Have as Many Bullpen Options as Possible, Singleton, Franco, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Have as Many Bullpen Options as Possible, Singleton, Franco, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

A Chicago sports losing streak is underway. And given the Bulls’ outbreak, the Blackhawks’ unevenness, and the Bears’ crumminess, it’s possible this one has some legs.

•   The Northside Bound crew discussed which non-40-man Cubs relief prospects could be among the first to come up next year, which is interesting in its own right, but is also a reminder how many guys fall into that category (guys who could be up and down throughout the year as needs and rest dictate). Among the up-down types already on the 40-man roster, you have Scott Effross, Tommy Nance, Manny Rodriguez, Ethan Roberts, Michael Rucker, and Brad Wieck (I would say Nance and Rucker are probably on the bubble for surviving the winter on the 40-man), and then among the non-40-man guys at Triple-A who could enter that tier next year: Ben Leeper, Brendon Little, Bryan Hudson, Cayne Ueckert, Brandon Hughes, Scott Kobos, and Dakota Mekkes.

•   … Then you invariably have guys who aren’t yet at Triple-A who pop up more quickly than expected, and reclamation guys whom the Cubs get something out of throughout the year. None of that even mentions the many swing guys and established relievers who aren’t being considered up-down types for these purposes (Steele, Thompson, Alzolay, Mills, Heuer, Wick). The Cubs should have a LOT of internal options to fill this important area of the bullpen. The volume matters. But, more than that, the Cubs will have to be very good at self-scouting to make sure guys are put in the right positions to succeed, and/or the right guys are chosen for the right stretches. Having a ton of options doesn’t mean you will have a great bullpen necessarily, and while the Cubs have been very good in recent years at pulling off this part of the bullpen-creation puzzle, they have also tended to have a few more sure-fire options than they do right now.

•   (I suspect the Cubs still want to add one later-inning, surer-fire-type arm to the mix, by the way. When you think you have too many bullpen options, you probably need another one.)

•   Speaking of the bullpen and reclamation types, the Cubs have already brought in three lefties on minor league deals – Locke St. John, Stephen Gonsalves, and Connor Menez – and I think we can expect to see another Triple-A bullpen signing or three before the lockout is up. The Cubs could probably stand to add a starter at Iowa, too.

•   Jonathan Singleton – yes, that Jonathan Singleton for those who follow player transactions closely – is back in affiliated ball for the first time in nearly five years, signing a minor league deal with the Brewers. I am not sure where Singleton, 30, was playing in 2018-2020, if anywhere, but he showed up last year in Mexico and blew the doors off the place. The former top Astros prospect famously signed a $10 million multi-year deal before he’d even debuted in the big leagues, a deal that was widely derided at the time as him giving up way too much (it came with cheap team options to cover his arb years and his first year of free agency). Yet Singleton flopped so hard in the big leagues that he was seemingly out of baseball after just a couple years, and his decision to lock in $10 million looked as good as it can come for a young player who washes out. I always think of Singleton whenever I see a young player get ripped for signing an early extension that folks think is too small.

•   Oh, but anyway, here’s where I’d love to say I wish him well now that he’s back in affiliated ball, but he’s with the Brewers so I guess I wish him … a chance to make the bigs again, and then … play on a deeply underperforming and awful team?

•   Tons of Daily Deals today at Amazon, from toys to watches to cookware to art supplies to tools and more. #ad

•   The lockout means the MLB.com staff are digging into the wayback machine for stories, and while the reason ain’t great, I really do find that they are unearthing some fun stuff. For example, a reminder that 16 years ago, the New York Mets signed Julio Franco to a two-year deal. Why is that worth an article? Because Franco was ALREADY 47 YEARS OLD. And the dude got a TWO-YEAR DEAL. Franco had hit .295/.367/.447 (112 wRC+) over the three preceding years in a part-time role with the Braves, so it wasn’t THAT crazy for the Mets to take the leap. Age finally caught up with him over those two years, though, and Franco merely hit .255/.326/.341 (75) as a part-time big-leaguer at 47-48 years old. Not that Franco completely hung ’em up – he played the next year in Mexico (stole three bases that year!), and then came back for a fun seven-game stint in indy ball at age 55.

•   I agree that this is so freaking cool:

•   Happy birthday to Fergie Jenkins:

•   Also, some Ernie Banks bio’ing:

•   The very good 2007-08 teams:

•   Exemplifying why Mariano Rivera’s cutter was the best pitch in baseball:

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.