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Cub Tracks’ honeymoon salad

Dynasty talk, falling short, interpreting Theo, and other bullets

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Wild Card Game - Colorado Rockies v Chicago Cubs
lettuce alone
Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Life is humdrum without Cubs baseball. I have to find ways to fill that three or so hours a day when the baseball would happen. Some of it has been absorbed by the writing biz. But even that requires some sort of stimulus, some sound and moving images...

To fill a little bit of the time, it occured to me to take a quick look at lineup construction. The Cubs don’t have the prototypical leadoff man, but they have several players that would be serviceable, or should be (based on the current roster —this will be revisited as things change). I’m still into the Ian Happ/Albert Almora Jr. platoon, should both players break camp with the Cubs. I like that player batting leadoff, and the second baseman du jour (David Bote, Ben Zobrist, Happ) hitting in the two hole, for reasons.

There’s some statistical grounding there — despite his awful SO rate, Happ logged a .353 OBP and an OPS+ of 100. Almora logged a .326 OBP. Not ideal, a little low, but still serviceable. 92 OPS+ (same as Heyward), not terrible either. Happ had a good eye, he just needs to put the bat on the ball more often. Almora needs to make more hard contact. Right now he’s a right-handed Heyward, stats-wise. The glove plays. We went over this last year, and Happ won the job out of camp, and Almora had a great first half, but it didn’t work out. I still like it, in theory at least. Not ideal, as said, but serviceable, if barely.

Bote’s .319 OBP is likewise low but in the ballpark. There’s room for improvement, and a reasonable expectation that there will be improvement. Zobrist carried a .378 OBP, not out of line with his lifetime .357. He could lead off when in the lineup, flip-flopping with the center-fielder of the day. La Stella, if retained, fills the same spot, but Zobrist is better against right-handed pitchers, so a straight platoon doesn’t work there.

That puts Anthony Rizzo at #3, Kris Bryant at #4, Kyle Schwarber at #5 (should he remain), Javier Baez at #6, Jason Heyward at #7, and Willson Contreras at #8, as a nucleus of players to build on/rotate in and out, bolstered by bench players.

Free agency isn’t going to help with the leadoff conundrum. The only players I could conceive of making a play for (Jose Iglesias, Freddy Galvis) aren’t leadoff types — they’re backups at this stage in their careers. Neither has obp skills to speak of, but they’re adequate glove men in the middle infield and would replace La Stella, who I don’t think will be retained. It’s just about equally likely that the backup infielder would come from Triple-A...see Sam Fels interpretation of Theo Epstein’s press conference.

How this all plays into Theo Epstein’s ideas, I don’t know. It’s random stuff to consider, anyway. I’ll grab another coffee, and we’ll move on to the links. There are meditations and ruminations available for both deep consideration and casual perusal, albeit in a small sample size. I think most of the bloggers and beat writers took today off. We still don’t have any scuttlebutt from the various meetings that took place the last few days.

  • for reference: Thomas Harrigan (*): Players set to become free agents in 2018-19 offseason. I don’t think Heyward is going to opt out. I also don’t think we’ll see Bryce Harper or Manny Machado in Cubbie Blue pinstripes. There’d have to be a whole lot of moving parts to make either of those possibilities happen. Maybe we’ll take a little peek at that Tuesday. Feel free to regale us all with your perspective.

As always * means autoplay on, or annoying ads, or both (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Cubs News and Notes:

  • Joshua Diemert (Pinstripe Alley): The Cubs just showed the Yankees how fleeting ‘dynasties’ can be. “Chicago showed us your window is never as open as you think.”
  • Craig Edwards (Fangraphs): The Cubs aren’t a dynasty and that’s okay. “It’s okay to be upset about falling short a year ago. That’s what fandom is.”
  • David Haugh (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Is Theo Epstein’s call for urgency in 2019 compatible with Joe Maddon’s style? “If you just show up, playing it cool, knowing you’re talented, knowing it’s a long season and trusting that the talent will manifest over the course of 162, sometimes you’ll end up one game short,’’ Epstein said.
  • Sam Fels (Wrigleyville_Baseball Prospectus): Theo explains it all. “When talking about “production over talent,” it’s clear that Theo is referencing turning jobs over to young players from the system instead of acquiring veterans to replace those that have departed.”
  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Cubs beat writer Thinks Schwarber, Happ, Chavez likely gone. Mark Gonzales, that is. The article was in yesterday’s Cub Tracks. “...the simple reality is that you can’t add new players without subtracting others,” Altman says.
  • Jon Greenberg (The Athletic {$}): Decoding Theo: Our writers decipher five of the Cubs president’s eloquent press conference answers. “I loved the Spalding Gray monologues we watched in a college creative writing class, and I think Theo could pull off a baseball one if he wanted to after he steps down as president of the Cubs.”
  • Digital Signage Connection: The Cubs Store retail experience deepens the fan connection. “It’s extending the ballpark experience outside for a 365-day-a-year experience where fans can shop for awesome Cubs gear,” said Erin Jones, Senior V.P. Rank & Rally.
  • Lauren Mageira (WGN 9): Addison Russell’s ex-wife speaks to WGN about domestic violence allegations. “I’ve come a long way and know there is purpose to our pain, I went through something that was awful, turn a bad situation good,” she said.
  • Bill Vilona (Pensacola News-Journal*): Addison Russell’s future, family pay the cost for his actions. “His marriage has dissolved. Families have been torn. His career is in jeopardy. All the proclamations are distant memories.”

Food for thought:

Thanks for reading.