The Teams Chasing the Cubs, the Brewers Rotation, and Other Bullets

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The Teams Chasing the Cubs, the Brewers Rotation, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Ah, the return to semi-normalcy, at least for a partial week, and then things get upended a bit by the New Year’s holiday. A lot of our friends are doing family trips and stuff during this week, because then they get to bookend with two long weekends. I wonder if any of you fine folks are doing the same, and/or if any important baseball executives/players are doing it.

  • Statcast looks at the most extreme throws from the year, and I was a little surprised not to see Willson Contreras show up on there (though now that I think about it, I guess we already knew that from an earlier look at catchers, specifically – Contreras is way up there, but not tip top). The outfield throws on these things always impress me – Brewers outfielder Brett Phillips had the fastest throw of the year, at 104.7 mph. Phillips is an interesting youngster, and you may remember he was one of the primary pieces in that Carlos Gomez trade with the Astros a few years ago. He’s always hit in the minors and finally got a taste of the big leagues last year. The big thing he’s going to have to deal with is a strikeout rate that was pushing 30% by the time he reached AAA, and was nearly 35% in his time with the Brewers. A lot of those Domingo Santana trade rumors this offseason have presumably been about trying to sell high on him, while also opening up right field for Phillips.
  • Speaking of the Brewers, I do wonder if Jhoulys Chacin will be their big pitching addition this offseason. Although they are in need of arms in the wake of Jimmy Nelson’s shoulder injury, perhaps they’re thinking that he will be back at some point, and signing a $100+ million starter is not necessary. Or maybe they’ll just hope for a bargain on someone like Lance Lynn. In any case, Jeff Sullivan takes an interesting look at Chacin, and how the Brewers might look to improve him. Even if Chacin is merely a league-average starter (which he’s been the last two years (albeit with insane splits last year)), that slots in nicely with a rotation that features Chase Anderson and Zach Davies at the front, and some upside in Brandon Woodruff and Brent Suter at the back. It’s not a dominant rotation, but it could be a very good one, especially if Nelson is able to return healthy and effective in the second half.
  • I guess I’m lingering a bit on the Brewers here this morning, but it makes some sense: on paper, as the rosters stand right now, I think the Brewers are still right there with the Cardinals as the biggest threats to the Cubs in the Central in 2018. And I don’t think either team is finished making moves for the offseason. (Of course, I don’t think the Cubs are finished either …. )
  • For what it’s worth, by BaseRuns (a system that analyzes underlying performance and calculates the record a team *should* have had), the Brewers were about 2 games worse than the 86-win pace last year, and the Cardinals were about 5 games better than their 83-win pace. The Cardinals, at 88 BaseRuns wins, were actually just behind the Cubs (92) last year, as the 8th best team in baseball. Those Cardinals added Marcell Ozuna (in place of Stephen Piscotty) and will get Alex Reyes back. A good move or two the rest of the offseason, and they could project as a 90-win team.
  • This is about as good as it gets, with a first round pick using some of his signing bonus to help his parents:

  • Cool classic picture:

  • Everyone wants their own Theo, Kris, and Joe:

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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.