The Rundown: Cardinals Close Gap on Cubs, Machado Rumors Linger, Bryant Roasts Twitter Troll

Yesterday may have been the slowest baseball news day of the offseason. I guess we can point the blame at the effects of a holiday hangover of sorts, but the best I could come up were semi-hourly updates on the Zach Duke signing by the Twins on MLBTR.

In addition to the lack of any tangible info, there weren’t any rumors circulating yesterday either. Jesse Rogers published a piece on the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry, analyzing the gap between the two teams to see if St. Louis has done enough so far to narrow that chasm. The Cardinals finished nine games behind Chicago last season, but that’s only part of the disparity.

The Cubs have signed pitchers Dario Alvarez, Tyler Chatwood, Brandon Morrow, Steve Cishek, and Drew Smyly so far this winter. They also get a full year of Jose Quintana and Justin Wilson. The Cardinals have countered by trading for Marcell Ozuna and signing free agent pitchers Luke Gregerson and Miles Mikolas.

According to Steam projections on FanGraphs, the Cardinals have accumulated six wins and the Cubs have added just 3.3 wins base on those moves. But the Cubs have also lost (for now) Jake Arrieta and Wade Davis. Those losses represent 3.4 wins using to the same utility. The Cardinals gave back 1.4 wins when they traded OF Stephen Piscotty to the A’s.

So the Cardinals have closed the gap from last season by approximately 4.5 wins, on paper, not counting full-season contributions from Wilson and Quintana. The Cubs remain ranked fourth in Sports Illustrated’s preseason power rankings, with the Cardinals four spots behind. That comes with the assumption that the Cubs will replace Arrieta with a pitcher of similar potential production, perhaps Yu Darvish. If they do acquire Darvish, Chicago would lead MLB in overall WAR heading into 2018.

While the hot stove season is far from over, the Cubs remain internally focused, according to president Theo Epstein.

“We figured by the time the winter is over, [St. Louis] would get one or two big bats, maybe a big closer, maybe a starter. Who knows?” Epstein said. “We have to remind ourselves not to be reactionary. We have to do what’s best for the Cubs.”

Cubs News & Notes

The Cubs’ alleged offer to the Orioles for Manny Machado was leaked over the weekend by Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. I say “alleged” because it hasn’t been reported by anybody else. The package that was presumably rejected by Baltimore included Addison Russell, Albert Almora Jr., and Mike Montgomery. I imagine that if the Cubs did offer up this package of players, the expected return included other pieces, possibly Kevin Gausman.

It seems odd that Epstein would give up that much player control for a rental, and downright crazy that the Orioles would pass unless there was more to the trade than Cafardo indicates. Though Dan Duquette has announced that the team is going to retain their All-Star SS/3B for now, this rumor bears watching as winter progresses.

Even in a what would be considered a down year in which Machado hit a career-low .259, he had 33 home runs and 95 RBI.

A Cubs fan made this impressive recruiting pitch to Bryce Harper. Harper is one year from free agency and is already a fan favorite in Chicago. I wonder what type of reaction he will get in his first AB at Wrigley this season.

What?! Fergie Jenkins played for the Harlem Globetrotters during the 1967, ’68 and ’69 seasons? How did I not know this?

Cubs social media director Kevin Saghy has left the team for a similar position with Ohio State University. This is a big loss. Cubs Twitter has been on fire in recent seasons.

Speaking of social media, Kris Bryant has some haters. BigHig44 called Bryant a “waste” despite the third baseman’s Rookie of the Year and MVP awards, not to mention contributions to the team’s first MLB championship in 108 years. Bryant’s response was priceless.

Tuesday Stove

As the Yankees pursue a top-of-rotation starter, these are the players they will and will not make available.

Angels SP/DH Shohei Ohtani said goodbye to his fans with a ceremonial last pitch.

The Orioles have once again threatened to take Machado off the block. No truth to the rumor that owner Peter Angelos will not settle for anything less than the Astros’ starting lineup (or trade equivalent) in return for their starting third baseman.

The Twins remain interested in free agent 1B/DH Mike Napoli.

MLB released its 10 most-watched videos of the 2017 season.

Diamondbacks 2017 first round draft pick Pavin Smith was a Twitter hit on Christmas Day.

Wednesday Walk Up Song

Let’s Get It Started by The Black Eyed Peas. What’s up, Hot Stove?

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