Top Of The First
Not much Cubs news lately so I’ll focus on some general baseball stuff in today’s Rundown. I hope everybody had a great holiday! Mine was extended by one day as bad weather prevented me from getting back to Chicago yesterday.
Yankees Acquire Chapman For Prospects
It’s almost unfathomable to think about, but it has been awhile since the New York Yankees made headlining news in the offseason. Yesterday afternoon the Cincinnati Reds traded closer Aroldis Chapman and his monster fastball to the New York Yankees for right-handed pitchers Caleb Cotham and Rookie Davis and infielders Eric Jagielo and Tony Renda. None of the players the Yankees packaged to Cincinnati are considered elite prospects, though Jagielo was a first-round pick in 2013.
Chapman, 27, is the game’s hardest thrower. His fastball averaged 100.43 MPH in 2015, according to Brooks Baseball and he has put up some astonishing numbers in his career:
- 540 strikeouts in 319 career innings
- 146 saves and 23 holds against only 18 blown saves in six seasons
- A 1.02 career WHIP
- A fastball that currently averages 100+ MPH
- A career ERA of 2.17 (xFIP = 2.18)
- Chapman threw the top 62 fastest pitches in the majors in 2015 according to the Major League Baseball Statcast computer system. Nathan Eovaldi threw the 63rd-fastest pitch at 102.35 MPH
The back end of the Yankees bullpen is ridiculously absurd.
Top three highest K% by pitcher in MLB, 2014-15:
1. Aroldis Chapman, 46.3%
2. Andrew Miller, 41.6%
3. Dellin Betances, 39.5%
Of course there’s some extreme baggage attached to Chapman, too. Earlier this month he appeared headed to the Dodgers in a trade, but talks with Cincinnati halted when reports indicated that Chapman had allegedly been involved in a domestic violence incident with his girlfriend.
According to a police report, Chapman allegedly fired eight gunshots into his garage and choked his girlfriend on October 30th at his home in Florida. Chapman admitted to firing the gun, but denied any assault on his girlfriend.
Due to conflicting reports and insufficient evidence, Chapman was not charged. The police investigation into the matter is now closed, but that doesn’t mean it’s over. MLB is still investigating the incident, and Chapman could face a suspension under the league’s new domestic violence policy.
Because of the off-field issues, the Yankees may have robbed the Reds. Yankees GM Brian Cashman stated it a little more subtly: “Given the circumstances that exist, the price point on the acquisition has been modified. We felt this was an opportunity to add a big arm to our bullpen.”
Would the Yankees possibly move Miller or Betances now that they’ve acquired Chapman? Surely the Cubs, as well as almost every team in baseball, would be interested in either at the right price.
Then again, the Cubs may not need either. Though it has been pieced together in similar fashion to the Island of Misfit Toys (see Moneyball, the movie), Chicago’s bullpen was ranked fourth in baseball last season (5.0 WAR) and played a big part in the team’s success. With expected arb raises, the ‘pen will cost the Cubs less than $25M in 2016. A big chunk of that will be going to Travis Wood if he is not traded. That’s tremendous value.
I suppose whether or not the Yankees trade a piece of their bullpen would depend on baseball’s investigation into Chapman. If the stud closer is suspended for any significant amount of time, the Yankees would likely not move Betances or Miller. And maybe they shouldn’t anyway. There are plenty of statistics available as to how poorly starters perform as they go through a batting order for a third time. Nathan Eovaldi clearly suffers more than most as batters face him a third and fourth time.
Three MLB Players Named in Latest HGH Scandal
According to the Huffington Post, Ryan Zimmerman, Ryan Howard and former Cubs catcher Taylor Teagarden are linked to an HGH scandal that also named Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning. Teagarden allegedly openly discussed his usage of PEDs in a video possessed by Texas pharmacist Charlie Sly. Sly was working undercover at the Guyer Institute in Austin, TX. While he’s appeared in parts of eight seasons with the Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles, New York Mets, and Chicago Cubs, Teagarden has never appeared in more than 60 games during a regular season.
The Huffington Post’s report vehemently points out that it’s not clear if any of Sly’s allegations are true. There is some credence, however, that enough evidence exists for an investigation. For what it’s worth, Manning denied the allegations and called the claims “complete garbage,” though one might assume that would be a predicted response for anybody named in the report.
Denny McClain is still waiting on the list of purported cheaters from MLB’s last PED investigation.
Speaking on the Score’s “Inside the Clubhouse” on Saturday, McClain stated, “…there were 106-108 guys confirmed by baseball who tested positive (for PEDs) a number of years ago [and] they only named four or five guys, those being the obvious superstars. What I want to know is who were the other guys who tested positive before we vote for the Hall of Fame? If we are going to name those guys who now won’t ever get in the Hall of Fame, why aren’t we hearing about those others?”
Fact, Fiction, Truth or Rumors
Women made great strides in MLB in 2015, including ESPN’s Jessica Mendoza, who became the first woman to call a postseason game on national television.
Alex Gordon instructed 200 kids at Creighton College last night and said there is “no truth” to the rumor that the Kansas City Royals have no shot of re-signing the free-agent outfielder.
A great story: The Milwaukee School of Engineering has invented Beeper Baseball so that visually impaired children can learn about a game that they could only have dreamed about playing previously.
Sports On Earth takes a look at the best late-winter free-agent signings of all-time. James Shields did not make the list in case you were wondering. I’m surprised that Andre Dawson did not though. Dawson signed with the Cubs on March 9, 1987. He would have been first on my list.
Bronson Arroyo is baseball’s Strangest But Truest Man of the Year for 2015 according to ESPN’s Jayson Stark.
ICYMI: Baseball great Dave Henderson died at the age of 57 on Sunday.
Was baseball played at a long-ago monastery in Belgium in 1301?
Bottom of the Ninth
With all of the excitement regarding the Cubs upcoming season, Bryan Soderholm-Difatte points out that, believe it or not, the Chicago Cubs own the most dominant (five years or more) span in National League History.
From 1906-1910, the Chicago Cubs dominated the world. They were the best team in baseball not just for the one incredible year of 1906 when the team won a league record 116 games, but during the five year span beginning in ’06 the team won nearly 70 percent of their games, four National League pennants, and two World Series.