Top Of The First
So Jason Heyward signed with the Cubs. If anything else happened in baseball yesterday, does it really matter? Writing any article based on Heyward at this point is anticlimactic after everything that was written, analyzed and commented on yesterday. I feel I am owed my two cents since I’m the only one without a real time column in these parts so pardon my redundancy.
I’m Mr. Heat Miser
I am convinced you can thank Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer for this unseasonably warm December. The heat emanating from the Cubs front office since Thanksgiving has Chicago more ready for Opening Day right now than Christmas and New Years Day. College football bowl season? What’s that? How are the Bears, Bulls and Blackhawks doing these days? Anybody know? Anybody care?
I’m Mr. Snow Miser
Well, hell has frozen over in St. Louis and ff you haven’t had a chance to check out Baseball’s Best Fans on Twitter you might want to take a gander at some of the NSFW tweets dedicated specifically to the Cubs and their new outfielder. They’re a bitter bunch, if not more than slightly overboard in their misguided hatred. I mean, Heyward was a Cardinal for all of 55 weeks and all they gave up to get him was Shelby Miller. Then again, Heyward allegedly took less money to NOT play in St. Louis, and furthermore, to play for their biggest competitor and fiercest rival. Ouch.
But it goes deeper than that. As the saying goes, “their loss is our gain,” and it hurts twice as badly this month if you’re bathing in Cardinal Red. The Cubs took a little more than 11 wins above replacement from St. Louis by signing John Lackey and Jason Heyward. In effect, the Cubs widened the gap over St. Louis by 22 wins on paper (or narrowed it based on last season’s standings). As Pepper Brooks said, “You pay double for that kind of action, Cotton.” Still, the Cubs didn’t pay as much as St. Louis would have had to in order to keep two of their best players.
Gee, I hope I’m not trolling here.
Happy Xmas (WAR Is Over)
Before we get too excited, it is important to remember that WAR is only an indicator and not a counting statistic. The Cardinals certainly have some work to do and the Cubs may not be done either. Right now, the Cubs’ roster sits at 52.3 wins above replacement. In the most simplistic correlation — using Fangraphs as a guide here — a replacement-level team is worth 47.7 wins. That makes the 2016 Chicago Cubs a 100-win team on paper if every player reaches his projections. That’s stunning.
I have been against a big contract for Heyward but I think this deal is fair for both parties. I know Heyward isn’t a 30-HR player and I admit I had a hard time getting past that despite being pro-analytics. I also know Heyward’s free agency represented perfect timing: a market flush with money and an unmatched skill set. But a dear friend who is thirty years my senior put it to me in the most simplistic way possible after I tried to explain WAR to him — “If this young man is worth an extra 6-7 wins and all those wins are worth more than what he is getting paid, do you care how he gets you those wins?”
No I do not. I’m now on board.
Fact, Fiction, Truth, Or Rumor
Ken Rosenthal calls the Cubs a “juggernaut” and it’s tough to disagree with him.
The Cubs may not be done yet, and some think they may still upgrade their rotation and/or bullpen. I tend to think the big moves are done for this season and next.
Michael Cuddyer has decided to retire.
The Cardinals are expected to turn their attention to Alex Gordon or Dexter Fowler and possibly Johnny Cueto.
Bottom Of The Ninth
I’m sure we all wish we could start Spring Training tomorrow. The weather in Chicago has been warm enough for baseball all week, and it’s been so warm the greenskeepers were mowing the grass at the golf course across the street from my home yesterday morning. Combined with the spring-like weather, the offseason moves make it feel like the 2016 season is right around the corner. The nearly four months until Opening Day can’t move fast enough.
Hey, one last thing. If Ken Griffey Jr. Was 26 years old and a free agent, what kind of contract would he command in today’s market?