Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

old stove featureYou are so close to getting me up to 33 hours for the BN Trade Deadline Blogathon. Please drive me crazy for a good cause.

Until then, some of the latest …

  • Patrick Mooney has a great piece on the Cubs as buyers this year, with a great deal of discussion coming from Theo Epstein, himself. Among the many interesting thoughts there include Epstein’s reminder to folks that while, yes, there’s a difference between winning the division and grabbing a Wild Card, and the moves a team makes will reflect that, it’s still very important to get to the playoffs. That’s especially true for a team like the Cubs, which is turning a corner, and stands to gain a great deal – in positivity, in planning, and in revenue – if it “makes the playoffs” this year. It means more than just a one-and-done in the Wild Card game.
  • Oh, and also: you might win that Wild Card game. And then you might win some more after that. I’m sure the A’s regret some of their dealings last July, having lost in the Wild Card game, but you don’t have to go as crazy as the A’s did, and you can still improve your team for the second half.

  • A small bit that I was glad to hear Epstein mention explicitly: this front office has not been concerning itself with Super Two status for players, and, for as much flack as they got regarding Kris Bryant and service time (years of control and Super Two are extremely different things), they’re calling up young players on their own time. Their decisions in that regard are not being dictated by how much money those players might eventually, someday, earn in arbitration. I think fans on all sides of the spectrum can appreciate that. For me, even while I openly say that you do have to think about and plan for Super Two possibilities (and maybe it’s a tie-breaker), it can’t be the primary focus for promotion decisions, because it’s all just too tenuous.
  • I’m discussing a couple of seemingly unrelated threads from Mooney’s piece, but they’re not unrelated at all. Just give it a read for the full picture.
  • You must also read this Rany Jazayerli piece on the Padres’ offseason and first half. It is a comprehensive deconstruction of the egregious mistakes of the Padres’ front office since last Fall, leaving the organization much worse off than if it had just done nothing at all. I share that article here both because it is an extremely interesting read about organization-building, and because it underscores that the Padres really, really need to sell-sell-sell at the Deadline this year. They have a lot of fits that make sense for the Cubs. I also want to say, for the record: I openly thought many of the Padres’ moves in the offseason were nuts, yielding a Frankenstein monster of a roster that could be good for a very short-term but could also have serious holes exposed … but I also really respected the attempt to try something different. Teams almost never do what the Padres tried to do – go from a borderline sub-.500-type team into a contender in a single offseason by way of a ton of external moves – and I enjoyed watching the action. Maybe, though, this is why teams don’t do it.

  • Among other Astros notes, Evan Drellich writes that their pitching focus looks to be rentals, rather than Cole Hamels. And that got me wondering … who exactly is going to be in on Hamels? I could talk myself into and out of teams like the Blue Jays, Angels, and Yankees if I were inclined, but there was a time when it seemed like the Red Sox and Astros might make the most sense. If the Astros are out, and the Red Sox are out of contention, it’ll be interesting to see if an aggressive market for Hamels develops. The Cubs were interested at one point, but I’m not convinced this is the best route for them when they could instead go for a rental (dramatically less prospect cost) and then explore the huge free agent market after the season (not just aces, mind you, but some really interesting mid-tier arms with which the Cubs have had a ton of success recently).
  • The Tigers would have a ton of interesting pieces to sell if they decided to go that direction – David Price could become the best rental available, and Yoenis Cespedes would be among the more intriguing positional rentals – but Jason Beck writes that it’s still too early for them to know how they’ll go. The Tigers, to me, have the look of a team that will neither buy nor sell at the Deadline, just holding it all together and seeing if they can get healthy and make a run.
  • Jason Grilli figured to be a nice trade piece for the Braves at the deadline, but he blew out his Achilles and is done for the year. In his stead, at least in small part, the Braves have turned to Jason Frasor, whom they have just reportedly signed (Ken Rosenthal) after he was released by the Royals. Maybe the Braves will try to parlay him into a trade piece, but there’s not exactly a lot of time to rehabilitate his value, and every team just had a crack at him for free. The 37-year-old righty had been consistently good for a long time, but his peripherals took a nose-dive this year with the Royals, leading to the release.
  • There’s a fun read at MLBTR about the first trades made after the All-Star Game each of the last five years. If you were looking for trends, there’s often a move announced soon after the game, and then a lull until we get into the final 10 or so days of July.

  • It’ll be interesting to see if he gets moved by the Deadline, and if it’s as a utility piece:

  • Michael’s look at possible trade partners for the Cubs led him to the Rockies earlier today – boy, it sure would be nice to figure out a way to get Charlie Blackmon on the Cubs, given them a whole lot of rotational options in the outfield – and there are links to his previous pieces in there, too. Patrick Saunders writes that he could see Blackmon as a piece the Rockies move.
  • FanGraphs’ trade value series continues, with 11 through 20 today. Obviously the rankings there aren’t gospel, but it’s important to note the presence of guys like Jacob deGrom at 20 and Sonny Gray at 15. When you talk casually about the Cubs throwing together a trade for a guy like that … remember: they’re crazy valuable, and, thus, crazy expensive. (Unrelatedly: I wish the Cubs had a deGrom – a guy who was a decent, non-star prospect all the way up the ladder, and then exploded in the big leagues in a sustainable, consistent way because the stuff and the velocity ticked up for the first time in the bigs.)

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