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BCB After Dark: Closing time

The hip joint for night owls, early-risers and Cubs fans abroad asks you about free agent closer Kenley Jansen

Championship Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Atlanta Braves - Game Six Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Welcome back to BCB After Dark: your late-night hangout for night owls, early-risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. We’re so glad that you could join us again tonight. Please let us take your hat and coat. Come in and get warm There’s still a table available near the fire. No cover charge tonight. Bring your own beverage. We’re available for parties.

BCB After Dark is the place for you to talk baseball, music, movies, or anything else you need to get off your chest, as long as it is within the rules of the site. The late-nighters are encouraged to get the party started, but everyone else is invited to join in as you wake up the next morning and into the afternoon.

Last time, I asked you what you thought was the Cubs most pressing need coming up this season. With 43 percent of the vote, you said that the Cubs needed to add another starting pitcher. Second-place with 34 percent was a new shortstop.

We’re still in a lockout.

I’ll remind you of this again tomorrow evening, but we’ve rented the joint out to Al on Friday for a New Year’s Eve party. So please come and join his celebration and ring in the new year on Friday night, starting at 11 p.m. Central time. It’s will be a special holiday edition of BCB After Dark. We’ll still have our normal hangout tomorrow night.

Tuesday night/Wednesday morning is the night I do an abbreviated version of the night party, which means that there’s no movie talk. However, you can always go back and look at my essay on 1946’s Cluny Brown that I wrote yesterday, which I found to be an altogether enjoyable film.

I do have time for some jazz, however, so those of you who skip that can do so now. You won’t hurt my feelings.

I’ve been very open from the very beginning of this feature that I’m not an expert on jazz. I’m not the kind of guy with a wall full of classic jazz LPs and a encyclopedic knowledge of who played on what recording session, although truth be told, I do kind of admire those people as long as they aren’t jerks about it. In truth, I’m just a jazz fan who finds that jazz music can put me in a good mood and keep my mind off my troubles. I don’t present jazz here to show off my knowledge. In fact, most of the time I feel I just show off my ignorance. I present it because listening to jazz makes me feel better and I hope it makes you feel better too.

Having said that, I was listening to the SiriusXM Real Jazz channel the other day and listening to the show hosted by jazz bassist Marcus Miller. Miller dedicated that broadcast to lesser-known jazz artists. In fact, he said that you can make yourself sound instantly smart about jazz by dropping the names of these artists and saying how the real jazz fans know about these people.

Since I’m not in to showing off my jazz knowledge, I’m going to share that secret with you and not pretend like I’ve always known it. But feel free to name drop today’s artist to make yourself sound smart to other people.

The first artist that Miller featured was pianist Phineas Newborn Jr. Miller said all you need to sound smart about jazz is to say something like “Sure, Oscar Peterson is great, but have you heard Phineas Newborn Jr.?” He also said that to sound really smart, tell them that the name is properly pronounced “FINE-us” and not “FIN-y-us.” Even Oscar Brown Jr. pronounces it the second way in this upcoming clip.

So here’s a colorized version of a a performance in 1962 with Newborn on piano, Al McKibbon on double bass and Kenny Dennis on drums.

Welcome back to everyone who skips the jazz.

When I asked you last night what you most wanted the Cubs to do before the season started, only five percent of you said “Get a closer.” But I’m going to ask you about that anyway because it’s the off-season and we’re in a lockout.

The best closer and the best reliever on the free agent market is former Dodger Kenley Jansen. Jansen has already recorded 350 saves for the Dodgers and may very well be on his way to a Hall of Fame career. But the Dodgers are widely expected to not re-sign Jansen, so he’ll be looking for a new team when the lockout ends.

Now the Cubs have not been connected with Jansen in any way. Or at least not in any way that I’ve seen. But today’s question is not whether the Cubs will sign Jansen, but rather should the Cubs try to sign Kenley Jansen?

On the plus side, Jansen has been one of the best closers of the past decade. He may not be quite as good as he was at his peak four or five seasons ago, but he was still quite good in 2021. Jansen had 38 saves in 43 opportunities and he posted an ERA of 2.22. He hasn’t lost any velocity on his fastball from his peak years.

On the down side, Jansen did struggle with control more in 2021 than he ever had before. He walked almost 13 percent of the batters he faced last season, which is the highest total since his rookie season of 2010. And while Jansen still throws as hard as he ever did, his strikeout totals are way down from his peak seasons. He still strikes out a very impressive 11.2 batters per nine and 30.9 percent of the batters he faced, but that’s a trend that going in the wrong direction. Jansen has also struggled with injuries and a heart condition over the years. The heart condition isn’t considered serious, but it does sideline him from time to time. It should be mentioned that some of the issues Jansen had in 2018 and 2019 were blamed on his heart medication. He has since switched to a different prescription.

I would be very surprised if the Cubs did sign Kenley Jansen, but that’s not what I’m asking. If I’m wrong and the Cubs did sign Jansen, how would you feel about it?


Should the Cubs sign Kenley Jansen?

This poll is closed

  • 16%
    (20 votes)
  • 63%
    (77 votes)
  • 19%
    (24 votes)
121 votes total Vote Now

That’s it for tonight. Thank you so very much for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed your time here and that you’ll come by again. Please tip your waitstaff on the way out. Drive home safely and call for a ride if you need to. And we’ll be back here again tomorrow for another edition of BCB After Dark.