The Winter Meetings are over, and now we return to the regularly-scheduled offseason …
- There were a couple interesting tidbits in Mark Gonzales’s post-meetings write-up, which is well worth a read. Of specific note, I find it intriguing that Gonzales mentions the Phillies as potentially interested in Travis Wood – that’s the second such mention of the week, after Gordon Wittenmyer previously said the same – and he also mentions outfielder Ben Revere, whom Wittenmyer also mentioned. That is all to say, there’s a little bit of smoke here.
- Setting aside the Wood aspect for a moment, is Revere a guy in whom the Cubs should have interest? Well, to the plus side, Revere is just 26, and is first-time arbitration eligible. He’s got great speed, doesn’t strike out – like, ever – and probably plays quality outfield defense (despite so-so advanced defensive stats the last two years). To the downside, thanks to some stats that traditional types favor – huge batting average, lots of steals – he projects to open his arbitration years at $4 million (MLBTR), which eats a little into the value of his arbitration years. And, about those stats: Revere provides great value on the basepaths, and, as I said, I think he might be better defensively than the numbers have indicated the last two years. But offensively, he’s got the most hollow .300+ batting average I’ve ever seen. Last year, he hit .306/.325/.361, which is pretty tough to pull off. That’s a .304 wOBA and 92 wRC+, by the way. Shrug.
- All in all, Revere strikes me as something of a tweener. He’s probably a starting-quality center fielder, and there might still be a tiny bit of upside. But I’m not sure he’s a legit leadoff hitter, and his offensive skill set doesn’t play as well down the order. But it’s an intriguing package of skills, even if he wasn’t a clear-cut every-day starter. If that was, for example, the return in a Travis Wood trade? I don’t think I’d hate it. But I’m not sure I see why the Phillies, ostensibly rebuilding, would want two more expensive years of Wood over three cheaper years of Revere (that, if they were inclined, they could trade for prospects).
- From possibly trading starters to acquiring them, Paul Sullivan heard from a top Cubs executive that he’d like to see the Cubs add another starting pitcher. To my mind, that does still make sense. The Cubs have four likely starters in the fold (Lester/Arrieta/Hammel/Hendricks), and then a boatload of conceivably serviceable 5th starter options. If Wood is traded for value, the Cubs may not be too worse for the wear, but they may also not have a ton of potential upside in that 5th starter spot (we’re also assuming, by the way, that Kyle Hendricks suffers no hiccups). I like the idea of adding a low-risk, high-upside arm to the mix – a Brett Anderson or a Brandon Morrow or a Brandon Beachy or a Kris Medlen. Not only is there potential upside there, but it’s just more quality depth.
- (Obviously your ideal scenario has the Cubs adding another quality starter – a one-year guy in trade or another big signing – but I don’t think that’s all that realistic at this point. And, frankly, if the Cubs were going to spend currency on another big-ish addition this offseason (whether a free agent or a short-term trade acquisition), I’d rather it was a bat.)
- Among the other realistic things the Cubs will be doing this offseason – as discussed this morning – is looking for another lefty reliever. Rob Bradford reports that the Cubs recently spoke with former Red Sox pitcher Craig Breslow. Now 34, Breslow was fantastic with the A’s and Red Sox for a number of years before crashing last year: 5.96 ERA, 5.34 FIP, and 5.13 xFIP. What happened? Well, Breslow gave up far more fly balls than usual, and far more of his fly balls than usual left the ballpark – that’s a compounding situation that can crush a reliever’s performance. The BABIP some 70 points higher than his career average didn’t help, either. Oh, and his LOB% sank dramatically, so he may have had some bad luck with sequencing. His strikeout rate was meh, and his walk rate was meh. His velocity was down, too. All in all, it was a pretty awful year.
- Unless there’s some obvious explanation about which I’m unaware, and which is easily corrected, I’m not sure the Cubs should be looking at Breslow as more than a minor league deal/Spring Training invite type. On that kind of deal – maybe with a nice big league split salary if he makes the team – I say totally go for it. Maybe last year was a fluke. It’s worth noting, by the way, that Breslow is not a lefty specialist – he typically fares equally well (or poorly, as the case may be) against lefties and righties.