So the Cubs made a pretty big move, huh? It would have been a blockbuster five years ago, but now it’s more about solidifying an inconsistent rotation and hoping to maybe even find lightning in a bottle. And if nothing else, it gives the Cubs a player with one of the most hilariously spoonerizible names this side of Buck Farmer.
Yes, Hole Camels is a Cub. Wait, sorry Cole Hamels. And not Hammel, as Facebook has repeatedly told me; that’s the guy who had the potato chip issue. I’ve got to tell you, I am feeling much better about this deal than when reports had initially surfaced that the Cubs were scouting the 34-year-old lefty.
After all, he’s owed about $14 million on the remainder of his contract ($8 million this year and a $6 million buyout for 2019) and he’s been shelled over his last five starts. But with the Rangers footing the tab for all but $4 million of that and the Cubs giving up only “secondary prospects” in return, at least the risk is low.
As for the specifics on the money and prospects, we still don’t know exactly what’s going to happen. The reports are that 23-year-old Rollie Lacy, the Cubs’ 11th round draft pick in 2017, is part of the deal. Lacy has put up solid numbers in parts of two seasons with the organization, but he’s not among the team’s top 30 prospects.
The Cubs will send another pitcher and a player to be named later, though all we know about the former is he is “not a prospect,” according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Tribune.
Source confirms my kids are finally asleep. … Two sources say #Rangers are getting two pitchers and a ptbnl. Rollie Lacy is one. The other is “not a prospect,” one source says. Not clear if that means a Cubs player or a low-upside minor-leaguer.
— Jeff Wilson (@JeffWilsonTXR) July 27, 2018
There are a couple different ways to take that, the first is that the Cubs are trading a player from the major league roster. Knowing that Hamels will need a spot on both the 25- and 40-man rosters, it’s possible the Cubs would part with someone like Eddie Butler to make things work.
More likely, though, is that the source supplying Wilson was referring to the player in question being low-level enough that he’s not really considered to have much of a future. So he’s a prospect, but he’s not a prospect, if you get the drift. And that makes sense given that this is pretty much just a salary dump for the Rangers, who are hoping to get a lottery ticket or two in return.
I know some of you out there are concerned with Hamels’ poor performance of late and how he’ll impact the Cubs’ payroll situation, so keep checking CI for at least two separate pieces addressing those topics. For now, I’ll point to his 2.93 ERA away from Globe Life Bandbox, a number that includes a .198/.290/.366 slash line by 200 right-handed batters.
Then you figure that gets bumps from getting out of the AL West and into a pennant race and things could trend upward sharply for him. Even though this isn’t the splashiest move they could have made, there’s something about swinging a trade that energizes you as a fan. Well, unless you’re among those who see talk of Hamels’ road ERA and automatically go to the talk of Tyler Chatwood.
Where the Cubs go with their would-be fifth starter is something of a mystery because he’s basically a man without a spot. Letting him continue to start, even though the Cubs frequently put up enough runs to keep him from losses, is borderline unconscionable at this point. And putting him in the bullpen with that nauseating lack of control could be equally disastrous.
He makes too much money to be cut loose and he can’t just be sent down to the minors to work things out. And as much as everyone loves to talk about a phantom injury and an extended trip to the DL, that’s neither above-board nor permanent. Chatwood probably sticks around to try to work things out in mop-up duty for the time being, though there’s no way he’s among the 25 men who’d make the playoff roster if the postseason started tomorrow.
Man, what a win, a for more than just the amazing finish. The Cubs had dropped the first two games of the series, they’d barely scratched across two runs in Wednesday’s win, and they were in a deep hole Thursday after poor showings from Chatwood and Brian Duensing. Oh, then there was the news about Kris Bryant going to the DL and needing an MRI.
On that note, Bryant did not receive a cortisone injection in his shoulder as was reported on 670 The Score Thursday morning.
In any case, the game felt for a while like one of those that would just need to be crumpled up and tossed out. A crappy finish to a crappy day of Cubs baseball. But then Bozo happened. With one out and one on in the 9th, David Bote blasted a game-tying homer on an 0-2 fastball from Brad Boxberger.
Anthony Rizzo dug in next and took a changeup for a strike, timing the pitch up for the coup de grâce. The slugging leadoff hitter sat back on Boxberger’s next offspeed pitch and just vaporized it out to deeeeeep right-center. It looked like the kind of swing Javy Baez would have taken back when he was still a lefty batter. Wow.
And just like that, the tenor of the entire day changed and everything was right in Cub-land. Well, most things.
• Experts and fans agree that the Cubs probably have at least one more move in the offing, almost certainly for a reliever. Brian Duensing was a breath of fresh air last season and became one of the most trustworthy members of the bullpen. This season, however is a different story.
Duensing has walked at least one batter in 11 of his last 13 outings and has handed out 25 free passes in 31.1 innings for an almost Chatwoodian 7.18 BB/9. And with only 21 strikeouts (6.03 K/9) and a 41 percent grounder rate, he doesn’t have the ability to dig himself back out from the holes he’s pitching himself into.
We saw that Thursday, as he came on to relieve Chatwood only to walk the first batter he faced before giving up a grand slam to the second. Duensing is a really good dude by all accounts and he came back to Chicago for less money that he could’ve gotten elsewhere, but it appears that his mojo is gone.
• Miguel Amaya has leap-frogged a gaggle of pitchers to become the organization’s top prospect, according to MLB.com. He’s ranked No. 1 there and in Baseball America, though he’s still only at low-A South Bend.
• More just speculation on my part, but I’m going to guess Bryant’s MRI reveals no structural damage. That doesn’t mean a hasty return, as they’ll want to rest him up and get that shoulder right for the postseason. Beside, Bote has been a very capable replacement.