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Anderson, Depth, Murray, Santo, Impatience, Plaza, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs News, MLB News and Rumors

I am sufficiently “missing baseball” that I checked the World Baseball Classic schedule today in the hopes that early pool play started soon-ish, but I was way wrong. For some reason I thought maybe they started before Spring Training games, but they don’t – the early part of the WBC comes about 10 later, in early March.

I shouldn’t complain, because this is the shortest Cubs offseason in my (or your!) life. We have to get through less than three and a half months from the final Cubs game until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training. Consider that, in a year when the Cubs don’t make the playoffs, that’s an entire extra month without Cubs baseball.

Be gracious, Brett. And patient …

  • Speaking of Bretts, the Cubs haven’t officially announced the addition of the Anderson iteration, though Buster Olney has reported that he passed his physical. An announcement figures to be forthcoming, and, when it does come, the Cubs will be in better pitching shape than they were at this time last week. Although many teams would love to boast a front four like the Cubs, and to have the intriguing upside of Mike Montgomery available to try out in 2017, the Cubs have serious questions about the 6-7-8-9 starters that most teams need in a given season. The Cubs have been unusually healthy in their rotation over the past few years, and, while some of that may be a credit to the pitching infrastructure and the front office, I have no doubt that some of it is simply luck. That part might not always last, and if it doesn’t, many more starting pitchers will take the ball this year for the Cubs than you’ve been used to in recent years.
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  • Travis Sawchik writes about this depth issue for the Cubs, in light of the Anderson signing, and emphasizes the he’s-not-quite-traditional-“depth” consideration: “But if Anderson is an insurance policy for the rotation, he is a risky one for a team seeking rotation depth.” Sawchik is correct on that front, as Anderson is more about the upside to luck into a mid-rotation starter than it is about having concrete, back-of-the-rotation depth available if needed. But you can only sign the guys who are available, and, for a $3.5 million roll of the dice, Anderson seems one of the best available for any team.
  • The questions about the starting depth, however, persist for Sawchik even after the Anderson signing, and, on that, I’d agree with him. I’d still very much love to see the Cubs land a quality veteran back-end starting pitcher on a minor league deal in the coming weeks.
  • One random thing I’ve been thinking about with respect to Anderson that does make him slightly more like a quality “depth” signing than I’d previously noted: when healthy, Anderson figures to be a very solid bet to perform well in the rotation, right? And when he’s not healthy, he’ll be on the disabled list, not taking up a roster spot and not subject to waivers, right? So, then, if you believe in Anderson’s ability when healthy, then he kinda starts to take the shape of a quality depth starter who has minor league options left – the very tip-top thing that the Cubs need. The two enormous caveats there, though are: (1) you can’t necessarily assume that Anderson will always either be great or sufficiently injured to be on the DL (it’s possible there will be times when he’s simply suffering from moderately degraded performance, but isn’t quite injured), and (2) unlike a minor league option, you can’t pick and choose when an injury pops up.
  • That story about Bill Murray chucking Jon Hamm’s Cardinals hat out into an alley behind Murphy’s Bleachers during the World Series? The one that sounded too good to be true? Well … it’s true! Hamm, himself, confirmed the tale to Dan Patrick. And, for the record, Hamm thought it was funny.

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  • Carrie Muskat writes about Stan Zielinski, the long-time Cubs scout who unexpectedly passed away last month. He had such an impact on so many people – and on the Cubs’ organization – and his loss well be acutely felt.
  • A great writeup at FanGraphs from Craig Edwards on the longstanding misconception about what third basemen have been in recent baseball history: that is to say, they aren’t guys with huge bats like first basemen, who just happen to be slightly more mobile, right-handed, with better arms. Rather, especially, since about the mid-80s, the bats at third base have been much closer to the bats at second base than first base. Edwards points out that this misconception could hurt Scott Rolen’s Hall of Fame chances, and compares him favorably to another third baseman who was long underappreciated: Ron Santo.

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  • Speaking of pining for baseball to arrive:


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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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