Some rumors just won’t die. This doesn’t mean they should either. So let’s really dive into the pros and cons of the Yankees/Cubs lining up for a blockbuster trade. The trade we talk of is of course the Andrew Miller and/or Aroldis Chapman for Kyle Schwarber.
Most fans that are in favor of this move simply look at one thing. They say by acquiring one of these top relievers simply makes the Cubs the odds on favorite to win the World Series. Close the book, turn out the lights, the party is over. End of discussion.
Is it that easy? Fans in favor of this type of move point to how the Royals used this recipe to win the World Series. They shortened the game to 6 innings because the had the leagues top 3 delivers to shut the door. All true. There’s no debate as to how the Royals won the 2015 Championship.
But what happened in 2014? Didn’t the Royals have those same relievers in 2014? They did make it to World Series but didn’t win it. What excuse can we come up with as to why the Royals with the most dominate relief corp didn’t win it all?
That bring us to the 2016 Royals. Um, what happened? If the season ended today, the Royals would make the playoffs. We could give all kinds of reasons (or excuses) for why this happened. The truth remains that the #1 bullpen does not guarantee anything.
Next those same fans in favor of trading Schwarber point to the New York Mets. They state that it was the Mets pitching that swept the Cubs last October. Is this really what happened? It’s true that the Mets starters helped to keep their team in every game, there was also this guy named Daniel Murphy that had a series that makes legends. The guy was simply all the offense the Mets needed. Without him, the results may have been different.
The point to all of this is simple. You still have to play the games. It might also be said that you need a little luck to not only advance in the playoffs but to win it all also. Does anyone remember the 2007 Colorado Rockies? Were they the “best” team in the National League that year? What happened to the 2001 Seattle Mariners? They won 116 games that year and did NOT make it to the World Series.
We will ask the next question. Would you trade Kris Bryant for Andrew Miller? Most fans think this is just silly. Bryant had a line of .273/.360/.514 and had 26 HR’s with 99 RBI’s! We all know about his slow start, but man did he come on strong. Hell, he hit a HR every 25 AB’s. Trade him? For a reliever? We laugh at you!
Did many of you realize that many in the front office view Kyle Schwarber more favorably than Kris Bryant when it comes to his bat? Don’t believe us? Where did most of the experts figure Schwarber to be drafted in 2014? It sure wasn’t 4th overall. In fact most folks had the Cubs selecting Michael Conforto that year. They spoke of while the Cubs still needed pitching they might also be looking for help from the left side of the plate.
Schwarber figured to be taken in the late 1st round or perhaps the second round. The main reason was the belief that Schwarber had a great bat but many scouts were unsure about what position he would play. Many looked at him as a pure DH and you just don’t pick a DH in the top 10.
The Cubs felt differently. They said at the time, he was hands down the best college hitter in the draft. They also talked of his work ethic and believed he could stick at catcher. But last year the Cubs needed some help offensively. They started playing Schwarber more and more in the outfield. The results? He hit and hit and hit.
He hit so much that the FO was forced to call him up to Chicago. They really didn’t know where his ultimate position would be but it was that bat that was needed. Schwarber gave the injection the Cubs needed. His first month with Chicago we saw a line of .423/.444/.654! But this is the majors and pitchers will adjust. No one will end up with a line like that. He ended the year at .246/.355/.487.
Schwarber only had 273 AB’s compared to Bryant’s 650 AB’s. While Bryant had 26 HR’s or 1 in every 25 AB’s, Schwarber had a mere 16 HR’s. That 1 HR in every 17 AB’s! What’s even more important was that Schwarber hits from the left side. Next to Anthony Rizzo, Kyle is the only left handed power bat in the whole organization! He provides balance to your lineup.
Then you add the special sparkle in Theo’s eye when you talk about Kyle Schwarber. Let’s remember that it was Theo that selected him with the 4th pick in 2014. He was taken in front of Michael Conforto and Aaron Nola who were said by the “experts” to be a much better selection for the Cubs. If not for the injury, would anyone prefer Conforto or Nola to Schwarber? We doubt it if you are being honest with yourself.
So that brings us back to the question about acquiring Andrew Miller and/or Aroldis Chapman. There is no doubt the Cubs would love to add a left hander to the bullpen. That’s not the debate. The disagreement comes with the price. Here’s a simple rule. You don’t trade a generational talent like Bryant or Schwarber for a reliever. All teams know this!
In fact, it won’t take that much of an overpay to acquire the much needed left hander for your bullpen. The Cubs currently lead the majors in starting pitching. Their starters also average 6 1/3 innings per start. In the playoffs it could be argued that the Cubs starters would average more than that! The reason being is that Maddon will NOT over-extend his starters because he trying to save the health of his staff.
This won’t be the case in the playyoffs. First of all, you can probably scratch Hendricks from the list. It is doubted that he will get to start a game. Then your top 2 pitchers in Arrieta and Lester will go as long as you can leave them in. They only reason you pull them is if the lead is so large or they just get pummeled. This is where you may see Hendricks pitch.
So this means your starters are going 7 or 8 innings. This leaves the mop up duties to both Strop and Rondon. You are also looking at Justin Grimm who, at times, can be devastating to the opposition. Let’s face it, if Arrieta and Lester are out of the game before the 6th inning, the Cubs are probably in trouble. Would Miller or Chapman change this?
With that said, who wouldn’t love to add Miller or Chapman? They just strengthen that bullpen 10 fold! But let’s call it what it is. It’s a luxury. A luxury to have a guy like this from the left side to face a tough left handed hitter. Our current right handed pitchers in the bullpen can get the job done against those tough right handed hitters.
So let’s look at some options.
1.) Chapman is a rental. You acquire him because he is the cheaper of the two pitchers between him and Miller. The Cubs would clearly be sending a message that we are all in! 2016 is our year to win it all. It ridiculous to think that Chapman would cost you Schwarber. So let’s just get the Babe off the negotiating table.
2.) Without question, most fans have their sights set on Andrew Miller. He is without question the best left-handed reliever out there and still has a few years of control left. But as we spoke earlier, if you are not going to trade Kris Bryant for Miller, we feel the same can be said for Schwarber. He means the same thing for the Cubs going forward as Kris Bryant does.
Also note that the Cubs have already said no to this proposal. So is the trade dead? Not hardly! The Cubs have more than enough talent on the farm to get this done. Let’s face it. The Yankees have been trying to be quiet about their current rebuild. They want to get younger. The want to do exactly what the Cubs are doing. They want a core of young controllable players and then spend money on top pitchers or a few positional guys that fill the void. It is exactly what they did in the 90’s that brought them all their success.
3.) Here’s another option. Look at the other 28 teams for your left handed reliever. The two top rumored pitchers are said to be Fernando Abad from Minnesota and Sean Doolittle from Oakland. Of the 2 pitchers named, we would prefer Sean Doolittle.
Doolittle is under team control until 2020 because of 2 team options. He currently sports a 11.67 strikeouts per 9 innings while only giving up a mere 2.67 walks per 9 innings. This compares favorably to Andrew Miller who has 16.64 K/9 and 0.94 BB/9. The bigger difference is that Miller costs you a bigger prospect package and $9M per year. Doolittle will cost less in both prospects and salary ($1.6M in 2016 and $2.6M in 2017).
We are not here to convince you that Andrew Miller should not be acquired. He should! But the price has to be reasonable. We felt the Cubs should have acquired David Price last Winter. But when it became apparent that the “price for Price” was unreasonable, John Lackey became a great plan B.
Let’s also remember that the Cubs still want to make a move for a young power arm starter that they could control for 3+ years. If you want to put Schwarber on the table with a few prospects to land a Chris Sale, we are all ears. If the White Sox say they will listen to offers on Chris Sale and you already traded him for Andrew Miller, how do you feel?
Do we expect Chris Sale to hit the market? Probably not. But we do expect other top guys to hit the market soon. Will the Mets finally come to Jesus and understand that you need to score runs in baseball also? Could Cleveland put some pitching on the market? What about Tampa or Oakland?
If you feel the Cubs really need to get the top of the rotation type of pitcher, then you need to hold onto your largest asset. You don’t over spend now on a reliever only to feel regret in 6 months. Would you rather see Chris Sale or Andrew Miller as your return of a package that includes Kyle Schwarber?
Over paying for a guy that only pitches 60 innings a year just doesn’t make sense in our opinion.