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BCB After Dark: Oldie but a goodie?

The late-night/early-morning spot for Cubs fans asks if you think the Cubs should pursue Astros ace Justin Verlander

Championship Series - New York Yankees v Houston Astros - Game One Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Welcome back to BCB After Dark: the swingin’ show for night owls, early-risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. Come on in and join us. No costume require, but you can wear one if you want. The dress code is casual. There are still a few good tables available. The show will be starting soon. Get comfortable and have a drink. Bring your own beverage.

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.

There’s no baseball until Friday. Thanks, MLB and Fox.

Last week, I asked you if the Cubs should try to sign left fielder Ian Happ to a long-term extension. The vote wasn’t overwhelming, but a clear majority of 58 percent of you want to make Happ a Cub for the long haul. I go back and forth on this, but I tend to think the Cubs should sign him to an extension simply because of his leadership qualities. Also because he’s a good player, of course, but his role in the clubhouse and as a link to a more successful past (even if he wasn’t on the 2016 team, he was in the organization back then) makes him someone I would try to keep around. Of course, the Cubs’ front office hasn’t seemed to put a lot of stock in that lately.

Here’s the part where I talk about movies and jazz. You’re free to skip ahead to the baseball question at the end. You won’t hurt my feelings.

I’m going to try to give you some jazz in the spirit of the spooky season. I don’t normally play a lot of big band jazz because it doesn’t fit in with the “hidden jazz club” schtick that I’m going for, but tonight I’m going to present Artie Shaw’s “Midnight” in the spirit of the holiday. It’s a spooky, haunting tune from 1938. You may also hear some echos of Monty Norman’s James Bond theme in here. “Nightmare” was reportedly an influence on that iconic piece of movie music.

This week’s movie is director Werner Herzog’s 1979 film Nosferatu the Vampyre, or Nosferatu Phantom der Nacht in German. It’s a remake of the 1922 F.W. Murnau silent classic Nosferatu, which was an unauthorized film adaptation of Bram Stoker’s classic novel Dracula. But really, like any Werner Herzog film, it’s a thing in and of itself.

I want to go back and rewatch the Murnau film before I make my final commentary on Herzog’s version. But I will say that Nosferatu the Vampyre is very much a Werner Herzog film. It stars Klaus Kinski as Count Dracula, Herzog’s longtime friend/foe. (Here’s a quick article on the relationship between Herzog and Kinski, which included several threats of murder by both of them.) But the Count Dracula here isn’t anything like the debonair Count Dracula of Bela Lugosi that American audiences expect. Instead, he’s a grotesque and pitiable figure that is based on Max Schreck’s Count Orlok in Murnau’s film. The result is that this isn’t really a scary film at all, but rather an odd, eerie, disorienting and deeply weird vampire film.

That is much like Herzog himself, many of you might say. Long before Werner Herzog became America’s beloved but weird German uncle, he was making films like this one. (And if you haven’t heard Paul F. Tompkins’ satire of Werner Herzog reviewing an Los Angeles Trader Joe’s on Yelp, you need to do so.) One theme that runs through Nosferatu that is also present in Herzog’s earlier film Aguirre, the Wrath of God and later films like Fitzcarraldo and especially the documentary Grizzly Man, is the conflict between man and civilization and nature and chaos.

In Grizzly Man, Herzog said “I believe the common denominator of the universe is not harmony, but chaos, hostility, and murder.” That theme comes through strongly in Nosferatu the Vampyre as well. I hope to develop that idea further on Wednesday night/Thursday morning, but for now, I’ll say that Kinski as Count Dracula represents nature at its most primal. He is not an evil creature but rather is beyond good and evil. He kills because he needs to kill in order to survive. Immortality is a curse, not a blessing. Bruno Ganz as Jonathan Harker represents late-19th Century civilization in conflict with nature. Harker is a man of science and rationality who stands little chance against the pitiless forces of nature. His wife, Lucy (Isabelle Adjani), confronts nature and Count Dracula with faith instead of reason. She finds more success, but nature always comes out on top in the end.

I want to rewatch the Murnau film, which Herzog called the greatest German film ever made, before I say much more. I’ve seen it a couple of times, but not in the last decade or so. But I will say that Nosferatu the Vampyre is very much worth watching. It’s an especially good film to watch if you want something in the spirit of Halloween but you aren’t much into gore or real terror. It’s available on a few video channels, although many of them are the dubbed English version. It’s better than nothing, but the German version is preferred here. Heck, Roger Ebert suggested just watching it in German with the subtitles turned off and just letting the images roll over you. The words are not that important. They’re just a convention that Herzog is not willing to completely discard, so he has his characters say a few things. If he could have gotten away with it, I think he would have made a silent picture like Murnau did.

Here’s a rather long scene where Jonathan Harker goes to Count Dracula’s castle. It’s a particularly good part of the film. It’s in German with no subtitles, so you can follow Ebert’s advice by watching this. Unfortunately, they won’t let me embed it, so follow the link.

Welcome back to everyone who skips the jazz and movies.

I’m firmly convinced that the Cubs are going to sign a top quality starting pitcher this off-season. Or maybe I should say that they are going to try to sign a starting pitcher this winter. They may not find one that is willing to come to Chicago at a price they are willing to pay.

A week ago, I asked you if you thought it would be better to sign Carlos Rodón or Kodai Senga. But those aren’t the only two options. Another possibility is Astros pitcher Justin Verlander. At age 39, Verlander probably just had the best season of his Hall-of-Fame-worthy career. He’s the overwhelming favorite to win his third Cy Young Award. For the Astros this year, Verlander went 18-4 with a 1.75 ERA. His FIP was a career-low 2.49, so that ERA wasn’t just a product of luck and good defense behind him. His fastball still averaged 95.1 mph, which is right around his career average.

So clearly, Verlander is one of the best pitchers in the game right now. He’s going to Cooperstown one day. But he also only pitched one game in 2020 and missed all of 2021 with Tommy John surgery. He’s going to turn 40 in Spring Training next year. He’s probably not a 200 innings a year pitcher anymore, although he did throw 175 this year and could probably be counted on something like that for next year at least.

Verlander has a $25 million option of 2023 that he’s expected to decline. This article believes that he’s likely to get something in the range of what Max Scherzer got from the Mets last year—three years and $140 million. That’s a lot of money for someone who’s only played in one of the past three seasons. On the positive side, Verlander probably isn’t looking for a six-year deal. He might cost a lot more per year than other options, but at 40 he isn’t getting a long-term deal so the overall cost of his contract might be less than other free agent pitchers.

I have no idea if Verlander would want to come to the North Side. He reportedly wanted to come to the Cubs in 2017, but Theo Epstein had already emptied the farm system in a deal for Jose Quintana earlier that season. But from all accounts, he’s happy in Houston and would probably like to stay there, all other things being equal. But Wrigley Field does have a certain allure for some players and Verlander might be one. Plus, the Astros have a lot of pitching and might not feel like shelling out that much for a position that they’re already pretty good at. They let Carlos Correa and George Springer walk and didn’t miss a beat. They might do the same with Verlander.

So what do you think? Would you spend $140 million on a 40-year-old pitcher? Do you think that Verlander will stay healthy and continue to pitch at the level that he did in 2022? Or do you worry that he’ll get old and injured and the Cubs would do better to spend the money elsewhere?

I will say that if the Cubs sign Verlander, they probably don’t have enough money in the budget to then go out and sign Rodón or Senga also. (I wouldn’t rule out re-signing Drew Smyly or someone in that range if the Cubs signed Verlander.) So for our purposes here, assume that Verlander would be the only big-ticket pitcher they signed, if they did sign him.


Should the Cubs pursue Justin Verlander?

This poll is closed

  • 21%
    Yes! He’s still an elite pitcher!
    (36 votes)
  • 78%
    No. Someone younger or cheaper please.
    (131 votes)
167 votes total Vote Now

Thank you so very much for stopping by. If you checked anything, give us the ticket and we’ll get it for you now. Please tip your waitstaff. Recycle any cans or bottles. Tell your friends about us. Get home safely. And join us again tomorrow night for another edition of BCB After Dark.