Luis was at a casino last night and now he’s got me poring over MVP and Cy Young odds to uncover any winners, but I’ve gotta say, I’m too in my head about it.
Does Cody Bellinger at 10/1 look better than Christian Yelich at 4/1? Yeah, sure. And is Kris Bryant – a league MVP just a few seasons ago – at 30/1 pretty easy to believe in? I mean, yeah. But when we did this a couple years ago (2018), we had money down on Javy Baez (200/1) and Willson Contreras (300/1), but it was Christian Yelich (200/1) that swooped in and ate our lunch. More importantly, two extreme underdogs (Yelich and Baez) finished 1-2 in the voting. And that messes with my head. What is the market not seeing this time around?
- Who’s got the next pre-2018 Baez/Yelich energy out there?
- Before yesterday, 23-year-old righty Griffin Canning was penciled into the 4th spot of the Los Angeles Angels’ five-man rotation for 2020. Unfortunately, he started experiencing some elbow soreness (something with which he’s had a history), and that led to an inconclusive MRI and a frustratingly opaque timeline moving forward. Considering that the Angels already felt like they needed another starting pitcher (evidenced by the apparently completed, but ultimately squashed deal with the Dodgers for Ross Stripling and Joc Pederson), you can bet they believe they need one now. (Throw in the fact that they just signed Anthony Rendon to a massive deal and you can imagine the urgency.)
- So why do I bring it up? Well, Joe Maddon is managing the Angels, the Cubs are still comfortably over a luxury tax cap they cannot strategically afford to be over by the end of the season, and Jose Quintana is on the last year of a deal that’ll pay him $11.5M. Perhaps there’s a solution, albeit imperfect, right in front of us.
- Obviously, dealing Quintana wouldn’t be easy, as the Cubs already have an open competition for the fifth spot in the rotation. Trading Quintana, then, would almost certainly mean handing the fourth spot to Tyler Chatwood and giving Alec Mills a huge advantage for the fifth spot (all things equal). But here’s the thing, even if you really believe in either/both of those pitchers, such a move dramatically reduces the quality of depth in the rotation (Adbert Alzolay is now your sixth starter, and Colin Rea is your seventh?). I still think it’s something I would consider if I were the Cubs – that’s how important I believe getting under the luxury tax now *before* tougher, untenable decisions must be made at the deadline is – but it’s not without it’s challenges.
- (We’ve discussed this same idea with respect to the also-pitching-needy-also-urgent Yankees.)
- Speaking of Spring Training trades, Nolan Arenado still clearly butts heads with the Colorado Rockies and would probably welcome a trade – even now – in a heartbeat. I’d like to pick one or two quotes out of the this piece from USA Today, but you already know the gist: He’s not happy there, he thought they were going to add to the roster this winter (they did even less than the Cubs), especially after a terrible 2019 season, and he’s discussed his options with his agent, Joel Wolfe, who also happens to represent Giancarlo Stanton, who went through the same thing in Miami a few years back. I mean, how uncomfortable must it be for the GM Jeff Bridich to *not be on speaking terms* with the most popular, most talented, and highest paid player on his team. They do not talk. Yikes. (We’ll take him.)
- Astros owner Jim Crane pretty much destroyed his reputation at the Astros’ sign-stealing “apology” press conference, but as it turns out his reputation wasn’t that great beforehand. Aside from more recent stories, like the way the team handled the “Thank god we got Osuna!” controversy or his role in supporting banning certain reporters from the locker room, Crane came under examination for war profiteering, questions around his personal life, and being overly litigious when he first attempted to purchase the Astros. I thought my perception of him couldn’t get much worse. But, hey! It did.
- Although Christian Yelich was a huge catalyst for the Brewers 2018 Division title, we can’t sleep on the impact of then-newly signed Lorenzo Cain: .308/.395/.417; 30 steals, excellent defense in center field. But things took a huge step back last season (.260/.325/.372), as he experienced the fifth largest OPS drop in MLB. And maybe WAR doesn’t tell the whole story, but what does going from 5.7 to 1.5 say to you? In any case, it’s easy to believe that the Brewers chances in 2020 rely heavily on a bounce back from Cain, specifically. And although there are some positives (like an increasing hard-hit rate), Cain’s speed – and overall effectiveness – has taken a dramatic turn for the worst, as it does for players approaching his age (34 in April) who often rely on their speed. Mike Petriello (MLB.com) still thinks Cain will outproduce 2019, but comes short of projecting anything close to his 2018 campaign. And if that’s the case, I’m not sure the Brewers (who also lost Yasmani Grandal, among about a billion other players) are going to be quite as good as they have been these last two seasons.