The Only Meetings Anyone Enjoys
We’ve gotten to the frenzy portion of the baseball offseason, the Winter Meetings. Everyone is in one place meaning we envision everyone in the hotel bar or at Tootsie’s in this case hashing out the same blockbuster trades and free agent signings that we hashed out at our local bar. Perhaps we should realize that technology in communications have made these talks accessible whenever people want, but hey, everyone’s still in one place! And given the intricate and thorough nature that the Cubs have gone about their business the last four years, somehow I doubt Theo and Jed are pulling the trigger on some move after a third Old Fashioned. Jimmy Johnson and Jerry Jones torpedoing the Cowboys organization at a hotel bar is a distant memory, sadly.
Still, it feels like something is going to happen. So let’s address of some of what might go down in Dixie.
Carlos Portocarrero at BP Wrigleyville lays out why trading Jorge Soler might be a good idea. Most of this I can’t argue with, even with how much I love Georgie Sunshine. There are still tons of questions, though I tend to look at the positive side of the potential but you can’t always do that. However, there is one point he makes, and I don’t mean to single him out because I’ve heard it elsewhere, that I do have issue with:
“The Cubs basically had a 100 percent success rate in 2015, which is unheard of when you look at the number of prospects they called up. Is Soler going to “make it?” Maybe, but the Cubs can’t keep going to the same well over and over and expect it to be bursting with major-league-ready talent. It would be awesome, but that’s not how it works.”
Ok, this is gambler’s reasoning and that’s not how baseball organizations are run. Jorge Soler isn’t going to fail to meet his potential, which everyone agrees is there, because most people before him have. They have no impact on Soler. Just because the odds say you don’t hit on 17 or 16, whether or not your bust is not being dictated by what went on at another blackjack table (if I’m allowed to mangle an analogy from friend Fifth Feather).
Yes, the Cubs got abnormal production from rookies and young players. Bu they also drafted abnormal rookies. That was the whole point, wasn’t it? Getting high draft picks to take the kind of players you only get a crack at in the top five of the draft? We can’t praise the scouting and drafting of the Cubs organization, and then chalk it all up to luck. They paid over the mark for Soler out of Cuba because they happen to think he’s a unique talent. They certainly didn’t pay any attention to what other Cubans or prospects have done when they decided to do so.
-If trading Soler is in the cards, it had better be for a lot more than Kevin Gausman. His numbers in Baltimore, at ages 23 and 24 so obviously there’s a long way to go, are in the ok range, not good range. More alarmingly, Gausman doesn’t throw an off-speed pitch. He throws a fastball and a split about 80% of the time, and when it’s not that it’s basically a slider. A split can be an offspeed pitch of course, and Gausman’s split does come in about 10 MPH slower than his fastball. But that’s the exact same repertoire that Samardzija comes equipped with, and a lot of people didn’t want him here either and it might be one the league figured out last season.
-I don’t know why it took me so long to realize that plugging in Jason Hayward into center would make his offensive production go from “pretty good” to “excellent for the position.” It should be all systems go on Heyward at this point I would think. To me, you can sign him and that should be enough for next year. There seems to be this desperation to add another starter, forcing I’m assuming Kyle Hendricks down to Iowa as a reserve starter. But I don’t think that’s necessary. The Cubs rotation as currently constructed is better than everyone’s bar the Mets, and the Mets’ rotation didn’t look all that sharp against the Royals. It’s why we don’t draw major conclusions from a minuscule sample size like a playoff series. With Hayward, I’d take the Cubs’ lineup just about over anyone.
Sure, Arrieta could regress. Maybe Hammel’s problem weren’t due to injury. Maybe Lester shows his age. Maybe Bryant and Russell and Soler have rough sophomore seasons, just like Rizzo did. Seems like an awful lot of maybes though.
-I thought the Dodgers’ trade for Chapman was weird, and then it got way weirder. The Dodgers’ problem isn’t a closer, and how did replacing their closer with another closer work for the Nationals? Maybe the idea was to then trade Kenley Jansen for the other starter they need now, or another hitter, but why would any team that’s rebuilding want to take on a closer? If you’re a losing team and you know it, you don’t really care who’s pitching the sporadic 9th innings you happen to be leading. Perhaps they think they could flip him for more at the deadline, but then they could flip the players they were giving up for Jansen at the deadline for more too.
Of course, the trade was scuttled when reports surfaced that Chapman may be an unhinged lunatic. And while I want to believe that teams don’t want to take him on because they simply don’t want what could be a criminal in their midst. I’m guessing the reports of him hurting his hand in his alleged loony tunes turn is really what’s keeping teams away. But whatever keeps him away if these reports are true is at least a step in the right direction, even if it is something of a Homer Simpson step.