December 9, 2017

Friday, 8 December:

So, the Cubs got one of their men but not the other.

In a flurry of recent activity, the Cubs have secured the efforts of right handed pitcher Tyler Chatwood, recently of the Colorado Rockies. His acquisition is a key step forward. However, the attention has all been on the 23 year old Japanese sensation Sho Ohtani.

Chicago was one of seven finalists for his services. But they were not the lucky one; he chose to go to Anaheim and play for the worst owner in the game, Artie Moreno and his hapless Angel team. Ohtani made no secret of his desire to play for a west coast team, and in the end that, and the under the radar nature of Angel baseball will allow him to stay out of the constant spotlight.

For Cub fans this news, along with the Giancarlo Stanton affair, is all good.

Ohtani will be in the AL with a team that is not headed to any real post season success anytime soon. He may as well stayed in Japan, so nothing ventured, nothing gained. May he be well and have fun as he learns US baseball is considerably different from the Nippon Ham Fighters club he’s used to.

His best asset was cost. He’s ridiculously cheap -for now- and his upside is intriguing. But he is far from a proven commodity, and his experiment in Anaheim will be of only passing interest to anyone outside Orange County, California.

Stanton has told the Marlins that he will not waive his no trade clause to come to St Louis, or San Francisco, for that matter. Derek Jeter, who heads the new ownership of the Marlins, wants to dump salary and the monster contract he has is item #1. But the slugger wants to go to the Dodgers, and they weren’t offering the deal the other two teams did.

So, no Stanton wearing Cardinal red batting at Wrigley with the wind howling out. Actually, the Cards lucked out because he isn’t what they really need and would have hamstrung the financially challenged club, so they may well find out the best deal is the one you don’t make.

On the other hand, Tyler Chatwood is just the pitcher the Cubs have had success finding. A 28 year old coming off of Tommy John surgery in 2016, he has the stats that favor Wrigley. His 57% ground ball rate is among the league leaders, and he throws in the mid 90’s.

His problem? Not a surprise; it’s Coors Field, aka ‘death for pitchers’. While many think flyball pitchers are not a good fit for the thin air at 5,000 feet, the real issue there is the rock hard infield. It plays like the old turf fields; the basic two hopper is a base hit unless it’s right at the infielder.

Chatwood’s 95 mph two seam fastball is one issue. It has late break and when hit it has a tendency to be on the ground. Good at regular fields, bad at Coors, which isn’t good for the flyball types, either. That’s why they don’t win consistently.

They’ve cured the problem somewhat with putting the baseballs in a humidor to keep them a little moist, which solved the cheap homer. But their alleys are so damn big that anything hit in the gap scoots to the fence, and the place is an extra base paradise.

The best pitchers for Coors? Swing and miss types with really good change ups. Why they don’t go after that is a mystery. For Chatwood, he is as happy to be leaving Colorado as he is coming to the North Side.

Jubilant pretty much sums it up.  A 3 year $38 million dollar deal is very nice for him, and while not necessarily a bargain he does have some serious upside, and the 6.01 ERA at Coors is balanced nicely by his 3,49 on the road.

With Ohtani, who the Cubs were looking at as a #5 starter off the table, this frees them to sign Alex Cobb, which they will most likely do in relatively short order. Oh, and one more thing about Stanton:

He has given the list of the four clubs he WOULD play for, and it is the Yankees, Dodgers, Astros and- you guessed it- the Cubs. Now, none of these teams have shown particular interest in acquiring him and he would cost a BUNCH.

But it is out there…


Sho Ohtani: Not to be