New year, new questions. I’m just going to dispense with the trifles and get right to it.
@DEvanAltman do u C Heyward being the center fielder all season, or being in RF & CF?
— Paul Norwine (@PNorwine) January 1, 2016
Given the way things are setting up now, I can’t see Heyward playing anywhere other than CF. The Cubs don’t have an everyday CF on the roster and Jorge Soler needs to play. It’s possible we could see some weird stuff every once in a while as Maddon tinkers with things — think Baez at 3B, Bryant in CF, Heyward in RF — but those will be the exception to the rule.
On thing to really keep an eye on is Baez’s development in center. Should he acquit himself well out there and should Jorge Soler suffer an injury, it’s possible we’d see Heyward slide back over to his natural spot for a while. It could also make Soler expendable in a trade for pitching down the stretch, though that’s really getting into the kind of speculation I don’t really want to get into. Where things could really get interesting is if Albert Almora shows continued improvement at the plate in Iowa and is viewed as a legit MLB hitter.
All that said, Heyward will be the everyday CF and will slide over from time to time to accommodate other guys getting reps there.
@DEvanAltman Cliff Lee is still looking for a deal; discuss the pros and cons of signing him.
— Justin Klein (@jklein78) January 1, 2016
The main pro would be getting an experienced pitcher who was once considered the best in baseball. Lee is 37 and certainly can’t be counted on to produce at his pre-2014 levels, but we’re talking about a guy who threw 200+ innings in 8 of his last 10 seasons. He’s never been a huge strikeout pitcher, but once Lee got the walks under control in 2005, he hasn’t had to worry about making up for the walks. So even though you’re not expecting him to compete for the Cy Young, he’s a smart, savvy pitcher who has been on some winning teams.
As for cons, there’s really no way to know how that elbow is going to respond. You could be getting a watered-down version of a lefty ace or you could just be getting a guy who’s completely washed up. The real risk lies in how much you have to pay the guy, which will depend on what happens with the bidding for his services. He’s only looking for a one-year deal but I have to think he’s going to want some guaranteed money and not just a minor-league contract.
All things considered, I’d be comfortable handing him a couple/few million dollars, particularly in light of the going rate for starting pitching. When mid-rotation guys are getting contracts in excess of $15 million AAV, throwing $5 million at Cliff Lee could turn out really well despite the high degree of inherent risk. If he tanks completely, you’re out some money in one season only. If he eats 180 innings and puts up a 4-ish ERA, you got great value.
@DEvanAltman In Living Color was better than SNL. Discuss.
— Marty Funkhouser (@B_Orth85) January 1, 2016
It’s a really interesting premise and I think a case can be made for ILC’s superiority. In order to make a cogent argument, I think we have to leverage the show’s magnesium-flare intensity over a short period of time. In Living Color ran only 5 seasons, but gave us some incredibly memorable characters like Fire Marshall Bill, Homie D. Clown, Men on Film and launched the careers of Damon Wayans, Jim Carrey, and Jennifer Lopez. Okay, so maybe that last part is something we’ll leave out when we take this to the jury.
For me, the thing about watching ILC is that it felt a little taboo. As a middle-class white kid in a thoroughly white, rural town, the themes, actors, and characters on that short-lived sketch show were the visual equivalent of listening to Public Enemy or Wu-Tang Clan. It threw its very blackness in America’s face unapologetically and told us to deal with it. But like a fighter who gasses out early, ILC punched itself out while SNL has continued to run.
We can make all kinds of statements about the reluctance of Fox or white America to support In Living Color, but it’s clear that the show didn’t have the leeway to continue on being as controversial as it was. After only four seasons, the Wayans family was pretty much out of the picture entirely and the show feel from the sky like Joe Dirt’s Boeing bomb. I think it’s the very nature of that abbreviated arc that leads some to say it was better than SNL. For my money, I’m generally going to side with Goliath over David on this one, all things considered. Or perhaps it’s more appropriate to say I’d choose Eminem over PE.
@DEvanAltman Do you think Jorge Soler will beat his ZIPS projection of 1 WAR?
— David Westergreen (@dwest9cubs) January 1, 2016
I do, though I think it comes down to whether he can stay healthy. Steamer projects him to put up 1.2 fWAR, but that’s in only 122 games played. And that’s with a .260/.324/.440 slash line, 18 home runs, 62 runs, and 66 RBI. If he’s able to take that same level of production and log 140-150 games, he’d be looking at closer to 1.5 WAR. But even that seems pretty conservative, doesn’t it? Given the potential he’s got to be an elite power hitter, I think 1 WAR would actually be disappointing.
@DEvanAltman what are three things you’d rather do than watch Home Alone 3
— Alex Kolodziej (@AlexK_47) January 1, 2016
The only thing difficult about this answer is narrowing it down to only three things. I kind of forgot there even was a Home Alone 3, which is as it should be. I mean, that abomination of a second sequel is like piling hot garbage into a flaming dumpster and then rolling the whole mess into a fresh chemical spill. But in the interest of answering the question, I’m going to take a few different angles.
Bad [insert movie series] 3’s I’d rather watch
- Sharknado 3
- Jurassic Park 3
- Karate Kid 3
Personal grooming practices I’d rather endure
- Depilating my bikini line with fine-grit sandpaper
- Tweezing my nose hair
- Undergoing a coffee colonic
Twitter factions I’d rather have arguments with
- Cardinals fans
- Rape apologists/victim blamers
@DEvanAltman Is a hot dog a sandwich?
— Mick Murray (@MickPMurray) January 1, 2016
No. I think it’s more about the cylindrical nature of the encased meat in question, not to mention the manner in which the bread is held. I hold my sandwiches with the open end(s) parallel to the ground, while a dog/brat opening would be perpendicular. Also, sandwiches use bread/bun as a means by which to contain condiments, while a hot dog has no such pretense of containment.
— Jacob Larsen (@jakelarsen) January 1, 2016
I know there was plenty of smoke here, but I’m not so sure there’s ever going to be a fire. Both front offices are pretty savvy in terms of what they’re looking for and what they’re willing to sacrifice to get it. As such, a deal between the two would have to be one that benefits both teams. While I can’t see the Rays giving up a guy like Kevin Kiermaier for anything less than a huge haul, I’d love to see him patrolling CF at Wrigley for at least four or five years.
From the Cubs’ side, I think the obvious names are Jorge Soler and Javier Baez, as I think the starting point in any talks is a cost-controlled, high-ceiling player. Jake Odorizzi’s name came up quite a bit during the offseason as well, so that’s a possibility. But I don’t think anything’s going down in the immediate future, so both teams’ needs could change between now and when a deal would be consummated.
That’s it for this edition of Insider’s Inbox. This is a pretty fun segment for me, so I plan to keep it coming. Questions are always welcomed, so bring ’em as they come up.