Ask Away: Future Rotations, Zobrist at SS, Breakfast Food, Best Beards and More!

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Ask Away: Future Rotations, Zobrist at SS, Breakfast Food, Best Beards and More!

Analysis and Commentary, Chicago Cubs News

Ask Away

I’ll be in Mesa this weekend for Spring Training, where I’ll be doing my best to provide a ton of photos, video and commentary on the Cubs games and other activities.

You can follow me on Twitter @Michael_Cerami to keep up to date.

As I’ve said before, I’ll be at the game Friday (Aisle 114) and Saturday (outfield lawn/general admission), so if you see me, stop by and say hi.

Because I’ll be on a plane at the game for most of Friday, I’m sitting here now, writing this week’s Ask Away in advance. If you recall, last week we discussed Fowler’s option, the neighborhood play, Albert Almora’s future, my favorite disney movie and much more. This week we’ll discuss, well, other stuff.

If you have a question you’d like answered in an upcoming Ask Away, just email them to AskAway at BleacherNation dot com.

Without further adieu, Ask Away …

Are you concerned about what the rotation will look like by 2018? There are a lot of potential holes, but not much talent available in free agency. Will this be the year the Cubs finally make a big trade? Ed B.

No, I am not concerned about the starting rotation in 2018 – that’s somewhat of a futile endeavor. If I were a member of the front office, sure, I’d be planning for the 2018 rotation, but I doubt even they have any concern over the specifics. There are just far too many variables that could change before then to draw any meaningful conclusions.

BUT, I’m not a heartless jerk and I understand the point of the question, so let’s take a look at what it could like.

As of today, the Chicago Cubs could already have three 2018 starting pitchers on the major league roster: Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks and Adam Warren. By then, Lester will be 34 years old and entering year four of his six-year contract. Hendricks will be 28 and still have four years of team control (free agent after 2021), and Adam Warren will be 30 with one season of control left. So, already, you have 60% of a starting rotation three years out – that’s not something many teams can say.

Of course, there’s also prospects like Duane Underwood, Pierce Johnson, Ryan Williams or Carl Edwards Jr., each with the potential to be big league starters, by then, plus all the young guys below them. And, despite rumors to the contrary, there are at least a few free agent starting pitchers worth looking at over the next two offseasons before the enormous post-2018 free agent class turns baseball upside down.

And, of course, there’s a chance the Cubs keep Jake Arrieta around for a good long while.

But, like you suggest, the Cubs could look to make a trade beforehand. If they feel the need to improve before the 2016 trade deadline, look for them to target young pitchers with multiple years of control remaining. It’s possible that they would even move major league pieces to complete such a deal. That’s life on a team with extraordinary depth.

Given the expressed interest in versatility, do you think we’ll see Maddon occasionally switching Russell and Zobrist at SS and 2B to keep them fresh at each position? Grant M.

Although this might make sense, theoretically, I don’t expect it to be something we see too often in 2016. Javier Baez is – at least at this point in his career – a far more capable major league shortstop than Ben Zobrist is. So, if Russell needs to miss an extended period of time, Baez will be the replacement over Zobrist (just like we saw in the NLCS, last year, when Baez took over instead of Castro).

Zobrist has manned the position in over 1700 innings throughout his career, but the most recent occurrence was back in 2014. As you might recall, Zobrist suffered a knee injury in 2015 that required surgery and had a negative impact on his defensive ability (at least according to the advanced defensive metrics, 2015 was his worst season in the field since becoming a full time player in 2008). So, when taken in conjunction with Baez’s abilities, I doubt you see Zobrist at shortstop all too often.

If Kyle Schwarber and/or Willson Contreras advance enough this year to be considered semi-reliable back-ups to Miguel Montero, is there any chance David Ross retires mid-season (right into an assistant bench coach role) if he isn’t having a good year? Ryan D. (Des Moines)

I sincerely doubt David Ross will retire midseason. He’s just doesn’t strike me as the type of guy, regardless of struggles, that will stop just short on a 15+ year career. And, while he won’t quite have the retirement tour we’ve seen with other recent long-time players, he seems to be having plenty of fun with his retirement as is.

Also, I’m positive that – in 2016 – neither Schwarber nor Contreras will have the defensive skills, arm, experience, game management, or framing abilities that David Ross has. His 8.4 Def rating in 2015 was 14th best among catchers with at least 100 plate appearances in all of baseball, and he was among the league’s best framers.

While I honestly believe that both Contreras and Schwarber have a real future behind the plate, I don’t expect either will get significantly playing time over of a healthy David Ross, without a rash of injuries (specifically to Miguel Montero). Although, I do believe that Ross could come back in a coaching capacity sometime after this season.

And now for the personal, funny and anything-else-that-comes-to-mind part – let’s talk about breakfast food, beards and relationships. Ask away …

What is the better breakfast food: cheese danish or glazed donut? Alan G. (San Diego)

To be perfectly honest, neither of those options sound particularly tasty, but I’m going to assume the question is taking more of a “Breakfast food: savory or sweet?” angle – so that is how I’ll answer.


My favorite breakfast food is a skillet from this diner called Maxfields in Schaumburg, IL. I get it with ham, onion, tomato, green pepper, spinach, jack cheese, two over-easy eggs and, of course, a bed of hash browns.

“But Michael, why don’t you get pancakes for your side? They’re sweet and would complement the skillet!”

Nope. I add a side of potato pancakes. Absolutely delicious.

Can you describe your relationship with other Cubs sites/blogs? Don S. (Chicago)

Absolutely, because its very simple: we all have an excellent relationship with each other, and there’d be no reason not to!

I haven’t had the honor of meeting as many other bloggers in real life as Brett has, but every conversation I have had in-person has been excellent.

For just a few examples, I’ve had a excellent conversations with Sahadev Sharma (@SahadevSharma – The Athletic) and John Arguello (@Cubs Den – 2080Baseball) at the 2015 Cubs Convention, I’ve hung out with Tim McGinnis (@Aisle424 – Obstructed View) on a number of occasions, and I text with Rian Watt (@RianWatt – BPWrigleyville) all the time. Hi, Ryan! Not to mention the thousands of Twitter conversations held a dozen or more other writers. I feel like I know them, without ever meeting them.

So, yes, we have a good relationship and I enjoy reading all of their work.

Beards: Who wore it better, Jake Arrieta or Jason Heyward? Ryan D. (Des Moines)

Well, first let’s see what we’re working with here:


I love me some Jason Heyward, but I’m giving the best beard nod to Jake Arrieta – that’s probably the highest honor he’s received in years. What do you think?

Okay, until next week, friends. Remember, you can send your questions in to AskAway at BleacherNation dot com.


Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @Michael_Cerami.