Cubs

Nady will wait to see what future holds

Nady will wait to see what future holds

Sunday, Sept. 12, 2010
3:31 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

MILWAUKEE Xavier Nady rejoined the New York Yankees during last years postseason run, celebrated their 27th World Series title and rode up Broadway during the championship parade.

After rehabilitating his right elbow in California, Nady was at once a part of and separate from the team. And on some level its been like that with the Cubs, not fully integrated.

Thats not to say that Nady sulks or keeps to himself. He is a positive clubhouse presence, and well-liked by teammates. But since he signed a one-year deal in January, hes had to place percentages on how his arm feels, and measure the distance he can throw in long toss.

Until recently, its been a struggle to find to find regular at-bats. Hes averaged about 10 per week, and quoted that number off the top of his head.

I knew it was going to be a long year, Nady said. I just didnt know to what extent. You try to be optimistic and come back and be Superman after two Tommy John (surgeries). Its not ideal, not realistic. (You) just try to finish strong.

Gradually, Nady is restoring his value. August was his strongest month by far as a Cub he hit .320 with a .386 on-base percentage in 22 games and the deadline to be eligible for a postseason roster passed without him being dealt to his sixth team in the past six years.

And when Derrek Lee decided to approve a trade to the Atlanta Braves, it opened a spot for Nady at first base. Nows the chance to show hes still the middle-of-the-order hitter who generated 25 homers and 97 RBI in 2008.

You dont know how an arm injury effects a guy, manager Mike Quade. You can take a year off and come back and maybe make some pitches or maybe play defense. But swinging the bats a little different deal.

He looks way more comfortable and were all watching the same guy now that he was earlier. (Its) just getting back into what hes done for his career.

Quade described Nadys defensive play at first base as excellent, one reason why the manager still has no immediate plans to use Tyler Colvin there during a game. Its unclear what the organizations long-term answer will be at that position.

Nady, who will turn 32 in November, didnt worry about it when his name was mentioned in trade rumors throughout the summer. He certainly isnt anxious about free agency.

Nadys agent, Scott Boras, is one of the most powerful men in baseball. Coming off elbow-reconstruction surgery, Nady still got 3.3 million guaranteed, plus performance bonuses, after only seven games and 28 at-bats with the Yankees last season.

So Nady enjoys playing in Chicago and the Cubs might need a first baseman, but there are many moving parts to any deal.

Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko, Carlos Pena and Lee are among the first basemen approaching free agency. Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and Adrian Gonzalez could all hit the market after the 2011 season. Teams will have options.

Nady also figures to market himself as an outfielder. He will have the entire winter to build up his arm strength. He thinks hell be physically able to play the outfield five or six times per week. By Opening Day 2011, he will be 21 months removed from his second Tommy John procedure.

But with three weeks left in the season, thats not where Nadys focus is at. He needs consistent playing time to get his timing down and be comfortable with his leg kick at the plate. A player who woke up Sunday morning batting .253 with six home runs and 30 RBI no longer feels like he has to make up for it all at once.

(Now) you dont put a ton of pressure on yourself to get that one start and try to get three or four hits to prove yourself again, Nady said. Ive always believed in myself. (I) still feel like once I get healthy, and start playing every day, that everything will work out.

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Why did Kris Bryant get a first-place vote in this year's National League MVP balloting?

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USA TODAY

Why did Kris Bryant get a first-place vote in this year's National League MVP balloting?

Kris Bryant was the 2016 National League MVP. And despite having what could be considered an even better campaign this past season, he finished seventh in voting for the 2017 edition of the award.

The NL MVP was awarded to Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton on Thursday night, a fine choice, though it was nearly impossible to make a poor choice, that's how many fantastic players there were hitting the baseball in the NL this season.

After Stanton, Cinicinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto finished second, earning the same amount of first-place votes and losing out to Stanton by just one point. Then came Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon and Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon ahead of Bryant.

But there was someone who thought Bryant deserved to repeat as the NL MVP. Yes, Bryant earned a first-place vote — as did everyone else mentioned besides Rendon, for that matter — causing a bit of a social-media stir considering the Cubs third baseman, despite his great season, perhaps wasn't as standout a candidate as some of the other guys who finished higher in the voting.

So the person who cast that first-place vote for Bryant, MLB.com's Mark Bowman, wrote up why he felt Bryant deserved to hoist the Kenesaw Mountain Landis Memorial Baseball Award for the second straight year.

"In the end, I chose Bryant because I believe he made the greatest impact, as his second-half production fueled the successful turnaround the Cubs experienced after the All-Star break," Bowman wrote.

"Though I don't believe the MVP must come from a playoff contender, in an attempt to differentiate the value provided by each of these three players (Bryant, Votto and Stanton), I chose to reward the impact made by Bryant, who produced the NL's fourth-best OPS (.968) after the All-Star break, when the Cubs distanced themselves from a sub-.500 record and produced an NL-best 49 wins."

It's easy for Cubs fans and observers to follow that logic, as the Cubs took off after the All-Star break following a disappointing first half. As good as Bryant was all season long, his second-half numbers, as Bowman pointed out, were especially great. He hit .325 with a .421 on-base percentage and a .548 slugging percentage over his final 69 games of the regular season, hitting 11 home runs, knocking out 21 doubles and driving in 35 runs during that span.

Perhaps the craziest thing about this year's MVP race and Bryant's place in it is that Bryant was just as good if not better than he was in 2016, when he was almost unanimously named the NL MVP. After slashing .292/.385/.554 with 39 homers, 102 RBIs, 35 doubles, 75 walks and 154 strikeouts in 2016, Bryant slashed .295/.409/.537 with 29 homers, 73 RBIs, 38 doubles, 95 walks and 128 strikeouts in 2017.

Of course, the competition was much steeper this time around. But Bryant was given the MVP award in 2016 playing for a 103-win Cubs team that was bursting with offensive firepower, getting great seasons from Anthony Rizzo (who finished third in 2016 NL MVP voting), as well as Dexter Fowler and Ben Zobrist. While the Cubs actually scored more runs this season and undoubtedly turned it on after the All-Star break on a team-wide basis, Bryant was far and away the best hitter on the team in 2017, with many other guys throughout the lineup having notably down years and/or experiencing down stretches throughout the season. Hence, making Bryant more, say it with me, valuable.

So Bowman's argument about Bryant's impact on the Cubs — a team that still scored 822 runs, won 92 games and advanced to the National League Championship Series — is a decently convincing one.

Check out Bowman's full explanation, which dives into some of Bryant's advanced stats.

Game on as Jake Arrieta, Wade Davis and Alex Cobb turn down qualifying offers

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AP

Game on as Jake Arrieta, Wade Davis and Alex Cobb turn down qualifying offers

During the middle of Jake Arrieta’s 2015 Cy Young Award campaign, super-agent Scott Boras compared the emerging Cubs pitcher to another client – Max Scherzer – in the first season of a seven-year, $210 million megadeal with the Washington Nationals.

Now don’t focus as much on the money – though that obviously matters – as when Scherzer arrived for that Washington press conference to put on his new Nationals jersey: Jan. 21, 2015.

It might take Boras a while to find a new home for his “big squirrel with a lot of nuts in his trees.” Teams have been gearing up for next winter’s monster Bryce Harper/Manny Machado free-agent class for years. Mystery surrounds Shohei Ohtani, Japan’s Babe Ruth, and the posting system with Nippon Professional Baseball. Major League Baseball’s competitive balance tax may also have a chilling effect this offseason.

As expected, Arrieta, All-Star closer Wade Davis and pitcher Alex Cobb were among the group of free agents who went 9-for-9 in declining the one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer before Thursday’s deadline.

With that formality out of the way, if Arrieta and Davis sign elsewhere, the Cubs will receive two third-round picks in the 2018 draft.

By staying under the $195 million luxury-tax threshold this year, the Cubs would have to give up a second-round draft pick and $500,000 from their international bonus pool to sign Cobb, an obvious target given their connections to the Tampa Bay Rays, or Lance Lynn, another starter on their radar who turned down a qualifying offer from the St. Louis Cardinals.

That collectively bargained luxury-tax system became a central part of the Boras media show on Wednesday outside the Waldorf Astoria Orlando, where he introduced “Playoffville” as his new go-to analogy at the end of the general manager meetings.

“The team cutting payroll is treating their family where they’re staying in a neighborhood that has less protection for winning,” Boras said. “They’re not living in the gated community of Playoffville. Certainly, they’re saving a de minimis property tax, but the reality of it is there’s less firemen in the bullpen. There’s less financial analysts sitting in the press boxes.

“The rooms in the house are less, so obviously you’re going to have less franchise players. When you move to that 12-room home in Playoffville, they generally are filled with the people that allow you to really achieve what your family – your regional family – wants to achieve. And that is winning.”

Boras also represents four other players who rejected qualifying offers – J.D Martinez, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Greg Holland – another reason why this could be a long winter of Arrieta rumors, slow-playing negotiations and LOL metaphors.