Cubs acquire Wade Davis, divest Jorge Soler

In Uncategorized by myles258 Comments

The news of the Winter Meetings revolved around the Chris Sale. Once he was out of the way, though, nearly all the chatter surrounding the Meetings was Wade Davis and his 2017 team. While the Cubs were always the team most whispered, it was by no means a sure thing until today. In a straight one-for-one swap, the Cubs acquired him for Jorge Soler.

Let's first talk about what they've lost. Jorge Soler has about as wide a band of plausible outcomes as is possible for a player that has been in the league for parts of 3 seasons. The good: his first real time in the majors he had a .903 OPS (146 OPS+). He hit .571/.769/1.571 against the Cardinals in the NLDS. There are definitely ways that Soler ends up with a .280/.360/.520 line with 25 HR (and I hope he does!) He has a killer arm and he's under team control for the next 4 years. The only problem in my eyes is that he's so injury-prone that I wouldn't trust him for any amount of time in the field, and the most likely outcome offensively is slightly above league-average while being limited to DH or 4th OF. Still, Soler is a valuable trade chip.

The thing about valuable trade chips is that you need them to acquire valuable players. Wade Davis is among the best relievers in all of baseball. In 2014, his ERA was 1.00. Over 72 innings. In 2015, his ERA was LOWER THAN THAT. 0.97 in 67.1. It's true that he had an injury last year (limiting him to 42.1 innings and an abysmal (for him) 1.87 ERA), but he was as invincible as he ever was after he came back from that injury. The fact of the matter is that Wade Davis costs $10 million for the rest of his contract, and any reliever the Cubs signed was going to cost anywhere from 5 times that to an order of magnitude more. While I don't care about money, I realize it's an actual factor that teams have to consider in some way. The Cubs traded Soler not only for Wade Davis, but the flexibility to do other things too.

The short scouting report on Davis is that he strikes out a lot of people, doesn't walk a lot of people, and never, ever allows home runs. Some of that is probably due to where he played half his games, and that might change in Wrigley. That said, he's still one of the 5 best relievers in the game and he allows the Cubs flexibility for basically 2 of their 4 top relievers to fail (Strop, Rondon, Edwards Jr, and Davis himself) and still be a playoff-ready bullpen.

I don't think the Cubs are done getting players, though they might be done trading. The 25-man is roughly as follows:

LF: Schwarber
CF: Almora Jr.
RF: Heyward
3B: Bryant
SS: Russell
2B: Zobrist
1B: Rizzo
C: Contreras

JY: Baez
OF: Jay
OF: Szczur
C: Montero
IF: La Stella

#1: Lester
#2: Hendricks
#3: Arrieta
#4: Lackey
#5: Montgomery

CL: Davis
SU: Strop
FM: Rondon
LG: Duensing
[EDIT]: L2: Uehara
SR: Edwards Jr.
MU: Grimm
MU: Pena
 

The bolded areas are certainly spots where the Cubs could improve this offseason (and if you improve at the #5 starter, the other guy could easily figure as the longman). The Cubs have some solid depth behind them everywhere (because they are a strong organization in general), so losing Grimm isn't going to appreciably destroy the team. That said, the trade chips are becoming slightly more bare: Ian Happ is the only prospect capable of headlining a huge deal, unless some team is just head over heels for Eloy Jimenez (who I like, but don't love). The Cubs will have to start using money to better this team in the future.

If it was up to me, I'd be signing Dexter Fowler if the terms are reasonable. I like Almora Jr., but he seems like the type of guy that is just going to struggle to hit for even an average major-leaguer. The elite defense is nice, but somewhat mitigated by Jason Heyward. Almora is also the type of player that could be traded for another, Davis-lite sort of return. If I could turn Almora into Addison Reed or something, I might think about that. You could even gamble on someone like Foltynewicz, who has had ugly numbers in the majors but could easily be converted into a high-leverage reliever (huge fastball and nothing else).

The Cubs will also probably try to get 2-4 NRI longmen in the mold of Cahill or Richard. The Cubs have had so much success on that front that I sort of blindly assume they'll figure out the longman situation for free.

In closing, the 2017 Cubs just got a lot better, and I'm not sure the 2018 Cubs and onward got any worse. That has to be a celebration in my eyes.

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  1. Author
    myles

    dmick89: If they don’t extend Davis, odds are they’re going to give up even more to acquire another closer next year because the odds are pretty good that Edwards is going to walk a lot more batters than he did in his call up this season.

    I disagree for two reasons.

    First, the Cubs have a lot of bites at the apple as far as a closer is concerned. Rondon, Edwards Jr, even Felix Pena have reasonable paths that end with them being at least passable there. Hell, Rondon WAS there in 2015.

    Second, it’s possible that the Cubs just sign a closer this year or next. Jansen is still available (so is Chapman but I get the feeling he’s not coming back). Davis will also be a FA.

    Oh, third, we could just flip someone for Ricky Nolasco and convert him.

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  2. Edwin

    Foltynewicz sounds like you sneezed through your keyboard, and just decided to pretend that that sneeze was actually a major league baseball player.

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  3. JonKneeV

    Ian Happ is the only prospect capable of headlining a huge deal, unless some team is just head over heels for Eloy Jimenez (who I like, but don’t love).

    I’d be willing to bet most prospect rankings have Jimenez higher than Happ. Heck, I’d bet Jimenez is a top 20 prospect in baseball.

    I’m kind of done trading prospects for a while, at least until the deadline. A team’s weaknesses are more apparent after you start playing games. Maybe Montgomery becomes a world beater and we aren’t looking for a starter anymore. Instead Almora and Heyward are struggling offensively and you need to deal a prospect for an OF.

    Basically, any more moves this winter I hope revolve around signings, not trades.

    Plus, our farm is getting pretty depleted. They’ll have their first rounder and likely a supplemental for Fowler, so hopefully we can replenish the farm this year.

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  4. Author
    myles

    JonKneeV: I’d be willing to bet most prospect rankings have Jimenez higher than Happ. Heck, I’d bet Jimenez is a top 20 prospect in baseball.

    You’re probably right on the former. I’d be shocked at the latter.

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  5. Edwin

    I like the deal. I’m hoping they can bring in an arm or two to compete for the 5th starter spot. I like Montgomery, but looking good in 36 IP as a starter isn’t that big a track record.

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  6. dmick89

    myles: First, the Cubs have a lot of bites at the apple as far as a closer is concerned. Rondon, Edwards Jr, even Felix Pena have reasonable paths that end with them being at least passable there. Hell, Rondon WAS there in 2015.

    I can see Rondon, but the others are quite a stretch in my opinion. They are two of the best the Cubs have in terms of team control for the bullpen in that they can actually strike guys out, but I don’t have a lot of faith in either of them even being average. If they were above average in the bullpen I’d consider it a huge win for the Cubs.

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  7. dmick89

    I like Happ better because he’s played at a higher level and takes a good number of walks. Both he and Jimenez are good prospects and I’d like to keep both.

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  8. EnricoPallazzo

    Edwin:
    Foltynewicz sounds like you sneezed through your keyboard, and just decided to pretend that that sneeze was actually a major league baseball player.

    this is like that time that dmick tried to convince us that adbert alzolay was a real minor leaguer.

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  9. dmick89

    Small sample size and all, but Montgomery allowed 6 home runs in 35.2 innings as a starter. He did manage to strike out more batters as a starter and walked a little bit more too, but his K-BB% was better as a starter. Still, the home runs are concerning.

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  10. cerulean

    The Cubs are also going to have a lot of interesting arms that have a decent chance of be ML-ready before or during 2018. So a one-year deal for an elite closer makes sense that way.

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  11. Author
    myles

    I think Montgomery has a decent chance of sticking at #5, but we should get two more potential starters anyway. We were very lucky with injuries last year and that isn’t likely to happen again.

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  12. Author
    myles

    cerulean:
    OTOH, Both Strop and Davis are gone after this year, as are both Arrieta and Lackey. Hmm.

    There will be a lot to replace next year, for sure. This is why I want to turn Arrieta into Giolito 🙂

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  13. Perkins

    myles: There will be a lot to replace next year, for sure. This is why I want to turn Arrieta into Giolito

    Giolito is going to CWS for Adam Eaton.

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  14. Smokestack Lightning

    Chapman ———————> Evil Empire

    Maybe he can teach the Yankees all the winning ways he learned as a Cub.

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  15. Rizzo the Rat

    Seriously, I find it a little weird how the Yankees–one of the worst offensive teams in the league–are splurging on a closer when they already have one of the best relievers in baseball.

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  16. Perkins

    On the plus side, the Cubs are unlikely to face Chapman in the postseason. If Jansen signs with the Marlins, so much the better.

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  17. Perkins

    Also, Chapman’s contract apparently includes an opt-out after 3 years (which are also covered by a full no-trade clause). He also can’t be traded to a team in California.

    I can certainly appreciate his apparent distaste for California. Makes me like him a little more.

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  18. Smokestack Lightning

    Rizzo the Rat:
    Seriously, I find it a little weird how the Yankees–one of the worst offensive teams in the league–are splurging on a closer when they already have one of the best relievers in baseball.

    I’m thinking the only reason Cashman was allowed to deal Chapman in the first place was because he promised whatever Steinbrenner is still in charge that he would re-sign him in the offseason.

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  19. berselius

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  20. SK

    My son thinks Tyson Ross would be a good addition at this point. I’m sure this convo already happened here and I missed it. He also had a vague feeling of Jon Jay being kinda dickish, but admits it might just be because he was a Cardinal.

    I am happy about Davis, think it’s a great trade for both teams. I don’t care about 2018-19 right now, but I do know that the FA classes will be better stocked than they are this year.

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  21. berselius

    SK:
    My son thinks Tyson Ross would be a good addition at this point. I’m sure this convo already happened here and I missed it. He also had a vague feeling of Jon Jay being kinda dickish, but admits it might just be because he was a Cardinal.

    I am happy about Davis, think it’s a great trade for both teams. I don’t care about 2018-19 right now, but I do know that the FA classes will be better stocked than they are this year.

    It’s on the pile of stuff I’ve been considering for a Scrap Heap/Sequiannual facepalm, though at this rate between travel, illness, and suppressing the desire to murder my in-laws said post probably won’t happen until April 2018.

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  22. JonKneeV

    This new Caleb Smith guy does not fit the mold of a Cubs pitcher. He strikes out 12.7 per 9. If he keeps that up, he’s not going to be eating dinner very often.

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  23. JonKneeV

    JonKneeV:
    This new Caleb Smith guy does not fit the mold of a Cubs pitcher. He strikes out 12.7 per 9. If he keeps that up, he’s not going to be eating dinner very often.

    Apparently there are two Caleb Smiths. We got the older one (Yankees) that is more advanced, but doesn’t strike out 12.7 per 9.

    The Cubs Caleb Smith struck out 9.9 per 9 and walked 2.8 per 9 in 63 innings last year.

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  24. Rizzo the Rat

    Uehara has better raw numbers against lefties, but his strikeout rate and walk rate are better against righties, so I doubt he has a true reverse split.

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  25. cerulean

    Koji seems like a good bet for really cheap. I understand the desire for an eight-man bullpen—pitchers break—but I am not a fan of the crazy roster crunch it creates. I can’t help but think Szczur might be on the move.

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  26. Perkins

    Apparently the Cubs and Arrieta will talk about an extension in January. I’d still guess it’s unlikely, but maybe last season will tamp down his $180MM-plus expectations.

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  27. Smokestack Lightning

    Man. Sadder than I thought I would be about Dex leaving. But 5/80 is too much, and I’m glad the Cubs didn’t pay it.

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  28. Smokestack Lightning

    Rumor is the Cards might be looking to add Edwin Encarnacion as well.

    Keep adding these 30+ year-old players on long-term deals, St. Louis. Your quest to turn into the 2011 Chicago Cubs will be complete sooner than you think.

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  29. SK

    I loved Fowler, but I don’t get as emotionally attached to individual players now that the Cubs have a whole bunch of good ones. Won’t like seeing him in a Cardinals uniform, but I don’t like seeing anyone in that uniform.

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  30. SK

    Those rumors about Fowler/Matheney were either bullshit or Matheny reached out to him to ease concerns. The only other reason they might have existed was as a negotiating tactic by Fowler, but that would be utterly sick level conniving and I can’t believe he would do that.

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  31. SK

    The 2016 Cub I would have expected the Cardinals to sign is Jason Hammel (or Travis Wood). Isn’t it pitching that they need much more than offense at the moment?

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  32. dmick89

    SK,

    Yeah, I feel the same way. It might be different if he’d been a member of the Cubs for 5 years or more, but he wasn’t around all that long. I’ll miss him though.

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  33. dmick89

    Perkins,

    I’d rather the Cubs not sign him to an extension unless it’s a team friendly deal and that’s not likely seeing as his agent is Boras. If I was the Cubs, I’d see if I could turn him into a top pitching prospect in a trade. Another reason they should have kept Hammel.

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  34. cerulean

    SK,

    They have quite a bit of starting pitching., but they did lose Holliday and dealt with ineffectiveness all season in the outfield.

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  35. SK

    cerulean,

    I thought I remembered them leading the league in runs scored, but that might have been 2015.

    Quick glance at old school team stats shows them 3rd in NL in RS and OPS, but 7th and 9th in ERA and BAA.

    *drops mouse*

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  36. SK

    SFG played 31 more innings than COL last season. Seems extreme, but for all I know it’s an average spread. Not sure if total extra innings or wins on the road (and losses at home) affect it more.

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  37. cerulean

    SK,

    Yep. Let me rephrase: They believe they have enough starting pitching. (Remember that they shelled out for a stud named Leake.)

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  38. Smokestack Lightning

    Myles:
    The Cubs won the 2016 World Series.

    And are still in strong shape to win the 2017 WS too.

    Tho I’d sure like to see a trade to bring back Chris Archer. Maybe we can get the Brewers involved.

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  39. Perkins

    Smokestack Lightning: And are still in strong shape to win the 2017 WS too.

    Tho I’d sure like to see a trade to bring back Chris Archer. Maybe we can get the Brewers involved.

    Trade for Matt Garza and flip him for Chris Archer.

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  40. Smokestack Lightning

    Apparently it was a slightly somber affair at the Fowler presser in BFIB-land this a.m. (though my source for this other Cubs fans who may be seeing what they wanted to see).

    I feel bad for Dexter if he really didn’t want to go to St. Louis.

    A shame. Only thing he did wrong with the Cubs was to have too many birthdays.

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  41. Smokestack Lightning

    Rizzo the Rat:
    Sour grapes and all that, but I’m glad the Cubs aren’t on the hook for that contract.

    I don’t think that’s sour grapes. Cubs did the wise thing in passing. Cardinals continue to add long-term risk for only modest short-term gains. Here’s hoping both orgs keep it up.

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  42. berselius

    I would have been fine if the Cubs signed Dex at that price. The window is wide open and I have a feeling FA prices are going to go up even higher in the new CBA. What the hell else are teams going to spend money on?

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  43. Smokestack Lightning

    berselius:
    I would have been fine if the Cubs signed Dex at that price. The window is wide open and I have a feeling FA prices are going to go up even higher in the new CBA. What the hell else are teams going to spend money on?

    It’s not the money, it’s the mileage, and the guaranteed PT. Sure, it’s great for 2017 and probably still pretty good for ’18 too, but year after that we’re probably none too pleased with our CF who can’t really play CF anymore and with nowhere else to play him. And Cubs would be on the hook another three years.

    And didn’t your mother teach you not to spend just to spend?

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  44. berselius

    Smokestack Lightning: It’s not the money, it’s the mileage, and the guaranteed PT. Sure, it’s great for 2017 and probably still pretty good for ’18 too, but year after that we’re probably none too pleased with our CF who can’t really play CF anymore and with nowhere else to play him. And Cubs would be on the hook another three years.

    And didn’t your mother teach you not to spend just to spend?

    The Cubs are rolling in cash, I’d rather they spend it on players than pumped into the Ricketts superPACs. What’s $/win at these days anyway? 8-10 WAR over five years doesn’t sound so unreasonable for Fowler.

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  45. berselius

    berselius,

    I’m not trying to say it would be a steal or anything, just that I would be okay with it. If the money is finite enough that it goes to Kershaw or someone instead, that’s fine too.

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  46. dmick89

    berselius,

    Yeah, he’s worth the contract he signed. I don’t have much doubt that he’ll be worth what they paid him and probably more than, but I’m ok with the Cubs passing in him at 5 years. I wonder if the Cubs couldn’t have gotten him for four years though.

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  47. dmick89

    To be worth what Fowler is paid he probably only has to be worth about 8 WAR. Somewhere between 8 and 9. There’s a good chance he’s worth 8 WAR in the first three years of the deal.

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  48. Wenningtons Gorilla Cock

    berselius: What the hell else are teams going to spend money on?

    An exhaustive worldwide search for somebody who can toss hot dog buns into the trash, now that Toddd is part of Trump’s administration.

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  49. berselius

    Wenningtons Gorilla Cock: An exhaustive worldwide search for somebody who can toss hot dog buns into the trash, now that Toddd is part of Trump’s administration.

    Based on articles I’ve seen today, they’re too busy trying to make hit lists of scientists who don’t toe the party line. Should be a fun time working for DOE the next few years 😐

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  50. Smokestack Lightning

    berselius: The Cubs are rolling in cash, I’d rather they spend it on players than pumped into the Ricketts superPACs.What’s $/win at these days anyway? 8-10 WAR over five years doesn’t sound so unreasonable for Fowler.

    Being worth a deal is not everything. A team can be appropriately priced, “worth” every deal they sign, and still only win 85 games. which is what the Cardinals seem hell-bent on accomplishing.

    If Fowler turned into Mike Trout for one year followed by turning into a replacement level player years 2-5, yeah, he’d be worth his deal, but you’d be pretty fucking pissed you signed him.

    Spending unwisely just because you can afford to do so doesn’t make for a better baseball team. I think Fowler’s a poor bet on the back half of that deal, potentially wasting playing time that could go to someone much better, and it’s worth taking a year to find a better long-term solution, imo.

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  51. Smokestack Lightning

    dmick89:
    To be worth what Fowler is paid he probably only has to be worth about 8 WAR. Somewhere between 8 and 9. There’s a good chance he’s worth 8 WAR in the first three years of the deal.

    Fwiw, FG has him at 1.9 WAR next year right now. Steamer has him at 2.1.

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  52. Smokestack Lightning

    To be clear, emotionally speaking I would have found a way to be okay with it if the Cubs had brought him back. Though at 4 years max. Ideally, I would have wanted the Cubs to overpay for 3 years. Imo, that’s the way to spend when you’ve got money to burn. Just say fuck it to WAR/dollar.

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  53. dmick89

    Smokestack Lightning: Spending unwisely just because you can afford to do so doesn’t make for a better baseball team. I think Fowler’s a poor bet on the back half of that deal, potentially wasting playing time that could go to someone much better, and it’s worth taking a year to find a better long-term solution, imo.

    Almost all free agents are bad bets on the back half of their multi-year contracts. It’s not like Jason Heyward was a good bet on the back half of his contract even before he ended up shitting the bed in the first year of the deal. Players decline as they get older and get paid about the same (or more). That’s just how free agency works. If you want to avoid that, you don’t sign a free agent beyond their age 29 season and since most free agents are hitting the market at 29 or later, you may as well just avoid free agency altogether.

    I can’t speak for everyone, but I don’t care how a player accrues his value. I don’t care if it’s all in one year or spread out over the life of the contract. If the player is paid $80 million and provides $80 million in value, even if all of it is in the first year, it’s a good contract. The negative is that you’d be a bit worse than you’d hope in years 2 onward, but in that first year you’d be a whole lot better than you’d expect and that’s a good thing. You’d rather the players outperform their value in the front of their contracts than the back of them.

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  54. Author
    myles

    My hope is that Fowler just turns into Michael Bourn for this contract. I love Fowler, and I’m grateful for him, but he’s a Cardinal now.

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  55. dmick89

    I’m also not as confident as some of you seem that the Cardinals are just a middle of the pack team. The Cubs are better, but the gap isn’t that huge in my opinion. It wasn’t that big entering the 2016 season and the Cubs are a bit worse right now than they were this time last year. That was before they re-signed Fowler. There’s still a good amount separating them, but I can easily see them winning 90 games. I can easily see the Cubs winning less than 90. Baseball.

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  56. Smokestack Lightning

    dmick89: I think the projections you mentioned are for 2016. ZiPS has him at 3 WAR IIRC.

    Ah, I think you’re right. My bad.

    dmick89: I can’t speak for everyone, but I don’t care how a player accrues his value. I don’t care if it’s all in one year or spread out over the life of the contract. If the player is paid $80 million and provides $80 million in value, even if all of it is in the first year, it’s a good contract.

    Fair enough, but I disagree. Consistency over the life a deal has to factor in there somewhere. A player who’s super rad for one year of the deal then actively hurts your chances of winning every other year is a bad move overall, imo. Probably a good idea to have more than one way of analyzing contracts.

    That said, I doubt that sort of situation will occur with Fowler. I suspect he’ll be good to very good the first two years, then increasingly a liability from there on. Cubs are in a situation where they’re good enough now not to need Fowler’s two good to very good years, and will happily be off the hook when he stops being a clear asset. It’s easily the wiser move long-term, even if it makes the Cubs a little more vulnerable in 2017 (and it may not, this easily seeing scenarios can go a lot of different ways).

    rel=”nofollow”>dmick89:
    I’m also not as confident as some of you seem that the Cardinals are just a middle of the pack team. The Cubs are better, but the gap isn’t that huge in my opinion. It wasn’t that big entering the 2016 season and the Cubs are a bit worse right now than they were this time last year. That was before they re-signed Fowler. There’s still a good amount separating them, but I can easily see them winning 90 games. I can easily see the Cubs winning less than 90. Baseball.

    I see the Cardinals as a solid contender for the play-in game and a longshot for the division. They were this before Fowler, and they’ve better solidified their status as these things with him. Whether that makes them middle-of-the-pack or not I don’t know.

    But I do think that when, to put Team A in the same room with Team B, we have to invoke the capricious winds of baseball variance, the talent gap between said teams is plenty large enough. Maybe not Cubs to Reds large, but still substantial.

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  57. cerulean

    Good on the Cardinals for signing a good player and a good guy by the accounts I have seen. Let Dex and his smile change that clubhouse. Hell, let the Cardinals be good. Life is more exciting that way.

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  58. Smokestack Lightning

    cerulean: Hell, let the Cardinals be good. Life is more exciting that way.

    I want some time in the wilderness for that festering asshole of an organization and fans. They deserve some. Life can be exciting later.

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  59. dmick89

    Smokestack Lightning: Fair enough, but I disagree. Consistency over the life a deal has to factor in there somewhere. A player who’s super rad for one year of the deal then actively hurts your chances of winning every other year is a bad move overall, imo. Probably a good idea to have more than one way of analyzing contracts.

    I think there is, but I think it’s essentially the same. You analyze the contract at the time of the contract and use projections (is Dexter Fowler expected to be worth the amount he was paid?) and then you analyze it after the fact. The problem with after the fact is that it uses information that wasn’t available at the time, but both methods for calculating value are the same. You don’t care if it’s all in one year or spread out. Most likely it’s going to be such that a player declines slightly over time, but not all the time. There are positives to what you suggest and also negatives. If you never extract surplus value, you’re never allowed to sign additional players for even more wins. Why are pre-arbitration players so valuable? It’s because they’re providing a ton of surplus value allowing you to sign the likes of Lester, Heyward and so on. It’s why teams sometimes backload contracts (to get the most value out of those early years when you can best predict the player will be good).

    A free agent will sign for market value, but you’d like to extract some surplus value along the way, or at least I would. Otherwise you’re always paying the same amount for a win and never maximizing the wins per dollar. That’s fine if you have a lot of pre-arbitration players that you’re getting a lot of surplus value out of, but not so good otherwise in my opinion. Do the math and it’s awfully difficult to put together a 90 win team if you’re always paying market value for the wins. You need a lot of money and it’s the situation the Yankees have found themselves in for awhile now.

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  60. dmick89

    Smokestack Lightning: I see the Cardinals as a solid contender for the play-in game and a longshot for the division. They were this before Fowler, and they’ve better solidified their status as these things with him. Whether that makes them middle-of-the-pack or not I don’t know.

    I think it depends on what they get out of Reyes to be honest. That guy could be ridiculous if he can minimize the walks. That’s not something he’s been able to do to this point in his career and despite that he’s still been very good in the minors. He’s also young enough that there could be a huge improvement in that area and nobody would be terribly surprised. He’s going to have some innings limit on him though, but if he takes a big step forward, I think the Cardinals can be pretty good. If he doesn’t, they’re going to have get lucky.

    They also don’t have to make up all the difference in one year. It was never likely they were going to make up all the difference between the Cubs and Cardinals in one offseason. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen the Cardinals stay down for too long so I’m inclined to believe they’re going to be a tougher opponent than a lot of Cubs fans would like to believe. Maybe not in 2017, but they aren’t going to rebuild and they aren’t going to stay “down” too long.

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  61. dmick89

    Smokestack Lightning: But I do think that when, to put Team A in the same room with Team B, we have to invoke the capricious winds of baseball variance, the talent gap between said teams is plenty large enough. Maybe not Cubs to Reds large, but still substantial.

    I’d probably put it at about 7 games, which is pretty big and I still think the Cubs will do something for their rotation. I hope they do anyway.

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  62. Perkins

    Smokestack Lightning: I want some time in the wilderness for that festering asshole of an organization and fans. They deserve some. Life can be exciting later.

    This. I’ve not yet tired of Cardinals fans’ delicious tears. And it’s especially fun when the players and Matheny get salty.

    I’d feel bad for Fowler, but I respect his decision. For $82MM, I’d work with a bunch of stuffy assholes too. Especially since it doesn’t sound like the Cubs intended to re-sign him anyway.

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  63. cerulean

    Smokestack Lightning: I want some time in the wilderness for that festering asshole of an organization and fans. They deserve some. Life can be exciting later.

    I prefer beating them in the playoffs. But I can get on board with disappointment, especially right at the end of the season. I think they are too talented to really suck unless a rash of injuries happens. And I don’t really wish injury on anyone.

    Also, in the end, we all get our deserts, whether we deserve it or not. I am for delaying that end.

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  64. Rizzo the Rat

    Except that “deserts” in the sense of “just deserts” is defined as “what one deserves.” The only plausible interpretation of that sentence is that we all get arid regions of land. Where are my deserts?

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  65. berselius

    Rizzo the Rat:
    Except that “deserts” in the sense of “just deserts” is defined as“what one deserves.” The only plausible interpretation of that sentence is that we all get arid regions of land. Where are my deserts?

    My takeaway from this is that I need to open a Baskin Robbins franchise out here in NM.

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  66. cerulean

    Rizzo the Rat:
    Except that “deserts” in the sense of “just deserts” is defined as“what one deserves.” The only plausible interpretation of that sentence is that we all get arid regions of land. Where are my deserts?

    Ah, but if the reward or punishment is precisely the same regardless of the life lived, is that what one deserves?

    But waves upon wave of pulverized rocks inhospitable to life works too.

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  67. Smokestack Lightning

    dmick89: I think there is, but I think it’s essentially the same. You analyze the contract at the time of the contract and use projections (is Dexter Fowler expected to be worth the amount he was paid?) and then you analyze it after the fact. The problem with after the fact is that it uses information that wasn’t available at the time, but both methods for calculating value are the same. You don’t care if it’s all in one year or spread out. Most likely it’s going to be such that a player declines slightly over time, but not all the time. There are positives to what you suggest and also negatives. If you never extract surplus value, you’re never allowed to sign additional players for even more wins. Why are pre-arbitration players so valuable? It’s because they’re providing a ton of surplus value allowing you to sign the likes of Lester, Heyward and so on. It’s why teams sometimes backload contracts (to get the most value out of those early years when you can best predict the player will be good).

    Good points. A combination of the two approaches is probably the best way to go, especially when considering a team’s competitive situation. Which is why I still think it a foolish signing by the Cardinals, and a generally wise move by the Cubs to avoid. The Cardinals need the Fowler contract to be a consistent performer over its entire life, because they’re not likely to overtake the Cubs next year and probably not the next year either. The Cubs would need the contract to be a consistent performer because they don’t really “need” the wins in the short-term but might in the back half. They also now have flexibility and time to find a younger CF who can match or outperform an aging, declining Fowler at a fraction of the price. We’re all skeptical of Almora, and rightfully so, but if Fowler reverts back to the 2-2.5 WAR player he’s generally been and Almora’s defense is every bit as advertised and his bat doesn’t completely suck, Cubs should be in fine shape. And if Almora can’t hack it, Cubs aren’t on the hook here and can move on. The more I look at how this went down, the more pleased I am. I’d rather the Cubs gamble on youth for a year with flexibility to possibly add a much better player if it doesn’t work out, then blow that Tanaka money and 3000 PAs on Fowler through age 35.

    And as it stands now, the best years of Fowler’s contract are likely going to be spent on a team that’s a better bet to not make the playoffs than make them. Sure, baseball happens and the Cardinals might win the next two WS titles, but all that praying-for-variance longshot stuff applied before Fowler, and bringing Fowler in only modestly lowers the volume on those prayers. The time to take a chance on someone hitting their 30s is when their presence not only closes the gap, but immediately vaults them ahead of division competition. You don’t want to be doing those kinds of contracts when they only somewhat enhance your chances of making the coin-flip game. Now granted, the Cardinals have money to burn, so this likely won’t financially prohibit pursuit of other free agents, but it’s not so much about the money as it is about promising 600+ PAs in years 3-5 to a player whose best days are likely to be burned on teams that didn’t win enough, and whose presence later will have to be worked around and made-up for. Fowler is not a game-changer like Alfonso Soriano (and lots of et al) was back in 2007. He probably only adds a couple wins, and the Cardinals need a lot more than just him. And without those other moves chances are pretty high they won’t close the gap until Dexter isn’t adding much of anything to the team anymore, and they’re put in a position of either accepting the diminishing returns and possibly not winning as much later, or eating a bunch of money to ship him out of town. Extracting surplus value in individual years is important, but not on teams unlikely to be playing into October.

    But then, maybe I’m too bullish on the Cubs and too bearish on the birds.

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  68. dmick89

    Smokestack Lightning,

    I think Fowler is probably worth what he signed for so I don’t think it’s foolish by the Cardinals. I actually think he’ll probably be worth that amount by the fourth year of the deal, but multi-year deals include a discount so I’d say by the end, there’s a good chance that he’ll be worth it. I’d have been fine if the Cubs had signed him to that, but I can understand why they wouldn’t. What I’m not sure I understand, or might understand anyway, is playing Almora over Heyward in CF. I’d rather Heyward in CF, Zobrist in RF and Baez at 2nd. I can see a platoon of Heyward and Almora in CF, but Almora probably shouldn’t face too many right handed pitchers. Not entirely sure Baez should either, which is one reason why I wanted the Cubs to re-sign Fowler.

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  69. dmick89

    Smokestack Lightning: But then, maybe I’m too bullish on the Cubs and too bearish on the birds.

    I think Cubs fans in general are, but I think it’s been a common problem any time the Cubs are good. Cubs fans seem to forget that it’s possible for both organizations to be good at the same time (I’ve been guilty of this myself). FWIW, I didn’t think the Cardinals would be very good in 2016 and they were slightly better than average. I just don’t expect that organization to stay down for long. They never have.

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  70. dmick89

    Smokestack Lightning: Extracting surplus value in individual years is important, but not on teams unlikely to be playing into October.

    It’s important no matter what. A big reason the Cubs were able to rebuild so quickly is that they were getting surplus value from veteran players when the Cubs sucked ass. I think you’re trying to find reasons why this is bad for the Cardinals. Dexter Fowler is a good player and the Cardinals have plenty of money. It’s not a huge contract and doesn’t stop them from signing other guys or acquiring them either. For the same reason that signing Heyward was thought to be so positive for the Cubs (taking wins directly away from the Cardinals), the Cardinals did the exact same thing here except Fowler probably won’t suck like Heyward has. The Cardinals didn’t come close to closing the gap between the two teams, but by signing Fowler, they closed a lot of it (maybe even half of it). I’d much rather Fowler have signed elsewhere for this exact reason. It makes the Cardinals better and the Cubs worse.

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  71. EnricoPallazzo

    i gotta go with out. with obvious exceptions, you shouldn’t really be going for home unless you’ve got a pretty good idea that you’ll be safe, so i would say that safe is to an extent a bit of a foregone conclusion.

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  72. SK

    Food for thought, guys. About your two points, I guess I’m assuming 1) a neutral score environment and 2) a 50/50 “chance” to score. Also, I’m assuming a bang-bang play. After all that, I can’t decide. Depends on my rooting interest (dying laughing)

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  73. dmick89

    SK,

    If it’s a game I don’t really care about the result that I’m watching, I’d rather see the player safe. I like runs being scored and if it’s a game I don’t care about, a low-scoring game won’t keep my attention for too long.

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  74. dmick89

    A player being safe on a bang-bang play is usually a good play by the fielder and a good send. The same is true if the player is out, but I can’t help but immediately question whether or not the player should have been held at 3rd. (dying laughing)

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  75. Rizzo the Rat

    EnricoPallazzo:
    i gotta go with out. with obvious exceptions, you shouldn’t really be going for home unless you’ve got a pretty good idea that you’ll be safe, so i would say that safe is to an extent a bit of a foregone conclusion.

    That depends on the number of outs. With two outs, it’s almost the opposite; you send him home unless you’re pretty sure he’d be out (since most of the time, the next hitter will make the third out anyway).

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  76. Smokestack Lightning

    dmick89: I think you’re trying to find reasons why this is bad for the Cardinals.

    Eh, come on, man. I would much rather you conclude I’m a fucking moron who doesn’t understand the first thing about this stuff than head in this direction. When the Cardinals do moves I think are good, I say as much. When they don’t, I don’t. Simple as that. Maybe I’m out of step with what’s what, maybe I’m overestimating Fowler’s age and coming decline while underestimating the quality of this Cardinals team in the short-term, but I stand by what I’ve written, and I know my own mind enough to know when I’m pretzeling to make something work because my emotions are demanding it. That’s not happening here. I just have a slightly different outlook, or perhaps a more expansive one that takes into account other factors, factors that may or may not mean as much as I think they do.

    Without other significant moves, adding Fowler doesn’t likely get the Cardinals where they want to go in the short-term, and it’s going to be a drag on their chances on the back nine of that deal. It’s not an awful, horrible, franchise-wrecking deal, but it’s the sort of deal you like to avoid if you can, one the Cardinals have historically been good about avoiding, and one the Cubs wisely did. You like the deal for the Cards. That’s great, and you could very well be right about it. But as of now, I don’t see it. And I’m actually hoping the Cardinals make more of them trying to play catch-up.

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  77. dmick89

    Smokestack Lightning: Eh, come on, man. I would much rather you conclude I’m a fucking moron who doesn’t understand the first thing about this stuff than head in this direction.

    All I really meant by it was that I think your dislike of the Cardinals may be influencing your opinion on this too much. Sorry I said it in the way that I did, but it feels as though you don’t want to like this deal, but maybe I’m just reading it wrong. If so, I’m sorry.

    For the record, I don’t really like the deal for the Cardinals. I just don’t think it’s bad and I think Fowler is a good bet to be worth his contract. That doesn’t really mean I like it. In fact, I hate it. I’d much rather have seen Fowler sign elsewhere and not because I dislike the Cardinals. I don’t give a fuck about seeing former Cubs on the Cardinals. It’s just that Fowler is a good player and I’d rather the Cardinals have fewer of them.

    Also, I’m not the least bit concerned about the back end of that contract. Maybe you’re right in that Fowler will hurt the Cardinals at that point, but he’s not making much money in today’s free agent contracts. The Cardinals paid him to roughly be somewhere between slightly below average to average over the life of the deal and that’s all. The Cardinals didn’t sign Fowler to be good in 2020. They did so to help them improve and close the gap on the Cubs in 2017.

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  78. Smokestack Lightning

    Also, I checked the fangraphs page on the projections. They’re for 2017. And they have Fowler at 2.1 fWAR and the Cardinals 10 wins behind the Cubs right now.

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  79. Smokestack Lightning

    dmick89: Also, I’m not the least bit concerned about the back end of that contract. Maybe you’re right in that Fowler will hurt the Cardinals at that point, but he’s not making much money in today’s free agent contracts. The Cardinals paid him to roughly be somewhere between slightly below average to average over the life of the deal and that’s all. The Cardinals didn’t sign Fowler to be good in 2020. They did so to help them improve and close the gap on the Cubs in 2017.

    I agree on why the Cardinals did the deal, but that’s my point. It’s not the smartest move imo because the best they’ll get out of Fowler won’t likely make up the talent gap that’s currently between them and the Cubs now (unless they’re planning on breaking the bank to make more moves and spend on…I’m not sure; nothing much else is out there), and by the time that gap does start to shrink again, Fowler could easily be part of what holds them back. They need him to be good in 2019-21 because they may not be a serious divisional threat again until then. Imo, they’re just fucking around right now. Pretending to be a serious contender in a division that currently houses the best team in baseball (that’s also as well-positioned for the future as any team we’ve ever seen and has no shortage of resources to address any shortcomings that develop), and they’re far from a shoo-in for the WC as well. They’ll likely get pretty good stuff from Fowler here in the short-term, but not enough to substantially change their chances of playing extra baseball next year, and they’ll be stuck with the less than pretty good stuff in the not-too-distant future, where they very well may not be in a position to absorb his inability to provide what he does now.

    So it’s not the money, which the birds can easily afford right now, but the playing time Fowler will still be sucking up at that point, playing time that could go to a player they could get more out of. Unless the plan is to dump him to another team in 2-3 years if he starts to suck. (dying laughing) Maybe it is.

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  80. dmick89

    I did a WARcels projection for Fowler awhile back, but never published anything. Here’s what I got using the methodology Tango outlined in a recent post on his site.

    2017: 2.7
    2018: 2.3
    2019: 1.9
    2020: 1.5

    I only looked at 4 years and that was 8.4 WAR over 4 years. I came up with 4 years and $76.3 million in value.

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  81. dmick89

    Add in the multi-year discount and and it’s about $68 million over 4 years. Add in a 5th year and it’s probably right in line with what the Cardinals paid him.

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  82. dmick89

    dmick89,

    FG may not have changed that title for some reason as it does look like they have now added the 2017 Steamer projections. They haven ‘t added the ZiPS projection yet, but Fowler was at 3 or something like that.

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  83. dmick89

    Smokestack Lightning: So it’s not the money, which the birds can easily afford right now, but the playing time Fowler will still be sucking up at that point, playing time that could go to a player they could get more out of. Unless the plan is to dump him to another team in 2-3 years if he starts to suck. (dying laughing) Maybe it is.

    I would assume playing time is based on a couple of factors: injuries and whether or not it’s earned. The contract isn’t so large that the Cardinals are just going to play him because they’re paying him. If he sucks, they’ve got options. Their best option would be a time machine, but those don’t exist yet so I’m not counting on that. (dying laughing)

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  84. Smokestack Lightning

    dmick89,

    Yeah, I think bottom line it comes down to you thinking the Cardinals are closer to the Cubs than I do. If you’re right, then the Fowler deal makes sense for all the reasons you put out there. If the Cardinals are as far behind the Cubs as I think tho, then the signing can be construed a waste, and potentially a good thing for the Cubs (no word on how it helps the fucking Reds).

    You may have gotten the impression I’m mad about the deal, but actually I’m fine with it for all the reasons I’ve stated. I’m sad Dexter is gone, as he’s a good player and from we know about him a good person as well. But that was always going to be the case no matter where he went. You always hate to lose good players and good people.

    But as far as the deal itself, I feel confident this will at best only help the Cardinals maintain their current also-ran division status over the next season and maybe help them get into the WC game. Maybe I’m wrong to discount that, because playoffs is playoffs, but I know if the Cubs were in the same situation, I wouldn’t be happy signing Fowler to five years right now, and would actually be more in favor of a controlled roster demolition and spending the next season or two retooling for a more serious run in the future. It’s not like the Cardinals underperformed last year. They got out of their talent about what you would expect, and they haven’t done anything to ultimately change that for 2017 yet. They’re a fringe contender at best right now, and if the Cubs were that, I wouldn’t want them spending money and years on a 30+ year-old OF whose surplus value years won’t change the short-term result in the standings, and whose non-surplus years may end up being part of the reason the team can’t get over the hump down the road.

    Anyway. I’ll probably be dead wrong. That’s how this shit usually plays out. (dying laughing)

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  85. dmick89

    Smokestack Lightning,

    Yeah, I think it is 2017, but I know early in the offseason all they use for next year is rest of season projections. 2.1 isn’t surprising. You’re bound to have some variance between the systems.

    I guess I don’t have a problem spending when you’re not expecting to be great. I had no problem signing Edwin Jackson and still think it was an OK contract.

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  86. Smokestack Lightning

    dmick89: I guess I don’t have a problem spending when you’re not expecting to be great. I had no problem signing Edwin Jackson and still think it was an OK contract.

    And there’s obviously something to making yourself as good as you can in case the unexpected happens either with your team or on your rivals’. If the Cubs implode in a way nobody sees coming, then the Cardinals being positioned to take advantage will look very smart indeed. And perhaps it is the best course for them, as they’re not really positioned to sell off right now either. They’re kinda stuck in the middle. Not good enough on paper to represent a realistic challenge for the division (and unlucky enough to have the best team in baseball just getting started ahead of them), not nearly bad enough to warrant selling without catching some serious flak.

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  87. SK

    When the front in the war against North Korea opens up to include mainland China, do you think all MLB players will be drafted to fight overseas, or just the ones who haven’t reached FA yet?

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  88. uncle dave

    Smokestack Lightning,

    dmick89,

    The way I look at it is that the Cards survived the back end of Matt Holliday’s contract in ok shape, and Fowler’s decline is not likely to be quite that steep. They’re a team that seems to be pretty adept at squeezing the last drops of life out of the Jhonny Peraltas and Carlos Beltrans of the world and rarely overextend themselves, which allows them to eat a bad year or two on the rare long-term deals that they do sign.

    I don’t know if it’ll be enough, but I feel like they’re a pretty good bet to like this deal when all is said and done. (I’m still hopeful that Fowler is the only bright spot over that time, though.)

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  89. Ryno

    Speaking of LA, the Rams fired Jeff Fisher like a week after giving him an extension?

    I mean, Jeff Fisher should always be fired, but the timing is odd.

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  90. Edwin

    I’ve heard some talk of Schwarber being the potential leadoff hitter next season. I get it, since he seems like a guy who should draw a lot of walks, but I’d be a little worried that it would be easier for teams to shift against him. Also, his baserunning might not be the best, and it seems like a waste of his power to bat him in a position least likely to see men on base in front of him.

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  91. Ryno

    Kinda bored, so I decided to start doing mock drafts. Here’s one I did for Chicago with http://first-pick.com/NFL/DraftGame.aspx:

    Traded CHI’s 1 for NYJ’s 1 and 2…

    Round 1 Pick 6 (NYJ): Jamal Adams, SS, LSU

    Traded a 2, a 4 and a 7 for OAK’s 1…

    Round 1 Pick 30 (OAK): DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame
    Round 2 Pick 4: Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
    Round 3 Pick 4: Adam Bisnowaty, OT/OG, Pittsburgh
    Round 4 Pick 4: Daeshon Hall, DE, Texas A&M
    Round 5 Pick 4: Jeremy Sprinkle, TE, Arkansas

    Tried to go BPA with an eye on needs according to the Interwebzz

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  92. berselius

    Ryno:
    Speaking of LA, the Rams fired Jeff Fisher like a week after giving him an extension?

    I mean, Jeff Fisher should always be fired, but the timing is odd.

    It sounded like the extension was signed during the offseason, and they took their time announcing it for some reason. Weren’t there rumors flying around at the beginning of the season that he was extended?

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  93. Ryno

    Did another one…

    Traded CHI’s 1 for SD’s 1-3

    Round 1 Pick 8 (S.D.): Myles Garrett, DE/OLB, Texas A&M
    Round 2 Pick 4: DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame
    Round 2 Pick 8 (S.D.): Dede Westbrook, WR, Oklahoma
    Round 3 Pick 4: Jordan Leggett, TE, Clemson
    Round 3 Pick 8 (S.D.): Dion Dawkins, OT, Temple
    Round 4 Pick 4: Billy Price, OG, Ohio State
    Round 4 Pick 13: Montravius Adams, DT, Auburn
    Round 5 Pick 4: Brandon Facyson, CB, Virginia Tech
    Round 7 Pick 4: M.J. Stewart, CB, North Carolina

    Which one do you like better? (dying laughing)

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  94. Ryno

    Ryno:
    Round 1 Pick 8 (S.D.): Myles Garrett, DE/OLB, Texas A&M

    At this point, it feels like a certainty that Garrett and Jonathan Allen will be gone in the top 3 picks. Maybe a QB, too. If so, how do you Bears fans feel about drafting a QB at 4?

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  95. Perkins

    Rizzo the Rat,

    I like the idea of Scchwarber hitting 1 or 2, since he sees a lot of pitches and has good command of the strike zone. I’d probably go Zobrist, Schwarber, Bryant, Rizzo (though I think The Book says to put the best hitters at 1, 2, and 4).

    How to order the top of the Cubs’ lineup is a really nice problem to have.

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  96. Edwin

    Ryno,

    I hate reaching in a draft. If they think that a QB is in this draft who can be a QB to build around for the next 4-6 years, then I think they should take him at 4. If not, I’d rather they build some depth, get some more playmakers on defense, whatever.

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  97. Edwin

    Sounds like Rick Perry is going to get a job heading up that thing. You know, that department, it’s, uh….ummm…not commerce, not education, the other one. It’ll come to me, just give me a minute. Huh. Sorry, I can’t…oops.

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  98. Wenningtons Gorilla Cock

    Edwin: Sounds like Rick Perry is going to get a job heading up that thing. You know, that department, it’s, uh….ummm…not commerce, not education, the other one. It’ll come to me, just give me a minute. Huh. Sorry, I can’t…oops.

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  99. SK

    Edwin:
    Sounds like Rick Perry is going to get a job heading up that thing.You know, that department, it’s, uh….ummm…not commerce, not education, the other one.It’ll come to me, just give me a minute.Huh.Sorry, I can’t…oops.

    It’s the one what’s in charge of taking care of the nukular arsinal and whatnot, try to keep up

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  100. Edwin

    Biggest problem with the Cubs is that although they won the World Series last year, they’re still way too young. Simply allowing time to run it’s course isn’t working fast enough, which is why they needed to trade away Soler for Wade, and sign this Uhara person.

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  101. Rizzo the Rat

    http://www.trentonian.com/sports/20161214/jay-dunn-vladimir-guerrero-and-ivan-rodriguez-at-the-top-of-my-hall-of-fame-ballot

    Varitek was the catcher when the Red Sox won championships in 2004 and 2007. He was an iron man on both teams, catcher almost every game not started by knuckleballer Tim Wakefield. Probably no one, not even David Ortiz or Manny Ramirez, had more to do with the success of those teams than Varitek did.

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  102. cerulean

    Rizzo the Rat,

    That’s because cERA, er, I mean pitch-framing has a greater impact on the outcome of a game than RsBI. If he doesn’t frame the ball properly, the umpire gets confused. That’s a fact. Prove me wrong.

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  103. Edwin

    cerulean,

    It’s 2016, facts no longer matter. Sometimes when you have a conversation with people, you’re going to say something, and maybe you don’t have all the facts to back that up, but that’s how the American people live.

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  104. cerulean

    Edwin:
    cerulean,

    It’s 2016, facts no longer matter.Sometimes when you have a conversation with people, you’re going to say something, and maybe you don’t have all the facts to back that up, but that’s how the American people live.

    I think you are confusing fact with truth—in our post-truth society, truth is meaningless, a fact is anything believed with conviction, and an opinion is anything believed without conviction.

    Prove me wrong and I might believe your “facts”—until then, well…that’s just, like, your opinion, man.

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  105. cerulean

    Edwin:
    Comments at OV are at an all time high, while the failing BN is struggling for viewers.Sad!

    If you take away the tens that have commented on OV illegally, BN wins the popularity contest.

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  106. cerulean

    So Grampy is seeking some FO role on the Cubs. I think they should give him the title of President of Clubhouse Operations. Sounds dignified.

    Hmm…maybe too dignified. How about Assistant (to the) President of Scooter Operations?

    That’s better.

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  107. EnricoPallazzo

    Smokestack Lightning,

    i’m actually a bit surprised by this, given the number of pre-arb players on the team. who is drawing a $10m+ salary? heyward, lackey, montero, lester, zobrist, i think arrieta and maybe hammel…who am i missing? oh and edwin jackson. still hard to see how they get to >180m though.

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  108. BVS

    So Buddy Bailey returns to manage Myrtle Beach. That’s good, because I can continue to teach my kid the uselessness of bunting when the next batter hits .186. But at least Daniel Lockhart got minor league, rule 5 drafted, so it’ll be a new .186 hitter.

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  109. cerulean

    Another recent prospect list. They are not very high on the prospects overall rankings, but I also doubt their tier system was rigorously done.

    Good to see Paulino make the list and still be a Cub. Fortunately, no team took a Rule 5 chance on him.

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  110. cerulean

    EnricoPallazzo,

    In the end, the overall rank is rather meaningless* until the players can contribute in the majors. Such a proposition becomes dicey with the likes of Candelario considering where he is on the depth chart. Underwood *should* be good…but he *probably* isn’t. I personally think Candelario is more likely to be valuable at the major league level, but Underwood is more likely to be valuable to the Cubs if he has any value at all.

    Also: take these lists with a grain of salt.

    *My arbitrary rule for dealing with rankings of any kind: There is little difference between the nth rank and twice the nth rank. So first and second are pretty much the same, as are second and fourth, fourth and eighth, eighth and sixteenth—you get the gist. The difference between fourth and fifth then is literally meaningless.

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  111. Perkins

    Edwin,

    Yes. The first act jumps around a lot, but overall the movie is very good. I’d say about on par with A New Hope, if not quite as good as Empire Strikes Back. The closing battle is similar in scope to the one at the end of Return of the Jedi, but much longer, more frenetic, and visceral.

    There were a few fan service moments that to me came off as a bit cheesy, but others seemed to enjoy. It also does a really good job of showing the war in more shades of grey than any of the other movies. Without giving anything away, the rebels aren’t exactly “cute and cuddly.”

    I need to watch it again, as my first viewing was from the front row in the theater. I had some minor issues with it, but that may have been a perspective thing. The musical scoring had a few odd choices, but I may be able to appreciate them better with a more full view of the screen.

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  112. Perkins

    Edwin,

    Those are mercifully absent. There is, however, a neat parallel drawn to our experience in Iraq and Afghanistan where Stormtroopers are shown as an occupying force in a hostile town.

    This was also maybe the first Star Wars film where the cost of living under the Empire is actually made to seem real. Other than Owen and Beru in A New Hope, a lot of the oppressive stuff the Empire does is shown in big set pieces like the destruction of Alderaan or the occupation of Bespin. This one makes you feel it on a much more personal level, which is a good thing to see in a franchise nominally about interstellar war.

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  113. Perkins

    Edwin,

    Alas, they do not. But shouting to get people’s attention before you blow them up or shoot them is not generally considered tactically sound.

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  114. JonKneeV

    A recent trip to Ikea led me to purchase a Fuuong sofa sleeper. Upon bringing the Fuuong home and following the wordless directions that consisted solely of what I can only assume is a nudist Ziggy pointing at different pieces of the sofa sleeper, I found that one of the legs of the sofa sleeper was just under an inch shorter than the others. I called the 800 number for Ikea customer service but my conversational Swedish is limited to what I learned from the chef on the Muppets. Apparently, “Horgy, horgy, horgy” does not translate to, “The sofa sleeper you sold me has a short leg.” Undaunted, I set out to find a solution. I decided that I could shim the short leg to give it the stability my sofa sleeper would need to hold up to the many uses I had planned for it. Those uses include: sitting on it with my right leg crossed over my left, sitting on it with my left leg crossed over my right, sitting on it with both legs on the floor, laying on it facing east, laying on it facing west, pulling the bed out of it and sleeping on it facing left, pulling the bed out of it and sleeping on it facing right, vigorous but tender love making, and sitting on it to play video games. The shim, sadly, did not hold up to each of these activities. Once, during a fitful, sleepless night because of the wobbling instability of the Fuuong, I had an inspiration. What if I could find a book that was nearly the same thickness as would be necessary to make up for the deficit in the short leg? I began to search Amazon.com for a book that was approximately 232 pages. At last I found one, titled “A Season For The Ages” by noted childhood comic book letter writing enthusiast Alvin Yellon. I purchased the book and slid it under the short leg on my sofa sleeper. It proved to be nearly adequate, and as a result of the passable amount of stability it provides my Fuuong I can now perform additional activities safely, such as eating bologna sandwiches while sitting, going to bed hours before I actually need to sleep to insure that I get my preferred spot on the sofa sleeper, and voicing strong, but mostly irrational opinions to no one in particular. I will admit that I did not read the book before I wedged it under the defective sofa sleeper leg. Just from the description on the book jacket it appears that the book would be a tedious slog to read, full of insights that are fueled only by 20/20 hindsight and a well worn bittnerness born of decades of off-putting smugness. I actually purchased the book used for 75 cents and feel that I overpaid considerably.

    Review on Al’s book
    (dying laughing)
    (dying laughing)
    (dying laughing)

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  115. Perkins

    dmick89:
    Al uses “A Season For The Ages” for his book? Really?

    He wanted it to be “Finally, At Long Last, a Season, for the Ages…with Coleslaw,” but the editor cut it down from nonsensical to merely trite.

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  116. Edwin

    Sounds like OV should get in on this whole Book thing. Tentative layout:

    Chapter 1: Pizza Hut Milfs
    Chapter 2: Cast Iron cookware, and proper cleaning technique
    Chapter 3: On WAR and Salsa
    Chapter 4: The Cover 2 Defense, and how to exploit it
    Chapter 5: Breaking Bad

    That’s just a start.

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  117. cerulean

    Edwin,

    Title suggestions:

    Failing at Failing
    Macros and their Practical Uses
    How to Lose to the Dodgers in Five
    Superfriendliness
    The Forest Dot Book
    Overcoming Exile from Al’s Sex Toy Barn
    (dying laughing) All the Way Down

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  118. Perkins

    Edwin,

    Replacement Level Restaurants
    Nice Snark
    Patient Motherfuckering
    Discreditation
    Undiscreditation
    Rediscreditation
    Laughing, but not (dying laughing)

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  119. Wenningtons Gorilla Cock

    Second review on Al’s book’s Amazon page:

    Anyone considering paying for this book should take advantage of the “Look Inside” feature and judge for yourself. It was hard enough to read the author’s blog, but his style of writing makes this book pure torture. I read about 15 pages of “Look Ahead” and could go no further. The book is filled with run-on sentences. Paragraph structure is non-existent. He probably averages two commas per sentence. An editor was desperately needed. I’m embarrassed for Pat Hughes to have his name on this, but he should have known better.

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  120. BVS

    cerulean: My arbitrary rule for dealing with rankings of any kind: There is little difference between the nth rank and twice the nth rank. So first and second are pretty much the same, as are second and fourth, fourth and eighth, eighth and sixteenth—you get the gist. The difference between fourth and fifth then is literally meaningless.

    If dmick doesn’t have time to write the “How to Be an Optimist” chapter in the OV book, you can ghost write it.

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  121. cerulean

    BVS: If dmick doesn’t have time to write the “How to Be an Optimist” chapter in the OV book, you can ghost write it.

    That be a short chapter. So short, I’ll just get it over with:

    In the end, everybody dies. So plan for naught because naught’s all you get.

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  122. berselius

    cerulean: That be a short chapter. So short, I’ll just get it over with:

    In the end, everybody dies. So plan for naught because naught’s all you get.

    Follow up chapter: It Could Go Either Way

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  123. Perkins

    Additional chapters:
    1. Worst Things Every
    2. Knock it Off
    3. Existential Discussions, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Bologna Sandwiches
    4. Browsing, but not Participating

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  124. cerulean

    Mediocre Festivus Day, everyone. Shall we air grievances? Or shall we settle on mere feats of strength?

    Feats of strength are probably more appropriate in these trying times. So…

    This year, my dad, brother, and I moved a baby grand piano that weighs well over 500 pounds using carts, boards, and a hell of a lot of ingenuity. The local piano mover I know was aghast and astonished—we didn’t have the right equipment and didn’t even bother to remove the legs. How did we get it through the door? We just tipped it sideways onto a cart and spun it through the thirty-inch-wide door.

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  125. uncle dave

    My sister gave me Yellon’s book for Christmas. I had to fly out of town yesterday so had no choice but to go to the mall on the day before Christmas to return it. *gunshot*

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  126. SK

    uncle dave:
    My sister gave me Yellon’s book for Christmas.I had to fly out of town yesterday so had no choice but to go to the mall on the day before Christmas to return it.*gunshot*

    2016, man

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  127. BVS

    Ryno:
    BVS,

    I want an awkwardly-inserted chapter the NFL Draft.

    How about as the bonus material at the end? The “first chapter” of the authors’ next work.

    Not sure about all those Yellonesque chapters though
    Perkins, but we can let one of the OV principals decide. Maybe AC, since he has a lot more free time now only counting to zero.

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  128. berselius

    BVS: uncle dave, We should have had a pool about who got Yellons book first. You lose. My family so far has stuck to Fanatics. Whew.

    I got a Kris Bryant ornament that looks like it was made by a blind demon. Pics to follow once I am on decent internet connection.

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  129. dmick89

    berselius,

    I got more Cubs stuff this year for Christmas than I have for all the ones before combined. My birthday is tomorrow so I wouldn’t be surprised if I get more Cubs stuff. Fortunately nobody gave me Yellon’s book. It would have found a nice home in the fireplace.

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  130. Smokestack Lightning

    SK:
    dmick89,

    I got no Cubs stuff. All I wanted was the DVD, so I just ordered it for myself.

    That was a DVD I recently enjoyed. Just wish the wife hadn’t decided to cut all the onions in the house during the last 10 minutes or so…

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  131. JonKneeV

    EnricoPallazzo:
    I also got yellon’s book. I am hoping that I can just bring it to a Barnes and Noble and just get store credit.

    Just mail to Yellon and tell him that his book is banned from your house. Then make him write you a letter to confirm.

    (5)

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