January, Chicago's Hottest Month of the Year
I love baseball newsy days in January. I love roster moves. You can see that I don't even mind listening to a baseball guru or two.
Fox's Baseball analyst, Ken Rosenthal was on WGN Radio's "Sports Central" show hosted by David Kaplan tonight. For those not able to listen, here's a summary of his take on all things recently swirling in Cubsville. He takes on Milton Bradley vs Lou Piniella (a dangerous mix). Could these two ever be as lovable as Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson in the 2003 film, Anger Management? Somehow, I just can't see LouPa getting Bradley to sing, "I Feel Pretty".
Plus a bit more on the shrinking odds to acquire some guy named Jake.
On to the details, after the jump...
David Kaplan: You're thoughts on Milton Bradley.
Ken Rosenthal: I love Milton Bradley, but wonder if Bradley can stay healthy playing RF. They've got to keep him on the field which is going to be the challenge. He is a guy who plays really hard and that's one reason he gets hurt a lot. Fans will like his fire and they are going to like a guy who led the AL in OPS, but they'll only like him if he's on the field producing.
Kaplan: Is Bradley a good teammate? People I respect around the game that I've called say he's an excellent team mate, just leave him alone and let him do his job.
Rosenthal: It may be a challenge for Lou Piniella to leave him alone. Bradley's primary goal is to win. Bradley had no problems with Ron Washington in Texas and Washington did really well with him. Lou can't rip him in public like he's done Fukudome. It's potentially a dangerous mix as Lou is volatile too. You can say the same things about Lou (his temperment) that you can say about Milton Bradley. Some thought he should go to Tampa with the DH, but you saw Tampa extended themselves financially to get Burrell $16M, so you can see why Bradley wanted to come to the Cubs as he almost got twice that much from the Cubs. Plus there is an appeal to every player to play with the Cubs. If they win you're a made man.
Kaplan: Handicap the Cubs today vs the end of the 2008 season.
Rosenthal: He likes where the Cubs are but he understands the criticism. Not a cop out, merely an acknowledgment of the value of DeRosa to the team. The reasons for the DeRosa trade were to
1) get more left handed (Miles, Fontenot, Bradley), they are much more of a balanced lineup then thay have been in the past. Even though they lead the NL in runs scored last year, they felt all season that their imbalance was not a good thing.
2) $ savings
3) DeRosa's is a free agent after this season and they wouldn't have DeRosa forever. The value they got back seemingly wasn't great but they won't know that for several years. They've reconfigured themselves to be a more of a balanced offense. If he stays on the field, Bradley is a dynamic offensive player and he's also what Cubs fans are looking for as far as on base skills. The key is keeping him going and if they do that Jim Hendry is going to look good.
Kaplan: Do you think a Peavy deal will occur?
Rosenthal: Now that the Padres ownership is going to change it's much less likely. New owner Jeff Moorad's first move is not likely to trade Peavy their best and most popular player. Can it still happen, Sure. Any owner who is logical about things can trade any player at any time if the value is proper. Given the PR damage the team has suffered all off-season it seems hard to believe the team is going to make this deal when they haven't made it under duress. He said his guess is that the odds of a trade happening have dropped to about a 10% chance.
Kaplan: When the Marquis and Bradley deals are finalized, do you believe the Cubs are done or will they get themselves another starting pitcher?
Rosenthal: I have a hard time believing they are going to pay big money for another starting pitcher, say Derek Lowe. The Dempster deal was a top of the market deal. The Bradley deal was sticker price. These are not bargain deals. If the (Cubs) ownership change happens and the new owners say get one more pitcher, then they might be in on Lowe.
Kaplan: Why give up Josh Vitters who they say is the jewel of the system or other prospects when you could keep those guys who cost you nothing and just sign Lowe, for less years and less money, a sinkerballer who would fit in at Wrigley?
Rosenthal: The answers are simple. Peavy is in the prime of his career. Lowe is 9 years older than Peavy. Peavy would probably be under contract for 4-5 years, you'd have to give him another year in a deal. Peavy is a young ace type pitcher. Lowe might be on the decline although he hasn't shown it yet.
2nd in defensive WAR, NL.
6th in NL in RBI
Go complain about something else, like, "they never play good against the good teams", or some other shit.
Addy really has trouble breaking through .250 BA -- after his hot streak got him to .251, he has gone 1-for-17.
Thank goodness for Jansen's 2 WP on Friday -- otherwise this would have been a sweep.
There seems to be a direct correlation with overconfidence in the Cubs offense against mediocre/young pitchers and really poor offense against mediocre/young pitchers. So, let's fear the Pirate pitchers!
Rizzo due for a power surge -- one HR in August so far. He truly does hit them in bunches.
Sometimes I'm not as supportive of Cahill as maybe I should be. There, I said it.
Rough 8th inning all around -- HBP, Cahill error, Javy's poor decision.
Oh well - given that the Cubs didn't look like they were going to score, it's better to lose in 9 innings, save the bullpen and get changed for the PJ trip home.
Baez still learning
heyward with his 3rd multi-hit game since the all-star break (all in august)...2nd in the past 3 games during his 7 game hitting streak.
he's gone from flirting with a sub-.300 ob% to nearing .310 ob% in 3 games (1 game was just a 1 for 1 pinch hit appearance). all 5 hits in the past 3 games have come in a row...neat.
stewart with 7Ks through 3ip...of course.
that 10-13 mph difference in his fastball/change is working today...and they're swinging at his crappy slider.
brock stewart...steven brault...fun times for the cubs hitters vs allegedly competitive teams...maybe.
Maddon would have started three lefties against the Dodgers, Montgomery, Zastryzny and Lester, except that he doesn't have the juice to do that. No manager does. Maddon has a boss, Epstein (and probably Hoyer, too), who gave him a starting rotation of five guys including Hammel. Maddon was asked yesterday about the starting group for next year and basically said, Not my call, that's why I drive away in my RV in the summer and occasionally check in, etc.
video of Maddon.
always nice that he actually tries to honestly answer questions. Does mention that he wanted to give Zastr? a chance in a meaningful spot rather than a mop-up role.
#Cubs Maddon: "I'm not going to make up an excuse for why I did what I did. It has nothing to do with lack of confidence" ... "It was the right thing to do today based on what I saw, what their lineup looked like and Rob Z.'s availability." #Cubs
Hammel not particularly understanding of getting pulled out...as he should. Be curious what Maddon had to say. All I can think of is is keeping arms fresh and maybe wanting to see if Zastr? is worth considering for the playoffs and how he'd do against the Dodgers.
Heyward, Russell, Baez, Bryant, Ross in particular...although Bryant's a bit hard to judge with all the positions.
Fowler and Rizzo in the top half of the NL for their positions as well (per fangraphs)...Zobrist right at the halfway cutoff for 2b in the NL.
I'm sure some luck is involved too, but the Cubs and Maddon knew what they were doing.