The Mediocrity Cup?
Multiple sources tell the Tribune that during a Monday morning news
conference, the Cubs and White Sox will announce a new tradition — a
trophy (and the public bragging rights) to the club which wins the
annual city series between them. We’re told a tiebreaker is in place
should the teams split the six games 3-3.
This is very Big Ten football, where teams play for things like big axes, wooden turtles,* brown jugs and the like. The common denominator in all of these trophy rivalries? They’re pretty damn lopsided.
If the Cubs-White Sox rivalry follows the same pattern, one team will be taking home the Bronze Bratwurst, the Copper Crappy Pizza or the Golden Graft or whatever the hell they settle on at least two-thirds of the time.
*The Illibuck loomed much larger for me when I was an Ohio State undergrad because Illinois beat Ohio State three out of the four years I was there. The one year we had it, it sat on the floor in the corner of the Honors House, where I would occasionally study before a class I had across the street. One day I looked at it for a while, thinking how silly the thing was. Then, for about a minute, I thought that it would be a good idea to steal it. It would have been simple. No one else was there and I was sure I could get it back to my apartment without anyone noticing. Then I remembered the talking-to Greg Brady got from Mr. Brady after stealing the Coolidge High goat, thought better of it and went on to class. I think to think that decision represented a point of divergence in some fascinating alternate personal history, but that would be even lamer than stealing the wooden turtle.
The Marlins are intent on adding one of the three best relievers available on the free agent market, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. Those three, of course, are Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, and Mark Melancon.
As Ashley noted earlier, Melancon is reportedly fielding multiple four-year offers in excess of $60 million. The price tags for Chapman and Jansen are likely to match or exceed that. The Marlins haven’t typically been eager to whip out the checkbook for free agents but with the bullpen being the name of the game in baseball these days, GM Michael Hill may feel the need to match his rivals.
The Nationals, Giants, Yankees, Cubs, and Dodgers are the teams most often linked to the “big-three” group of relievers, so it won’t be easy for the Marlins.
A.J. Ramos handled the closer’s role for the Marlins this past season and did an admirable job, saving 40 games with a 2.81 ERA and a 73/35 K/BB ratio in 64 innings. There’s no doubt, though, that Chapman, Jansen, or Melancon would represent a significant upgrade in the ninth inning.
C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Reds manager Bryan Price is likely going to use a trio of pitchers in the closer’s role: Raisel Iglesias, Tony Cingrani, and Michael Lorenzen. At RedsFest on Saturday, Price said:
I’d say right now that we have a series of guys that I’m comfortable with in the ninth inning and that would include (Raisel) Iglesias, (Tony) Cingrani and (Michael Lorenzen). Should we stay with this format – which I intend to do – all three of those guys and maybe more could have opportunities in save situations. At this point in time, there’s no defined closer. There are multiple options and I’d like to stick with the philosophy that we’re going to have our multi-inning guys, so we’re going to need multi-closers.
This seems to be part of the new bullpen zeitgeist in which managers are shying away from strictly-defined roles for their relievers. Indians manager Terry Francona’s postseason success using Andrew Miller likely had some degree of influence on Price’s willingness to go with a three-headed giant.
Iglesias started the 2016 season in the Reds’ rotation but missed two months with an injury, then moved to the bullpen in late June. Price put him in the closer’s role down the stretch in September. The right-hander overall finished the season with a 2.53 ERA and an 83/26 K/BB ratio in 78 1/3 innings.
Cingrani battled control issues in his 63 innings of work this past season, finishing with a 4.14 ERA and a 49/37 K/BB ratio. He’s left-handed, though, and gives Price some matchup flexibility in the late innings.
Lorenzen impressed in his first full season as a reliever, ending the year with a 2.88 ERA and a 48/13 K/BB ratio in 50 innings. The right-hander uses a fastball that sits around 96 MPH on average along with a cutter and slider.