Chicago Cubs 2019 Season

near Ogden & Rt 83
Im too busy to look it up, and if I said really well, which I believe was the case in 2016 and 2017, someone would point out some anomaly from last year. I recall losing a few 3-4 games series' last year with the Reds & Brewers , and likely a couple with the Cards, but all in all, a big reason for us doing so well the last 3-4 years is winning the season series with just about everyone in the Central
 
Cubs' record against NL Central:

2015: 46-30 (.605)
2016: 50-25 (.667)
2017: 46-30 (.605)
2018: 41-36 (.532)

In this time frame, the Cubs have had winning records against every team except the '15 Cardinals (8-11) and '18 Cardinals (9-10).
 
near Ogden & Rt 83
pretty much how I remembered it in my head. I knew we did really well in '16, and slipped a little last year. But when you play .600 ball in your division, it goes a long way to getting 1/2 the wins you need for the year AND it keeps the other teams from challenging you, come September, for the lead.
 
So, assuming the Cubs don't go contrary to everything they and the press have been saying all winter and do a last minute effort to get Harper, the Cubs are looking at payroll commitments of about $175M going into 2020, using BR's arbitration calculations and assuming they pick up Rizzo's and Quintana's options but don't pick up Morrow's ($12M - there's pretty much no way they're picking this up - they can get what he gives for a lost less money) or Brach's ($5M - could pick it up if he proves the first half of 2018 was a fluke). That would put them approximately $34M below the luxury tax. Along with probably losing Morrow and Brach, they are losing Cole Hamels, Ben Zobrist, Strop, Cishek and a couple other bullpen spare parts to free agency. So they'll be looking for a middle infielder/outfielder, starting pitching and a bunch of bullpen help.

My question is... what are they going to spend the money on? I suppose that assumes they are actually going to spend back up towards the cap again and aren't going to sink back towards the middle of the pack in payroll. It would be stupid for them to do that, considering the relative youth of the core of the team and the fact that they should still be well within their championship window, but frankly not much this team has done this winter has made much sense to me.

So, assuming that they are going to spend the money, the big position player in free agency will be Xander Bogaerts. He'll be 27, a middle infielder who's OPS'ed about .800 over the last four seasons, with a WAR of 3.5-4.5 a year depending on which formula you like. He won't be getting Machado/Harper money, but $20-$25M a year over 7 or 8 years seems like a pretty good guess assuming he has a typical year in 2019. Frankly, I'd be shocked if the Red Sox let him get away, and there's already been extension talk. After Bogaerts, pickings among position players is pretty slim. Ozuna and Puig are two starting outfield options who won't command as much money as Bogaerts. And there are plenty of 4th outfield/platoon-types like Lonnie Chisenhall that can be had for a song.

Starting pitchers Madison Bumgarner (30) and Chris Sale (31) will both be free agents. Both have been unimpeachable when healthy. But that's the issue with pitchers, right? On paper, they should be worth more than Darvish's 6 year, $127M contract, but I think a very good argument can be made that the Cubs overpaid for that. Kershaw, who's the same age as Mad Bum and Sale and even better, just signed a 3 year, $93M extension. So, maybe Sale and Mad Bum are looking in the 5 year, $125-$130M range. Bumgarner might be more attractive because he's a pretty good candidate for a mid-season trade and would thus not have any draft penalties attached to signing him. Rick Porcello (31) would be another, cheaper option who could eat some quality innings. Or maybe this is the year Montgomery sticks in the rotation, or Chatwood figures out his command, or Alzolay or Mills or Steele or Underwood surprise and have a great rookie year, or Graveman comes back from TJS and looks phenomenal, and the Cubs don't need to sign a free agent starter...

Dellin Betances is about the only sexy name among the bullpen free agents who'll get much more than pocket change for a contract. (How much do you trust Jeremy Jeffress?) He'll be 32 and has been a horse for the Yankees for the last 5 years. He's an NYC native, and like Bogaerts, I'd not be shocked at all if he never reaches free agency. Frankly, if the Cubs were going to spend big on the bullpen in free agency, this was the year to do it, not next year. The Cubs know this and Theo and co have been trolling all year for cheap bullpen depth. You can buy a decent bullpen from scratch. The only question will they be looking to sign 6 guys or 3? Will anyone of the remaining pitchers besides Carl Edwards step up and show some value.

Of course, they could be spending that money on extensions of their current young players. Hendricks, Baez, Contreras, and Schwarber would all be candidates. And Bryant, too, but we all know that's not happening. (Boras.) A recent report came out that they were not currently talking extension with Baez and Hendricks. I particularly surprised about Hendricks, because if Aaron Nola's recent extension is any indication of the market, he could probably be had for pretty cheap, and Hendricks is not the type of pitcher who should worry you about arm injuries or deteriorating due to age.

There's also the possibility of trading for a relatively big contract, but who? I don't really see a big contract that the Cubs would want to take on, on a team that would be willing to part with that player.
 
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EDIT: Never mind! Stupid joke twitter account. I'm too gullible sometimes.

Rumors starting to seep out that Heyward is on his way to San Francisco...

Buckle up. This ride could get bumpy...
 
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The Cubs 7th starting pitcher (Chatwood), two relievers that probably won't make the team out of spring training (Kintzler and Duensing), last position player off the bench (Descalso), and shortstop currently suspended for domestic violence (Russell)- combined, they make more money than the AAV Harper just signed on for in Philly.

Theo really hasn't had a very good 12-18 months.

BTW, I was 100% in favor of the Chatwood signing even though it quickly became apparent that Theo over-bid and could have had a very similar pitcher had he waited further into the offseason. I think it's safe to say, Theo and co. didn't understand the new market reality last offseason and are paying the price for it this offseason.
 
Likes: IanKEvans2
The Cubs 7th starting pitcher (Chatwood), two relievers that probably won't make the team out of spring training (Kintzler and Duensing), last position player off the bench (Descalso), and shortstop currently suspended for domestic violence (Russell)- combined, they make more money than the AAV Harper just signed on for in Philly.

Theo really hasn't had a very good 12-18 months.

BTW, I was 100% in favor of the Chatwood signing even though it quickly became apparent that Theo over-bid and could have had a very similar pitcher had he waited further into the offseason. I think it's safe to say, Theo and co. didn't understand the new market reality last offseason and are paying the price for it this offseason.
I don't like the quiet offseason, and Chatwood's away splits when he was in Colorado were salivatingly good (IIRC sub 3). It was a decent deal, and Chatwood showed plenty of promise. No reason to believe he can't return to at least a 4/5 role that he was signed to take over.

But honestly, this team is built just fine. We might need a left side infielder and a late game reliever come deadline time, but so long as starting pitching doesn't regress (worried about Lester and Hamels), this team has a great shot going deep this offseason. The Heyward/Darvish signings will be the albatrosses of the Theo administration, at least or the next half decade or so. If they can provide at least moderately positive results, I think the core talent can take this team deep for a while.
 
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Darvish’s contract won’t be an albatross unless you have some reason to think he’ll never ever be healthy. Last year is a sunk cost, but he should carry his weight going forward.

Jason Heyward... yeah. I still think he’s a good enough player that you could ship him out to a team that desperately needs an outfielder and has a slightly less bad contract to send back to the Cubs. But for the Cubs to do that, they’d need a reason to want to clear that payroll space, and if they’re not signing a free agent like Harper, there’s no reason to dump Heyward just to dump him.
 
Darvish’s contract won’t be an albatross unless you have some reason to think he’ll never ever be healthy. Last year is a sunk cost, but he should carry his weight going forward.
Darvish's start to last season was anything but promising. Now you can say maybe that was a precursor to the injury, or that sample size was too small (which is absolutely true), but I think there's plenty to be concerned about. Spring training reports are nice to hear, but his first box score looked like something straight out of Chatwood's history book--not something to strive for. He's trended downward for a few years now and the injury last year cant possibly help. Concern for his overall performance is real.

Anyways, long season ahead. Nothing is set in stone yet, but these next 5 years are going to be tough to maneuver if Yu and Jason both dont perform a decent amount above replacement level. 40m+ is a hard pill to swallow for any team.
 
This offseason really sucked, but I am starting to get hyped for this team. They've looked great so far in Arizona.
It's almost like they didn't need to do anything dramatic because their team has been consistently great for four seasons.

They could still use a veteran catcher and a bullpen arm though.
 
It's almost like they didn't need to do anything dramatic because their team has been consistently great for four seasons.

They could still use a veteran catcher and a bullpen arm though.
Can't argue with that. Though pricey, Alex Avila was a season saving addition the year Contreras missed so much time. Would be really nice to have that kind of insurance again.

Was also hoping for an addition that could truly anchor the bullpen. The only guy I could feel confident about in a big game late inning scenario is Strop. Everyone else will probably be solid, but if we are fortunate to get into the playoffs, the bullpen will probably be what keeps us from going too far.
 
A Legend in My Own Mind
Montgomery, IL
ICYMI - Yu was stellar in his last outing. He struck out 3 in 2 no-hit innings and touched 96 on the gun. He said after the game that he thinks his stuff is the best of any time in his career. Now, that my be "player speak" but I'm definitely encouraged.
 
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Chatwood with another 3 inning, no walk outing! (I know it's spring training, but still.)
There's no particular reason to think that Chatwood's 8 BB/9 from last year, which was twice his career rate was permanent. He's a much better pitcher than what he showed last year.

There's similarly no reason to think that Darvish is permanently injured.
Or that the .500 OPS Almora put up over the second half of the season is the real Almora.
Or that Bryant's shoulder is permanently screwed up and he'll never hit for power again.

I could go on. The amount of fluky crap that happened last year was pretty amazing. If everyone regresses back to their career averages, both positively and negatively, the Cubs will be better in 2019 than they were in 2018.