Ask Away: Four-Man Rotations, Kris Bryant in Left Field, Star Wars, Podcasts and More

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Ask Away: Four-Man Rotations, Kris Bryant in Left Field, Star Wars, Podcasts and More

Chicago Cubs

Ask Away

Woof. Last night sure was a mixed bag.

While I’m obviously thrilled with the Cubs’ 3-0 start to the season and the 29 runs they’ve scored in their first 27 innings, Kyle Schwarber’s injury (and nervously-expected MRI results) are really dampening my mood.

And, as you may have noticed, I had to skip last week’s Ask Away (I know, you were heartbroken), because I was moving into my new apartment less than a mile from Wrigley Field! I’ve been wanting to do this for quite some time, so I’m exceedingly excited that it has finally happened.

Separately, if you’d like your question to be answered in an upcoming Ask Away, remember to send them in to Ask Away @ BleacherNation dot com, or tweet them to me @Michael_Cerami using the hashtag #AskAway.

Two weeks ago, we discussed the best and worst Spring Training performances, how close the Cubs are to trading some recognizable prospects, whom the Cubs could least afford to lose for an extended period of time, whether I prefer cake or pie, and much more. So, be sure to check it out.

This week, we’ll touch on four-man rotations, Kris Bryant as a left fielder, my favorite non-baseball podcasts and much, much more. So without further adieu, Ask Away …

Can you imagine the possibility of a near-future Cubs team using a four man rotation? With front-end dominance, Maddon’s preference for the quick hook and the abundance of SUPs, it certainly seems possible. Matt E. (Also, Jason M.)

This is an excellent question, because teams must be willing to challenge tradition if they hope to find the next competitive edge/advantage. That said, I’m not quite sure a four-man rotation is the way to go.

Let’s consider the scenario where the Cubs shrink down to a four-man rotation, sending either of Kyle Hendricks or Jason Hammel to the bullpen (pick your poison). The resulting members of the rotation aren’t going to pick up more innings (they can only pitch so much, by year’s end), and the cleanup will just be spread among the remaining five super utility pitchers (and the rest of bullpen), instead of four.

But what I dislike most about this approach is that there’s a reason pitchers like Kyle Hendricks are in the rotation instead of the pen. Namely, he’s a far better starter than the other SUPs and he may not quite have the stuff for the pen (velocity, an effective wipeout pitch). Furthermore, Hendricks is far more effective as a starter precisely because he gets more innings where he can use his vast, but average repertoire to set up and attack hitters in creative ways. I truly understand the inclination, but in practice (and for this particular Cubs team), I don’t believe it would be beneficial.

How many players can the Cubs stash in AAA to rotate into the 25-man roster? Would Victorino or Kawasaki be willing to take that deal? Jason M. (Zorag)

The Cubs can “stash” as many players in AAA – or the rest of the minors – as the roster rules will allow (the big league 40-man roster, and the 25-man minor league rosters), but there are many limiting factors. For example, as a veteran on a minor league deal, you’re going to want to sign with a team that has not only an open position on the field, but also a somewhat clear path to the majors. And if that path does not open up, there is often a contractual or collectively-bargained right to opt out of that minor league deal.

Conversely, as a front office, you’re not going to want to sign veteran players as depth if they’re going to stunt or block the growth of an otherwise not-yet-ready prospect on his way up the ladder.

We know that each of Munenori Kawawsaki, Shane Victorino and Manny Parra signed minor league deals with the Cubs, as examples, and Kawasaki has since been added to the 40-man roster. Of course, with Kyle Schwarber’s injury last night and Javier Baez’s slow return, it’s at least conceivable that one of Kawasaki or Victorino (who is currently rehabbing/prepping for the season in Arizona) will be his replacement on the 25-man roster in Chicago.

Can you forsee a scenario wherein Kris Bryant becomes the everyday left fielder by the second half of 2016? Alex H.

No, there’s no way Kris Bryant will be the everyday left fielder by the second half of 2016, unless something terrible happens to Kyle Schwarber and Jorge Soler is seen as way too much of a defensive liability in left field to draw regular starts, despite his promising bat.

That didn’t give me any pleasure in writing.

Obviously, this question came in before Schwarber was injured last night, and that really did change things dramatically. However, I do believe that Jorge Soler will get the majority of starts in left field until Schwarber return. But with that said, we still don’t know the extent of Schwarber’s injury, how long he’ll be out and who is coming up to replace him in the short-term. In the worst case scenario (he’s out for the season), I can plausibly envision a scenario where someone like Javier Baez or Jeimer Candelario reaches the majors and really takes off, pushing Kris Bryant to left field, and Jorge Soler into more of a complementary role (not unlike the plans before Schwarber was hurt). But, that is a whole lot of ifs and Soler may yet break out into the player we know he can be. Further, Bryant is becoming a very good defensive third baseman in his own right.

My answer: Yes I can see it, but no I do not think it is very likely.

And now for the personal, funny and anything-else-that-comes-to-mind part. Ask Away…

About ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens,’ was Rey trained as a kid? Jonathan R. (Darth Ivy)

Listen, spoilers are coming. So if you somehow have lost your mind and haven’t seen this movie yet, turn away now. I, on the other hand, have seen this movie four times (thrice in theaters and once at home on blu-ray for the deleted scenes), and have some pretty good theories on Rey and her background.

First, let’s talk about the most outstanding question: who are Rey’s parents? Now, some people have suggested Han and Leia, other’s suggest a connection to Luke, while still some others have offered an ancestral line related to one Obi Wan Kenobi; I disagree with all of the above. But, instead of offering my reasons against those arguments, let me offer one of my own: Rey is the daughter of Supreme Leader Snoke.

My theory is that, at some in the past, the Resistance caught wind of Snoke’s daughter (Rey) and her extraordinarily force-sensitive capabilities. In fear that Snoke may mentor Rey and guide her to the dark side, the Resistance kidnapped her and hid her from Snoke on Jakku. Then, in anger and in search of an apprentice, Snoke turned his attention to a force sensitive boy named Ben Solo (Kyle Ren) and persuaded him to join the dark side (we know this much to be true).

I believe that at some point in the future, Rey will learn the truth and be forced to decide between her actual family (Snoke and the dark side) and the one that kidnapped her, but has since taken her in as one of their own (the resistance and the light). In fact, I think this one would be a pretty difficult choice for Rey, because we know how much she values her family and friends. Make it happen, writers.

You are at a game (bleacher seating) and are on your way back from the concessions with a beer in one hand and food in the other. Then, all of a sudden, Kris Bryant hits a bomb and the ball is flying directly at you, what do you do? Shane K. (SSCKelley)

Trick question, I do this:


What are your favorite non-baseball related podcasts? Brett T. (hmm … sounds familiar)

I love podcasts and listen to quite a bit, but here are some my top ones (a few obvious, some others, not so much):

  • Serial – I can’t not list it, even if season two wasn’t nearly as good. [Brett: Same.]
  • The Message – An AWESOME, short, fictional, non-fiction podcast about a team of researches that investigate an alien message received on Earth over 60 years ago. [Brett: Can confirm, it’s good.]
  • The Black Tapes Podcast – Another very cool fictional/non-fiction podcast about a college student that explores the super natural from a scientific perspective, but ends up uncovering a story of something very real and more sinister.
  • The Nerdist – Hosted by Chris Hardwick, the Nerdist is my favorite podcast of all-time.
  • Doug Loves Movies – Comedian Doug Benson hosts celebrities on a movie-related live comedy gameshow (sorta), that airs at 4:20 P.M., because of course.
  • Myths and Legends – I’ve been listening to this podcast a lot lately, and it’s actually pretty cool. A young guy retells old, familiar stories in their original form. For example, one of the first episodes is the original tale of Aladdin, which is a far cry from the Disney version we all grew up watching. Other stories include King Arthur, Thor, and a tale that was ultimately the foundation for Lord of the Rings. Very cool.
  • [Brett: Let me toss in Planet Money, Stuff You Should Know, Home of the Brave, Reply All, Startup, and Mystery Show. Check ’em all out.]

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami