Top Of The First
Big news regarding Pete Rose and Johnny Cueto yesterday so let’s get into it.
By the way, just a friendly reminder that Las Vegas made the Cubs World series favorites BEFORE the team made one single offseason move.
Pete Rose Baseball Reinstatement Denied
Commissioner Rob Manfred denied Pete Rose’s request for reinstatement yesterday after a comprehensive review of his case. Rose was given a lifetime ban by Commissioner Bart Giamatti in 1989. The commissioner based his denial on newly revealed evidence that Rose’s defense was riddled with lies going back as far as 1985.
Manfred specifically cited that Rose did gamble in the 1985 through 1989 seasons and continues to gamble on baseball where it is legal and that, while Rose did admit to a gambling addiction in 2004, Rose has undergone no treatment for it.
Pete Rose is a man who clearly has no grasp that what he did was wrong within the context of baseball and has done nothing to show that, were he to be reinstated, he would not gamble on baseball again. In light of this, Manfred reasons, his power to reconsider the mandatory lifetime ban under Rule 21 will not be wasted on Pete Rose.
Commissioner Manfred’s decision makes it abundantly clear that Rose (a) clearly lied about betting on baseball as a player as opposed to just the games in which Rose managed; (b) has no apparent understanding of how serious his past violations of Rule 21 were and (c) has done absolutely nothing to change his habits as a person which would suggest he would not violate Rule 21 in the future.
Rose can continue with his gig on FOX Sports. Manfred also suggested that his decision should have no bearing on Rose’s eligibility for baseball’s Hall of Fame, as his consideration is left up to the approval of an entity that is not under jurisdiction of the commissioner.
Shift Of Power In The NL Central
The offseason is far from over and there are still free agents to be signed and trades to be made. That being said, there is a foreboding sense coming from St. Louis that the balance of power in the NL Central, at least for the short term, has shifted to the Chicago Cubs.
Of all the moves the Cubs have made already this offseason, the most telling may be the fact that two of the better Cardinals players willingly moved within the division to Chicago. The combination of wins gained and lost between the two teams is the underlying basis for the paradigm shift. Add to that the fact that both John Lackey and Jason Heyward allegedly left years and/or money on the table not to go back to St. Louis and you understand the magnitude of the division’s tectonic shift.
The state of the St. Louis fanbase is pure misery.
Still, there are moves to be made and it seems as though bargains could be had by exercising patience. The Cardinals stated yesterday that there will be no dynamic signings. But the team could find value in starting pitching with guys like Scott Kazmir or Wei-Yin Chen. The Cardinals have a very deep farm system and Heyward could be replaced via trade. Carlos Gonzalez is allegedly available, as is Carlos Gomez. I don’t think the Cardinals will go down without a fight.
And don’t forget, the Cubs traded for Derek Lee and signed veteran free agent pitcher Greg Maddux before the 2004 season in a move that many thought would drive the Cubs past the Florida Marlins and into the 2004 World Series. That didn’t play out as planned.
Bottom line: 162 games still need to be played, but you have to like the Cubs’ chances in 2016 however. But as a Cubs fan, you also have to be somewhat wary because three or four generations of shattered dreams have conditioned us to always be so. Nothing in baseball is preordained in December, that’s for sure.
Fact, Fiction, Truth Or Rumor
One aspect of the John Lackey signing that hasn’t been talked about much is that the Cubs’ top three starters seem physically capable of 200+ innings per season followed by deep playoff runs. Counting last season’s playoffs, the trio of Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester and John Lackey combined for 697 innings pitched.
Lackey now seems to be quite a bargain. Granted, he is not a top-of-the-rotation starter, but now that Johnny Cueto has signed with the San Francisco Giants, David Price, Zack Greinke, Jordan Zimmermann and Cueto have earned $663.5 million (plus two opt-outs) between them this winter. Lackey is owed $32M over two years. 2015 xFIP and WAR of those four pitchers? Price (3.21 xFIP , 6.4 WAR), Greinke (3.22, 5.9), Zimmermann (3,82, 3.0) and Cueto (3.78, 4.1). John Lackey finished 2015 with a 3.77 xFIP with a 3.6 WAR.
Are opt-outs baseball’s new currency? Although opt-outs by definition benefit players, clever general managers increasingly appear to be utilizing MLB’s peculiar economics to twist these concessions to their own advantage
With the Giants signing Cueto, one wonders if the Los Angeles Dodgers will make another run at Jose Fernandez.
No starters added more velocity between the first half of the season & the second half as Michael Pineda and new Chicago Cub Adam Warren.
Fangraphs looks at the historic 2016 Chicago Cubs offseason.
In case you were wondering, Jason Heyward is a pretty good centerfielder, too.
Newly-launched website 2080 Baseball looks at the Cubs standouts from this year’s Arizona Fall League.
San Francisco GM Bobby Evans on the Cueto signing: “You have a guy that has a chance to be an elite presence in your rotation if he’s healthy and we can play good defense behind him and he uses our ballpark to his advantage.”
Keith Law examines the inherent risks of Cueto’s contract.
In 1985 Ryne Sandberg stole 57 bases and batted .305 with 113 runs scored, 26 HR and 83 RBI. He finished 13th in MVP voting. Five St. Louis Cardinals players finished ahead of Sandberg in the voting: Willie McGee (1), Tommy Herr (5), John Tudor (8), Jack Clark (10) and Vince Coleman (11).
Bottom of The Ninth
Though I agree 100% with Rob Manfred’s ruling on Pete Rose yesterday I still think that it is more than slightly suspect that MLB has partnership deals with both Fan Duel and Draft Kings, sites that basically allow betting on baseball. It seems dubitable to me that baseball would point out that gambling violates the integrity of the game while promoting gambling to its viewers, especially viewers that include impressionable children. Make no mistake, Pete Rose is a sick individual who shows no regret for his actions. What would Manfred do if either service signed Pete Rose as a spokesperson?