Wilbon: The Cubs have to go after Albert Pujols

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Michael Wilbon has a column up over at ESPN today in which he implores the Cubs to go after Albert Pujols in free agency.

It’s fine as far as it goes, but I tend not to like arguments that basically come down to “how big it would be!” for team X to sign player Y and about how players are “iconic.”  I suspect that the idea of franchises “making statements” and adding “credibility” to the team is one that gets talked about by writers approximately 1000 times more than it does in real front offices.

One comment he makes, though, has me thinking:

Asking whether the Cubs really should go after Pujols is like asking whether a team should have taken Lou Gehrig at a similar stage of his career. The notion that Pujols would be overpaid in the final two or three years of a 10-year-contract ignores the fact that he’s been underpaid — not just the first few years, but over his entire career so far, even this coming season at $16 million. Every single at-bat of Pujols’ career suggests he has four to five Hall of Fame seasons left, by which time the Cubs could have won, at long last, a World Series.

Icon status aside, do you go 8-10 years for the Gehrig/Pujols player if you may only get five good years?  I’m trying to think of examples in which someone has been burned on the tail end of a long term deal but the general assessment was “it was worth it anyway.”  Maybe that will happen with A-Rod.  I suppose it could happen with Todd Helton.  Anyone else? Any candidates?

The risk stuff on a long term deal for Pujols is probably the more interesting to me than even the “where might he end up if not in St. Louis” question.  I’m someone who is probably too risk averse in life.  It’s just my disposition. But I also understand the argument which holds that avoiding risks often locks in the downside of something in a far more certain way than taking the risk ever would.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained, you know.

Pujols might be the one guy I’d take five great years for even if there’s a great chance he gets old fast later and doesn’t earn his considerable keep.  But it’s not an easy call.  Which is why it’s probably a good think I’m not the GM of a baseball team.

Rich Hill has a perfect game through eight innings

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UPDATE: He’s perfect through eight! He has ten strikeouts on the night. One more inning to go. And, of course, the Dodgers need to give him at least one run or else this thing doesn’t end in nine. Note: No Dodgers pitcher has tossed a perfecto since Sandy Koufax did it against the Chicago Cubs on September 9, 1965.

9:09 PM: Dodgers starter Rich Hill is facing off against the Pirates in Pittsburgh tonight. And he’s not having any trouble with them: he’s absolutely perfect though seven innings. He’s needed 73 pitches to get that far, so if he can keep the perfection up he certainly has enough in the tank to finish it.

Thing is: he may not even get the win. That’s because Pirates starter Trevor Williams has blanked the Dodgers through eight, scattering seven hits and four walks yet, somehow, not allowing a run to score.

The Pirates are coming to bat in the bottom of the eighth. We’ll keep you posted.

Zach Britton’s consecutive saves streak has ended at 60

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On September 20, 2015, Zach Britton blew a save against the Rays. Little did he know that he wouldn’t blow another save until August 23, 2017, converting 60 consecutive save opportunities.

Britton took the mound with a 7-5 lead in the top of the ninth inning of Wednesday afternoon’s game against the Athletics. He yielded a single to Jed Lowrie, a double to Boog Powell, an RBI single to Marcus Semien, and a sacrifice fly to Matt Joyce to allow the A’s to close the two-run deficit. In the next at-bat, he uncorked a wild pitch and then walked Khris Davis before being removed from the game. Miguel Castro relieved Britton, but walked Ryon Healy on four pitches to load the bases. Castro wriggled out of the jam by getting Matt Olson to pop up and striking out Matt Chapman, stranding two of Britton’s runners.

Britton entered Wednesday’s action 11-for-11 in save chances on the season with a 2.88 ERA and a 19/12 K/BB ratio in 25 innings. He missed two months earlier this season with a strained left forearm.