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Revisiting the Decision to Let Jason Hammel Walk and Other Bullets

Analysis and Commentary, Chicago Cubs News

jason hammel cubsGood year for Eddie Vedder, eh? Not only did his beloved Cubs finally win the World Series, but he’s also been inducted, together with the seminal band he fronts, Pearl Jam, to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Thankfully the PED era considerations didn’t keep Pearl Jam off too many ballots now that we have a more modern understanding of sabermetrocks.

… I’m sorry you had to read that.

But seriously: Pearl Jam is awesome, and has long been one of my favorite bands. It would be a fool’s errand to try to list a favorite Pearl Jam song, so I’ll just mention some of the best to me: Nothingman, Release, Smile, I Got ID, Off He Goes, Immortality, Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town, Daughter, Low Light … I could go on.


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  • As we talked about the Cubs’ lack of starting pitching depth yesterday – and it also comes up in conjunction with the Cubs’ pursuit of free agent Tyson Ross – folks have brought up the Cubs’ early-offseason decision to decline Jason Hammel’s affordable $12 million option for 2017, in favor of a $2 million buyout and open free agency for Hammel. Some wonder if that looks like a bad decision as the offseason goes on, and the Cubs have yet to acquire any additional starting pitching depth. Fair. But I think it’s important not to allow time to wash away the context of that decision when it was made: the Cubs were clearly not going to promise Hammel a roster spot for 2017, let alone a starting rotation spot, pending whatever else they might do in the offseason (and considering the fact that they want time to evaluate Mike Montgomery as a starter). The desire – the need! – to add younger, longer-term pitching is strong. So, then, back in November, they decided to let Hammel proceed into free agency unfettered.
  • The other big consideration with Hammel, specifically, is that neither he, nor the guy he’d potentially bump from the rotation (Montgomery) have minor league options. As “depth,” then, it complicates the process of keeping both guys fresh as starting pitchers – all else equal, you’d rather have a “depth” starting pitcher who is actually starting in games and staying stretched out at AAA. The Cubs’ moves in the bullpen so far this offseason have helped shore up that group, making it more comfortable to remove Montgomery (and place him in the rotation). In a roundabout way, then, the Cubs have filled some of the innings they lost in Hammel by adding to the bullpen. Another starting pitcher is still very desirable, but I’m not sure it’s right to say that it’s obvious the Cubs should have kept Hammel.

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  • The Cubs, as they have in years past, have revoked some season ticket holder privileges for re-selling too many games (Tribune). It’s just not anyone who re-sells some of their tickets, mind you – it’s folks who are selling so many of their tickets that it kinda just looks like that’s the only reason they have the tickets.
  • The Red Sox ZiPS are out, and, yeah, that’s a freaking loaded team.

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  • Meanwhile, over at Baseball is Fun:


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Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation.