I’m going to be away for awhile so I thought I’d grace you all with an extra long column, even by my standards. Sorry, Evan.
When I return, I fully expect Theo Epstein to have announced he has asked permission from the Dodgers to speak to Brant Brown for Chicago’s managerial opening. More likely, however, I believe I will return to see that either David Ross or Raúl Ibañez will be replacing Joe Maddon. In truth, If Ibañez gets the job, I could see him naming Brown as his hitting coach, which I see as a win-win for this team.
Rizzo on David Ross possibly replacing Joe. pic.twitter.com/HO09sNyRx7
— Paul Sullivan (@PWSullivan) September 29, 2019
For grits and shins, here are my (likely all incorrect) managerial predictions:
- Angels – Maddon
- Cubs – Ross
- Mets – Joe Girardi
- Padres – Brad Ausmus
- Giants – Mark Kotsay
- Royals – Carlos Beltrán
- Pirates – Sam Fuld
Cubs News & Notes
- Daily Herald beat reporter Bruce Miles looks back at a 22-year career covering the Cubs. Miles retired after the last game of the season, having spent 31 years with the suburban newspaper. The veteran columnist sadly covered the unexpected death of Harry Caray on the second day of his beat.
- Ross is still the favorite to land the Cubs’ managerial gig, though Girardi is gaining some steam.
- Meanwhile, Loretta says Chicago basically needs a manager who’s willing to crack the whip a little.
- If dark horse candidate and current Astros bench coach Joe Espada gets the Cubs job, he should send a note of thanks to Red Sox skipper Álex Cora and Astros’ manager AJ Hinch.
- Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune looks at the pros and cons in determining whether the Cubs should keep or trade Kris Bryant and/or Javier Báez.
- The Cubs might consider Anthony Rizzo as their permanent leadoff hitter next season. There aren’t any free agent options available, and acquiring someone like Whit Merrifield could cost what little prospect capital the team has left. Other potential acquisitions could include Dee Gordon or Mallex Smith. Neither gets on base enough to be worth a look, though.
- Free agent relief pitcher Pedro Strop would like to remain with the Cubs next season.
- Speaking of relievers, a normal spring training alone won’t right all that went awry for Craig Kimbrel. The closer knows he also needs to dive into some analytics. “I’m going to dig into [the data] a little bit more,” Kimbrel said.
- However the Cubs bullpen lines up next season, and I assume it will be Kimbrel, a free agent or two, and the vaunted Pitching Lab Fab Four that finished the season with the Cubs (Rowan Wick, Brad Wieck, Danny Hultzen, and Kyle Ryan), improvement in high-leverage situations is a must. Brandon Kintzler is someone Epstein may look to re-sign, but I do think Strop’s Chicago career has ended.
- Kintzler put together a fine bounceback season for the Cubs, ranking behind only Reds’ right-hander Jared Hughes among relievers with a 54.7% groundball rate.
- It’s a mid-season article, but Tommy Hottovy really did a decent job in his first year as pitching coach, especially with Kintzler, Yu Darvish, and the team’s younger relievers. That said, starters Jon Lester, Cole Hamels, and José Quintana really struggled in the second half. I hope Hottovy gets a chance to work with Kimbrel on his sequencing next season, and in possibly transitioning Tyler Chatwood back to a full-time starting role. Kyle Hendricks was his usual above-average self this year.
- I’m predicting Nico Hoerner will be Chicago’s starting second baseman next season, and organizational Minor League Player of the Year Brennen Davis will be named the team’s number one prospect. I’d also consider Davis a dark horse to get regular at-bats at some point next season if the Cubs can’t re-sign Nicholas Castellanos.
- Though the Cubs could consider trading one of Willson Contreras and Victor Caratini, keeping both would give Chicago the best tandem of backstops in baseball, and Caratini should be considered at least partially responsible for helping Darvish return to form.
- For those who have been wondering, as many of you are out-of-state followers of CI, Marquee Network business partner Sinclair Broadcast Group won’t be selling streaming subscriptions to fans. But that goes for in-market viewers, too. The network, if included in your basic cable package, would be subsidized by your local carrier, and any cost would be reflected in your monthly bill, making Marquee no different than NBC Sports Chicago.
From the Alex Cheremeteff Files
On Friday, October 2, 1908, Chicago baseball fans could head to Orchestra Hall and follow their respective teams on TWO Chicago Tribune electric scoreboards. White Sox fans would "witness" a perfect game!
— Alex Cheremeteff (@AlexCheremeteff) October 2, 2019
Updates On Nine
- Gerrit Cole is currently the best pitcher on the planet. He will probably be the highest-paid pitcher in baseball next season, too. “‘He was majestic [yesterday],'” Rays shortstop Willy Adames said. And that was a perfect way to put it: Cole, at his apex, is almost ethereal, a see-it-to-believe-it experience, Bigfoot riding a unicorn.”
- In case you missed yesterday’s NLDS tilt between the Yankees and Twins, and therefore did not hear it mentioned countless times, surprise Minnesota starter Randy Dobnak used to drive for Uber. He certainly pitched like a rideshare driver, giving four runs on six hits and two walks, without a strikeout, before being lifted with none out in the second inning.
- The Brewers are hoping Yasmani Grandal will be back next season after the team made back-to-back playoff appearances for just the second time in franchise history. There are few uphill battles challenging Milwaukee GM David Stearns. The biggest is a mutual option worth $16 million, meaning both team and player have to exercise said option, which, to the club’s detriment, will be slightly south of the qualifying offer for 2020 (the QO cannot be made to the slugging catcher but it at least serves as a reference point). Grandal was an All-Star for the Brewers in 2019 and established a single-season personal best with 28 home runs. With a 121 wRC+, he will easily be the best catcher available if he chooses free agency.
- Buck Showalter talked about the Mets’ managerial opening, suggesting that he would be interested in filling the seat that was vacated when GM Brodie Van Wagenen fired Mickey Callaway earlier this week. Showalter indicated that he will not openly campaign for the position.
- Aside from 2015 (123 wRC+) and 2016 (118 wRC+), Boston center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. has been a below average offensive player during his career, offsetting much of the value he provides with a little bit of power and his acrobatic defense. He didn’t hit for much average in 2019 (.225), and his on-base skills (.317) prevent him from batting anywhere near the top of the order. He enters his final year of arbitration having made $8.55 million this year, and because of that, Bradley may be a non-tender candidate for the Red Sox. As a free agent, Bradley could be looking at a career as a fourth outfielder if he wants to sign with a contending team. He’s be a decent get for the Cubs if they retain Castellanos and opt not to trade Kyle Schwarber or Jason Heyward, though I presume he’d prefer an opportunity to start somewhere.
- If you didn’t already know it, veteran Marwin González, who plays all over the diamond for the Twins, was once in the Cubs organization. The 30-year-old originally signed with Chicago in 2005 at the age of 16, but did not play a single game above class A until ’10. He earned a promotion to Triple-A Iowa in ’11, where he hit .274 with a .701 OPS with two home runs in 60 games. Following that season, González was selected by the Red Sox in the Rule 5 Draft, but immediately flipped to the Astros in exchange for Minor League pitcher Marco Antonio Duarte. While Duarte is yet to appear in a big league game, González carved out a role as a utility player for the Astros over seven seasons, including a breakout campaign in 2017 when he slashed .303/.377/.907. This past winter, González signed a two-year, $21 million contract to play in Minnesota.
- Cardinals reliever Ryan Helsley, pride of Tahlequah, Okla., and member of the Cherokee Nation, is more than a little irked with the ridiculous tomahawk chop performed by Braves fans in Atlanta. “The Braves have taken steps to take out the tomahawk chop,” commissioner Rob Manfred told The Washington Post this past February. “I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that.” For the record, Atlanta’s social media marketing slogan this season is #ChopOn, and the Braves occasionally leave foam tomahawks on stadium seats for its fans.
- For three straight seasons from 2016-18, A’s outfielder Khris Davis batted exactly .247 while hitting a total of 133 taters with 435 RBI. This season, Davis hit a pedestrian .227, finishing with an OPS+ of 82, hardly the output of a slugger who won the AL home run title in 2018 with 48 bombs. Manager Bob Melvin and executive VP Billy Beane both believe Davis will bounce back next season.
- Stephen Strasburg lowered his career postseason ERA to 0.64 over five appearances with an outstanding performance against the Dodgers on Friday. That came on the heels of a three scoreless innings in Washington’s Wild Card win against the Brewers. After the playoffs are over, Strasburg will have three days to inform the Nationals whether he will opt out of the guaranteed four years and $100 million remaining on his current contract, which includes a balloon payment of sorts in 2023, when the right-hander will earn $45 million if he stays in D.C.
I’ll be back next Sunday and look forward to seeing you all then. I believe I named every current Cubs player in this article except three, all of whom I hope will not be on next season’s roster.
Former Marlins president David Samson said he once received advice from White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, indicating that the best thing for the Marlins would be to finish second every season. White Sox fans immediately lost their shit, though Reinsdorf refuted the statement. It’s an oddly-timed story considering that this month represents the 100-year anniversary of the 1919 Black Sox scandal.
White Sox chairman: 'No recollection' advising former Marlins exec to finish second
(Via Sun-Times) https://t.co/f5rCYHq9Bz
— Daryl Van Schouwen (@CST_soxvan) October 5, 2019
Apropos of Nothing
Still reading? Thank you.
They Said It
- “Next year is a priority. We have to balance it with the future, and probably that’s more important now than it was a year ago because we’re now two years away from a lot of our best players reaching the end of their period of club control.” – Theo Epstein
- “By no means has the struggle that I had this year deterred me or given me any kind of feeling like, ‘I can’t do it,’ or anything like that. I know I can still come out here and be successful and do my job. I’m looking forward to digging into it a little bit more and doing what I can to get better.” – Craig Kimbrel
Sunday Walk Up Song
If I Should Fall from Grace With God by The Pogues. You’re all invited to take a shot of imported Irish Whiskey with me when I return. Whiskey, as you all know, washes away all of our sins. Grace and love ’til then.