Are the 2017 Cubs Already Looking Better Than the 2016 Cubs? And Other Bullets

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Are the 2017 Cubs Already Looking Better Than the 2016 Cubs? And Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

cubs-win-bryant-celebrate-cheerObligatory weather intro: it was 4 degrees this morning, which is not warm. Did you know that?

  • CSN opened up what I think is a pretty interesting debate when it asked a fairly simple question: are the Cubs right now better than the team that just won the World Series? My immediate instinct was, “Well, no, of course not, because they lost Dexter Fowler and Aroldis Chapman, and it’s not like there’s a one-to-one replacement for those guys” … but then I took the requisite five more seconds to think that, well, Wade Davis actually is extremely close to being as effective on paper as Chapman, and although a Jon Jay/Albert Almora Jr. platoon probably won’t match Dexter Fowler’s overall production in 2016, they could be pretty close when you factor in the potential for impact defense. Plus, do we get to say that the 2016 Cubs didn’t really have Kyle Schwarber (even though they did have him for the World Series)? And, if so, the combined impact of his full return and the combo in center field could very well replace or exceed Fowler. From there, the considerations are about the loss of David Ross (definitely not insignificant), the loss of Jorge Soler (mostly about potential), the probable loss of guys like Jason Hammel, Travis Wood, Trevor Cahill, and Chris Coghlan, and stacking those up against the additions of Koji Uehara, Brian Duensing, and Caleb Smith.
  • To be fair to the 2017 Cubs installment, the offseason is not over, and there will be additional maneuvering, I’m quite sure. Further, the 2016 installment that we’re looking at now has the benefit of expanded rosters, so we’re counting as “losses” a volume of guys who could not plausibly all fit on a 25-man roster. But, if you’re asking me if the current roster, if the season started today, is better than the roster as of the moment Anthony Rizzo squeezed that final out in the World Series, I don’t think I could say it is. It’s quite a bit less deep and there’s an obvious question at the back of the rotation. The steps forward from the young core in 2017 could obviously (and maybe even expectedly) offset all of that difference when it comes to actual performance, and I want to be quite clear that I’m far from criticizing this offseason or the current roster. I’m just saying that it’s going to be incredibly difficult for the opening 25-man roster of the 2017 Cubs to match, on paper, the finishing 40-man roster of the World Series champions.
  • The Cubs made the Koji Uehara deal official yesterday, and, as I originally reported last week, he gets $6 million for one year (still a fantastic deal and a worthwhile risk, despite other initial reports that the deal was for $4.5 million). And, it sounds like Uehara could have gotten even more if he’d gone elsewhere:

  • The Cubs may no longer have the allure of being on the team that finally does it, but they do still have the allure of being a team that will very likely be competitive in a great city, and will have the organizational infrastructure and support to make it a good place to be.
  • The MLB Players Association unanimously ratified the new Collective Bargaining Agreement yesterday after the owners ratified it, so it is now officially official. The full text of the CBA should be out soon, and then we can make sure that the actual terms match the things that have been paraphrased to this point. There probably won’t be any huge surprises, but there are always some things in there that folks with earlier access may have gleaned over (because it’s so voluminous, and not everyone is an obsessive nerd who cares about things like the DFA timeline shrinking from 10 days to 7 days (yes, that did change in the CBA)).
  • Given the Cubs’ reported interest in Tyson Ross, it’s worth checking out this article about Matt Harvey’s recovery from surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome (which is what Ross, himself, is trying to come back from).
  • One sportswriter made his Hall of Fame ballot public yesterday – so, good for him on that – but he voted for Vladimir Guerrero and Trevor Hoffman. Full stop. That’s it. No Ivan Rodriguez or Jeff Bagwell or Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens or Mike Mussina or Edgar Martinez etc. And, because the system elects only those who are named on 75% of the ballots cast, a ballot like that is affirmatively harmful to the cases of guys like Tim Raines, who is in his final year of voter eligibility and needs every vote he can possibly get. If this writer had just not voted at all, Raines would have been better off.
  • The Rangers are going to formally object to three of their players – Yu Darvish, Shin-Soo Choo, and Elvis Andrus – participating in the World Baseball Classic because of injuries and injury risk. This, of course, has always been one of the biggest problems for the WBC (and, eventually, the Olympics), because teams pay these players a whole lot of money for healthy, productive MLB seasons, so it’s kind of hard to be angry with them when they want to protect that investment. At the same time, fans want to be able to see players in this kind of competition (and many of the players really want to play).

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.