The New Cubs Hitting Department, the “Star” Value of Carlos Correa, Big Contracts, and Other Cubs Bullets

For the fourth time in six years, our furnace has died. How does this keep happening, even when the dang thing gets replaced? Do we just have the worst luck in the world? Is there some mystery ailment in our house that causes furnaces to die (of different issues, mind you)? Is it just history’s most specific curse? Whatever it is, I can tell you that it sucks to happen when it’s 16 degrees outside, and you wake up to seeing your own breath.

Guess I should look at the Early Black Friday deals at Amazon for a space heater or five … (way to sneak an #ad in there, Brett … commitment … ).

  • I really appreciated hearing from new Cubs hitting coach Dustin Kelly on how he sees things working under his leadership, especially now that the Cubs have expanded to having THREE assistant hitting coaches (Tribune):
  • “One of the things that we talked about early on was how do we utilize each member of our staff that’s involved with the hitters that has a presence with these hitters and identify what they’re really good at and then be able to bring that to the table to create a group that services our hitters. Our goal as hitting coaches is to get our players prepared every single day with whatever they need.

    “Every (hitting coach) has their own specialty, and we’re going to leverage each of those. … A Swiss Army knife is how I’ve described it to our guys. We’re one unit, one little knife, but within that knife, there’s a bunch of different tools that we have to use and we can pull from depending on the situation ….

    “That’s healthy in my mind to have multiple voices within the in the batting cage that players feel comfortable with that maybe my message doesn’t get across to one particular player, but (Washington) or someone else has the ability to put it in some terms that are maybe more simple. We’re all are going to check our egos at the door. That’s a big thing that we’ve talked about is there’s no ego here. We’re the hitting department. We’re here to help players and whatever needs to get done for that particular player that day, we’re going to be able to do it as a group.”

  • Seems pretty logical in hindsight. Why would you expect just one or two coaches to be the best fit to perfectly translate the increasing deluge of data and video and development tools for young hitters? More coaches = more options for finding that right fit, either for the individual player or for the individual skill being coached.
  • All that said … we’ve done this dance before. There is only so much a coach or coaches or a “hitting department” can do, and you’re setting yourself up for disappointment if you’re expecting THIS to be THE THING that suddenly and finally CREATES a consistent high-quality offense. You need the talent for that first. Where the coaching staff can help is more at the margins (which, of course matters a whole lot! It’s just not going to transform an undermanned group into a top-tier offense).
  • Speaking of needing talent, Jon Greenberg writes about the value to the Cubs in landing a star this offseason like Carlos Correa. Specifically Correa, actually. Yes, it’s primarily about the baseball impact – and baseball ops is what drives these decisions – but I think we would be naive to believe there is ZERO business consideration or value in a massive move like that. Among Greenberg’s comments:
  • The Cubs, already very successful at wringing money out of a local and tourist fanbase, still need to sell tickets, sponsorships and advertisements. Prevagen ads can’t … I forgot where I was going there. In any event, the Cubs are chasing growth in every direction, from real estate to gambling to gambling real estate. And to make that work, they need stars. They need someone to market. And they don’t have that right now. They don’t have anyone even close, really ….

    This doesn’t need to get to Boston-NESN “tail wagging the dog” territory (NESN executives once told Theo Epstein the TV broadcasts needed “good-looking stars”). The most important thing is to find the best talent, not the biggest names.

    But Correa, more than any of the other shortstops on the market, has the star power and the production to cause a stir. And judging by the way people talk about him in Minnesota, he’s the perfect kind of star for the Cubs to build around ….

    No one is going out on a limb saying the big-market team with a lot of money to spend and a Báez swing-sized hole at shortstop should sign the best shortstop on the market. Maybe Hoyer, his staff and their Ivy computer model’s projections don’t think Correa is the high-end shortstop who will age the best over a long deal — though he is the youngest of them and he doesn’t turn 29 until late in the season — but if they want to build back the buzz at Wrigley, I say make no small plans.

  • None of this means the Cubs will land Correa, of course. Or that there won’t be well-reasoned limits to the kind of contract they’re willing to offer. But it *IS* to say that Correa, at this moment in time, represents a pretty obvious baseball AND business fit for the Cubs. All the more reason to believe the rumors, and for the Cubs to be aggressive.
  • I think it’s also worth noting that, for a major-market franchise, the Cubs have actually had precious few monster contracts, and more have been fine than terrible. Jon Lester signing? Awesome. Yu Darvish signing? Worked out just fine. Alfonso Soriano signing? Nowhere near as bad as some people claim. Jason Heyward signing? OK, yeah, that one was horrible, but at least flags fly forever. Doesn’t mean a Correa monster signing (or someone else) would definitely work out, but it’s fallacious to suggest that every nine-figure deal in Cubs history was a bad move or something. It can be good business and good baseball.
  • I MUST GO:
  • The place looked like an actual snow globe:

    Well this is silly and fun:

  • Oh man, I’d forgotten about this:
  • Yankees fans really looking for clues, and frankly, I respect it:
  • I actually do suspect Judge and the Yankees are in very serious negotiations to try to finalize a deal. We’ve heard ZERO substantive rumors about Judge going anywhere else – just notions of interest by the Giants or Dodgers – and I just have a feeling that the sides are working together to hammer it out. It would shock me if Judge winds up anywhere else, though *IF* that were going to happen, my suspicion is that we would hear pretty soon that his camp and the Yankees couldn’t finalize a deal and now he’s actually going to start taking meetings or whatever.
  • written by

    Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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