Chicago Cubs 2019 Season

#76
Hypothetically, if the Cubs sign zero noteworthy position players for next year, how confident is everyone that they will win the division? I still think a backup catcher might be the most important piece, obviously would still like Harper or Machado (even after the whole hustle deal, but I definitely value Harper more), but I think some combination of Schwarber, Happ, Almora, Heyward, and Zobrist is a top 10 outfield.

The total (minus La Stella) silence by the front office is interesting. I really want to believe they are working on something big, but I think it's equally likely they really think the makeup of the current team is fine, at least for the start of the season (again, I dont see us getting out of the offseason without at least some catcher signing).
Cardinals project just a game behind them as it stands now according to Fangraphs (87 to 88 wins). Cardinals aren't done adding, but it's not like the Cubs are going to stand pat. But they should be pretty close when it comes down to the start of the season though.
 
#77
near Ogden & Rt 83
Cardinals project just a game behind them as it stands now according to Fangraphs (87 to 88 wins). Cardinals aren't done adding, but it's not like the Cubs are going to stand pat. But they should be pretty close when it comes down to the start of the season though.
It should be a very competitive year, but I give these EARLY projections zero weight in my feelings.

Should the Cards be better? yes, but so much can occur in the next 6 months to influence that
Should the Cubs be better ? yea, I think so. Many guys had below average years, and just doing nothing I think they will be better. buy again, its way too early
 
#80
There's your Tommy La Stella replacement.
But my question is, is he an upgrade, equal to, or a downgrade from La Stella? He's another super utility guy, which is useful, and his numbers last year were pretty darn good for what his role needs to be (OPS+ of 106, twice as many PA's as La Stella, who had an OPS+ of 78). Can he keep it up, especially in what will be a diminished role?

No matter what he's cheap, and more bench bats and versatile guys never hurts.
 
#81
But my question is, is he an upgrade, equal to, or a downgrade from La Stella? He's another super utility guy, which is useful, and his numbers last year were pretty darn good for what his role needs to be (OPS+ of 106, twice as many PA's as La Stella, who had an OPS+ of 78). Can he keep it up, especially in what will be a diminished role?

No matter what he's cheap, and more bench bats and versatile guys never hurts.
Descalso hit three more home time last year than La Stella has in his entire career. Descalso is also a better infielder at every infield spot than La Stella. (Low bar, I know.)

Improving the last player on your bench isn’t a huge improvement, but it is an improvement.
 
#83
near Ogden & Rt 83
tifwiw, but there sure is a lot of rumors, speculation, inuendo, smart talk & stupid talk, and everything in between, that Harper to the Cubs is looking more and more likely .

Heyward to the Giants needs to occur first.
If that does in fact go down, its just about a sure thing we get Harper
 
#84
I could be up a creek but my gut says the Ricketts can't be too happy about the return on investment they received from last year's free agent spending spree. There may not be another wad to blow this off-season.
 
#85
tifwiw, but there sure is a lot of rumors, speculation, inuendo, smart talk & stupid talk, and everything in between, that Harper to the Cubs is looking more and more likely .

Heyward to the Giants needs to occur first.
If that does in fact go down, its just about a sure thing we get Harper
Why would the Giants do that to themselves, if they aren't getting another good looking piece as well, while sending essentially nothing back? I know I'm giving little credit to Heyward, but that's an albatross of a contract.

I could be up a creek but my gut says the Ricketts can't be too happy about the return on investment they received from last year's free agent spending spree. There may not be another wad to blow this off-season.
Maybe I'm falling into sunk cost bias, but if you're trying to spend money to win a ship, then why would previous signings deter a team that couldn't get it done before? I guess you can hope for players to improve, positive regression to their mean, or get healthy, and I think the Cubs still have one of the top 5 rosters in the MLB, but I also think you try and give yourself the best shot, and the Ricketts can still afford to pay for Harper, though I will say I think Heyward or some other relatively large contract(s) would absolutely need to be moved first. The timing of that would be extremely interesting to follow, I agree I don't think they open their checkbook until some of the cap is cleared, but the obviousness of what they were doing would be interesting to see.
 
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#86
tifwiw, but there sure is a lot of rumors, speculation, inuendo, smart talk & stupid talk, and everything in between, that Harper to the Cubs is looking more and more likely .

Heyward to the Giants needs to occur first.
If that does in fact go down, its just about a sure thing we get Harper
There's really no feasible way to move Heyward that actually cuts payroll, and definitely not to the Giants. The only way to move a contract like his without having to eat money (which is what the Cubs are trying to do) is to staple a prospect to him and not get much in return. The Cubs don't really have any sought after prospects, so that means you'd have to package Schwarber or Happ, but even those names have lost their shine and have less control than an actual prospect.

Harper -> Cubs just isn't happening, barring ownership just blowing past the luxury tax. Which is not probable, but possible.
 
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#88
Houston, Texas
Harper -> Cubs just isn't happening, barring ownership just blowing past the luxury tax. Which is not probable, but possible.
Can't remember where I saw it, but the article I read predicted the Cardinals will sign Harper. I never thought the Cubs were serious players for Harper due to Heyward. I actually think it might be the White Sox who sign Harper. We will see soon enough!
 
#89
There's really no feasible way to move Heyward that actually cuts payroll, and definitely not to the Giants.
Sure there is. Heyward’s not a bad player. He’s an overpriced player. There’s a difference. If he were to hit the open market now, he’d make $10-$12M a year. So the Cubs just need to absorb some other team’s contracts that would effectively reduce Heyward’s cost from the $21M per year he’s signed at.

The Giants are commonly associated with the Cubs and Heyward because they need an upgrade in the outfield and they have some bad contracts to get rid of - Melancon, Samardjiza and Cueto to name three.

I could see something like a three team trade where Happ or Schwarber goes to team X, Heyward and prospects from team X go to the Giants, and Melancon goes to the Cubs.

The Cubs would only do that if they thought they were going to sign Harper.
 
#90
Sure there is. Heyward’s not a bad player. He’s an overpriced player. There’s a difference. If he were to hit the open market now, he’d make $10-$12M a year. So the Cubs just need to absorb some other team’s contracts that would effectively reduce Heyward’s cost from the $21M per year he’s signed at.

The Giants are commonly associated with the Cubs and Heyward because they need an upgrade in the outfield and they have some bad contracts to get rid of - Melancon, Samardjiza and Cueto to name three.

I could see something like a three team trade where Happ or Schwarber goes to team X, Heyward and prospects from team X go to the Giants, and Melancon goes to the Cubs.

The Cubs would only do that if they thought they were going to sign Harper.
That trade has the Giants taking on Heyward's $106MM and only getting rid of Melancon's $28MM. So they're net future commitments up $78MM at a time where they should be shedding bad contracts and rebuilding. They get prospects too, but the level of prospects that Schwarber is getting at this point isn't much. He's basically at 26 year old Jose Martinez with a better pedigree but worse MLB performance. Happ is just a guy, he's not netting much of anything.
 
#91
near Ogden & Rt 83
I really have no idea if the Cubs can get this done. But, all things equal, or close to equal, I think Harper wants to come here more than anywhere else, for a variety of reasons.

I do know this: when people start saying things are close to impossible due to this or that , it usually means its going to happen.
 
#92
That trade has the Giants taking on Heyward's $106MM and only getting rid of Melancon's $28MM. So they're net future commitments up $78MM at a time where they should be shedding bad contracts and rebuilding. They get prospects too, but the level of prospects that Schwarber is getting at this point isn't much. He's basically at 26 year old Jose Martinez with a better pedigree but worse MLB performance. Happ is just a guy, he's not netting much of anything.
$78M over 5 years isn’t all that far from Heyward’s likely current market value of $50-60M and the difference can easily be made up with the Cubs taking on some other dead weight salary from the Giants or a third team in the trade, or finding more talent going to the Giants, or simply dishing out some cash.

There have been some really bad contracts moved recently. Robinson Cano just a couple months ago as a prime example. Bad contracts can be moved and Heyward’s is hardly the worst contract in baseball.
 
#93
A Legend in My Own Mind
Montgomery, IL
They get prospects too, but the level of prospects that Schwarber is getting at this point isn't much. He's basically at 26 year old Jose Martinez with a better pedigree but worse MLB performance.
Your anti-Cubs bias is showing through here. Schwarber was a 3.2 WAR player last year which, in comparison, was only 0.3 less than Bryce Harper. To think that Schwarber is not attracting heavy interest is just wrong. Jose Martinez has never been a 3+ WAR player.
 
#94
Your anti-Cubs bias is showing through here. Schwarber was a 3.2 WAR player last year which, in comparison, was only 0.3 less than Bryce Harper. To think that Schwarber is not attracting heavy interest is just wrong. Jose Martinez has never been a 3+ WAR player.
I will never understand the distaste fans, Cub and non-Cub alike, have for Schwarber.

The common complaints of subpar defense and excessive strikeouts are unfounded for the former and worth his production at the plate for the latter.
 
#95
Your anti-Cubs bias is showing through here. Schwarber was a 3.2 WAR player last year which, in comparison, was only 0.3 less than Bryce Harper. To think that Schwarber is not attracting heavy interest is just wrong. Jose Martinez has never been a 3+ WAR player.
Due to small sample size defense numbers, yes, Schwarber was a 3.2 fWAR player last year. Both he and Martinez project to be just about as valuable with the bat in 2019. I believe they are basically the same in the OF, scratch at best, and around -5 runs at worst (Martinez projects worse due to 1b innings, where he's probably a -10 defender). Schwarber is obviously much more valuable in a trade, because he's 26 and has a higher ceiling. Martinez has been a better hitter than Schwarber in their major league careers, though.

And I didn't say he wasn't a trade asset. It's just that he's not netting some teams top prospect on his own, and combined with Heyward he probably makes Heyward's contract neutral to a slight surplus. Still doesn't make a Giants trade make sense, they have no reason to add future payroll in their situation. They're a 76 win team, getting older and worse.
 
#96
I will never understand the distaste fans, Cub and non-Cub alike, have for Schwarber.

The common complaints of subpar defense and excessive strikeouts are unfounded for the former and worth his production at the plate for the latter.
He's a three true outcomes player, and that will forever bother people. You can't have 8 of those guys in your lineup, but having a few is very nice. Schwarber was IBB 20 times last year, had an OPS+ of 115, and greatly improved his defense. Opposing teams had at least moderate fear for him last year. He'll be 26 this year, no reason to think he can't make at least marginal improvements at the plate.

He might be best suited for platoon work, but he's a threat at the plate and a non-liability in the field now. I agree that people need to stop crapping on him, this isn't the same baseball that was played a few decades ago, or honestly even sooner. He's a plus player in this era.
 
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#97
Due to small sample size defense numbers, yes, Schwarber was a 3.2 fWAR player last year. Both he and Martinez project to be just about as valuable with the bat in 2019. I believe they are basically the same in the OF, scratch at best, and around -5 runs at worst (Martinez projects worse due to 1b innings, where he's probably a -10 defender). Schwarber is obviously much more valuable in a trade, because he's 26 and has a higher ceiling. Martinez has been a better hitter than Schwarber in their major league careers, though.

And I didn't say he wasn't a trade asset. It's just that he's not netting some teams top prospect on his own, and combined with Heyward he probably makes Heyward's contract neutral to a slight surplus. Still doesn't make a Giants trade make sense, they have no reason to add future payroll in their situation. They're a 76 win team, getting older and worse.
EDIT: Also, and I think almost more importantly, trading Schwarber & Heyward to sign Harper doesn't really make the 2019 (and subsequent teams) that much better. That's a projected 5 wins from Schwarber and Heyward for a projected 5 wins in Harper. And more innings for Almora & Happ, who might just not be that good, and more OF innings for Zobrist, who is definitely a net negative out there.
 
#98
A Legend in My Own Mind
Montgomery, IL
Due to small sample size defense numbers, yes, Schwarber was a 3.2 fWAR player last year.
Schwarber played 943.2 innings in the OF last year. That is in no way a "small sample size". In those games he committed one error and had 11 OF assists, one shy of the MLB leaders at 12. Not only is he not a defensive liability, he was actually above average last year.
 
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#99
Schwarber played 943.2 innings in the OF last year. That is in no way a "small sample size". In those games he committed one error and had 11 OF assists, one shy of the MLB leaders at 12. Not only is he not a defensive liability, he was actually above average last year.
Defensive statistics take around 3 years to stabilize. The rule of thumb for 1 year stats (Schwarber had 4 defensive runs saved last year including a positional adjustment) is to regress at least half towards 0. So yes, like I said before, he had a good small sample last year. The OF assists is a big part of that, he has a good arm so that is a talent, but he likely got an inordinate amount of attempts last year which will even out over the 3 year sample size. Errors are pointless, especially for a guy like Schwarber who has limited range. Also, he's particularly suited for playing half his games in Wrigley, small LF and balls over your head turn into ivy doubles a lot more than other parks

Fangraphs has him pegged as a -2 run fielder in the OF next year, and that's based on the whole 2000 inning sample and not just last years 943. There may have been an actual talent jump last year (he did slim down), but like I said, he's probably somewhere between a scratch, 0 run defender in LF and -5 runs.
 
Defensive statistics take around 3 years to stabilize. The rule of thumb for 1 year stats (Schwarber had 4 defensive runs saved last year including a positional adjustment) is to regress at least half towards 0. So yes, like I said before, he had a good small sample last year. The OF assists is a big part of that, he has a good arm so that is a talent, but he likely got an inordinate amount of attempts last year which will even out over the 3 year sample size. Errors are pointless, especially for a guy like Schwarber who has limited range. Also, he's particularly suited for playing half his games in Wrigley, small LF and balls over your head turn into ivy doubles a lot more than other parks

Fangraphs has him pegged as a -2 run fielder in the OF next year, and that's based on the whole 2000 inning sample and not just last years 943. There may have been an actual talent jump last year (he did slim down), but like I said, he's probably somewhere between a scratch, 0 run defender in LF and -5 runs.
Hate to fan the flames (mostly cause I partially agree with what you've said), but you also need to factor in last year being his second full time OF year. He was pegged as a catcher most of his career, even when he did play left early on (and in fact I think even in 2017 they still had plans to put in behind the plate again after he was fully healthy, then Willson emerged and it was deemed necessary.../tangent). Not saying learning how to play the OF is some sort of giant leap, but it makes sense to weight what his production in the field was like last year, more than year(s) past. I will say WRT the OF assist numbers, that's certainly some scouting reports giving guys green lights to run on him. That number has to decrease, and therefore his fielding value will (by some metrics) too. He's learning to take more efficient routes and play balls generally better.