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Cub Tracks pitches in

Rocket’s bat flip, buying stock in Theo, other bullets, and Jim Stafford, too

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MLB: NLCS-Los Angeles Dodgers at Chicago Cubs
This doesn’t look good
Jim Young-USA TODAY Sports

From the TLDR Sports crew:

Glad I didn’t have to do an elegy. I was off that day. Anyway, in a perfect world, from the barstool where I sit, Dave Cameron:

“Sooner or later you reach a point where you have to strongly consider sacrificing some of that depth to address needs elsewhere on the club. We’re entering a phase where we have to be really open-minded to that if it makes the overall outlook of the team and organization better.” — Theo Epstein

The season is officially over. Chris Bosio has been dismissed, and the hot stove is going to be warming up pretty soon. This is just to kindle the flames. I imagine Al will have ideas of his own. I imagine you will, too.

Pitching is the probably first thing on everyone’s mind. The list of free agent pitchers is pretty long and includes some people we all would rather have as Cubs. Jake Arrieta, Wade Davis would be on anyteam’s wishlist, and Brian Duensing and John Lackey could probably find suitors (if Lackey doesn’t retire). Koji Uehara and even Manny Parra could fall into that group as well. Maybe. Maybe not.

Jake will want a whole lot of money, and, more importantly, a whole lot of years. This is his big cash-in contract. Maybe, just maybe, he settles for four or five years, at 30 or 32 million dollars per. Otherwise...damn. Are there other options? Sure there are. Here’s a list of 2018 free agent starting pitchers. Who do you like? What would you want? For my purposes, I’m not considering pitchers much over 30. The older pitchers on the list aren’t sparking my interest. Most of them are more firestarters than firemen.

I’d think about Chris Tillman for a minute. I’d do a one-year flyer at a decent price, depending on what soft-tissue scans said about his shoulder. Hector Santiago might be worth looking at as well, or perhaps turned into a reliever, where his screwball would be useful. Michael Pineda? Jhoulys Chacin? Nick Tepesch? Henderson Alvarez? Jordan Lyles and old friend Felix Doubront? I dunno — Any one of those guys might, at a stretch, occupy a spot on the 40-man for a minute. But that group makes Jake look better and better unless you want to trade a core player or bet the future on Jen-Ho Tseng and Mike Montgomery. I want guys that don’t walk anyone. I might be interested in German Marquez. Is this the real Dan Straily? How about Luis Perdomo? Jeff Zimmerman has words about similar issues.

About Jake Arrieta:

“Obviously, his performance, his production have been huge for us. And beyond that, his dominance — which really started toward the second half of ’14 and obviously carried through into ’15 — allowed us to get a little more aggressive in that winter following the ’14 season, landing a Jon Lester, Joe Maddon and Dexter Fowler and others to really start a new phase of competitiveness for us. And then his impact on the culture here has been equally as important. He’s someone who is always trying to make himself better, carries himself with a lot of swagger and backs it up and really his desire, his mindset is to find an edge in everything that he does — nutrition, working out, mental preparation. It really rubbed off on guys, especially seeing what he did in ’15. When you have a guy who’s that exceptional and singularly talented over the course of a season, the 24 guys just want to follow him around and see what he’s doing.”

— Theo Epstein

Middle relief is a quagmire. Addison Reed might be worth looking at. I could see Brian Shaw or Matt Minor getting looks. Kevin Siegrist likewise. Some people from the minors might get looks here. Spring Training will be interesting from this perspective. I bet Dillon Maples makes the roster. Again, I want to limit the walks. I hate walks. Here’s a guy I like.

Wade Davis beats out Greg Holland, I think. Nobody else is worth considering. Unless you are really into Carl Edwards Jr. as a closer, I think you have to make this a priority. Davis on a two-or-three-year deal would be mighty attractive.

That should give you something to talk about. Here’s the whole list. I imagine Al will have much more to say on this subject, and soon...

Let’s see what the usual suspects have on their minds — as always * means autoplay on™ (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Today in baseball history:

  • 1845 - The first known box score appears in the New York Morning News. The notation detailing the game comes a month after the first set of rules is written by Alexander Cartwright and some his fellow Knickerbockers.
1845 box score
  • 1972 - The transplanted A's, capturing their first championship in 42 years, become the first Bay Area team to win a world title when they defeat the Reds, 3-2, in the seventh game. World Series MVP Gene Tenace, who hit only five home runs in the regular season, connects for four round-trippers during the Fall Classic, including an unprecedented two homers in his first two at-bats in Game 1.
  • 1974 - Two very well-known outfielders are traded for one another as the Giants send Bobby Bonds to the Yankees for Bobby Murcer. Considered to be the biggest one-for-one trade in baseball history, the swap of the next 'Willie Mays' (Bonds) for the next 'Mickey Mantle' (Murcer) marks the first time two $600,000 players have been exchanged.
  • 1975 - In a fitting finish to one of the most classic World Series ever played, the Reds beat the Red Sox in a thrilling Game 7 victory, 4-3. Joe Morgan's ninth inning looping single scoring Ken Griffey proves to be the decisive hit.
  • 2000 - In Game 2, the Yankees extend their World Series winning streak to 14 consecutive games, defeating the Mets, 6-5, in a game which is overshadowed by Roger Clemens throwing the barrel of a shattered bat at Mike Piazza as the Met catcher runs to first. The eagerly awaited at-bat, due to the Rocket's beaning of the Mets' superstar in July, results in the two players confronting one another and the emptying of both benches.
  • 2007 - Tony La Russa agrees to a two-year contract to continue as the Cardinals manager.
  • Happy birthday — Jimmie Foxx, Jim Hickey, Frank DiPino, Michael Barrett

Cubs news and notes:

"I think we did OK based on how we started [the season]," Joe Maddon said. "Three trips to this neck of the woods doesn't happen often. We're young, and we're no longer inexperienced. We've been young and inexperienced, and now we're just young, so that's nice. Eventually, the young will become veterans, too."

"We've got a pretty good core here, and a lot of guys will be here next year, too," Kris Bryant said. "If you look at it, being in the final four of baseball, out of all the good teams out there, we're not going to hang our heads. There's a lot of positives."

  • Tim Baffoe (CBS Sports Chicago*): The Cubs are dead, but long live the Cubs. “Now you take inventory and fix holes.”
  • Rob Arthur (Five Thirty-Eight): The 2017 Cubs never clicked. The bullpen imploded, the offense never got rolling, and Joe Maddon made some bad calls. Harsh.
  • Steve Greenberg (Chicago Sun-Times*): Inside the Cubs’ Game 5 clubhouse: Champagne? Nope. Beer and goodbyes...”— hell of a three-year run these Cubs treated us to — “
  • Carrie Muskat ( Cubs proud of season as repeat quest ends. "We intend to stay on the same path for many years to come,” said Maddon.
  • George Castle (Chicago Baseball Museum): Theo’s first ‘re-tooling’ job at hand for off-season. Indeed.
  • Joel Sherman (New York Post): Diagnosing the next steps for Cubs to remain a title contender. “...the positional core headed by Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras and Anthony Rizzo is in its prime, but there is not a pitching staff to match...”
  • Bruce Levine (CBS Sports Chicago*): Theo Epstein, Cubs eyeing trade market this offseason.
  • Patrick Mooney (NBC Sports Chicago*): Offseason of change begins. "Rest assured, Joe will have every coach back that he wants back." Theo Epstein.
  • Todd Johnson (Cubs Central): Theo speaks…people listen. “Sometimes I think Theo Epstein is the new E.F. Hutton.”
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times*): Cubs at crossroads this winter amid staff shakeup, roster turnover. “That means an offseason about starting pitching, relief pitching and more pitching.”
  • Brendan Miller (Cubs Insider): Bond between Maddon and former Rays Coach Hickey goes way back. “Hickey was hired in 2007 while Maddon was entering his second year as manager for the Rays.”
  • Bruce Levine (CBS Sports Chicago*): With Chris Bosio out, Cubs could turn to familiar faces in pitching coach search. Don't let the handshake and the smile fool ya.
  • Patrick Mooney (NBC Sports Chicago*): Cubs will be open for business as Theo Epstein weighs trading hitters for pitching. “We’re going to pursue all avenues to get better,” Epstein said.
  • Russell Dorsey (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Feeling Blue: The Cubs go down, but have more bullets in the chamber. “ is important to continue to understand what sustained success means.”
  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Cubs offseason overhaul: Bullpen needs strike-throwers. “The idea of walk-up music took on a whole different tone for hitters facing the Cubs bullpen this postseason.”

Food for thought:

  • Adam Mann (Science): Why haven’t we had alien contact? Blame icy ocean worlds. “Most extraterrestrial creatures are likely deep inside their home planets, in subsurface oceans crusted over in frozen water ice, according to a new proposal...”
  • Tina Hesman Saey (Science News): Resurrecting extinct species raises ethical questions. “Rise of the Necrofauna.”
  • Melkorka Licea (New York Post): Science confirms spiders and snakes are innately terrifying. Jim Stafford begs to differ.

Thanks for reading, listening, watching. Cub Tracks will return Tuesday in time for coffee with another idiosyncratic look at the world of the Cubs. Next Sunday is our third anniversary special. Don’t miss it! Oh yeah, and buy my books.