Welcome back to BCB After Dark: the hippest hangout for night owls, early risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. Oh the weather out there is frightful, but our little club is so delightful. So come on in, grab a chair, listen to the music and talk baseball. Gather around the hot stove. There’s no cover charge tonight. We’ve added valet parking this evening and we can check your coat. 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.
One bit of Cubs news that’s up my alley.
I’m trying to think the last Cubs minor league prospect to come in with the defensive reputation that Crow-Armstrong has. It’s easy to say Nico Hoerner, but he got better at the major-league level. He was just “good” defensively in the minors—and he didn’t really spend much time there anyways, which likely explains why he wasn’t that well-regarded. Maybe Gleyber Torres or Christian Villanueva, neither of which ever played an inning for the Cubs. Before that it’s Javy Báez or Darwin Barney.
Last night, I asked you which free agent Mets pitcher you’d prefer in the non-Jacob deGrom edition. It turned out not to be close as Taijuan Walker ran away with the vote with 60 percent. Chris Bassitt only got 13 percent and the rest of you said “neither.” Maybe if those Bill James forecasts that projected Bassitt as the better of the two were available, he might have done better in the voting. Or maybe he wouldn’t have.
On Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, I don’t do a movie essay. But last night I asked about Chicago movies worth mentioning and if you want to add to that conversation, please do so. But I always have time for some jazz, so those of you who skip that can do that now. You won’t hurt my feelings.
I put up my Christmas tree today (Tuesday), so I guess it’s no longer too early for Christmas jazz. But because it’s still too early for hardcore Christmas music like a jazz version of “Away in a Manger” or something, I’m going to go with this version of “Greensleeves” by The John Coltrane Quartet. If you don’t want a Christmas song, just ignore the Christmas lyrics that were tacked on a century after it was written and go with the original version. It’s not like anyone is singing here.
So with Coltrane on tenor and soprano saxophone, McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass and Elvin Jones on drums, here’s “Greensleeves” from 1961.
Welcome back to those who skip the jazz.
I think the Cubs are understandably unwilling to commit to putting rookie Matt Mervis at first base full-time next year without any kind of back-up plan. Yes, Mervis had a great season last year, but scouts are still kind of divided in their opinion of his major-league chances. (The Athletic sub. req.) He still gets a lot of Daniel Vogelbach comparisons and while Vogey’s not a bad player per se, he’s also not the kind of player you want at first base on a pennant contender. And I think I speak for all of us when I say we hope the Cubs are one of those sooner rather than later.
So there’s been a lot of talk about José Abreu making the crosstown move and I asked for your thoughts on that recently. But first base isn’t a deep position in free agency this winter. There’s Abreu and then there is Josh Bell and Brandon Drury. There are even questions about all three of those players, But what if the Cubs don’t land any of those three?
Sure, the team could go into 2023 with Mervis, but then they are in the same bad position they were last year at first base if Mervis doesn’t hit. They could trade for someone, but that would cost prospects.
The Cubs probably don’t want to sign someone who would block Mervis if he does break out. That’s why in this article from MLB Trade Rumors, they suggest some lesser free agent first baseman who might be available on a one-year deal.
The five they suggest are Brandon Belt, Matt Carpenter, Yuli Gurriel, Trey Mancini and Wil Myers. Of those five, which one do you think is the best backup plan?
Belt and Carpenter bat left-handed, so they make a poorer fit with the left-handed Mervis. Gurriel is 38, Carpenter is 36, Belt is 34, Myers is 31 and Mancini is 30, if that makes a difference to you. Carpenter easily had the best 2022 statistics of any of them, but he also only played in 47 games.
Plus, someone on a one-year contract wouldn’t block Mervis if he turned out to be everything he was in the minors last year.
Yes, it would be disappointment to sign one of them instead of Abreu, Bell or Drury, but the Cubs have needs at shortstop, center field, first base and starting pitching. If the Cubs signed Jacob deGrom, Cody Bellinger and Trea Turner, I seriously doubt anyone would be screaming if they then had to settle for Wil Myers at first base in that scenario. (Well, some of you would I’m sure. Such is the nature of fandom.) But one of these “one-year” guys is not necessarily the worst thing.
So which “one-year” first baseman would be the best backup plan for the Cubs?
Which "one-year" free agent first baseman is the best option for the Cubs?
Thanks again so much for stopping by. We can get any checked items for you now. Please recycle any cans and bottles. Tip your waitstaff. Get home safely. And join us again tomorrow evening for another edition of BCB After Dark.