lukewarm stoveHopefully you can still reach your phone, despite being pressed in line at a Black Friday sale between an angry mom clutching the last Hug-Me-Elmo and a despondent father wondering if there’s a difference between “small” and “petite” …

  • After signing Ricky Nolasco, the Twins are turning their pitching focus to … Phil Hughes, per Jerry Crasnick. I’ve been relatively vocal in my desire to see the Cubs pursue Hughes on a reasonable, short-term deal, and it’s disappointing to learn that the Nolasco signing has not impacted the Twins’ pursuit at all.
  • The New York Mets, on the other hand, are out on Phil Hughes, primarily because he’s expected to command a two-year deal, and they didn’t want to go past one year. I find that Adam Rubin/George King report interesting on so many levels, the primary of which is that Hughes actually wants a two-year deal. Coming off of a disastrous 2013 season that featured a HR/FB rate higher than his career average, a BABIP much higher than his career average, and a LOB% lower than his career average, Hughes looks to be a prime candidate for a bounce-back season in 2014. And, as a 27-year-old, you’d think he’d be the perfect candidate to want no more than a one-year deal in free agency so that he could capitalize on a theoretical bounce-back next year.
  • If Hughes affirmatively wants a two-year deal, I mean, that’s fine by me, and I hope even more that the Cubs are involved. The team – and pitching coach Chris Bosio – has had recent success dramatically improving the groundball rates of guys like Travis Wood and Edwin Jackson, the prospect of an extreme flyball guy like Hughes in Wrigley Field doesn’t really scare me. That all said – and I know I am really harping on Hughes this offseason – it seems to me that the best outcome for Hughes is a one-year deal with a team like the Cubs, who will not only look to help him bounce-back and cash in, but is also a strong bet to trade him mid-season, thus decoupling him from the noose of draft pick compensation.
  • Rubin’s report lists the Angels, Twins, Mariners, and Royals to Hughes. Jesse Rogers previously connected the Cubs to Hughes. Given how pitching needy the Angels and Twins are, and given the Royals’ and Mariners’ penchant for head-scratching contracts, it’s easy to see why the involved teams could be pushing for a multi-year deal with Hughes, rather than a one-year pact. If Hughes truly wants more years than one, it wouldn’t shock me to see one of the involved teams go to three years on Hughes. If that team were to be the Cubs – and there are worse things than grabbing ages 27, 28, and 29 from a guy with a live arm and intriguing peripherals.
  • I’d intended for this to be a traditional, multi-topic Lukewarm Stove, but, after four items on Hughes, I guess I’ll just stick to my apparent pet obsession of the offseason, and let it devolve into a bizarre stream of consciousness. Be reminded that, outside of one report from Jesse Rogers and my own deductive speculation, there is nothing directly connecting the Cubs to Hughes this offseason. For all we know, they’ve done their internal evaluation and determined that he’s not a good bet – and, as always, it depends on the contract. But one year and $10 million, two years and $18 million, or three years and $26 million? (At least one source tells the NY Post that two years and $15 million isn’t out of the question – if so, JUMP.)
  • If these prices are even in the ballpark for Hughes, I’d be frustrated to learn that the Cubs weren’t involved. Sure, he’s mostly a two-pitch guy (so there are concerns with his ability to work deep into games), but he’s been punished by pitching at Yankee Stadium perhaps more than any other pitcher. Home runs did him in last year, and a huge chunk of them were apparently of the “just out” variety – the kind that might not have been homers in another park. He sits in the 92 to 93 mph range, and has a K/BB of 3.25 over the last two years. There’s a lot to dream on. And the kind of investment it sounds like he’ll command is a pretty small risk for a pitching-needy, potentially non-competitive, team like the Cubs.
  • On The Farm

    Obsessive Free Agent Watch: The Phil Hughes edition.

    • On The Farm

      The Cubs (if they signed him) would just need to get him back to his 2009/2010 GB% numbers when he was a 34-36% GB pitcher. I feel like getting him to induce a few more groundballs (Bosio magic) and moving out of the AL East would really help his numbers. Not that he would be an ace (although his 2009 numbers look pretty good), but he could definitely be a real positive on the pitching staff.

      His 2009 numbers 10.05 K/9, 2.93 BB/9, 34.4% GB%, 3.02 ERA, 3.23 FIP, and 3.50 xFIP
      he followed that up with 7.45 K/9, 2.96 BB/9, 36.1% GB%, 4.19 ERA, 4.25 FIP, and 4.13 FIP.

      2010 is probably the best you could hope for, but you can see in his 86 IP 2009 he has potential to post even better numbers.

    • Brett

      Sounds about right.

      • miggy80

        I kind of ignored this, but I’m on board now.

  • Edwin

    Any chance the Cubs take a minimal play at Kevin Slowey? Career k/bb of 4.62. Flyball pitcher like Hughes. Career fip- of 100.

    • On The Farm

      If I remember right Slowey was never really over powering but was a great control pitcher. If he could keep his K/9 as high as it was this year (7.43) it wouldn’t be a bad signing, but he won’t be much then a BOR guy.

      • Edwin

        That’s what I figured. Still, nothing wrong with some value from the bor.

        • On The Farm

          Absolutely. If they are for sure going to trade Shark they should probably add someone. I would like it better if Slowey was the second guy we were signing.

    • YourResidentJag

      I’d be ok for 5th starter.

  • baseballet

    If the Cubs trade Shark, as of now what would their starting five be? I would think they’d need at least one more starter to make up for his 200+ innings, right?

    • Kyle

      Wood, Jackson, Arrieta, Villanueva, Rusin with Hendricks in the mix as well.

      So long as they really don’t care about winning games, they can fill out a rotation with what they have.

      • Professor Snarks

        We will have a great chance to catch Miami and Houston for pick number 1 in 2015.

      • CubFan Paul

        I’d like to see them trade for a couple young starters to throw in the mix. In another non-sacred year might as well groom the future in 2014

        • On The Farm

          Like the Nationals dude with two first names Taylor Jordan? I wouldn’t mind adding him to the rotation.

      • Bill

        “Wood, Jackson, Arrieta, Villanueva, Rusin with Hendricks in the mix as well.”

        If they are running out that rotation then they certainly only care about losing games, because that would be a god awful rotation. A guy who is a number 3 starter and a bunch of guys who might qualify as number 5 starters. Ugh…

        • Cubs_Questions

          Hendricks could actually be a nice surprise in 2014. I’ve been nothing but impressed with him since he was brought here.

  • macpete22
  • CGruegs45

    Ay #wth

  • ClevelandCubsFan

    Anyone else see this piece Wednesday morning arguing the Cubs SHOULD sign Ellsbury?


    I haven’t looked into the stats on speedster regression to have a dog in that fight. But the thought that a guy like that could dramatically improve our lineup (and would he be flippable?) makes 2015 more exciting….

    • Cody Schrader

      I would love the sign of Ellsbury, proven leadoff hitter and the facts that he rattled off, make sense. Junior Lake would not solve the cubs problem at leadoff hitter. He’s a Theo type guy obviously which plays more into our favor. The cubs have always lacked a leadoff hitter and Ellsbury or Choo would make perfect sense in the situation with Soler and Almroa playing in the corner outfield spots. Would love the sign personally.

  • North Side Irish

    Chris Cotillo ‏@ChrisCotillo 12s
    Source: #Phillies, #Indians, #Cubs, #Orioles interested in Edward Mujica. #Angels were before signing Joe Smith.

    Good first half last season…ideally more of a 7th inning guy.

  • Mike

    I would love a Hughes signing but I don’t see the Cubs signing Hughes especially since the market is so thin for pitchers this year he will have his choice of a few different clubs and probably one that plays in a more pitcher friendly park and isn’t rebuilding. I can see the cubs resigning Scott Baker and maybe getting a Scott Kazmir or Gavin Floyd ( a pitcher would could benefit from switching leagues and bring in someone decent at the deadline).

  • bill jean

    haha we should called this the “Phil Hughes Black Friday Speical” Hot Stove. I kid, of course. Great stuff as always Brett. Now you’ve convinced me and i’m all on board for Hughes now if we can sign him

  • Rebuilding

    Quote from Bosio on Rotoworld: “We need more pitching,” Bosio said. “And as soon as we acquire four or five guys, we’re going to need more after that. … We need arms. We’ve got to find or develop those arms, and if you’re not signing them, you better develop them. And if you can’t develop them, then Theo and Jed (Hoyer) and everyone are trying to do the next best thing, which is to acquire them.”

  • Dale Jr

    Ass man any info today on Jeff?!

  • Blackhawks1963

    My opinion is that the Cubs aren’t after Hughes. Which is a good thing. Too many bells and alarms with him. Two year contract seals the deal for me…stay far far away.

  • John (ibcnu2222)

    I don’t understand the all the interest in Hughes. His only “good” year was as a reliever. Sure he won 18 games in 2010, but his ERA was over four. He is a career below average pitcher with a career ERA+ of 95.

    • David

      He has a career 3.80 FIP outside of Yankee Stadium. There is a reason people think he can do better than his 2013 ERA.

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