For Cub fans, this week was more hurry up and wait. All the while, Oakland, Boston, Miami, Toronto, and even the White Sox made several moves to bring talent to their major league club. Today, Saturday, brings hints of a Jeff Samardjiza deal and Atlanta wanting to deal Justin Upton, Evan Gattis, and BJ Upton. The Cubs, they are in no hurry. Some fans find that disconcerting. I do not. I find it unnerving at times, but I am not shocked to see Theo and Jed take their time. There are winter meetings in a week. There are still three whole months before the first spring training games begin.
With that in mind, I decided that this week’s post will be about what I would like to see in the Cubs’ stocking for Christmas. These items can be used at any time in the next year. So, here are some stocking stuffers I would like to see…
1. Three free agent pitchers…
These can be any combination of two starters and one reliever. Ideally for Plan A, I would like to see Jon Lester, Jason Hammel, and Andrew Miller. However, those odds are slim. I would take Brandon McCarthy, Jason Hammel, and Luke Gregerson as Plan B. Next winter will see another glut of free agent pitching, but before then, the Cubs could pick up a very nice pitcher this summer in a trade during the July trading season. If Theo and Jed think the Cubs are in the race in late July, they will go out and get someone to aid the effort down the stretch. It would be nice to have someone signed by Christmas, but Lester is setting the market, then it will be Scherzer’s turn, and then McCarthy, Masterson, Hammel, and even Cole Hamels in a trade will take their turn as the “it” guy. For me, there is no rush to get an “Ace” right now. On 670 The Score’s Inside the Clubhouse stated this morning, “We are in the first and second innings of free agency.” In other words, this could take all off season.
2. A left handed bat…
Tommy LaStella was one, but the Cubs are still in need of one more left handed bat, specifically in the outfield. The problem is that there is no free agent who fits the bill of what the Cubs would want in a high on base percentage guy. I think this stocking stuffer might go empty.
3. $150 million for International Free Agents in 2015
With the Cubs coming off spending limits in international free agency in 2014, they will be free to go crazy again come July 2. The penalty for going over what will likely be a $3.2 million to $3.5 million spending is dollar for dollar. The good news right now, is that Yoan Moncada is still out there and has more hurdle to be an official free agent. I would not be surprised to see Theo and Jed throw a contract of $40-50 million at him to get Moncada to wait until July 2, 2015 to sign. It would cost the Cubs a lot in penalties, but with the dearth of college bats at the top of the draft, Moncada is worth it (See my post from two weeks ago). In addition, the Cubs could then go out and sign as many latin players as possible for a total of another $20-25 million ($50 million with penalties). For what they could get for one major pitcher this winter in a six year contract, the Cubs could control 7-10 players for 6-10 peak years. It is an interesting way of looking at spending money and player control.
4. Some Good Scouting Reports on Arms in the 2015 Draft
As mentioned above, the bats just aren’t there in the draft. There are, however, plenty of arms available. I still like Funkhouser from Louisville and Kyle Cody of Kentucky at #9. There are a few HS arms who could sneak up in there, but the draft is still a long ways away. Remember, two years ago? Mark Appel was the consensus #1 pick. Jonathon Gray and Kris Bryant weren’t even in the top ten at this point in the year. Last year, Carlos Rodon was #1 and Brady Aiken was not even a close second. A lot can happen in six months.
5. Kris Bryant in May
I cannot wait until Bryant is playing every day! He will lengthen the lineup and with Castro, Rizzo, and Soler, the Cubs will be pretty deep this year on offense. If Baez can adjust, the offense really takes off. Unbeknownst to most Cub fans is that Bryant still has a teeny, tiny hole in his swing inside near his hands. Pro pitchers could exploit that weakness and jam him all day for weak grounders back to the mound. He has been working on it. If he gets that fixed this spring, look out!
6. A New Leg Kick for Javy
Javy Baez can still generate a lot of power without such a high leg kick. He needs to lose that puppy now. Otherwise, it will get ugly. If he looked at what power Bryant and Soler can generate with their swings, Baez would be wise to adjust. Losing the leg kick will allow him to adjust better late in the count. Baez doesn’t need to adjust his approach to what he swings at and what he does not, he just needs to adjust so that he can wait on pitches later in the count and swing faster without so many moving parts to get to in order to hit the ball. I can see his mind now…“Clear the mechanism…”
7. Bullpen Passes for CJ Edwards, Pierce Johnson, and Corey Black
Three of the top starting arms in the system will be at Iowa this summer. Out of them, Black logged the most innings as a starter. If the Cubs bring any of them up this year, all three should be in the bullpen. None of them has ever pitched over a 125 innings in a season. If they do get promoted this summer, keep them in the bullpen or limit their innings to around 150. Black should be in the bullpen beyond this year, but Johnson and Edwards should get looks as starters in 2016.
8. No Trade Card for Addison Russell
I cannot wait to see what he does at Iowa for a whole year. He is only 21. Don’t trade him at all….ever…I mean it!
Keep an eye on my Twitter account where I will preview my own baseball card design for 2015 in the coming week.
In other news, my own personal stocking stuffer came in the mail this week. I have to admit it, I got a little excited…actually, I got a lot excited.