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Cub Tracks tops it off

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Chili yesterday, hot stove tamale, and other bullets

Javy being Javy
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Howdy, campers. Today we’re doing information again. There’s an ever-updated list of Cubs player personnel at the bottom of this page, where may be seen the dreaded double asterisk **. Today we shall be looking in on the reserve position players and completing our handy-dandy 40-man+ roster in addition to the usual festivities in this 2,000-word all-day sucker of a post.

Daniel Murphy is a free agent and I really don’t think he’ll be signing with the Cubs. Tommy La Stella is an arb candidate and I can see his return so I’m including him. Otherwise Mike Freeman is your top backup infielder. This is not, on the whole, a prepossessing group, and why David Bote is probably your starting second baseman at this point, unless you want to start La Stella and have Bote back him up.

I didn’t think so.

  1. 2b/3b Tommy La Stella. Pinch-hitter, might start once a week or so to stay locked-in.
  2. C Victor Caratini. Once or twice a week behind the plate and a day once in a while at first. Keep him busy enough that he doesn’t forget how to hit.
  3. 2b/SS/3b Mike Freeman. He’s in Triple-A if you can get someone better.
  4. OF Terrance Gore. I can see it if he’ll play in Triple-A all year.
  5. OF Mark Zagunis. I think he finds another team before spring.
  6. C Taylor Davis. See Gore entry.

The Cubs could conceivably use help all over the roster. Decisions have to be made —are Almora and Happ starting-quality players? Does Schwarber play full-time? Do they find out in other cities? What’s up with second base anyway?

Josh and Tim will probably both tell you about the minor-league prospects and suspects. Here’s today’s news — please be reminded that the views expressed by the writers are not necessarily those of Cub Tracks or of Bleed Cubbie Blue writers or staff. Please feel free to express yourself, within limits. As always * means autoplay on, or annoying ads, or both (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Cubs News and Notes:

Not an unimpeachable source but food for thought anyway:

Food for thought:

Thanks for reading.


**Roster reference, so far:

Roster info from The Cub Reporter. An ever-evolving index, maybe a rolodex, basically just adjusted for handedness. Can refer to Fangraphs or BBRef for data. Players set to become free agents in 2018-19 offseason.

Starting pitchers

  1. Jon Lester (L). He’ll be back. Here’s his bbref page, if you need reference materials. 3.3 WAR, 181.2 innings, 149 strikeouts. 18-6 record. Given how spotty the Cubs’ offense was, that’s pretty impressive. He’s the ace of the staff. Jon has three more years on his deal and will likely remain throughout, though his period of effectiveness may be waning. He’ll be 35 this year.
  2. Kyle Hendricks. The co-ace. He’ll be back, too. 3.0 WAR, 199 innings. He’s entering his Arb2 year and will cost a bit more. His performance wasn’t as consistently impressive as it had been for the previous two years, but it was still pretty damned good. The Professor doesn’t monkey around.
  3. Jose Quintana (L). Uneven performance. Bad the third time through the order. 1.7 WAR, though, which isn’t terrible. 174 innings eaten. Keeps the team in the game a good percentage of the time, will continue to take the ball and deliver it with the same poise no matter what the situation. He’s under control for a couple more years and is fine if he functions as-is. Any improvement would be a bonus.
  4. Yu Darvish. Incomplete grade for the year. I have him slotted fourth only because of the handedness issue. I like balance. He’ll be given every chance to show his stuff. I was an Arrieta man, but Yu is a Cub and that’s the name of that tune. He’s in Chicago until 2023 if nothing changes.
  5. Cole Hamels (L) (should he return, which seems likely). Unqualified success as a Cub. Can maybe squeeze another effective year out of his arm. 3.8 WAR on the year, that’s not too shabby at all. 190.2 innings. I’d take that option in a minute. He could move as high as third and as low as fifth in the rotation, depending.
  6. Tyler Chatwood. Theo Epstein has made plenty of noises about pitching depth, and Chatwood will again be given some opportunity. Here because handedness — I just like to alternate. None of these positions are set in stone, though I don’t expect 1 and 2 to change. I don’t like walks. Last year my predictive staff was all about guys that throw strikes. I’d like to see a trade here but I dunno how that could happen. Bad-contract swap, maybe. Otherwise he’s a righty swingman and is keeping Mills in Iowa. Not saying that’s necessarily a bad thing, but it’s isn’t a win, either. He’s signed with the Cubs through 2020.
  7. Mike Montgomery (L). I don’t know if MiMo remains a Cub. He has a lot of trade value as a starter or swingman. 1.1 WAR in 124 innings, not bad at all. Mike has sometime control issues but he’s generally reliable. His future may depend on what the Cubs think they have in Mills. He’s in his Arb1 year.
  8. Alec Mills. Starter/swingman, maybe AAAA player but intriguing. Under team control for 2019.
  9. Jen-Ho Tseng. Another possibility to see some starter innings, at least in spring training, and an injury hedge at the very least.

Relief pitchers

  1. Brandon Morrow — closer
  2. Pedro Strop — setup/closer
  3. Steve Cishek — setup/closer
  4. Drew Smyly (L) — long/mid
  5. Carl Edwards Jr — mid/setup
  6. Randy Rosario (L) — mid/setup
  7. Brandon Kintzler — mid
  8. Brian Duensing (L)
  9. Dillon Maples — mid
  10. James Norwood — mid
  11. Allen Webster — mid
  12. Jesse Chavez (FA)
  13. Jaime Garcia (L) (FA)
  14. Jorge de la Rosa (L) (FA)
  15. Justin Wilson (L) (FA)
  16. Duane Underwood Jr
  17. Dakota Mekkes
  18. Rob Zastryzny (L) (FA) Zastryzny is not on the 40-man roster but I suppose he’s a possibility

Starting position players

  1. CF Ian Happ/ Albert Almora Jr. At least until another viable option presents itself. Platoon with Happ maybe getting some reps in left and at second and Almora getting some late-inning defensive-replacement work.
  2. 2b David Bote/ 2b Ben Zobrist (or Addison Russell if Russell is retained somehow). Go with the hot hand and rest Ben plenty. Heyward could log time here as well, or Tommy La Stella if he is retained.
  3. 1b Anthony Rizzo. I’m just going to leave him there. Maybe Caratini gets some innings.
  4. 3b Kris Bryant. Same. Bote on days off.
  5. LF Kyle Schwarber/ SS Javier Baez (I think Baez is the shortstop no matter what happens with Russell). Adjust for handedness/prior tendencies, etc. Contreras could log time here, too.
  6. SS Javier Baez/ RF Jason Heyward
  7. RF Jason Heyward
  8. C Willson Contreras/ C Victor Caratini.

Reserve players:

  1. 2b/3b Tommy La Stella. Pinch-hitter, might start once a week or so to stay locked-in.
  2. C Victor Caratini. Once or twice a week behind the plate and a day once in a while at first. Keep him busy enough that he doesn’t forget how to hit.
  3. 2b/SS/3b Mike Freeman. He’s in Triple-A if you can get someone better.
  4. OF Terence Gore. I can see it if he’ll play in Triple-A all year.
  5. OF Mark Zagunis. I think he finds another team before spring.
  6. C Taylor Davis. See Gore entry.