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BCB After Dark: A nice glass of Haderade?

The late-night/early-morning spot for Cubs fans asks if the Cubs should sign free agent closer Josh Hader.

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San Diego Padres v Chicago White Sox Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Welcome back to BCB After Dark: the coolest club for night owls, early risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. Come on in out of the autumn chill. We’ve got some hot talk and cool music waiting for you. If you need to check something, let us know. There are still a few good tables available near the back. 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.

Last night, I asked you how excited you were if the Cubs were to sign free agent first baseman Rhys Hoskins. We got a pretty good bell curve on the votes, with 31 percent giving it a “3”, thirty percent giving it a “2” and 26 percent saying that it would be a “4.”

Here’s the part about the music and movies. Feel free to skip ahead to the end if you’d like. You won’t hurt my feelings.

I’ve decided to go quiet tonight with this gorgeous video from pianist/vocalist Diana Krall singing “Autumn in New York.”

Normally I don’t do any movie stuff on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, but I did want to say that I did watch Broken Arrow in anticipation of the BCB Winter Western Classic, which will start next week.

Broken Arrow is best known as perhaps the first Western from a major US studio that portrayed the Native Americans sympathetically. After watching several Westerns that treat the Indians as violent, unthinking savages, I wanted to see if Hollywood could do a better job in 1950.

The film is a highly-fictionalized recounting of the negotiations that ended the Apache War of the late 1860s/early 1870s. (It wasn’t the only Apache War of the 19th Century.) James Stewart plays Tom Jeffords, who was a scout and a prospector who help negotiate a peace treaty with Cochise, played by Jeff Chandler. And while they cast a Jewish actor from New York as Cochise, the film does treat the Apache sympathetically—and the white settlers much less sympathetically. The Apache here are violent, yes, but the film makes it clear that they had good reasons to be violent. The film also shows snippets of peaceful life among the Apache, the accuracy of which I can’t attest to.

Ultimately, I’m not going to put the film in the tournament. It’s a solid movie and Stewart and Chandler do good work. (Chandler got an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for the part. He’d go on to have a mini-career playing Cochise, playing him in two more films.) But unfortunately the film gets dragged down by a silly love story between Stewart’s character and an Indian maiden played by Debra Paget. I can recommend Broken Arrow, but despite having its heart in the right place, I simply can’t consider it to be one of the best 28 or 32 Westerns made between 1939 and 1972. In this way it reminds me of Cheyenne Autumn, director John Ford’s final Western and his attempt to say “sorry” to the Indians. The problem is that Cheyenne Autumn just isn’t a great movie. The same goes for Broken Arrow.

I promise you that we will discuss the thorny issue of Native American representation in classic Westerns during the tournament.

I’ll announce the final films in the BCB Winter Western Classic tomorrow night.

Welcome back to all those who skip the music and movies.

Let’s talk about someone we’ve grown to hate over all these years, left-handed closer Josh Hader. In his career with the Brewers and Padres, Hader has pitched against the Cubs 34 times. He has a 4-2 record with 16 saves and a 1.93 ERA. Over 46 23 innings, Hader has struck out 78 and walked just 16. You’d be forgiven for hating Hader.

But you know how to get over that? Make him a Cub. It worked for his former manager Craig Counsell. Now we all love him. We could like Hader a lot if he nailed down 35 saves for the Cubs in 2024.

Hader has been one of best relievers in the game since he arrived in the majors in 2018. The exception was his 2022 season, which we’ll talk more about in a bit. He turns 30 in April, but his velocity is as strong as it ever was. Last season, Hader pitched in 61 games for the Padres. He went 2-3 with a miniscule 1.28 ERA and 33 saves in 38 opportunities for the Padres. That’s elite. Maybe the five blown saves isn’t elite, but it’s pretty good and only two of them came after Memorial Day.

You might say that the Cubs already have a good closer in Adbert Alzolay. I could respond by saying that the Cubs already had a good manager in David Ross but they replaced him when the best in Craig Counsell became available. The Cubs shouldn’t settle for “good.” And the good news with signing Hader is that the Cubs don’t have to fire Alzolay if they sign Hader. In fact, Alzolay just moves to becoming an elite setup man.

The Craig Counsell thing is also a factor with Hader. For one, Counsell knows him and got the best out of him. Additionally, one of Counsell’s biggest strengths has a manager is his bullpen management. But he’s got to have some talent to work with. He knows how to get the best out of his relievers, but if their “best” is just mediocrity, that’s a problem. Counsell is good, but he can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. At least I don’t think he can. He’s going to need some reinforcements in the bullpen.

There are a few words of warning about Hader, however. The first is that while his ERA was microscopic, his peripherals in 2023, while pretty good, don’t match that 1.28 ERA. That’s primarily because while his pure “stuff” remains as good as ever, his control slipped a bit last year, walking a career-high 4.79 batters per nine innings. Of course, he didn’t have Counsell as a manager last year either.

And then there is that 2022 season. Hader was downright pedestrian in the first half of the season with the Brewers. He did save 29 games in 32 chances, but his ERA was 4.24. He started great and had a 1.05 ERA at the start of July, but then he blew a save against the Cubs when Seiya Suzuki hit an inside-the-park home run off on the Fourth of July. That started a two-month period where Hader was just awful. He got traded to the Padres halfway through that terrible stretch and stunk even worse in San Diego than he had in his final month in Milwaukee. Hader’s ERA from July 4 to September 5 of 2022 was 15.60.

But then, as suddenly as Hader went bad, he fixed things. He didn’t allow an earned run the rest of the way in 2022 and then he had that strong comeback 2023 season.

The other downside is what it’s going to cost to sign Josh Hader. There’s some disagreement as to what Hader is going to get on the open market. MLB Trade Rumors projects that he’ll get six years and $110 million. The Athletic says four years and $80 million. Fangraphs doesn’t give an exact number, but they do say not “quite as much” as Edwin Díaz’s five years and $102 million deal.

So tell us: Should the Cubs sign Josh Hader? He’d sure look good in the bullpen, and Craig Counsell is a wizard with relievers. But he’d be expensive and there is some risk for a pitcher just heading to the wrong side of 30. I’m not saying that the Cubs couldn’t sign another top free agent if they got Hader (I think they can) but they might not be able to sign two top free agents in addition to Hader.


Should the Cubs sign free agent Josh Hader?

This poll is closed

  • 42%
    (126 votes)
  • 30%
    (91 votes)
  • 26%
    (80 votes)
297 votes total Vote Now

Thanks for stopping in this evening. We hope we’ve made your evening a little more pleasant. Please have your ticket ready for any checked items. Get home safely. Tell your friends. Tip the waitstaff. And join us again tomorrow for more BCB After Dark.