And here I was yesterday trying to craft a piece on the Cubs going small-ball in the trade market, with Anibal Sanchez or J.A. Happ targets that I would have to talk myself into. And hey, they still might! It’s just a back-burner concern today.
At BP today I broke down Q’s season already and where it might be headed and what is needed, so we don’t need to do that again. So I’ll get to my initial reaction first when I saw the news.
The first thing I thought of was that the Cubs are not going to deal Schwarber or Happ. They are here for the long haul unless something completely goofy happens (like say, Manny Machado going on the block or something similar). This is probably what you can max out Eloy Jimenez for, given Quintana’s value, cost, and controllability. Happ or War Bear might have netted you more, but the Cubs don’t have any interest in moving them.
So that means Schwarber is stapled down in left, and he’s going to be. Even if you really think the Cubs would move him, it wouldn’t be until during the season next year at the earliest. Right now you’d be selling low on him, and why would you do that? If the Cubs genuinely believe he’ll rebound, and there’s no reason that they shouldn’t, plans to move him would have to wait until he does so.
Happ is going to move around. Though he’s not good really anywhere in the field, you’d like to think he’ll stick at second more often than not, shifting Zobrist to right more often and Heyward to center. Or Zobrist to the bench to keep Almora around. Look, we’ve had this talk and we’re not going through it again.
Which means… Eloy didn’t have anywhere to play. He’s not going to play center, and with Heyward and his agent needing to have a brain bubble to use his opt-out after next season (unless he somehow goes supernova and I’m not even sure that would do it), and Schwarber in left, those avenues are blocked. Maybe Eloy turns out to be better than both, maybe he doesn’t, but the Cubs seem pretty damn secure in what Happ and Schwarber are and will be. We certainly have a better idea of what they are than we do Eloy.
Quintana also buys the Cubs some time. Right now, with no other moves, the rotation on Opening Day ’18 starts with Lester, Q, Hendricks. Hey, that’s not bad! It’s not great, but it’s a pretty good start. And it stays that way for two more seasons after that if the Cubs so desire, meaning they have within that window to start getting their arms in the system to the majors for once.
Cease could have been one of them. But he’s at least two, and more likely three years away. And most reports I saw had him destined for the bullpen, and I don’t really shed tears for relief pitchers. He strikes a ton of guys out but he also can find the plate to be a hallucination, as a lot of young pitchers do. Maybe one day he doesn’t and is a monster. Maybe he never does. But again, more questions than answers there.
Moreover, and I don’t know if this plays into it at all, but I at least feel the front office is trying to tell this team that they still believe in them. Here’s one of the best pitchers we could have gotten this season. We think you can catch the Brewers, here’s what you need to do it. We know the Cubs probably went into the break feeling pretty damn shitty. Now they come out of it with a fresh new toy and hopefully a new outlook. Or maybe they’ll be happy when it results in a Lackey DFA. We can only hope.
My fear is that it’ll punt Monty back to the pen, once Hendricks is healthy. It really should be punting Lackey out of the rotation, because Montgomery has simply been better. But he’s been a better weapon out of the pen and I doubt Maddon has enjoyed going without it for too long.
I know that for the first time in a while, I’m excited about watching the Cubs again instead of wary of what I might find. I can’t wait for his first start. I feel optimistic. That’s enough for me.