The Rundown: Arietta Could Be Fifth Starter Option, Cubs Set to Transition to Hoyer, Dodgers Issue Mass COVID-19 Layoffs

One of the first items on new president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer’s agenda will be to find a veteran fifth starter. Though the Cubs have not shut the door on Jon Lester‘s potential return, the Cubs rotation goes just four deep if you include Adbert Alzolay. If Hoyer is forced to buy pitching, he’ll have very limited funds to work with. Welcome to the big chair, Jed.

Hoyer obviously has some big shoes to fill, too. The Cubs won 705 games in nine seasons with Theo Epstein running the organization, including that elusive World Series in 2016. Of course, the GM was nearly as instrumental in putting together that team.

Tom Ricketts didn’t waste any time in identifying some of the challenges Hoyer will face this year and in the near term.

“I think Jed knows that these are going to be interesting and uniquely challenging years,” Ricketts said. “There’s a lot of variables. But with respect to that situation, I think Jed’s on top of it. I think he’s extremely well qualified and ready to go. And we’ll just work through it together.”

It would be nice if Hoyer can somehow uncover the next Jake Arrieta, though the original just happens to be available this winter and might even be within the budgetary limitations to build the 2021 roster. The soon-to-be 35-year-old is coming off of a down year, has battled through some injuries, and is nowhere near the pitcher he was back in 2015 and ’16. But he could be a stabilizing force at the back end of the rotation, maybe more so than Lester.

There are other cheap options in free agency, too, though none of them will give you the warm fuzzies that Lester or Arrieta will. Anthony Desclafani, Alex Wood, Corey Kluber, and Mike Leake are good examples, and Chris Archer has also been named as someone the team may pursue. Mike Minor may be someone to keep an eye on as well.

Beyond a fifth starter, Hoyer will need to amass rotational depth in case of injuries or poor performance. Some potential non-tender candidates who might interest the Cubs include Jon Gray of the Rockies, Robert Gsellman of the Mets, and Reynaldo López of the White Sox.

Cubs News & Notes

Apropos of Nothing

From 1904-67, Chicago had one of the more preeminent amusement parks in the country just outside the Lakeview area, bordering the Chicago River from Western to Belmont. How fun would it be to spend a Saturday at Wrigley Field in the 1950’s, watching Ernie Banks hit a couple of home runs, and then tooling over to Riverview Park to ride the water slides or the Bobs?

Odds & Sods

Greg Maddux was destined to be a 300-game winner and Hall of Famer.

Thursday Stove

Mets second baseman Robinson Canó will miss the 2021 baseball season after testing positive for a synthetic steroid. This was his second PED violation.

The Mets could be frontrunners to sign outfielder George Springer and starting pitcher Charlie Morton in free agency.

The Dodgers have issued mass layoffs across the organization due to COVID-19.

Los Angeles outfielder Cody Bellinger is going to have surgery on his dislocated shoulder. He dislocated it celebrating a World Series home run.

The Astros are reportedly targeting Red Sox free agent center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. this winter.

The Brewers could be looking to move closer Josh Hader and GM David Stearns will likely gauge interest in the reliever among other teams.

Pete Rose said yesterday that betting on baseball is the only “mistake he’s made” in his life.

Former A’s first-round draft choice Kyler Murray misses baseball and would be open to playing both sports professionally. Murray is the starting QB for the Arizona Cardinals.

The Los Angeles Angels have hired Perry Minasian to be their new GM.

Former Cubs, Yankees, and Cardinals reliever Lindy McDaniel has died of complications caused by COVID-19. The retired all-star was 84.

Sliding Into Home

It’s wonderful to be back after almost two weeks. Does this job come with paid time off?

Of note, I carried a 100+ degree fever for 10 straight days but am now going on 72 hours with a normal body temperature. What a relief. I also lost well over 20 pounds, dropping all the way down to 227 as of this morning. Please wear a mask.

Extra Innings

Jackie Robinson wasn’t the most talented Black ballplayer of his generation, but he was the man Branch Rickey deemed most capable of handling the challenges of being first. Imagine how baseball history might be rewritten had no color barrier existed.

They Said It

  • “The moments are so precious and such obvious lifetime memories that you almost don’t want to access them too often; yet, they are impossible not to watch — and make your heart skip a few beats — every time they pop on a screen. Our wildcard coming out party in Pittsburgh. Homer after homer to finally slay the Cardinals. A jaw-dropping comeback in San Francisco. A slam and a near perfect game to fell the Dodgers. The atmosphere around Wrigley before Game Three of the World Series — the first played here since 1945 — somehow at once a civic celebration and as tense and edgy as a city can feel. Our scouts and development people bursting with pride while walking around the track. Holding your breath for the entire second half of Game Five and a raucous exhale afterwards. The Game Six breakout. The highs and lows, and rain, and highs again, of Game Seven, which we all endured together, our stomachs clenched and our hearts beating with the fans around us and the generations before us. A little ground ball, a smile from KB, a slip, the ball in Rizz’s glove, and, finally, a collective catharsis and celebration that forever changed the Cubs experience. I am so grateful to you and the fans for everything you have given to this organization and for making this experience so meaningful.” – Theo Epstein
  • “Every time a Cubs fan bumps into me at a bar, I’m buying from here forward, until Jed wins a World Series. Then, it’s on him.” – Epstein

Thursday Walk Up Song

Fever by the Black Keys – Well, you know.

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