Dreary Fridays lend themselves to notes and the like. So we’ll do that for baseball too today.
-As the Cubs still look for ways to dig under the luxury tax threshold like Fantastic Mr. Fox, one option that will probably gain steam (if it hasn’t already) is moving along Jose Quintana. It certainly wouldn’t cause the hysteria that a trade of Kris Bryant or Willson Contreras would. Q doesn’t have the same sheen as those in the eyes of Cubs fans, mostly because he walked into Theo Epstein’s office in July of 2017 with a shotgun and made him give up Dylan Cease and Eloy Jimenez for him, both of whom has since shot to multiple All-Star game appearances
Wait, I’m being told that’s not what happened. Huh.
Anyway, the actual act of finding takers for Quintana should be far easier than for Bryant and Contreras and their rightly astronomic prices. Quintana does make essentially nothing for this season–$10.5M–which for a #3 or #4 starter is still a bargain. and Q was a little better by some metrics than you might think, with a FIP under 4.00 and a fWAR of 3.5 (much higher than Darvish, to illustrate). Teams are going to want that.
Still, on the other side of the coin, there’s something more depressing about trading Q. With Bryant and to a lesser extent Contreras, while the main goal has always been the money there was a companion argument of replenishing the pipeline with some arms the Cubs simply don’t have and at least providing more that will be here after 2021. If you squinted, you could see the benefits of it while acknowledging they don’t come close to outweighing the drawbacks.
But with Q, you feel it’s just a salary dump. Surely you wouldn’t get anything in the rotation in return that was cheaper, unless it was a flier on some prospect or two. And they almost certainly wouldn’t be anywhere near major league ready. Which means you would have stripped your rotation even further, and the rotation wasn’t good enough last year after Hamels got hurt. Which means you rotation would be the Kyle Hendricks (pretty much a known at this point), the hope that Yu Darvish’s second half is the new normal, the four-to-five innings you’re getting out of Jon Lester at 36, and then praying to whatever god happens to be listening at that moment (hat tip to The Dag for that one, and also hit me up).
Doesn’t really feel like you’re going anywhere with that, does it?
Even sadder, there hasn’t been any mention of the Cubs getting below the the luxury tax this year so they can spring out ahead of it the following season with no repeater penalties, as the Yankees and Dodgers have done in recent years. You would think the theory was that by that time the money from Marquee would allow the Cubs to do that, except now the prevailing wisdom is that they’ve royally boned this whole network thing, sparked by not having a deal with Comcast yet, and that windfall might never actually come. Say, why does Crane Kenney still have a job?
The fear is that the Cubs will always want to be below the luxury tax, which means they might lose more than you already thought they were going to before the Free Agent-acolypse of the winter of ’21-’22. Or at least until we know what a new CBA looks like, which means the Cubs might be half-assing two seasons instead of one. That’s fun.
Of course, there’s always the hope the Cubs could make a baseball trade for Quintana, or at least use what little wiggle room it would give them to bolster this year’s roster with…well, maybe it’s best to not look at what’s still available. This was all well-timed.
-Kris Bryant and the Cubs settled for $18.6M and avoided arbitration. Hopefully this isn’t the last time they talk, and that money is going to seem a complete joke if he stays healthy all season and put up another 7-WAR season.
-Jayson Stark was having some fun today about predictions for the coming decade, and one idea I’ve kicked around here before. It’s bringing a modified DH to the NL and AL, where your DH stays in the game as long as your starter does. Basically instead of one guy hitting for a spot, he hits for a specific player. From there, you’d have to pinch-hit for every reliever or let them hit for themselves.
It seems to split the happy medium of those who cling to the “strategy” of the NL game and those who have no need to see pitchers hit anymore. How long do you leave your starter in? If he’s getting torched and has to go in the 2nd, how do you stretch your bench throughout the rest of the game? Would relievers who can go multiple innings be even more valuable? Could you leave in another DH for a reliever who does go two or three innings and whose spot comes up multiple times? Would this end the idea of an opener?
To me all those questions are kind of exciting. Certainly with a 26-man roster now the answers are a little more available. I hope this is what they go to soon.
-There’s also a bit about automated strike zones, and how they zone will probably have to be amended to deal with the strict interpretation that cameras would give you. I say “FUCK. THAT.” The example Stark uses is a pitch that nicks the bottom of the zone and a catcher catches an inch off the ground.
But that’s been the problem. Strike calls shouldn’t have anything to do with where the catcher catches it. Hitters shouldn’t even be looking at that, and neither should umps. That’s where the zone is, so adjust. It might lead to some ugly arguments or controversy for a couple months, but you’d get past it. I suppose it won’t be the end of the world if the zone is moved to the top of the knees or wherever, but the idea that we’ll all lose our shit because of where the catcher catches a pitch is the exact problem we’re trying to solve.