You’ve got to love baseball’s offseason. In addition to the non-stop carousel of rumors, free-agent signings and blockbuster trades, you’ve got the sense of eternal optimism heading into the upcoming season (unless you’re a Royals fan). No one is in last place. No one is cursed, and no one is worried about Milton Bradley.
Which brings me to Lou Piniella’s statements on his Cubs, as told by Carrie Muskat of MLB.com.
“I’m looking forward to a team that will win this division again and give itself another chance to go on and get a World Series win,” the Cubs’ manager said Wednesday at Harry Caray’s Restaurant, a stop on the winter caravan. “That’s what I’m hoping for, and that’s what we’re striving for.”
Piniella points out that the Cubs won 83 games and finished second in the NL Central despite having 10 players miss at least 20 games, and also hints that the removal of Bradley from their delicate clubhouse will help.
… if we can win 83 games with all those problems and all those injuries and we stay relatively healthy this year, we can add another eight, 10 wins and get to the postseason and win in the postseason.”
He’s so adorable when he’s optimistic. I hate to rain on his parade, but here’s why the Cubs won’t win the World Series:
- The Cubs are 0-6 in the postseason under Piniella, and those teams were relatively healthy and sans-Bradley. Though I don’t believe in curses, those previous playoff teams folded as soon as they ran into any adversity, almost as if they expected to lose.
- The Cubs are already battling injury problems, with left-handed starter Ted Lilly, their only All-Star in 2009, expected to miss at least the first month of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery.
- Carlos Silva, the man Chicago acquired in the Bradley trade, is expected to improve clubhouse chemistry and possibly take Lilly’s spot in the rotation. The problem is, Silva sucks. Also, he was not a particularly good clubhouse presence in Seattle, calling out teammates publicly despite carrying no leadership weight because, well, he sucks. Did I mention he sucks?
- And finally: Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday and the St. Louis Cardinals.
A championship for the Cubs? Go ahead and dream about it while you can, Lou.
The dust hasn’t quite settled after right-hander Dellin Betances‘ arbitration hearing with the Yankees on Saturday. The case was decided in the team’s favor, awarding Betances with a $3 million salary for the 2017 season instead of the $5 million he initially requested. Yankees’ president Randy Levine held a press conference to voice his outrage over the figure presented by Betances and his agency, saying it had “no bearings in reality” since Betances does not have the elite closer status required for a salary bump of that magnitude.
Needless to say, the comments caused some consternation within Betances’ camp. The reliever publicly addressed the outburst, telling the press that he was prepared to put his differences with the team aside until he heard what Levine had to say. Via MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch:
Players union executive Rick Shapiro and Betances’ agent, Jim Murray, also spoke out in the right-hander’s favor. Shapiro presented Betances’ case during the hearing on Saturday and called Levine’s comments “an absolute disgrace to the arbitration process and to all of Major League Baseball.” In a report from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Shapiro added: “The only thing that has been unprecedented in the last 36 hours is that a club official, after winning a case, called a news conference to effectively gloat about his victory – that’s unprecedented.”
Murray spoke exclusively to Rosenthal, accusing the president of effectively bullying the 28-year-old during the arbitration process and claiming that Levine had both mispronounced Betances’ name throughout the hearing and blamed the reliever for “declining ticket sales and their lack of playoff history.” Like Betances, Murray said that the agency was ready to accept the arbiter’s decision and move on before Levine’s decision to air his grievances to the media. “The only person overreaching in this entire situation is Randy,” Murray told Rosenthal. “He might as well be an astronaut because nobody on earth would agree with what he is saying. Even the others in the room would disagree with him.”
Royals’ manager Ned Yost is shaking things up in 2017, starting with left fielder Alex Gordon. Yost told MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan that “every scenario is open,” and expects to utilize Gordon in right and center field this spring while he figures out where to position Jorge Soler and Brandon Moss.
Gordon, 33, hasn’t manned right field since a three-game experiment with the Royals back in 2010 and has yet to play center field during any regular season to date. The focus, however, isn’t on Gordon’s capabilities. Among the three outfielders, he carries the best defensive profile and appears to be the most versatile of the bunch.
According to Flanagan, Soler and Moss are average on defense and will continue working closely with Royals’ coach Rusty Kuntz as the season approaches. One arrangement could see Gordon in center field, flanked by Soler in right field and Moss in left, though Yost foresees Soler taking some reps at DH if his defensive chops aren’t up to snuff.
While Moss is prepared to see starts at either outfield corner, Yost appears to be set on keeping Soler in right field, at least for the time being. The club is hoping for a bounce-back season from the 24-year-old outfielder, who was acquired from the Cubs in December after batting a lackluster .238/.333/.436 and sustaining a slew of minor injuries throughout the 2016 season.