The Rundown: Cobb Last Man Standing, Moving On From Arrieta, Montgomery Tweaks Delivery, Hitting Instructor Bernie Sanders
Where will you go, Alex Cobb?
Back when free agency started, it was nearly a given that Cobb and the Cubs would reach an agreement on a contract that would be Chicago’s major signing of the offseason. Upon being presented with an offer that was supposedly similar to the deal the Cubs had made with Tyler Chatwood, Cobb and his agent had an epiphany of sorts and decided to wait on a better offer, one that likely never came.
Perhaps Cobb will end up being the poster boy for this winter’s slow free agent market. He has no leverage now. There are only 16 days until Opening Day and each team has set its rotation. I suppose Philadelphia can use another starting pitcher even after signing Jake Arrieta, and the Brewers and Twins seem to always be on the periphery of needing a starter, but Cobb may be forced to wait on an injury. So far, the only significant injury of spring training has been to Rays prospect Brent Honeywell.
Cobb may also be forced to accept a one-year deal, something that will be a far cry from the Cubs’ reported offer of three years in the $40-$45 million range. How happy will Cobb be in that scenario? It seems all it takes is one miscalculation to turn hope into despondency.
One is the saddest experience that you’ll ever know.
From a business standpoint, it’s perfectly understandable that Cobb would try to maximize his value in free agency, but there are dangers in overestimating your value — looking at you, Mike Moustakas — and the market Cobb expected just didn’t exist. The season may start with Cobb on the sidelines, and he may have nobody to blame but himself.
Cubs News & Notes
The love fest between Jake Arrieta, the Cubs, and their fans — one that has been missing since last season ended with a listless performance in the NLCS where Arrieta was one of the few bright spots — is now in full force. Pardon my hot take here, but to me it borders on overkill, especially since we’ve all known for two years that the Cubs’ ace was leaving town, whether we wanted to accept it or not.
The tributes and accolades bestowed upon Jake are certainly deserved, but it feels forced and dubious to me. And though the letter that the new Phillies ace penned to Chicago fans seemed sincere enough, let’s pump the brakes for a second. A quick perusal through November, December, and January newspaper articles, boards, blogs, and blog comments showed that a major portion of Cubs fans were in favor of signing Darvish or even Cobb over Arrieta. Where was the love then?
Which contract would you rather have on the Cubs?
Jake Arrieta (3-$75 million)
Yu Darvish (6-$126 million)
Podcast debate: https://t.co/2dN3uQckNB pic.twitter.com/xTkGRljOO3
— Cubs Talk (@NBCSCubs) March 12, 2018
If the Cubs end up facing the Phillies in the playoffs — a long shot at best, but entirely possible — are we going to go into those games in wistful remembrance of 49 taking the bump for the Cubs every fifth day? I don’t mean to sound unappreciative, but there was never any real attempt by either side to keep Arrieta in Chicago and there was never any doubt he fully intended to move on. We should move on, too.
Mike Montgomery has adjusted his delivery during the offseason in an effort to have better control, especially with his breaking ball, Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports.
“I was told my stride was longer on certain pitches, especially the curve,” Montgomery said. “I need that pitch sharp to get more swings and misses.” The 28-year-old lefty would likely start for most teams, but he’ll begin the year as a valuable long reliever in Chicago. Montgomery operated as the Cubs’ swingman in 2017, making 14 starts in 44 overall appearances. His 2017 numbers were decent, and Montgomery’s 4.15 ERA as a starter was largely backed up by his peripherals (4.07 FIP, 4.35 xFIP).
With Arrieta officially signing with the Phillies, Philadelphia forfeits their 3rd-round pick and the Cubs will receive a pick after Competitive Balance Round B. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer now have five of the top 100 picks in the upcoming MLB Draft: 24, 63, 77, 78, and 98.
How About That!
The Yankees have no interest in a one-year deal for Alex Cobb. However, New York did agree to a one-year deal with free agent second baseman Neil Walker, pending a physical. The signing means phenom Gleyber Torres will start the season in the minors.
Indians SP Trevor Bauer recovered from his dreadful outing against the Cubs last week with an eight-strikeout performance yesterday against the Rangers.
The Phillies’ young rotation is eager to learn from Arrieta, who should slot into the top spot and help in the further development of Aaron Nola.
By getting Lance Lynn and Logan Morrison on team-friendly deals, the Twins capped what may be the best 2017-18 offseason in baseball.
White Sox CF Luis Robert looks to be the real deal, though he probably won’t impact the team until 2019. An outfield of Eloy Jimenez, Robert, and Avisail Garcia, along with elite pitching depth and loads of payroll flexibility, could allow the team to be a major player for someone like Manny Machado next season.
Hot Takes & Syrup
- Pardon My Hot Take: Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said the team was never really in on Arrieta and he’s content with their staff heading into the season. “We feel our depth is something that we’ve had here for a long time, and you can’t look past the accomplishments of these guys.” Like never having won a playoff series, for instance.
- Pardon This Obvious Hot Take: The Orioles MO in recent seasons has been to wait out free agency and bargain hunt for players as spring training approaches. Unfortunately nearly every team took the same approach this year. Perhaps Alex Cobb can fine a home in Baltimore.
- Pardon This Obligatory Hot Take: The top of the Brewers rotation will stack up with some order of Chase Anderson, Jhoulys Chacin, and Zach Davies, a soft-tossing command specialist who led the team with 191.1 innings last year. Looks like an 80-win team to me.
- Pardon This Feel The Bern Hot Take: Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig got some hitting advice from 74-year-old Senator Bernie Sanders.
With a few tweaks I think @YasielPuig had 30 home runs in him this year. pic.twitter.com/sPqphKlOi3
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) March 11, 2018
Tuesday Walk Up Song
I’ve Had The Time of My Life by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warren. So long, Jake.