Hoerner at Shortstop, Ranking Cubs Offseason, Outfield Prank, Miller Retires, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Hoerner at Shortstop, Ranking Cubs Offseason, Outfield Prank, Miller Retires, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

The Little Girl, who is not so little anymore, asked me last night what color she should dye her hair next. I thought it was nice just to be consulted. (It’s a temporary dye, so she gets to experience the fun of frequently colored hair without the long-term commitment. Maybe I’ll join her for the next round … )

•   Nico Hoerner has been clear since the trade deadline that he is ready to be the Cubs’ everyday shortstop if he gets the opportunity. Why wouldn’t he want that? Ultimately, that might not be the role where he can best impact the Cubs in the years ahead, but playing SOME shortstop should at least be part of that value. And for anyone thinking that Andrelton Simmons is definitely going to be the everyday guy at short, David Ross suggests that won’t be the case (The Score): “I don’t think Nico has anything to prove. The way I look at our roster is we have a ton of flexibility. I don’t think off the top of my head there is anything to win. Everybody is going to contribute because we have a lot of talent. Hoerner is a big part of that, and he will play a lot of shortstop.”

•   My sense is that the Cubs have always wanted Hoerner to develop into a super utility guy – the type that can offer a slightly above average bat and can play passable shortstop (i.e., the most valuable type of super utility guy) – because not many players can pull it off. That’s why, combined with a pitching staff that is going to get a lot of ground balls, a stellar defensive shortstop was targeted this offseason. But that doesn’t mean Simmons is going to play short every day, or that Hoerner couldn’t wind up making a LOT of starts at shortstop if he’s hitting really well, playing great defense at shortstop, stays healthy, and everything else coordinates in a way that you simply want Hoerner at short more often.

•   The presumption right now is that Simmons is probably your 65% guy at shortstop (depending on match-ups and the Cubs starting pitcher that day), with Hoerner getting 30% of the starts there, and Jonathan Villar getting a handful. But health and productivity and everything else can change that equation. It isn’t inconceivable that Hoerner could emerge as a surprise everyday shortstop. I want to keep my brain open to that possibility, even if I suspect that Simmons’ defense is going to be too good and necessary to allow that to happen.

•   The Ringer ranks each club’s offseason, and the Cubs come in at number six, in the “At the very least, they’re more entertaining” tier. As we’ve discussed, because of HOW MUCH the Cubs lost over the last two years, and because of the fractured offseason, sometimes it doesn’t FEEL like the Cubs have done a lot this offseason. But they’ve committed the 5th most new money of any team in baseball, and have signed two of the top, what, fifteen or so free agents in Seiya Suzuki and Marcus Stroman? Yan Gomes and Jonathan Villar showed up on top 50 lists, too, and Wade Miley would’ve been in there if he had technically been a free agent. The Cubs also signed, by sheer volume, the largest number of free agents to big league deals in baseball. It’s fair to debate whether the Cubs have done “the right things” or “done enough” to serve whatever you felt 2022 should be, but I don’t think it’s reasonable to debate whether or not the Cubs have done a lot relative to most teams. They have.

•   As for why The Ringer feels the Cubs have had the sixth best offseason so far:

In spirit, the Cubs probably belong in the “definitely better—but to what end?” tier. Even this much-improved roster is still projected to finish well below .500, and even after a busy offseason, the collapse of the Cubs’ payroll is staggering; they’ve shed roughly $70 million from their Opening Day payroll since 2019. But Chicago made so many interesting acquisitions this winter that the club warranted further consideration. Stroman and Miley don’t have the strikeout stuff of the best modern pitchers, but they get outs regardless. Jonathan Villar and Yan Gomes are sneakily solid veterans. Clint Frazier offers potential in the outfield.

More than those MLB vets, Suzuki, who was by far the best hitter in NPB last season, is the most exciting new Cub. Projection systems are enamored of the 27-year-old outfielder, who was a .300/.400/.500 hitter in each of his last four seasons in Japan.

•   Trevor Story’s six-year, $140 million deal with the Boston Red Sox reportedly almost fell apart at the zero hour because Story was not vaccinated, and the rules for entry into Canada would have prohibited Story from playing 10 of the Red Sox’s games in Toronto. In the end, Story decided to get vaccinated to remove that barrier (as did his middle-infield-mate Xander Bogaerts, per ESPN – so clearly, the Canada rule is having an impact on some players’ decisions this offseason).

•   James Triantos leads Cubs batters this Spring with a 2.000 OPS.

•   Turns out, the Cubs were just trying to make a little joke yesterday, poking fun at former slappy Cubs hitter Matt Duffy … but it actually worked out:

•   All the best to Andrew Miller in retirement. He was not only an exceptional reliever, but he helped usher back in an era of dominant multi-inning reliever types (it’s easy to forget that it was his conversion – after years and years and years of attempting to make it work as a starting pitcher because of his incredible stuff – into a unique multi-inning role that really started that ball rolling around the league, especially in the postseason). Cubs fans will always remember him fondly:

•   Nick Madrigal question time:

https://twitter.com/Cubs/status/1507040578692734998

•   The most interesting manager in professional baseball:

•   If David Ross does not come out to a laser show with fog machines and “GRANDPA” emblazoned in flashing lights on his jersey sometime this season I’m really gonna wonder about the state of the Cubs.

•   Nick Castellanos wants to win:

https://twitter.com/TheAthleticMLB/status/1507043211533037585

•   Get your tissues ready:

•   The Bears are making a big change to their QB room:



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.