Playing Pepper: Chris Coghlan Trade Bait, Da Superfans, Schwarboard Loses its Ornament

After the work Mike did on The Rundown (don’t worry, he’ll be back soon), I realized I could no longer do that segment justice. As such, I wanted to come up with a little quick-hitter segment that would allow me to hit on a few topics of interest without getting too long-winded. Well, that’s the hope anyway.

Chris Coghlan’s trade value

Nothing crazy on the rumor front, but I did see something the other day about the Cubs possibly shopping their standout utility outfielder. Despite putting up 5.7 fWAR over the past two years, Coghlan has been a bit underappreciated during his Cubs tenure for whatever reason. Maybe it’s the questionable defense or the fact that he had been so awful for the Marlins since his rookie season (-1.4 fWAR in four seasons combined). You can’t ask for more out of a fourth OF, but some folks still had the idea that he was number two. In case you missed it, that’s a poop joke and not a declaration of his place on the depth chart.

Cogs’ value was really called into question toward the end of last season, though, as he became a bit of a forgotten man when Kyle Schwarber took over full-time in left and Jorge Soler regained his health. With neither of those players going anywhere, and Jason Heyward shifting to right if Soler is moved, Coghlan is only going to see time in a pretty limited reserve role with the Cubs in 2016. And depending on how well Javy Baez acquits himself in the outfield, Coghlan’s role could be further diminished. Thing is, he’s still got pretty good value…for now.

We’re not talking about a return anywhere near those being rumored for Soler, but Coghlan could still fetch a decent relief arm, and maybe a cost-controlled one at that. But if the Cubs are going to extract max value from him, they may need to strike soon. If, as I surmised above, the rotation plays out in such a way that Coghlan’s innings are limited, he’s not going to look quite as good to trade partners. Not only will the Cubs not be able to display their wares, but they could also lose a bit of leverage because he becomes obviously expendable.

I like Cogs and I really think he’s a valuable commodity for the Cubs. His impact, however, would be significantly depressed by the likely diminution of at-bats. As such, it’s entirely possible that what the Cubs would get in return for him would outweigh what he’d provide them. I don’t think they should just give the guy a way by any means, just that he is more of a luxury item when the Cubs may be better off with something more practical.

Dueling Superfans takes

Some of you may know that I’ve contributed a few stories to The Cauldron, a pretty intelligent site under the Sports Illustrated umbrella. It’s pretty badass for a kid who grew up reading the magazine cover-to-cover every week to have an SI byline and I’m really proud of the work I’ve been able to publish there. If you’ve not seen it already, check out what I wrote about Brandon Marshall; I think it represents some of the best pure writing I’ve done in a long time. I also had stories about Jake Arrieta and Jeff Samardzija if you’ve got some extra time.

Now that my shameless self-promotion is over, I’ll get to the point. I first learned about the Cauldron through Julie DiCaro and Tim Baffoe, both of whom are actual staff writers there (I just get to pitch stuff at my leisure). Much to my amusement, the two posted dueling takes on the famous SNL Superfans sketch in honor (or dishonor) of its 25th anniversary. Baffoe took the buffoonery as a bit of an affront, kind of like a funhouse mirror warping the view of Chicagoans. DiCaro saw it as a less distorted reflection, a fun-loving ode to the rabid fandom in her hometown.

Even though women really don’t know much about sportsing and should be limited in their ability to write about manly topics (that’s a joke, people, calm down), I have to side with DiCaro here. Baffoe wins major, major points for employing a photo of Hans Klopek (it came with the frame) as his avatar, but even that beautiful ode to The ‘Burbs can’t win me over. The sketches were corny and a bit ham-handed at times, but I loved them as a kid and they still amuse me. Maybe that’s because I’m not a Chicagoan.

Schwarber’s home run ball removed from scoreboard

This is what passes for news in mid-January, but it wasn’t really a surprise. Well, I don’t think it was. The Cubs had gone to the effort of putting a protective plexiglass case around the ball back in October, but I was told by team reps in November that it would be taken down. The timing isn’t surprising at all, what with the Cubs Convention coming up this weekend. Maybe the ball will make an appearance there and I can get a picture with it while wearing my War Bear shirt. That’s a totally non-meatball thing that people with media credentials do, right?

If you got time for some unattributed taeks on the topic, check out this FOX Sports piece. Or maybe don’t. Here’s a better idea: spend the time you just saved watching the video of Schwarber depositing that ball up on top of the videoboard.

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