The Rundown: Weeding Through Cubs Rumors, Ohtani and Acuña win ROY Awards, Dallas Keuchel Free Agent Profile, New Music Tuesday

I love to read about the Cubs, but I’m finding it tough to weed through so many asinine articles, and not just from bloggers suggesting ridiculous trade proposals. It’s also nationally known and in some cases well-paid reporters who feel the need to generate massive amount of clicks in what is starting out as another slow Hot Stove season. Every time I think that sensationalistic journalism has reached a new low, someone proves me wrong.

Of course I am not angry about it, at least not in the same way that Theo Epstein is, but it’s our duty as Cubs Insider columnists to find relevant Cubs information for our readers, and sifting through the BS has become a cumbersome, daily task.

We’re all already tired of Bryce Harper Watch ’18 but I don’t think the remedy to that situation is to make things up out of thin air. The market for free agents is going to stagnate until one of two things happen:

  1. Harper and/or Manny Machado sign; or
  2. GM’s say screw it and move on.

And here’s the rub: For every article I find that says a team should sign Harper, there is a counterpoint article that says the same team should use that $35 million AAV to sign Marwin Gonzalez, one of Andrew McCutchen or Michael Brantley, and Adam Ottavino. We saw this type of market stagnation last year while the whole world waited for the Marlins to trade Giancarlo Stanton and for Shohei Ohtani to choose a team.

Last year — and maybe I suffer from recency bias — it seemed that most of the Cubs articles concerning potential trades and free agent signings were well-thought-out and nicely written. This year is a different story. We’ve seen everything but a Noah Syndergaard-for-Kris Bryant proposal, which I’m sure is forthcoming, since Brian Kenny mentioned it last night on MLB Network.

Ed. note: We have, fact, seen such a proposal

Maybe writers should just go back to reporting the news.

Free Agent Profile: Dallas Keuchel

If I had to pick one free agent who could suffer a fate similar to Alex Cobb last year, it would be Keuchel. I’m sure that would be sweet revenge for Cubs fans who took offense to comments made by the former Cy Young Award winner coming out of spring training last March. And though the 31-year-old is ranked fourth on the MLBTR rankings, I don’t see a fit for him on very many teams. Except maybe the Astros, who seem to be running out of starting pitchers due to injuries and free agency.

But let’s do a quick fact check, shall we? Keuchel declined the Astros’ $17.9 million qualifying offer on Monday, actualizing an outcome considered inevitable because he is a Scott Boras client. But maybe he should have reconsidered. He is not a big strikeout guy (6.7K/9IP), but the lefty has good control and resides annually among league leaders in burning worms. However, his ERA was half a run higher this year than last, his strikeout rate has dropped for three straight seasons, and his his groundball rate has dropped each of the last two years.

Since an otherworldly 2015 season, when Keuchel won the Cy Young Award, the free agent has pitched just decently, averaging 2.3 WAR over the last three seasons. The Astros would seem to be the favorites to sign Keuchel, but you can’t discount the Brewers, Nationals, or Padres. MLBTR predicts a four-year $82 million deal for, but I don’t see any team paying that much. As a result, he may be one of the last free agents to sign this winter. Teams interested in Keuchel should probably find a way to trade for Zack Greinke rather than sign him.

Handicapping Keuchel

  1. Astros
  2. Brewers
  3. Nationals
  4. Padres

Cubs News & Notes

Tuesday Stove

Six of seven free agents officially rejected the qualifying offer yesterday. Only Hyun-Jin Ryu of the Dodgers accepted the one-year $17.9 million offer.

Shohei Ohtani and Ronald Acuña Jr. are the American and National League rookies of the year, though  Miguel Andujar and Juan Soto were certainly deserving, too.

The Yankees could leverage a signing of Manny Machado by using Miguel Andujar as trade bait to get a top tier pitcher such as Kluber or James Paxton.

Jacob deGrom is willing to talk about a contract extension with the Mets.

An emotional Joe Mauer bid farewell, but not goodbye, to Twins fans yesterday.

The Mariners denied claims of racial discrimination made on social media by Lorena Martin, the team’s former director of high performance. Martin claims that when she balked at some of her responsibilities being handed to another Director of Player Development Andy McKay, DiPoto allegedly said, “You know what you are? You’re a cocky Latina.” When she defended herself, she said McKay told her, “Well, you know, sometimes you’re just plain stupid.”

Extra Innings

Bill James had some strong words the other day:

New Music Tuesday

  1. The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle by Bruce Springsteen – Arguably the greatest album ever released by the Boss and one that signaled a drastic change in his career trajectory with the inclusion of Rosalita (Come Out Tonight). You can read my review here.
  2. I Don’t Wanna Go Home by Southside Johnny & The Asbury Dukes – This debut by the lesser known Jersey icon features the song The Fever, written by Springsteen, and regrettably left off the final pressing of Springsteen’s second album. I actually found this original issue, non-opened LP for $5.
  3. 461 Ocean Blvd. by Eric Clapton – Clapton gets ripped unfairly on this album, his first output that featured studio musicians rather than a lineup of superstars. He encompasses everything on this long player from rock to blues and even reggae with a cover of Bob Marley’s I Shot the Sheriff. For my money, Mainline Florida is one of Clapton’s greatest songs, and it closes this wonderful album.

They Said It

  • “Dallas Keuchel is the Tom Glavine, Andy Pettitte of our generation. He is one of the few guys in the postseason that gives you that true big-time performance at the right time, whether it be at home or on the road. (Keuchel) was better than Glavine and Pettitte from age 26-30. He knows how to get outs with stress on his body better than anybody in the game. There’s going to be big demand for him for clubs who are interested in winning championships.” – Scott Boras

Tuesday Walk Up Song

Mainline Florida by Eric Clapton. Pitchers and catchers report starting February 12th. That’s only 90 days.

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