Winter Meetings – It’s All Happening

Fair amount of moves since we last talked. Let’s see if we can’t rip through them.

– Drew Smyly. Interesting, if only because he got hurt specifically because I took him in my fantasy draft last year. Clearly this is a move with 2019 in mind… except if things go the way you think they might the rotation in 2019 is also pretty set. Hendricks, Lester, Q, and Quintana aren’t going anywhere and we’d have to assume Alex Cobb isn’t signing for one year. Also we have to allow for the possibility that the Cubs might have actually developed another starter by then. I know, don’t want to blow your mind or anything.

Even if Smyly came back to full strength after TJ surgery, his best year still makes him nothing more than a mid-rotation starter. This isn’t some former #2 or something that the Cubs are hoping they can unearth. Not that a mid-rotation starter is a bad thing to have and would be valuable as either depth or a trade piece.

Smyly’s most effective year came as a reliever for the Tigers, but that was four seasons ago. It’s unlikely that’s what the Cubs are seeing down the road. But whatever, doesn’t really cost you anything.

-Steve Cishek. For a second I got confused and thought the Cubs signed Pat Neshek, which I would have hated. But Cishek is also a funky sidewinder, and as we know by now Joe Maddon is fascinated by having “funk” out of the pen. Even if it sucks, like Joe Smith did to high heaven.

Luckily, Cishek doesn’t suck. He has had some huge strike out years, though not last year. His walk numbers are acceptable. There’s been a drop off in his velocity, but given that his success is basically on his deception and movement, that doesn’t seem to be a huge deal. He’s another arm, another good one on paper, and that’s enough.

-Mike Montgomery. Well where did this come from? He doesn’t seem like the type to be uttering demands. Sure, all guys would rather start full-time. It’s a better job and starters get paid more.

Montgomery has gotten a look as a starter though, for two years. And the Cubs have shown little interest in moving him into the rotation full-time. His numbers are basically the same in either role, even if his ERA is much better as a reliever. He couldn’t catch any luck as a starter, with a terrible LOB%, though you’ll remember some of those innings that got away from him. He also couldn’t stop walking people as a starter, which wasn’t an issue when he came out of the pen. And his problems came second time through the order. His walk rather first time through was only 4%. It was 12.8% second time through. Leads you to believe that Montgomery’s stuff is a touch short to be a starter, he knows it, and he starts nibbling when trying to get guys out for a second time.

The thing is, Monty is a long way away from free agency. He’s not even in arbitration yet. So he doesn’t have much leverage. I would understand this bitch if he were about to hit free agency. Starters get paid more, obviously. And I don’t think this is much of a deal. Monty will still play the good soldier, guys will get hurt, and he’ll fill in. And if he’s dynamite as a starter, he either can make himself a candidate for 2019 or be a trade piece to start somewhere else. He’s got nowhere to go.

-Certainly the Cubs have gotten a rise out of the Red Menace across the river. Marcel Ozuna is a huge upgrade in left field for them, but is it enough? Here are some numbers: Dexter Folwer – 32, Matt Carpenter – 32, Yadier Molina – 35, Tommy Pham -30. Ozuna isn’t going to reverse the regression of the age of this lineup.

The rotation has some young arms, assuming Reyes recovers from TJ. Reyes, Martinez, Weaver, supplemented by Wainwright (36) is not a bad place to be. But it’s probably not enough to even overhaul the Brewers, assuming they find a starter to replace Nelson. Their arrow is still pointed up, and I don’t see where  the Cardinals one is any better than pointing sideways.

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