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Imagining Expansion and Realignment in MLB, Dreaming on Cease, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs News, Cubs Minor Leagues and Prospects

The Wife is hosting an event at our house early tomorrow, and, in service of helping her prepare for and execute that process, I’ll be taking the three kiddos to The Grandparents’ place for an overnight. I’ll probably just go the full nine and turn it into a living room “camp out” with the two bigger kids, which will undoubtedly be fun, but also will not feature a great deal of sleep. Pray for mojo.

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  • Travis Sawchik is doing work for FanGraphs, and his latest is an examination of how likely MLB is to expand in the near-ish future (somewhat likely), and what it would look like if/when it happens. As part of his discussion – which is much more robust than this chart – he put together a possible eight-division, four-team setup if two new teams are added to MLB:

What Would a Post-Expansion MLB Look Like?

  • It’s an interesting mix of old and geographic (but would-be-new) rivalries, and it would certainly be crazy and wild to have the Cubs and White Sox in the same division. I’m not sure how the teams would feel about that. As far as the Cubs are concerned, keeping them together with the Cardinals would be of paramount importance, but splitting up the other NL Central teams … I don’t know, it just feels wrong. There are also some geographic oddities, but that’s going to be the case no matter how MLB splits things up if and when they add two more teams.
  • If you want a little more background on last evening’s new Cubs bullpen signee (minor league deal), Jim Henderson, this is a good read from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about just how much he’s gone through to keep his dream alive.

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  • It’s not quite a trend yet, but Dave Cameron notes at ESPN a couple recent times when a team decided to take a high-octane but young, inexperienced arm, skip trying to develop them as a starter, and simply tossed them into the big league bullpen right away to fill a need (Roberto Osuna in Toronto, Edwin Diaz in Seattle). In today’s game, although the potential upside of a 4.0-win starter is lost in the process, the team might get the best years of a two-pitch, high-leverage, impact reliever right away. To put it in context, this would be akin to the Cubs seeing Dylan Cease come out this year, dominate at A-ball with his 100mph fastball and hammer curve for a couple weeks, and then saying screw it, he’s joining our bullpen right now. It would be very unorthodox, and I can’t see it for the Cubs right now, who have a pretty robust bullpen as it is. (Aside, and with Cease, specifically, at least, you might be concerned about arm health if the youngster tries to crank it up too much.) Will other teams give it a go this year to try to get their own Osuna or Diaz seemingly out of nowhere? We’ll see. (And just to be *crystal* clear: I’m not saying the Cubs will, should, or would even consider moving Cease to the big league pen this year. I’m just giving you a relatable example of this potential phenomenon around baseball.)
  • Speaking of Cease, there’s a writeup at CSN about how special the Cubs believe him to be. Remember, this was a first-round high school talent that the Cubs got in the sixth round only because everyone knew he was going to need elbow surgery. The Cubs picked him, paid him handsomely to sign, and then have been very carefully and methodically bringing him back after that surgery. They know that his upside is unlike any pitching prospect they’ve had in years (outside, I might argue, of Oscar de la Cruz, whom I could still see as an extremely fast-riser this year if he’s healthy). Heck, in the article, Jason McLeod says Cease was a top ten talent to the Cubs in that draft.

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  • The WORLD CHAMPIONS open up their title defense in 70 days at Busch Stadium …


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Brett Taylor

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

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