Cubs fans have historically had a higher level of gullibility than followers of other franchises, but maybe we need some type of intervention. We believed Jed Hoyer when he said he would intelligently attack the market to build a competitive roster for next season. Heck, some of us may have believed Tom Ricketts when he said that Hoyer will have the necessary funds to build the organization’s next championship team.
If you re-read that paragraph, you have to sheepishly admit you’ve been guilty of being more faithful than common sense dictates. But even if you remained a Doubting Thomas through all of the offseason propaganda put forth by Hoyer and Ricketts, you probably counted on a future where waves of prospects would start arriving by the bushel.
First, let’s recap Phase I of Hoyer’s intelligent spending platform.
- Claimed Wade Miley off of waivers from the Reds and immediately exercised his ’22 option, giving the rotation a back-end boost and veteran presence. Little did we know that by the eve of the league’s first work stoppage in nearly three decades that Miley would be penciled in as the team’s No. 2 starter.
- Traded for 4th outfielder Harold Ramírez, who profiles as a platoon option at best.
- Signed Locke St. John to a minor league contract, though the southpaw reliever does come armed with one of the better names in the history of major league baseball. He sounds like he could have an offseason career on Baywatch.
- Signed catcher Yan Gomes to a two-year, $13 million deal that garnered a very cryptic tweet from Willson Contreras. Maybe the veteran backstop thinks he’s getting traded, or maybe he’s planning on Christmas shopping in Manhattan.
- Bought a lottery ticket in outfielder Clint Frazier, who could spend the season in Iowa or put Ramírez on the waiver wire. In a very strange coincidence, both outfielders were born on the same day during baseball’s last lockout (September 6, 1994).
None of those changes screams NL Central championship, though it is interesting to note that three of the players mentioned above have previous ties to the Cleveland organization. The Cardinals improved their team more just by adding Steven Matz, cutting Matt Carpenter and Carlos Martínez, and firing Mike Shildt.
At least we still had the future to dream on, at least until Kyle Glaser took a big dump on Chicago’s farm system during Baseball America’s prospects chat the other day. The following quotes come from that hour-long discussion.
- “I would not say the Cubs are ‘very’ deep with prospects that are expected to contribute. Quite the opposite, actually. Only one of their Top 20 prospects has played even a day in Triple-A [Brennen Davis]. This is a system filled with guys who have a long way to go. 40-man issues aren’t really a consideration here.”
- “At this exact moment, the Cubs would probably be in the 20-25 range [in organizational rankings]. Again, that could change in the next few months based both on what they do and what other teams around them do this offseason.”
Glaser further trashed Anderson Espinoza, Christopher Morel, and Ed Howard, among others. Aside from naming Davis as the team’s No. 1 prospect, the minor league analyst had nice things to say about just a handful of players: Cristian Hernandez, Owen Caissie, James Triantos, DJ Herz, Jordan Wicks, and Caleb Kilian, though all come with ceiling limitations and downside caveats.
The Cubs have just one blue-chip prospect and that’s Davis. Hoyer and Hawkins basically whiffed in free agency and did nothing to improve the rotation, which was their stated goal this winter. David Ross has to be steaming just a bit at this point, if not feeling completely let down by his bosses. Removing the blinders, it stands to reason that the Cubs are a lot further away from competitive baseball than most of us hoped.
Cubs News & Notes
- At best, you can give Hoyer and Hawkins credit for making some solid moves around the margins.
- In almost damning fashion, it appears Yankees fans are happy the organization has moved on from Frazier. Yikes.
- Aaron Boone believes Frazier can still be a productive outfielder.
- The outfielder with the fiery red locks will have a base salary of $1.5 million, with $1 million more of potential incentives available, per MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.
- Frazier reminds me a lot of Jeff Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
- Gomes provides stability as Chicago’s backup catcher and will undoubtedly give Contreras reps in the outfield and at designated hitter. Gomes can also play first base when needed.
- Gomes at least provides insurance as a capable starter if the Cubs can’t extend Contreras and are forced to trade him.
- Remember, the front office has not engaged Contreras in any extension talks thus far.
- The Cubs announced they’ve tendered 2022 contracts to Contreras and outfielder Ian Happ, both of whom are eligible for arbitration this winter.
- Jason Adam and Michael Hermosillo were non-tendered and are now free agents.
From the Front Office
“Really for us right now, it’s business as usual. Obviously, we are optimistic a [new CBA] deal will get done. But that is out of our control, and it really hasn’t impacted things in discussions. Of course, you have to have a contingency plan and prepare for what may happen in the future. But the preparation and talks so far haven’t changed very much.” – Hawkins
Odds & Sods
The Cubs ripped out the sod in Wrigley Field. The Friendly Confines will be an unsightly dirt bowl as well as a stark reminder of a barren financial winter until spring arrives.
Welcome to the end of baseball…for a while, at least.
MLB players and owners understand that any work stoppage is part and parcel of the business of baseball.
Major League Baseball officials and a handful of team owners met with players and players union officials Monday and Tuesday at the Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas. The economic structure of the game remains the primary focus of negotiations.
The lockout could last longer than both sides will admit and fans should circle February 1 on their calendars. Any work stoppage that bleeds into February may result in delays to the start of spring training and Opening Day.
Boston is expected to be very active in the non-tender free-agent market before tonight’s scheduled lockout.
Bryce Harper is really pushing Phillies GM Dave Dombrowski to sign Bryant, and the Cubs and Mets are said to be still in the mix too, per Jim Bowden of MLB Radio.
Take Me Out to the Ball Game
The Savannah Bananas have hired former major league outfielder Eric Byrnes to manage their 2022 six-city barnstorming tour. The Bananas will tour with the Kansas City Monarchs before finishing with a three-game world tour championship set in Kansas City.
Savannah’s “about us” page would make the late great Bill Veeck jealous.
You have to admit the last week has been as about as exciting as the offseason gets despite the fact the Cubs did little to improve their team.
The hot stove has been a ton of fun.
Should baseball always have a shorter window for free agency? https://t.co/T7CCPlDWYk
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) December 1, 2021
They Said It
- “Fortunately for [Frazier], his story is not complete from a baseball standpoint. The bottom line for Clint is he’s a guy with a lot of ability and it’s just a matter of, he’s dealt with some injuries and different things that kept him off the field at times. But I feel if he gets the right opportunity and [stays healthy], he still has a really good opportunity to write a really good career story.” – Boone
Wednesday Walk-Up Song
Free Four by Pink Floyd – I’m cynical, but that’s what I’m calling Hoyer’s Phase I major league additions, a far cry from the core four.