With the winter meetings drawing to a close, it seems that a lot of the teams that want to catch the Cubs have forgotten how to go about it, exactly. There’s still plenty of offseason to go and perhaps last year’s biggest move, Fowler returning, happened after spring training had started. So we’ll probably have to revisit this in a couple months. But it seems all the splashes took place in the American League.
Let’s look in the division first. The Pirates were not able to offload Andrew McCutchen, as they seemed pretty determined to do. Cutch was not very good last year, is now on the wrong side of 30, but the way he was shamelessly flogged like this was a Dickens novel makes you think he was Neifi Perez or something. The Pirates should be better simply because of Glasnow, Taillon, Bell, and if they can find a spot for Meadows when he’s ready. But have they poisoned their own atmosphere when the face of the franchise is going to have a look on his face the whole year like the keg went skunk?
The Cardinals… well, they whiffed on Adam Eaton which would have been so perfect I can’t even really stand it. They’re one of two teams left, reportedly, haggling for Fowler’s services, which would certainly help in that they’d no longer have to make Randal Grichuk and his missing L a danger to himself or others in centerfield. Are they moving Alex Reyes into the rotation? Who’s never thrown more than 110 innings in a professional season? Ok, that should be good until August. Then what? Wainwright is only getting older, Martinez will still be good, and Mike Leake will definitely be Mike Leake meaning he takes up the requisite amount of oxygen to remain Mike Leake.
Elsewhere, the Nationals just had to do something with someone and gave up the boat for Adam Eaton, who will be played out of position. They lost Melancon to San Francisco. Trea Turner taking over for Espinosa at short is an upgrade, but the defense is wonky in a lot of spots. And you can run all day on Derek Norris. Not sure they’ve gained any ground. The Mets continue to do nothing and hope their boatload of starters can stay healthy and prevent any ball hit into the outfield otherwise it’s going to look like a demolition derby out there.
The Giants solved most of their pen issues with the signing of Melancon, except they’ll still have to figure out how to get to him on days Bumgarner or Cueto don’t start. And no, reaction shots of Derek Law and Hunter Strickland don’t count for outs. The outfield remains old and bad (where are they on Fowler?), and Posey is just about to start aging. Oh, and now it’s an odd year, right?
The Dodgers are going to lose Jansen, at least it feels like that. Losing Justin Turner could be an even bigger blow. They re-signed Rich Hill for one of the biggest regressions in history and I can’t fucking wait. They’re once again counting on the health of the likes of McCarthy, Kazmir, and Wood. They’ll get a full year out of Urias which will help, and maybe Ryu can emerge from whatever sunken barge he’s been trapped in.
Ain’t no one going to come at the king?
-Late last night, I got into it on Twitter with Cubs Den Fearless Leader John Arguello. I shouldn’t have, at least not so publicly, and we’re on the same team. He and Stacey Gotsulias of BP Bronx were having a discussion about Aroldis Chapman, this coming a day or two after John had written about Chapman’s “legacy” as a Cub. The phrase made me uncomfortable.
It is not up to John solely to remind people what Chapman was suspended for and a label he should always carry. It’s on all of us. That doesn’t mean every mention of his name in a game wrap, but somewhat on the reg in other places to be sure. If nothing else, Chapman should carry that whenever talked about.
Because that is part of his legacy. There were many Cubs fans, myself included, who were awfully uncomfortable during his every appearance. There are parts of us, though very small, that delighted in his coughing up Game 7’s lead. In some ways, the narrative would have been better for societal issues if the Cubs had gone on to lose.
But I don’t root for that, and certainly don’t expect any other Cubs fan to either. There is nuance to this. But all of us who comment on the game, and any other game as Chapman is far from the only one, should make it our duty that his suspension and the accusations are always near the top of his biography. Especially when there’s so little contrition from him about it. I guess that was my point, and I can certainly do a better job than I did. That’s what I can control, and I’ll do better from here on out.
You may dismiss it, simply because you want to read about baseball. But that’s not welcoming enough, as I had just written about all the things female sports fans have to deal with already. Their concerns should be our concerns. Simply throwing our hands up and saying, “This is just the world we live in” or “Well it’s only sports” only helps perpetuate what is an unacceptable status quo. I can at least do better in my tiny corner here.