Thursday, 13 July:
In the first step of a ‘remake on the run’ of the 2016 World Champion Chicago Cubs, the organization acquired left handed starter Jose Quintana from the crosstown White Sox.
The Sox, led by Rick Hahn -who was high on the Cub’s wish list until they hired Theo Epstein- are on an aggressive improval campaign. They moved All Star Chris Sale to Boston for a boatload of high end prospects led by Joan Moncada, Michael Kopech and two others.
Moncada projects as a power bat at third base, Kopech is a right handed hurler with the big arm, and a couple of decent low A prospects. The Pale Hose were going nowhere,, and were swamped by the historic North Side triumph of last year.
So, when you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
The Sox are going to move all of their high end talent, load up on top prospects while re-stocking their farm system at the same time. They will cut payroll, ‘lose by design’ like the Cubs did, and get the high draft picks.
They won’t draw much, attendance wise, but that might be ameliorated by the Cubs having to play a season there -maybe 2019- while they tear down the disintegrating upper deck. The revenue would make up most, if not all, of the revenue loss of the three years of Darkness coming.
And one never knows. The Cubs had to deal with a Starlin Castro led team until they could rid themselves of him; the Sox have no such political nightmare to deal with, and they might bounce back faster.
Then they will buy the additional parts they need to get back in the playoff hunt. The deal just consummated with the Cubs plays to this plan, while giving the Cubs the controllable young pitching they desire.
They will let Jake Arrieta walk at the end of the season more than likely, so Quintana is now his replacement, until further moves are made. The Sox get corner outfielder Eloy Jimenez, pitcher Dylan Cease, and two other high A infielders who are basically ‘system guys’, meaning they will labor their way through, and could be a spare part or maybe magic is captured.
However, one is 24 and the other 22, so what they are is probably known. But it was a good move for the Sox, who have four darts to throw against a future wall, against one now. Let’s take a look at it, and one shall see why the Cubs did it.
It just made sense, and Cubsquest wouldn’t be shocked if the Cubs make out on this one, either.
Jimenez, a corner outfielder from the Dominican Republic, is just another Jorge Soler. He has plus power, and the great physique of a Giancarlo Stanton. But being ‘ripped’ in baseball doesn’t necessarily translate to great playing; indeed look at Yasiel Puig of the Dodgers who is routinely outplayed by some very average looking guys on his team.
Jimenez was NEVER going to play a game in the National League.
He can’t run, can’t throw and is a below average defender in left. His big power is hampered by a long swing susceptible to breaking balls, which he has trouble picking up.
Sound familiar, so far?
He does have sick power. He will light up minor league stadiums. His hands are quick enough that he could develop into the threat the Sox hope, but he also saddled with many of the same issues the islanders bring to the game.
Lack of discipline is one, and not allowing the financial success of playing in the Majors mess with the head of kids who grew up dirt poor yet the biggest fish in a small pond. It is a tough road, and many struggle.
Scouts worry Jimenez might not stay in proper physical shape. Now, you all recall Soler. He was much the same, only from a communist island. He was a great athlete but not much of a baseball player, and his plus offensive skills -big power, decent patience (rare), and tremendous plate coverage.
He was one of the worst outfielders ever to put on a glove.
IF he could stay healthy, and that’s a big ‘if’, he would project to a .250/20/70 RBI DH. So, when Kansas traded reliever Wade Davis for him (wonder if they second guess that now) they knew what was the upside.
Soler, who has had a history of leg problems, is hitting well in AAA for the Royals, and his career could still be a big plus for them, so one never knows. Suffice to say that he simply wasn’t an NL type player.
Same with Jimenez. This was a good move for both clubs.
Dylan Cease has terrific stuff, coming off of Tommy John surgery, has a mid 90’s fastball, but is pretty raw elsewhere. He has a tendency to tip off his change by slowing his arm delivery.
He’s just not major league ready. Cubsquest believes Cease will be the catch of the deal for them.
Jose Quintana, on the other hand, is a durable 28 year old left handed pitcher who throws in the low to mid 90’s. His stats are pretty average, but he has labored for some pretty poor Sox teams. However, he IS left handed, and that gives the Cubs three left handers with plus stuff.
Jon Lester, Mike Montgomery and now Quintana. Right handed pitching is far easier to come by, and Quintana -although not a big fellow; 6’1″, 220- is a horse. He throws effortless ‘easy cheese’, and at 28 is really coming into his own.
Chris Bosio will love having the easy going Colombian on the team. He will work with him on his straight change and and spotting his fastball a little better. He had a recent rough stretch, which gave GM Hahn the cover to move the popular Sox fixture.
But suffering White Sox fans know better. Never the warm and fuzzy types like the North Siders, they like what the Sox are trying to do. Even if they will reward them by staying home; a typical Sox response to losing.
Now, let’s get one thing straight:
This only starts the rebuild the Cubs need. Jose Quintana will not help them get more than three hits in a game, or get them out of 28th place in the majors at .239. It will not stop the parade of right handed hackers trying to hit breaking balls down and away 500 feet.
But it’s a start…