The Rundown: Spending Tom Ricketts’ Money, World Series Notes, Managerial Moves & News

Let’s have a little fun while all of baseball goes coast-to-coast (and before we spend Tom Ricketts’s money).

With a break in the World Series and with the Dodgers not putting up much of a fight thus far, it sure feels a lot more like Hot Stove season than baseball season. An unexpected early exit by the Cubs this postseason has us nearly a month into baseball’s offseason, and this winter already feels too long.

Though it’s always an exercise in fun and futility to predict who the front office will sign in free agency, we at least know how much Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer will have to spend on this year’s gaggle of eligible players.

That would be nothing, or as much as they want, or somewhere in between. I admit I’m no help. Sorry.

Now I’m no accountant — heck I can’t even manage my own checkbook, mostly because I have two young adults in college who seemingly have access to every financial asset I own. I do know that if the Cubs retain Cole Hamels, and find no takers for Tyler Chatwood, and considering arbitration raises due, they are already over the luxury tax cap by about $2M dollars, if I am doing my math correctly.

So the question is no longer how little can the Cubs spend, but how much do they want to go over that threshold? And as disappointing as Yu Darvish was in 2018, giving him six years instead of five kept the team under the cap last year (think AAV), which keeps Chicago out of penalties for teams that spend too much in consecutive seasons.

Given the opportunity to fictionally borrow Tom Ricketts’ checkbook for a few months, here’s what I’m doing this winter:

  1. Sign Bryce Harper.
  2. Find a way to acquire Whit Merrifield or re-sign Daniel Murphy.
  3. DFA Addison Russell.
  4. Sign Jesse Chavez and Adam Ottavino.
  5. Trade Mike Montgomery for pitching prospects if he is not needed to acquire Merrifield.
  6. Trade Ian Happ to Cleveland for Brad Hand or Danny Salazar, putting Salazar in the bullpen.
  7. Consider trading Albert Almora Jr. if Harper and Merrifield find their way to a mid-winter presser at Clark & Addison.

Mr. Ricketts, you may have your checkbook back now.

World Series News & Notes

Cubs News & Notes

If you had to guess which Cubs players would be finalists for Gold Glove awards, which players would you choose? If you guessed Javy Baez, Anthony Rizzo, and Jason Heyward you’d be spot on.

Jon Lester invited Tyler Trent to Opening Day in April. Trent is a 20-year old Purdue super fan who is fighting bone cancer.

With the contracts of Joe Maddon and White Sox manager Rick Renteria set to expire following the 2019 season, Joe Girardi may end up managing in Chicago.

When it comes to offense and things like launch angle and plate discipline, Cubs players would be wise to approach their at bats like JD Martinez.

With only two managerial openings left – Baltimore (who wants that mess) and Texas (not much more appealing), it’s looking like Brandon Hyde may stay with the Cubs through at least this season.

Baseball News & Notes

A look at the most over-hyped free agents set to hit the market in one week.

Rocco Baldelli has been named manager of the Twins and he’s pretty jacked up about that.

Though not as outwardly ecstatic, Charlie Montoyo has been named manager of the Blue Jays.

Here’s the rundown on all of baseball’s new managers.

Despite a rotating cast through the last few years, ESPN’s Baseball Tonight remains the behemoth’s only baseball analysis television show.

Fans in New York feel that the Yankees are the front runners to sign Manny Machado.

Who are baseball’s most uncomfortable pitchers to face? Brandon Kintzler does not make this list, sorry, but Steve Cishek does.

On Deck 

Happy Dress-Up-and-Get-Drunk Weekend! Oh wait, not all of you live in Milwaukee like I do. I’m going as Kurt Cobain. I’ll be sure to tweet some pictures for you.

Extra Innings

The Wall Street Journal, which apparently feels the need to write about baseball occasionally despite the current stumbling stock market, has come up with an idea or two to save baseball. You’ll want to read about banning mound visits and giving batters four strikes (subscription required) so that you can divert focus away from your dwindling financial portfolio.

Friday Walk Up Song

Dreams by the Bodeans. Hot Stove is a week away.

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