Cubs

Baseball's top McPitchers

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Baseball's top McPitchers

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, here's a list of Major League Baseball's top 10 winningest McPitchers:

1. Jim McCormick - 265 wins

The chunky, mustachioed Glasgow-born McCormick was the first Scotsman in Major League history. He held the record of winningest non-American born pitcher until Fergie Jenkins (then Bert Blyleven). His 1880 season leaps off the page; 45 wins, 1.85 ERA in 657.2 innings...although all this was achieved with underhanded tactics, literally. The overhand pitch was not allowed until 1884.

2. Joe McGinnity - 246 wins

Nicknamed "Iron Man," because of his offseason work in an iron foundry, a quick scan of his inning totals justifies the nickname from his moundwork alone. With a bewildering array of overhand, sidearm, and underhanded deliveries (including his underhanded curve he called "Old Sal"), McGinnity's trademark feat of durability was his 434.0 innings in 1903, including a 6-0 record from pitching both games of three separate doubleheaders in August of that season.

3. Dave McNally - 184 wins

Well known for: being part of 4x20 win rotation on the 1971 Orioles, playing out option year of 1975 to challenge the reserve clause.

Not as well known for: being the all-time winningest Montana-born pitcher (143 wins more than the next highest total).

4. Sadie McMahon - 173 wins

The ace of the juggernaut Baltimore Orioles teams of the early 1890's, McMahon formed what was called "the Dumpling Battery" with catcher Wilbert Robinson due to their unathletic physiques. Another case of a brief, bright 19th century pitching career curtailed at an early age due to injury (in this case, shoulder).

5. Dick McBride - 149 wins

McBride's peak seems to have been before the creation of any organized professional leagues; he was given time off from Civil War duty to pitch an important game for a Philadelphia team. Only Albert Goodwill Spalding (204) had more wins in the brief history of the National Association; the predecessor of the National League. He had otherworldly mutton chops.

6. Lindy McDaniel - 141 wins

119 of those wins were as a reliever, and that is second only to Hoyt Wilhelm (124) in Major League annals.

6. Sam McDowell - 141 wins

The best fireballer in the American League prior to Nolan Ryan's arrival, "Sudden Sam" posted 1652 whiffs from 1965-70, topping Bob Gibson's next best ML total by 199 despite over 100 fewer innings. Unfortunately, poor conditioning led to his decline, and by the time he was dealt to the Giants for Gaylord Perry, McDowell was nearly done while Perry had 180 wins and two Cy Young Awards left in the tank.

8. Scott McGregor - 138 wins

Solid career, entirely with the Orioles. Career year of 20-8 came in 1980...when teammate Steve Stone topped him with a Cy Young season of 25-7, but McGregor recorded four shutouts to Stone's one and posted a better WHIP (1.238 to 1.297) with neck-and-neck ERA's (3.32 for McGregor; 3.23 for Stone)

9. Mike McCormick - 134 wins

McCormick won the NL Cy Young Award back when it was more appropriately called "The Pitcher With the Most Wins Award." In 1967, his award-winning season, McCormick's 118 ERA was tied for 13th. Phil Niekro had a league-leading 1.87 ERA (of course assisted by the knuckleball-induced unearned runs) with an 11-9 record, but that's another discussion for another day.
10. Danny MacFayden - 132 wins

The leader among MacPitchers (or else Denny McLain's 131 would be No. 10), the bespectacled "Deacon Danny" hung around the Majors for 17 seasons, finishing up at 27 games under .500 for his career. Amazingly, as bad as his 2.65 career strikeout rate was, Ted Lyons was able to etch a plaque in Cooperstown with a lower one (2.32).

Bonus postscript:

The all-time wins leader actually born in Ireland is Tony Mullane, who would top this list with 284 had his name begun with Mc. Mullane was nicknamed "the Apollo of the Box" due to his good looks, was an ambidextrous hurler long before Greg Harris (longer still before Pat Venditte), and due to bigotry refused to acknowledge Fleet Walker's (credited as baseball's true first African American player) signals when the two were batterymates with Toledo (which was a Major League town with the American Association) in 1884.

For those who were wondering...Jack McDowell is 12th with 127 wins.

Cubs Talk Podcast: Manny Machado’s value and other Cubs offseason wish list items

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Manny Machado’s value and other Cubs offseason wish list items

Did Manny Machado’s value take a hit at all after he openly admitted hustling isn’t his “cup of tea”? Our Cubs team (David Kaplan, Kelly Crull, Tony Andracki, Jeff Nelson) debate that, plus the potential fit of Machado or Bryce Harper for the 2019 Cubs and beyond.

The crew also runs down the top items on the Cubs’ offseason wish list – ranging from bullpen help to infield depth to a set leadoff hitter – in what may be the most impactful winter in Theo Epstein’s tenure in Chicago.

Listen to the podcast here or via the embedded player below:

The most underrated storyline of the Cubs offseason

The most underrated storyline of the Cubs offseason

There are plenty of intriguing Cubs storylines to monitor this offseason from their potential pursuit of the big free agents to any other changes that may come to the coaching staff or roster after a disappointing finish to the 2018 campaign.

But there's one question simmering under the radar in Cubs circles when it comes to this winter: How will the team solve the shortstop conundrum?

Just a few years ago, the Cubs had "too many" shortstops. Now, there are several different factors at play here that makes it a convoluted mess.

First: What will the Cubs do with Addison Russell? The embattled shortstop is in the midst of a suspension for domestic violence that will keep him off an MLB diamond for at least the first month of 2019.

Has Russell already played his last game with the Cubs? Will they trade him or send him packing in any other fashion this winter?

Theo Epstein mentioned several times he felt the organization needs to show support to the victim in the matter (Russell's ex-wife, Melisa) but also support for Russell. Does that mean they would keep him a part of the team at least through the early part of 2019?

Either way, Russell's days in Chicago are numbered and his play on the field took another big step back in 2018 as he fought through a hand injury and experienced a major dip in power. With his performance on the field and the off-field issues, it will be hard to justify a contract worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $4 million in his second year of arbitration (prorated, with a month's worth of pay taken out for the suspension).

Even if Russell is on the roster in 2019, Javy Baez is unquestionably the shortstop for at least the first month while Russell is on suspension. 

But what about beyond Baez if the Cubs want to give him a breather or disaster strikes and he's forced to miss time with an injury?

At the moment, there's nothing but question marks on the current Cubs shortstop depth chart throughout the entire organization and they're certainly going to need other options at the most important defensive position (outside of pitcher/catcher). 

There's David Bote, who subbed in for Baez at short once in September when Baez needed a break and Russell was on the disabled list. But while Bote's defense at third base and second base has opened eyes around the Cubs, he has only played 45 games at short across seven minor-league seasons, including 15 games in 2018. There's also the offensive question marks with the rookie, who hit just .176 with a .559 OPS and 40 strikeouts in 108 at-bats after that epic ultimate grand slam on Aug. 12.

The Cubs' other current shortstop options include Mike Freeman (a 31-year-old career minor-leaguer), Ben Zobrist (who will be 38 in 2019 and has played all of 13 innings at shortstop since 2014), Ryan Court (a 30-year-old career minor leaguer) and Chesny Young (a 26-year-old minor-leaguer who has posted a .616 OPS in 201 Triple-A games).

Maybe Joe Maddon would actually deploy Kris Bryant at shortstop in case of emergency like a Baez injury ("necessity is the mother of invention," as Maddon loves to say), but that seems a lot more like a fun talking point than a legit option at this current juncture.

So even if Russell sticks around, there's no way the Cubs can go into the first month of the season with just Baez and Bote as the only shortstop options on a team that with World Series or bust expectations.

The Cubs will need to acquire some shortstop depth this winter in some capacity, whether it's adding to the Triple-A Iowa roster or getting a veteran who can also back up other positions. Right now, the free agent pool of potential shortstops is pretty slim beyond Manny Machado.

Epstein always says he and his front office look to try to mitigate risk and analyze where things could go wrong to sink the Cubs' season and through that lense, shortstop is suddenly right up there behind adding more bullpen help this winter.