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scott bakerDay Two of the move is already underway. I am sore and tired, and the movers aren’t even coming until tomorrow. No significant complaints, though. Well, other than that Michigan/Akron game, anyway.

  • Scott Baker’s velocity yesterday was in the same range as his first start, though he touched 90 a few more times. Once again, Baker had good movement on his pitches, and generally located well. Baker gave up just three hits (one homer) over six innings, and more impressively, struck out four while walking no one.
  • Baker’s got one more start left this year, and, if once again shows off this new-ish, craftier-type pitcher (with success), his offseason is going to be very interesting. On the one hand, maybe he’s reinvented himself a bit, and can still have success without the velocity going forward. On the other hand, maybe teams will catch up to him once they see him a couple times (in a way, it’s like they’re seeing a brand new pitcher for the first time). On still another hand, maybe he’s got another couple MPH by next year, and he’s back to his old self. Whatever the case, I think his free agency is going to be a tough nut to crack, especially if both he and the Cubs desire to be reunited (in that instance, given the past year, what’s a fair contract? $2 million for 2014 (with incentives), and something like an $8 million option for 2015?).
  • Carlos Villanueva, who’s been excellent as a swing man this year, hopes he gets the chance to start next year (he’s in the first year of a two-year, $10 million deal), and, if he does, he’s got a very realistic outlook (per Mark Gonzales): “Either we’re good, and I can start all year and guide us through the playoffs. Or I’ll be good, and they can get something for me at the All-Star break. It’s the business side of it, and I understand it.” He’s probably right about those possible outcomes, granting that he omitted the not-hoped-for possibility that he is injured or ineffective.
  • Carrie Muskat reminds folks by way of numbers that Alfonso Soriano was an important offensive piece for the Cubs.
  • CGruegs45

    Great read, Brett! I would let Baker go, the velocity is a real concern.

  • Die hard

    If Cubs are considering keeping Baker what does that say about their expectations for the pitching staff next year?

    • wvcubsfan

      That they expect him to get people out?

    • Reality Check

      unless they sign GIrardi as Mgr; and be forced to be quasi-competitive with a few good FA signings or trades; next year is year 3 of “tanking seasons on purpose” if Dale Quade is around. Baker stole $6M from the cubs; along with ejax, concepcion, stewart, hairston, fujikawa, $80M that thoyer has blown on FA. (ryu and cepsedes would of cost 72M).

      i offer baker $1. that’s an avg of 3M for 2 years of maybe 25 starts and then trade him. beyond that, just lose on purpose with wood, smardz (traded?), villanueva, rusin, arrieta, ejax, grimm and be done with it. the FA pitcher market is horrid; Garza is the best option.

      • YourResidentJag

        I wonder if they’ll take a chance on Wladmir Balentin. Why not? Low risk.

      • AB

        Holy semi-colon batman!!

        • Jay

          Seems to me we have a guy by the name of Travis Wood getting lots of people out with a heater that isn’t any faster than what Baker is tossing up there. There’s plenty more to pitching than the radar gun. Just ask Greg Maddux……and Smardj.

          Really, it comes down to how greedy does he want to be and how much appreciation does he have for a $5mil rehab on our dime?

          • Jay

            Seems to me we have a guy by the name of Travis Wood getting lots of people out with a heater that isn’t any faster than what Baker is tossing up there. There’s plenty more to pitching than the radar gun. Just ask Greg Maddux……and Smardj.

            Really, it comes down to how greedy does he want to be and how much appreciation does he have for a $5mil rehab on our dime?

            And if Villenueva is in the rotation next year, that tells you all you need to know about the state of our starting staff.

            • Drew7

              “…ask Greg Maddux…”

              He’d probably tell you that his performance started to slip once his velocity dropped.

              • hansman1982

                I really wish they had Pitch F/X for his whole career so everyone would just zip it.

                Maddux as a “soft-tosser” is, perhaps, the greatest myth of all time. RIght up there with the grainy videos of mermaids and that aliens were monumental in building early human societies.

                • wvcubsfan

                  Wait, are you telling me aliens didn’t build Stonehenge? That’s not what the dude with crazy hair said on the teevees.

                • MichiganGoat

                  [img]http://i.imgur.com/QnENcCc.jpg[/img]

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            Lousy, greedy baseball players, trying to earn as much money as possible in the limited time they have in which to earn it!

            • cub2014

              I think you have to offer Baker 3-5 mil
              to get him to sign. I think that would be a
              reasonable amount to pay for insurance.

            • praying the cubs get ready to win

              Go Blue, Brady’s home win streak is still in tact at least.

      • Jim L

        How did he steal $6M? The Cubs knew the risk when they signed him.

        As for offering him $1, he would laugh in your face – good thing you’re not in line for any GM jobs.

  • http://Bleachernation Oliver

    The Cubbies have a very good pitching staff.
    Even without the shark and his agent Mr. Boring Borris.

    We need some offense, please.

  • Randy

    I think you try to sign him to a 1 year deal
    W incentives and options for the next year. would make a great 4 with Rusin or Arrietta a 5.
    Problem is with Wood , too long hair and E Jax. You have no number 1 or possibly 2 out of this bunch. I say trade some pieces for Price or another top end starter .

    • praying the cubs get ready to win

      Maybe Ejax and a couple of minor league players number 11-15 for Price and give then some international signing money.

      • Bill

        You’re kidding, right? This is the Rays, they steal from teams in trades, not the other way around.

  • willis

    I think you let the ship keep sailing. He’s showing ok but the NL will catch up with him unless he finds the velocity he has lost.

    There has to be an arm option out there to improve this rotation, through trade or FA. Need one more piece and it’s a playoff caliber rotation. Especially with what seems to be a very good pen going forward.

  • Nate Dawg

    Thanks for the reminder, Carrie.

  • Steve Ontiveros’ Mustache

    If Baker needed/wanted/got $5 million on a year that everyone knew he may or may not be able to pitch, I’m having a hard time believing that number will go down for next year. Unless Baker really does feel some loyalty to the Cubs and is willing to sign the kind of contract Brett suggests ($2 million for 2014 with incentives, and something like an $8 million option for 2015) I think you have to let him walk. I don’t think he’s worth more than that.

    • cub2014

      Agree with 2mil plus incentives (equal
      to 3-5million based on performance),
      except Cubs starting rotation looks pretty
      full for next year incentives may be hard
      to come by. Certainly flappable for a couple
      of prospects by july.

      • Randy

        Where is the rotation full? Maybe of crap. You have long hair Jeff and Woody. E Jax has been garbage and you have several number 5,6, and. 7′s

        • Rich H

          Arrieta, Rusin, maybe Hendricks by July, and that is not counting Grimm or Vilenueva. Not TOR arms but not 5,6 or 7′s either. That being said we need atleast 10 starters to get through a season. If Baker can get us 10 QS’s then we should look at bringing him back.
          With the way this team is constructed right now Baker having a 2014 spot is the least of our issues.

          • Starlin Backer

            Agreed. Why retard the development of Rusin and/or Arietta for a guy who will not be on this team when it’s time to win? I like Baker but don’t see where he makes sense for this team.

            • TOOT

              Baker makes a lot of sense if they bring him back. I don’t have the time right not to explain why. The FO says the same thing, so I don’t think I’m talkink out of my ass on this.

              • Jimmy James

                The team should be better with baker in the rotation than without…if the velocity comes back he would probably be top 2 on their staff.

                • TOOT

                  Absolutely!

            • Steve Ontiveros’ Mustache

              Why sign Baker instead of developing Arrieta and/or Rusin? The same reason the Cubs signed Feldman for this year. He can be good, and if the team is out of it, trade him for prospects. Flippable asset. But I think the question of Baker is moot… I just can’t see him signing a short incentive laden deal, which is the only way the Cubs would sign him.

              • Kyle

                At this time last year, we didn’t have enough pitchers of the readiness and quality of Arrieta, Rusin or others. This isn’t last year.

            • Cubs_Questions

              If the Cubs bring back Baker, it will be with the sole intention of putting a somewhat decent team on the field. As for the 2014 rotation, it looks bright.

              With Rusin, Wood, Shark (if he can ever figure out how to be a starter), EJax, Arrieta, Grimm, Villanueva and maybe Baker. That spells a lot of potential.

              Not to mention that Hendricks might be ready for the second half of 2014. By the way, with below average velocity he’s still been great through all minor league levels.

              Which actually is a great mold for a starter with great longevity (you don’t necessarily need to worry about him once the bottom falls out because he’s a guy who wins by forcing contact and throwing strikes anyways).

  • cub2014

    so you see 30 starts for baker

  • ClevelandCubsFan

    How about Baker gets $3 mil guaranteed but if he throws 180 innings (or whatever metric of health you prefer) the contract automatically converts to 3 yrs/ $20 mil (3+8+9) with a club option for 2017 at $12 mil?

    Haggle about the precise numbers but the basic idea is we sign him in a way to lock him up if healthy. If he’s terrible and healthy we overpay a bit but if he’s average or better and healthy we get a nice deal.

    • ClevelandCubsFan

      You could add the contract converts if he’s traded, too, to give him some peace of mind. (And if he’s good enough that anyone wants him, he probably earned the conversion anyway.)

      • Edwin

        If the contract converts, who pays it?

    • Edwin

      Interesting idea. Would Baker go for it, though? I would think he’d still prefer a 1 year deal. That way if he’s healthy at the end of the year, he can either negotiate an extention with the Cubs, or test the FA market, which might be better for him financially than a pre-arranged contract like the one you’re talking about.

  • JayPaul

    A random early afternoon thought: Could the Scott Baker we’re experiencing right now be what we could expect from Kyle Hendricks in the near future on a good day or will his stuff play better than this?

  • MichiganGoat

    Lets try it here
    [img]http://i.imgur.com/QnENcCc.jpg[/img]

    • ETS

      Aliens!

      • MichiganGoat

        MERMAIDS

      • MichiganGoat

        The next Syfy channel movie should be Mermaids vs Aliens

        • ETS

          You need the suffix “nado” in there somewhere.

  • August

    Can anyone tell me WHY Rusin, Baker and Wood are not the future of the Rotation? All they have done is be the consistently best pitchers on the team, without question. Shark is completely unreliable, the same with Jackson. Velocity in a pitcher with regards to our team is irrelevant. We need guys who win ball games. Sign them and others that win. Wasting money in radar gun-show offs will do nothing but get more trash thrown on the field by booing fans. We need winners.

    • ETS

      Rusin – I’m not convinced that he is as good as his numbers have been.

      Baker – you’re putting alot into 2 starts and are ignoring the fact that he isn’t under contract for next year.

      Wood – he’s good.

      Shark – Unreliable? Maybe. He is still the best on the roster. He has great stuff though. My biggest concern is durability. I think next year they need to monitor his pitches earlier in the season.

      Jackson – Amazing slider with inconsistent complementary pitches. He has been a bit of a tough luck pitcher this year, but hasn’t shown durability issues. My guess is next year he looks great.

      We have “radar gun-show offs”? Cool.

    • Edwin

      Rusin has made 11 starts this year, and 7 last year. While Rusin’s ERA is nice, there is a good chance it’s not something he’ll be able to sustain going forward, based on the skill set he’s shown. Rusin doesn’t strike anyone out, and walks an above average amount. If batters start getting more base hits off of him, his ERA will get ugly in a hurry.

      For Baker, I think it’d be nice to have more than 2 starts before we label a pitcher as part of the “future of the rotation”.

      Wood is obviously part of the future rotation; I don’t think anyone would disagree with that.

      Fastball velocity is never irrelevant, for any team.

      I don’t think fans should throw trash on the field. It shows a massive lack of respect.

      • Funn Dave

        I just don’t understand how any self-respecting Cubs fan could throw trash onto Wrigley, regardless of how the team is doing.

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