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jose veras astrosWell, the Chicago Cubs have reportedly grabbed their back-end free agent reliever. It’s Jose Veras, who gets a $4 million, one-year deal, according to Enrique Rojas. The deal comes with incentives, plus a $5.5 million team option for 2015.

I call Veras a “back-end” free agent reliever, because the Cubs have noted that they’d like to pick up a late-inning reliever on the free agent market this offseason, luring him with the possibility of winning the closer’s role. So, to that end, it’s probably not accurate to say that the Cubs signed Veras to be their closer, but he may get a shot at that role, given the relative vacuum right now (he’d be competing with guys like Pedro Strop, Hector Rondon, and Justin Grimm). With team control bleeding into 2015 by way of a very reasonable $5.5 million team option, it’s hard to ignore the possible flip value here, if Veras establishes himself as a successful closer early in the year with the Cubs. I know, folks hate to hear that, but that’s the story right now.

Veras, 33, did a fair bit of closing with the Astros last year before being dealt at the Trade Deadline to the Tigers (who used him in a setup role). Although he didn’t establish himself as a reliable bullpen option until he was almost 30, Veras has put up a 3.55 ERA over the past four seasons, racking up 248.2 innings, 272 strikeouts, and 5 teams. Although he’s an overpowering guy, he’s also a wild guy: 2013 was the first season he’s ever had a BB/9 below 4.0 (it was 3.2). Lately, his FIP tends to hang out in the mid 3s, indicating he’s a good, not dominating reliever. You hope, with a guy like Veras, that his 2013 walk rate (8.7% versus career 12.0% mark) was not a blip so much as a change in approach.

Will Veras be anointed the closer right out the gate? It doesn’t seem like it, though getting him on a one-year deal with a reasonable option for 2015 seems like it was probably in part because the Cubs could offer the opportunity for Veras to win the closer’s job. Add in the incentives, which are almost certainly tied to games finished, and you’ve got a guy that probably chose the Cubs in the hope that he can be a closer, and then find another big-time contract after a year or two. Whether he’s actually used in that role is something that remains to be seen, and will probably be determined by his own effectiveness.

With at least $4 million going to Veras, I doubt you’ll see the Cubs devoting many more – if any – dollars to a bullpen that already features Strop, Rondon, Grimm, Blake Parker, Carlos Villanueva (or Chris Rusin, depending on who is in the rotation), James Russell, Wesley Wright, an eventually-returning Kyuji Fujikawa, and a bevvy of young hopefuls. It’s a great mix of power arms for the Cubs, and – I know, I know, fool me once … – it’s a mix that could emerge as a bright spot for the team in 2014.

UPDATE: Jon Heyman reports that the contract breaks down thusly: $3.85 million for 2014, and a $150,000 buyout on the 2015 option (which is for $5.5 million). He can earn up to $750,000 in incentives based on games finished. Broken down in that way, that’s a darn good contract.

  • Jim

    Huge. Good signing.

    • YourResidentJag

      Huge? Nice signing.

    • Jim

      I don’t think its an outrageous signing. pretty reasonable for a power throwing late inning reliever. Nice option yr too, adds a little juice if we trade him midseason

    • commander bob

      There is no such thing as a huge signing when you lose 90+ games a year. Where did this guy play last year? Is he related to Dave Veras?

      • bbmoney

        Houston and then Detroit. Don’t bother reading Brett’s post. Just make your usual complaint and then ask a question already answered.

        • MoneyBoy

          LOL ^5 bbmoney

  • Jim

    Solid move. Think this probably my of a sign and flip midseason player. He gets relative high annual deal, and gets a closer job to up his value.

  • macpete22

    Can’t say I was expecting it but I’m fairly pleased with the signing

  • http://www.opportunity.org Seamhead

    The 2015 option is intriguing. Where does this leave Fujikawa?

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      Well he’s recovering so if he doesn’t recover then we have a back up.

    • Jim

      On Injured reserve at least till early june at the very earliest. Reports said he’s healing extremely well from TMJ surgery and reliever tend to comeback a little quicker then starters

    • willis

      Fuji is no sure thing to come back and be effective. This is a good addition and insurance in case he can’t come back from the TJS surgery.

  • Jim

    One thing about Veras is that I could stand this guy when he pitched for Houston. His delivery takes FOORREVVER!! and he waits like an average of a minute bwteen delivering pitches. Be prepared for some long 9th innings. Tries to ruin the timing of hitters.

  • cub2014

    If you are going to sign a closer?
    then………………..?

    • Jim

      No relation to the Tanaka situation… I get your point though. I think Veras is trade bait midseason

  • Phil Oddo

    Well if that’s as close of a closer we can get to, I’m fine with this deal. Pretty solid pick up :)

  • Matty Ice

    Over 4.5 bb/9 for his career. And while yes he did have his best bb/9 of his career last year his k/9 dropped from his previous three years by over 1.5 k/9. We shall see how stable this makes the 9th inning

  • willis

    I’m down with this. Very good, solid bullpen guy. Biggest strength of this team as it stands is the bullpen.

    • http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/653cc0c5f0eded621ab13b4f631de7da.png Cizzle

      Granted it’s probably the easiest to fix, but it’s quite the flip from last year. Lots of upside.

    • Mayhem

      “Biggest strength of this team as it stands is the bullpen.”

      In a recent baseball publication, the Braves bullpen was an A, Cardinals B+ and the Cubs a D+. I guess this is an upgrade, but I would hardly call the bullpen an asset. Biggest strength yes, but that is more of a negative reflection on the rest of the team.

      • X The Cubs Fan

        It’s underrated because it has a lot of upside and not much experience, but they have signed 2 veterans since then.

  • johnny chess Aka 2much2say

    Renteria speaks his language, so communication is key.

  • johnny chess Aka 2much2say

    Depth in the Bullpen is key, Fujikawa will fill in nicely as a setup guy

    • Voice of Reason

      Depth in the bullpen is not key for a team that will lose 95+ games in 2014.

      Veras was signed to flip him. Not because they think they will compete in 2014.

      • cubbiehawkeye

        Depth is key in the bullpen. Saying it’s not key is silly

        • Voice of Reason

          Not for a team that will lose 95+ games like the cubs will.

          I’d rather they audition some of our young arms for the closer role, because again, its silly to say bullpen depth is key for this team.

          However, I understand they signed veras to trade him. The front office knows it doesn’t need bullpen depth this year. It knows it needs to develop a closer the next time the cubs will compete.

          • http://www.hookersorcake.com hookersorcake

            I disagree. If we had a decent bullpen last year. We would’ve been around .500

            This Cubs team could be around .500 if

            Lake continues
            Castro reverts back to the Castro of three prior years
            Valbuena & Barney platoon
            Olt is healthy.

            We have a decent rotation
            a deep upside bullpen
            real good defense w/Olt at 3rd
            a little speed
            Baez & maybe Bryant waiting

            • Voice of Reason

              The cubs finished 66 and 96.

              You’re telling me that a better bullpen would have meant 30 more wins?

              OK……

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                #Math.

                • Cerambam

                  Hah.

                • Tyler

                  Ha. Oh boy. 15 more wins would have made them .500, VoR. 15. No defending that one.

  • http://ehanauer.com clark addison

    By the end of the season, I’ll bet Fujikawa is the closer.

    • willis

      If Veras is traded and Strop is ineffective, then maybe. But Fuji was ok, not great, then blew his arm out. I’m not sold on him being that good. We’ll see how he comes back from TJS.

  • Jim

    I’m curious who will be the odd man out in the bullpen now? Bullpen is getting crowded? Hector Rondon going be at Iowa?

    • willis

      To begin, he could. Also a big question is what to do with Cabrera. I believe he is out of options so if he shows out in ST I could see him getting a bullpen spot to see what he can do.

      • Jim

        Not quite sure on the Rule 5 pick rules following Hector Rondon’s full season in the bigs. Can he be sent down now? Does he have options? or will he have to go through waivers?

        • willis

          Yes I believe so. If wrong someone correct me, but I think they need to be active for a certain period of time in that first year, then if the team holds on, they can freely be sent down without penalty.

          • FarmerTanColin

            He has a 4th option available BUT he can also refuse the outright assignment and become a free agent because he has been outrighted before.

            http://www.thecubreporter.com/cubs-40-man-roster

            • FarmerTanColin

              So I think we see some kind of end of spring training trade if the roster stays like it is. Someone is bound to hit the 60 DL though right?

    • Jim

      Closer: Veras (Fujikawa take over when veras is dealt at the deadline?0
      set-up: strop
      Set-up: Parker
      LOOGY: Russell
      semi-loogy: Wright
      Long-RP: Villanueva
      RP: Rondon?

      *Alberto Cabrera* is out of options so he can’t be sent down without passing through waivers (I don’t think he’d sneak through, too much up/chance of helping a team this season)

      • willis

        The other thing that could happen is Rondon and Cabrera are both in the pen and Villanueva is the #5 starter. If they miss on Tanaka (which they most likely will) may just give Villanueva the 5 spot.

        • FarmerTanColin

          He would at least put up a good first month.

      • cub2014

        Cabrera could start out as the 5th starter, he has
        been better as a starter since the move. Also since
        rusin can be sent down.

        I think some moves will have to be made before
        spring training.

  • johnny chess Aka 2much2say

    As real Closers go Veras is a cheaper option by about 2 mil than Axford and Balfour without losing too much from their stats

  • Spoda17

    Good signing. I think the FO has been working pretty damn hard with no results because of the “plan.” I am all over the plan, and I am happy with the way things are going, but it’s got to be damn hard to recruit good players at the moment. But proves they are working all angels, I did not see this coming.

    • BWA

      Are the working to get us angels in the outfield?

  • DarthHater

    6-6, 240. Meanest looking Cubs closer since Lee Smith?

    • Voice of Reason

      No way, rod beck was one bad dude.

      • http://comicsandcardsupplies.com cms0101

        Antonio Alfonseca was meaner looking.

        • Voice of Reason

          Alfonseca looked like a guy that you would roll a joint with and catch a buzz.

          • DarthHater

            pretty much

          • mick6x

            With those extra fingers of his, he should be able to roll one helluva j.

        • http://www.hookersorcake.com hookersorcake

          EL POOPO!

      • DarthHater

        Heh
        [img]http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2839/11426591556_4c1def71e3_o.jpg[/img]

  • justcommenting

    quick search of his stats shows that he has a lifetime 1.000 OBP.

  • Dustin S

    Hard to find much not to like here, awesome WHIP, decent walks, relatively good BS percentage, and fairly cheap. Blown saves were such a killer of morale on last year’s team (especially Samardzija). I’m kind of surprised he didn’t get a larger offer, but basically being handed the closing job probably was a big factor.

  • justcommenting

    Darth, maybe the meanest looking, but not as intimidating as the “Wild Thing”.

  • JulioZuleta

    BB/9 below 4.0**

  • dAn

    This is exactly what the Cub pen needed. A soild veteran late inning guy. It didn’t even have to be a closer, although the fact that he has experience as a closer is a plus. It allows them to slot guys like Strop and Parker as set up guys and takes the pressure off of them. It gives them stability and bumps everyone down a notch, resulting in the Cubs having more pen depth (which is something they have needed).

    The bullpen has been the #1 thing that has really killed the Cubs the last couple of years. Sure, they were a bad team, but the chokalicious bullpen led them to lose even more games than they otherwise deserved to. In mid-summer of each of the last two years, the Cubs were pretty close to having an even number of runs scored and allowed. But in each season, the bullpen buried them in April and May, effectively ending the season then.

    It remains to be seen whether Cabrera will break with the team (I hope no)–he’s out of options. But a bullpen of Veras/Strop/Parker/Russell/Wright/Rondon/Villanueva looks pretty good. If they carry Cabrera, that just adds Rondon to the AAA depth, which could also include Grimm, Rosscup, Hatley, Schlitter, Raley, and whatever other guys they pick up between now and then.

    Having a good pen alone could mean a 7-10 game swing in the standings for them this year. How many games did Marmol, Camp et. al. cough up last year?

    I’m glad the FO has finally given some attention to the pen, because they really neglected it the last couple of years and basically treated it as a tryout camp for the Kameron Loes and Alex Hinshaws of the world. They didn’t necessarily have to do that, but they did. It may be that they’ve finally gotten to the point where they’re really sick of winning and would rather have a .500 team than get one of the top draft picks.

    • FarmerTanColin

      Yeah and I know you cant quantify this but if a pitcher leaves a games with the lead and the bullpen blows it, there has to be some sort of mental effect that gets to the starter. Let alone having that happen many times. Maybe the next start he strains himself a little more and is less effective.

      A good bullpen will get you a lot of 1 run wins and sort of circumvents the pythagorean w/l record. Like the Orioles with Showalter.

    • forlines

      it’s a post like this that makes me wish BN had a like button. well said

  • FarmerTanColin

    This could work out really well. Gregg couldn’t be traded because he (A) wasn’t very good and (B) had a recent track record of not being very good. Teams still covet guys that can get saves.

    So if he racks up enough SVs with the recent track record of being pretty good along with an option year. Sets up nicely for a midseason transaction. The depth additions are piling up.

  • Voice of Reason

    Dan, Dan, Dan….

    The cubs are going to be horrible in2014. Veras was signed on the cheap so they can trade him at the deadline for more prospects!!

    • cub2014

      you know IF they add 1 good starter and a top
      OF all of the sudden they are actually pretty
      good.

      • FarmerTanColin

        IF they add Tanaka and keep Samardijza and get really lucky with little injuries and Castro bounces back and Baez comes up to dominate then we could see some W’s.

        • willis

          I was just thinking “adding Tanaka to this pitching staff, damn that could keep this team in a lot of games with an actual decent bullpen to finish it…then I realized there will most likely be plenty of teams outbid the cubs for Tanaka. I got the sadz.

        • http://comicsandcardsupplies.com cms0101

          And if the queen had balls… she’d be king. I’m more optimistic than most, but that’s an awful lot of “ifs”.

          • FarmerTanColin

            A lot of IF’s usually got right for winning clubs. The potential is starting to show but until we see some actual baseball then it’s simply potential. Adding Tanaka would be huuuuge.

      • Voice of Reason

        Cub2014,

        Even if this team had mike trout as that outfielder that you want and Clayton Kershaw as a starter they would still be below .500.

        They have no third baseman, second baseman, the shortstop provided no offense though he could rebound, their first baseman didn’t have a solid year and they have no left fielder and shierholtz is average to below average in right.

        To look at it another way. Last year this team had two starters who were pitching well in Garza and Feldman and they had that outfielder with some pop in soriano that you want for 2014. Where did last years team finish? Even before they traded all three they were bad.

        • cub2014

          Voice, so you think (hypothetically) if they had:

          CF Trout
          LF Choo
          SS Castro
          1B Rizzo
          C Castillo
          LF Schierholtz/Ruggioni
          3B Olt or Murphy
          2B Valbuena or Watkins
          Bench: Lake.Sweeney soon to come up
          Baez,Alcantera & Bryant

          SP
          Kershaw,Shark,Wood,Jackson & Arrieta
          Bullpen
          Veras,Strop,Parker,Rondon,Grimm,Villanueva
          Russell & Wright

          you think that is not a 500 team? really?

          • Voice of Reason

            Your comment was one top starter and one top outfielder.

            I might even give you choo along with trout.

            Thst team you propse still can’t hit. The infields offense would be offensive.

            Your 1-8 has rizzo hitting 4th. That’s brutal right there. After trout and choo you have nothing offensively.

            It just shows how far away this team is.

            But, I like what the cubs are doing. In a couple of years we will have some young talent up and then added free agents or trading for veterans.

            • Voice of Reason

              To answer your question at the end… no, that is not a .500 team.

              Other than choo and trout you have no offense. The starting pitching is solid but not great. Bullpen is decent, but if veras is so good then why didn’t he sign a higher contract with a better team? I like the signing, don’t get me wrong, but Mariano Rivera he ain’t.

            • cub2014

              sorry I thought you said and that OF,
              but regardless if you add Choo and
              Tanaka I feel that they are a potential
              playoff team. Not likely that that happens
              though.
              I think overall they are improved from
              2013 as they stand today. (you would
              expect Castro,Rizzo,Barney,Jackson to
              return to their normal numbers and
              also would expect Wood to regress a
              little) Samardijza should get better,
              Castillo could breakout or be just an OK
              hitter this year. Olt & Lake who knows what
              they will be this year.

              They are way younger and I think better
              any improvement in OBP at the top of the
              order and they will score a lot more runs.

              Bullpen will be better, look at Bowden I dont
              think he could make the Cubs AAA team
              this year.

              • Voice of Reason

                What are rizzos normal numbers? Certainly not enough to make up for the lack of offense at 3rd and left and shierholtz had a career year if u want to call it that. They don’t have a center fielder. Sure Castro could very well rebound and I believe he will. That means .300 average with 15hrs and some RBIs and steals but nothing to help offset the overwhelming lack of production elsewhere on the team.

                Olt will struggle to just break camp with the team and if he does its because he will get the position because there is nobody else. Barney plain sucks!

                Pitching wise, shark and wood and Jackson are all #3 starters though Jackson pitched like a #6 starter last year lol. And, they’re not going to pay to get Tanaka.

                Its just a bad team right now. Were a couple years away from competing.

                • cub2014

                  Rizzo was actually pretty good last
                  year except BA.

                  Schierholtz ended at his career numbers
                  and when you add Ruggiano to take away
                  the lefty AB that will be an improvement.

                  We both agree on Castro.

                  3rd base: was actually above league
                  average last year. We have old and new
                  options there in 2014

                  Offensively no one can argue that OBP
                  killed the Cubs last year. If they make an
                  improvement there, they will score quite
                  a few more runs. More wins.

                  Starters if they dont add any MAJOR FA
                  I still think they are as good as last year.

                  The bullpen with Camp Marmol & Fujikawa
                  not at the end of games they have a chance
                  to get off to a good start. Who knows what
                  can happen when you get off to a good start.

                  So we will see what happens.

                  • Voice of Reason

                    I wouldnt say rizzo was pretty good!

                    I would say that he improved over the previous year offensively.

                    • http://vdcinc.biz 70′scub

                      This spring somebody has got to beat out Barney for the everyday 2nd job. He becomes a defensive switch type.

        • FarmerTanColin

          Here’s the optimistic side. Hope you like fangraphs.

          Cubs actually got production from thirdbase last year. 3+ war if that production (Valbuena/Murphy) moves to secondbase to replace Barney.

          Mike Olt then comes up to provide at least league average production at thirdbase while Barney fills in around the diamond. Castro rebounds back to a 3 war player. Rizzo can have a better year as well.

          Arguello just wrote an article about the Schierholtz/Ruggiano platoon which looks to be very solid providing around 3 war. Ruggianos numbers away from Marlins stadium are impressive.

          Finally you have Baez come up to play left provided center gets decent production from Lake/Sweeney. That with a bullpen that wont blow many leads and a pretty good starting rotation especially if Tanaka is added. You can see where there is potential. I’m not saying it’s going to happen but it is possible that the Cubs can compete a little next season.

          • Voice of Reason

            Farmertancollins

            You need to get back to the a.a. meetings.

            The cub team you are describing will lose another 95+ games next year. They will be barely watchable. They could be worse than the 2013 cubs and might set the cub record for most losses.

            Remember where we finished this year and we had Garza and Feldman and soriano. Who are we replacing their production with? Whoops… nobody!

            I hope we see a Bryant or Baez sometime during the season or they might be unwatchable by July 4th.

            • Tyler

              Whoops! They filled Feldman’s spot just fine with Arrieta. He pitched well after the trade and he will (hopefully) continue to pitch well since he doesn’t have to pitch in the AL East anymore. Soriano was a low OBP, power only guy, so while his power most likely won’t be replaced, Lake (again, hopefully) brings more value in baserunning, average, and OBP. Ruggiano will likely perform better than Hairston and it is unlikely that Castro has a year as bad as last year. With the bullpen improved, progression of the young position players, and another starter added, this team certainly SHOULD be better than last year, and there’s very little chance that the 2014 Cubs are the worst Cubs team ever.

              • Voice of Reason

                Artists will not pitch as well as Feldman did in 2013.

                There is no way that lake would have out produced soriano offensively in 2013 if lake played everyday.

                Riggiano better than hairston? Just having to include ruggiano in the cubs offensive discussion in 2014 makes for a horrific situation.

                The bullpen can be improved all it wants as they are irrelevant on a simply pathetic offensive team. Could be worst cubs offensive team ever.

                Tyler, other is no way that you can speculate that the 2014 cubs will be better than the 2013 cubs.

                The 2014 cubs could end up with the most losses ever.

                • Voice of Reason

                  First word should be arrieta and not artists. Damn spell check….

                  • DarthHater

                    I kinda like it with artists…

                    • Voice of Reason

                      Remember when k-tel used to make 8 track tapes and albums with all the latest songs on one album or 8track?

                    • DarthHater

                      Well, I remember 8-tracks and I remember K-Tel, but that’s as far as I can go.

                • FarmerTanColin

                  The typical insatiable Cubs “fan” that only sees definitive results of the utmost negative.

                  You clearly don’t know the upside of Ruggiano, Arretia or maybe anyone on the roster. “Voice of Reason”…but little sense.

                  • Voice of Reason

                    I call it like I see it farmer tan Colin.

                    Let me ask you this, farmertancolin, based on this roster right now, what do you see the cubs record being in 2014?

                    I’m telling you that they will lose 95+ games again and could set the club record for losses in a season.

                    • FarmerTanColin

                      I feel like I’m going to be wasting my time responding to this. I don’t think the Cubs lose 95 games. I can make a baseline and assumptions here are some interesting numbers from last season.

                      Cubs had a pythagorean record of 71-91 5 more wins than their actual record. They were 20-33 in one run ball games. The Phillies and Padres had similar pythag records but had 7 and 4 more actual wins respectively. Shocking that those two clubs were .500 or better in 1 run ball games.

                      Chicago has marginally improved a few spots this off season. The bullpen for example is looking like a strong point…strong bullpens tend to not give up 1 run leads. If the Cubs get some luck and out perform the same pythag record say by 4 wins. Not unreasonable. That moves them to 75 wins, if they flip 5 of those 1 run loses to wins that moves them to 80 wins. Reaching 500 is not some outlandish mark that you can’t possibly imagine because it’s very much in the realm of possibility.

                      Feldman was a 1 war pitcher over 15 starts and Garza was about 1 war over 11 starts. IF Arretia or the 5th starter provide 2 war over the entire season that alone replaces their production. The bullpen has been infused with a couple guys (Wright, Veras) that should combine for at least 1 war. Not to mention about 5 others ready in Iowa to take over if anyone falters. A positive swing considering the negative production they got from Marmol and Camp. I think the OF production will surprise some fans this season.

                      I could break down each position but I feel it will fall on blind eyes.

                    • FarmerTanColin

                      flipping the losses to wins actually puts them ahead but the point was that with some luck and the same amount of runs scored they can reach .500. Not that thats the end all great goal but its possible.

                  • Voice of Reason

                    Farmer tan,

                    Let’s say ruggiano hits 25 home runs And arrieta wins the era title…. this team is still bad!!!!!!!

                • Tyler

                  Arrieta had a 3.66 ERA with the Cubs to finish the year. Before the trade, Feldman had a 3.46 ERA with the Cubs. I’m aware that there are better measures of a pitchers value than ERA, but Arrieta also had a 1.12 WHIP with the Cubs AND there’s still a little upside as he’ll barely be 28 when the season starts. He replaced Feldman just fine. You’re turning predictions into factual statements when you shouldn’t (you do this often). Lake probably won’t match Soriano’s OPS, but he has shown that he can bring things to the table that Soriano cannot (as I explained in my original post). Ruggiano and the bullpen cannot be disregarded as they are IMPROVEMENTS – you cannot focus on the negative and then disregard the positive. The 2013 Cubs – with their bad offense – had a fairly close run differential before the sell-off, so the bullpen is VERY important because they were losing way more close games than they should have (based on the W-L record not reflecting their run differential). There is no reason – especially since it’s still only December – to say that this may be the worst Cubs team of all time. Could it be? Sure, just like I could marry Julianne Hough one day, but it’s not a reasonable expectation.

                  Sidenote: if you continue to completely disregard all the positive additions (the bullpen, Ruggiano, etc.) and magnify the negatives (losing Soriano, Garza, Feldman), while also leaving out that the offseason is far from over, then you’ll prove that you’re not someone to discuss things with.

                  • Voice of Reason

                    The positives for the 2014 cubs:

                    Offensively:
                    Castro will rebound.

                    Pitching wise:
                    1. Shark
                    2. Wood
                    3. Jackson
                    4. The bullpen

                    The real positives for the 2014 aren’t up with the big league team yet.

                    The cubs are rebuilding and doing it the right way.

                    If anyone says that this roster right now could finish .500 they know nothing about baseball.

                    Look at every position. They have no third baseman, no second baseman, no left fielder, no center fielder, an average right fielder at best, an average catcher and a very average first baseman with solid upside. Its a really bad offensive team.

                    • Tyler

                      I don’t believe, as constructed now, that the 2014 Cubs are a .500 team. Last year’s team had very poor offensive production out of many positions, and to be better they only have to be less bad (if that makes sense). With Valbuena playing second in winter ball, he may take over that spot full time, and – while he certainly isn’t good – he would almost definitely hit better than Barney did last year. Castro and Rizzo should play better than last year, even if only slightly. RF production should be better than last year with Ruggiano replacing Hairston and taking the at bats against LHP. I’d like to say that CF should at least be equal to last year, but I’m not sure that it will be.The Cubs don’t have to replace last year’s bad options with good options, they only have to replace them with better options to get better.

                      As I see it now, the Cubs should be better at 1B, 2B, SS, and RF, offensively. I anticipate slightly worse production from Castillo, but maybe he progresses and he matches his WAR from last year (his offensive stats scream “regression” but hopefully natural progression balances that out). As I said earlier, CF is a question mark, but let’s just say they’re equally as bad as last year (if you think that’s fair, I could be persuaded that it will be worse with no DDJ and Sweeney being somewhat of an unknown). That leaves us with LF and 3B likely being worse than last year, though hopefully not too much worse (it’s not wrong to be optimistic since Olt/Vitters/Baez could potentially prove to be better options, but it certainly can’t be expected).

                      The only thing that I see as definitely worse than last year (at this point) is the rotation, though it’s only December and Hoyer has said he wants to add a couple of starting pitching options. With that all said (and thank you for reading all of this, if you did), it is unreasonable to say the 2014 Cubs will definitely lose 95+ games and potentially be the worst Cubs team of all time. I see it at least being better than the 2012 team (fair?).

                    • Voice of Reason

                      You do know the 2012 cubs were 61 and 101? Third worst cubs record of all time. The record is 103 losses so its only a couple loses away.

                      The front office isn’t even trying to win.

                      Ruggiano? Saying he will provide an upgrade in rf? That’s ridiculous. We traded a fifth outfielder for a fifth outfielder yet we have to rely on him to get 300 at bats and produce. Its just stupid.

                      Left field, center field and third base. We don’t know who will be playing those positions. We think maybe valbuena at second? He’s a utility man on any other team yet we need him to put up some solid numbers! I like Castro and rizzo and our catcher and even they didn’t light it up last year. Very. Very average at first and catch and below average for Castro though I think he rebounds.

                    • Tyler

                      You’re not really grasping the whole “they don’t have to be good players, they just have to be better players” thing, are you? How does Valbuena have to put up solid numbers to be better offensively than Barney? How is it at all ridiculous to say Ruggiano will hit better than Hairston did? Again, they don’t have to be good players, they just have to be better players.

                    • Voice of Reason

                      No I’m not grasping what I guess you are calling logic.

                      Who will play what position for this team next year and what will they have to do “better” to improve to .500?

                    • Tyler

                      I never said .500, I said better than last year and certainly not the worst Cub team ever. I already explained how they are better (that’s what you’re not getting, I only said “better”). Bullpen, 1B, 2B, SS, RF are all better (as I explained), CF and C are (at least close) to equal, and LF and 3B are up in the air, perhaps both are worse, but there’s reason for optimism (Baez, Olt, Vitters, Lake, etc.).

            • FarmerTanColin

              So you see zero potential with the aforementioned information above? Your ceiling for the Cubs next season is 95 losses? Also notice I used words like potential and possible. No where did I a definitive statement or say how many games they were going to win.

              The loss of Garza, Feldman and Soriano opened the door for Arretia, Lake and the plethora of guys waiting in Iowa. Also their pythagorean win/loss record was a lot better than their actual record before they traded Feldman, Garza, etc. Meaning there is the potential to win baseball games.

          • Pat

            Yeah, but that was based on his assumption that Ruggiano could put up a .925 ops as his part of the platoon, and playing home games in Wrigley. I think that is extremely optimistic, to put it mildly.

            Also, there’s almost no way Valbuena/Murphy give you 3+ war again. Nothing wrong with catching lightning in a bottle, but I wouldn’t expect it again.

            • FarmerTanColin

              It is optimistic why is that such a bad thing around here? Part of the 3 war also included Ransom but asking for 2 WAR out of them at second base is not too farfetched.

              As for Ruggiano even with Marlins park he put up an .800+ OPS against lefties. He was a 2-3 war player back in 2012. So sure .900 ops a bit much but .800-.850 is not.

              I didn’t even mention what a full season of a healthy Ryan Sweeney can do. He actually hit better against LHP. There is potential on the team.

      • commander bob

        LOL!!!!

        Good one……

    • cub2014

      and their AAA & AA will be stacked like I
      have never seen before

      • commander bob

        lol!!!

        another good on.

  • justcommenting

    okay, so the “Wild Thing” walked over 7 per 9, but it sure was exciting when he struckout the side after walking them full

    • http://comicsandcardsupplies.com cms0101

      Wasn’t that on opening day? I vaguely remember coming home from school just in time to see the end of that game. What a horrible trade that was, despite the excitement in 1989. Thanks Jim Frey.

  • Steve Ontiveros’ Mustache

    “The Cubs may have gotten their back-end reliever.”

    I think that makes his nickname “Preparation H”.

  • Werner

    The 2014 bullpen, no matter what it finally looks like, is going to have more power arms in than 2013, right?

  • Arrieta’sUncle

    What was his return when he was traded to Detroit?

    • FarmerTanColin

      A “toolsy” 19 year old OF prospect. Ranked about 8th in the Tigers system. According to fangraphs.

      • FarmerTanColin

        and a 19 year old pitcher named later on as well.

  • Stevie B

    Is this the douche that acts like an @ hole when he actually does his job….?

    If this is he….I might be watching fewer and fewer games…

    • DarthHater

      Not sure what you are referring to. Care to clarify?

    • FarmerTanColin

      It’s not Jose Valverde

      • Stevie B

        Valverde…thats the dude.

        Ok,,,,, Im on board now.

        Valverde acted like a big ole fat prick when he closed out a game or struck someone out.
        I was thinking I was going to be in the ‘Man that guys is an ass, unless he’s on my team” club.

  • BlameHendry

    I would have preferred Balfour or Benoit, but at least it’s SOMETHING instead of another scrap-heap pickup. I still wanna see Strop get a legitimate chance to close though…

    Bullpen is looking significantly better than last year. I’m not a fan of Russell anymore but Veras-Strop-Parker-Fujikawa looks like a decently solid ‘Pen.

  • DEEP PURPLE

    Remembering all the games the Cubs were in/leading after 6 before the bullpen blew it, any change is good change. Now if we can just move Russell along before the warranty runs out. With all those pitches on his odometer the last couple years, he is like playing a game of Catch Phrase. You don’t want to be caught holding him when the buzzer goes off. (If it hasn’t already happened that is)

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