in St. Louis.
  • Ryan Dempster wants to bring his late night talk show to the new RSN. Unsubscribe. Unsubscribe. UNSUBSCRIBE!
  • I don’t buy the pedestrian PECOTA predictions for the Cubs this season, and neither do the Las Vegas sports books. I’m no handicapper, but I’d place the over/under on Cubs victories at 90 games.
  • The latest PECOTA projections have the Cubs finishing in last place in the Central. It’s hard to read that and keep a straight face.
  • Morrow intends to throw from 90 feet this week, a significant benchmark in any pitcher’s rehabilitation process. The closer continues to work his way back from arthroscopic elbow surgery in November and hopes to be ready to pitch in May.
  • Kyle Schwarber bunting? That’s a bold strategy, Cotton. I’m up for anything that will make the Brewers shift less against the Cubs.That’s not a link to a Dodgeball video by the way, but this is.
  • Jon Lester summed up last season with the money quote of October, and kicked off this spring in a similar mood. “I wouldn’t show up if we didn’t have a chance to win the World Series,” he said Wednesday during spring training workouts in Arizona. “We were brought down a notch, and everybody needs some adversity.”
  • Lester remains confident despite the team’s lack of offseason moves.
  • The Cubs are banking on their starters to pitch better than they did in the first half of 2018. Starting pitchers failed to pitch past the fifth inning on numerous occasions because of high pitch counts, ineffectiveness, or Maddons quick hook.
  • Jason Heyward made Forbes’ all-overpaid starting lineup. Of course he did. I still love the Heyward signing. The $184 million pep talk will be a legend of lore one day, if it isn’t already.
  •  Have the Cubs sold their souls to no longer be known as baseballs lovable losers?
  • The Rangers announced they intend to start Mike Minor against the Cubs on Opening Day.
  • The Brewers are at it again. As a reminder, I have a Wisconsin ID, so if you are looking for tickets, let me know. I fly, you buy, and we can hang out and watch the Cubs pummel the Brewers at American Family Insurance Stadium.

Spring Training Notes

The Yankees believe catcher Gary Sanchez is due for a big season.

Russell Martin is thrilled to be back with the Dodgers.

Yadier Molina did not catch any of the 16 Cardinals pitchers who threw bullpen sessions yesterday. The St. Louis backstop is recovering from offseason left knee surgery.

Nationals players feel like Bryce Harper is still a part of the team, despite his current free agency status.

Jake Diekman and the Royals agreed on a one-year deal yesterday.

Doug Fister officially announced his retirement.

Eloy Jimenez is primed to have a big season with the White Sox, no matter when he is called up.

If/when Manny Machado signs with the White Sox, he has a ready-made entourage in place.

It sounds an awful lot like the Phillies have conceded that they won’t be signing Machado.

Aaron Boone would rather not watch the Red Sox celebrate another championship as long as he is managing the Yankees.

On Deck

A television series based on the history of the Wu-Tang Clan produced by RZA? Count me in. I finally have a reason to subscribe to Hulu. The streaming network commenced casting yesterday.

Extra Innings

I meant to post this yesterday but forgot. How do you not love Ben Zobrist?

Thursday Walk Up Song

I’ve Been Thinking by Handsome Boy Modeling School featuring Cat Power. Handsome Boy Modeling School was a conceptual hip-hop duo that parodied and acted as a commentary on vain, consumerist, materialistic, and self-absorbed individuals, and old-money aristicrats. The pair, producers Dan the Automator (Gorillaz, Dr. Octagon, Deltron 3030) and Prince Paul, often satirized upper class snobbery and perceived beauty.

Tags

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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14 Comments

  1. Cedeño is a great pickup. Getting a guy like him at no-risk continues to make the Duensing and Kintzler moves look worse.

  2. OK, so you do just have to like the Cedeno pickup. Nice performance and upside for $900k non-guaranteed + incentives. Of course, there are reasons he was available for so little – but he looks like the lefty piece of that pen they were missing a week ago.

    I have to say that coming into this off-season, I would not have predicted that spring training would be open – and there would still be such big name free agents still on the market. I’m not surprised that teams are staying the trend of not throwing around 10 year mega contracts like their bisquits, but after the super-sludge pace of last year, I thought that things would at least move a bit this year.

    1. The end of arbitration is coming and I’ll write about that tomorrow. Or it will at least be amended. The final year of arbitration sets the starting salary point of free agency and when you see where Arenado could have potentially won $30M – I think that’s where the owners want to gut this. They’ll give free agency to guys at a younger age because it will cost them less.

      Free agents are available because the owners WANT them to push to be eligible in year 4 or 5. That’s how I see it anyway.

      No column today because I woke up waaaay late. sad face

      1. I would agree about the arbitration. That would be a welcome change by both players and owners, I would think. Albeit the owners may not like giving up some player control.

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