Making Offensive Upgrades, Thinking Long-Term About Pitching, and Other Bullets

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Making Offensive Upgrades, Thinking Long-Term About Pitching, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

jason hammel cubsGetting back into the normal rhythm post-Blogathon is always a challenge. The body is a little off, the brain is a little off, and the internal sense of schedule is way off.

Early game today, so I’m scrambling a bit this morning …

  • I enjoyed this read at CSN on why the Cubs ultimately didn’t add another bat at the Trade Deadline, which might just be confirmation bias on my part, because it pretty much says everything I was feeling heading into the deadline. As you go through each of the big bats that were traded, there are very good reasons why the Cubs either didn’t get involved, or didn’t land the player. And, as we suspected, Josh Reddick was the one guy they did try to get, but there’s a reasonable answer why the Cubs couldn’t make it happen: Oakland wanted high-level pitching prospects (which they go, in spades, from the Dodgers).
  • Speaking of that lack of arms, if you’re a long-term worrier, you can see the Cubs’ minor league pitching situation becoming dire in the coming years – can they really keep constructing a rotation on the fly via reclamation arms and short-term free agent additions? If you’re the hopeful type, you see some of the lower-level quality arms breaking out by 2017/18. Me? I fall somewhere in between, though I start thinking about the positional core getting expensive right around the same time the Cubs will need to spend big in free agency on pitching (should be a great market after 2017 and 2018, though) if they don’t have breakouts internally or make trades for controllable arms. This is not a 2016 concern for fans, of course, but I guarantee the front office is thinking about it regularly.
  • Speaking of pitching for 2017, the Cubs hold a $10 million option on Jason Hammel for next season (with a $2 million buyout, so it’s actually an $8 million decision), and if he keeps pitching like he has the last couple times (or this season as a whole, actually), it’ll be an extremely easy decision. He talked about how he didn’t have a feel for his offspeed stuff last night, but still made it work with just his fastball.
  • Hammel is going on the bereavement list, by the way, and Justin Grimm is coming back.
  • Mike Matheny is getting blasted for another tactical blunder, having brought his closer Seung Hwan Oh in against the Reds in the 8th inning last night (as part of a series of double switches that seem not to have optimally aligned the batting order), and then letting him hit with the bases loaded in the top of the 9th with a one-run lead (because he wanted to keep Oh in the game for the bottom of the inning). Then, with two on in the 9th and the Cardinals up a run, Reds outfielder Scott Schebler took Oh out of the stadium for a walk-off. It was quite enjoyable. SCardenfreude.
  • Lots of folks asking about Tommy La Stella, who was optioned to Iowa on July 29, but still hasn’t appeared in a game there. You will recall that Joe Maddon said La Stella did not take well to news of the option – which came because Chris Coghlan returned from the DL, and the Cubs wanted to be able to keep everyone (so they had to option someone with options left). Players have 72 hours to report when they’ve been optioned down. Seems like typically players report sooner, but, hey, a right is a right. Still, that period has now passed, and La Stella was not with the I-Cubs yesterday. That doesn’t mean he’s truant, though, as it’s possible the Cubs gave him permission to delay his appearance until the Iowa Cubs returned home today. No one really seems to know for sure. My guess is La Stella shows up today, it was never a problem, and this is mostly forgotten. It’s unfortunate that the roster situation dictated that a big league-caliber player had to spend some time in the minors, but that’s the way it is sometimes. It isn’t the first time it’s happened to a player, and it won’t be the last. At the latest, La Stella will be back in September when rosters expand.
  • (Of note in the background: With a full year of service time in 2016, there was a chance – not a guarantee – but a chance that La Stella could have qualified as a Super Two player, and thus eligible for arbitration for the first time next year. With this option, that seems very unlikely now. He’d still be projected to reach free agency at the same time as he was before, but he’d get three passes at arbitration instead of four. To be clear, I don’t think this factored into the Cubs’ decision – that was pretty clearly dictated by the unique roster configuration at the time – I’m just pointing it out.)
  • It’s nice to see this, because the Cubs are going to need that 6th starter depth (whomever it might be when the time comes):

Author: Brett Taylor

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