Underrated Cubs Rotation, Lack of Future Impact Bats in Free Agency, Spring Training Fun, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Underrated Cubs Rotation, Lack of Future Impact Bats in Free Agency, Spring Training Fun, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

I feel really bad for the folks who are/were covering the NBA Trade Deadline as Twitter broke yesterday. It mostly got itself back to functional – and hopefully it stays that way today for the deadline – but I was reminded of how problematic it would be for the news cycle if that happened at the MLB Trade Deadline. Twitter is the first touchpoint where almost all news and rumors hit nowadays (which is its own problem – single point of failure and all that), so it becoming unavailable or seriously defective at a given time could be a serious problem for the sports world.

  • ESPN dropped some very early starting rotation rankings, and while I knew the Cubs’ depth model wouldn’t have them particularly high, I didn’t think they’d be all the way down in the bottom eight. Back to that in a second, because the actual write-up, I think, is relatively fair and complimentary:

The overhaul of the Cubs’ pitching processes paid off with a solid season in 2022 and featured a rotation that really gathered momentum as the season went along. The hope for a move toward .500 this year, at least for this group, means repeating those improvements in a way the projections don’t see as likely. It also means for free agent signee Taillon to find a new level in his new team’s revamped program. You could go deeper than eight on the Cubs’ rotation depth chart with viable options for the coming season, which is always a good sign since there are always injuries and shortfalls. It’s not an exciting ranking, but I think it has a chance to be an exciting group.

  • The methodology for ranking just didn’t like the Cubs’ primary starters (primarily because projection systems always hate contact-managers), which, whatever, but I would bet every last nickel in my pocket that the Cubs will not end the year with the 23rd or worse starting staff in baseball. Well, OK, maybe not EVERY last nickel, but several of them!
  • I think Marcus Stroman remains a very good bet to be a solidly above average starter, as he pretty much always is; I think Justin Steele could be even better than that; I think Jameson Taillon is a very good number three; I am a Drew Smyly believer at the back of the rotation, and then the huge group of 5/6/7/8/9 guys is so quality and deep that it’s going to produce better than *most* teams’ depth over the course of a full season. (Plus the great defense behind them.)
  • Speaking of Jameson Taillon, maybe the Cubs will help add a sweeper to his arsenal:
  • Ken Rosenthal doesn’t think Manny Machado is actually going to reach free agency after this season, if you’d started to dream about the Cubs going big at third base in free agency (in his article, Rosenthal bets that a monster extension happens this spring):
  • Right now, the free agent class already looks thin – it got worse after Rafael Devers extended – and if Machado is also off the market, ooooooof on impact bats. If Ian Happ has a great year, he’s going to have an argument for being one of the best bats on the market!
  • Ah. This was great. (I mean, almost HORRIBLE, but ultimately great.) Can’t wait for more spontaneous Spring Training moments:
  • Seiya lookin’ jacked by the way:
  • I am aware of the Bo Bichette extension, in case you were wondering why I haven’t mentioned it, but I haven’t jumped to cover it yet until the financial terms are out there – it covers only his remaining arbitration years, so the only “news” of it for our purposes is the price tag, given the possible implications for the Cubs and Nico Hoerner.
  • Final WBC rosters come out this evening, by the way. We are likely to see several Cubs included.
  • This is too hilarious and would be awesome:

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.