Cubs

Cubs not a good fit for Pujols, Fielder

598326.png

Cubs not a good fit for Pujols, Fielder

Everybody is clamoring for the Cubs to sign Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols this offseason. The logic makes sense: The Cubs need to improve, have a wide open first base position and these are two MVP-caliber players. Oh yeah, and the Cubs have a ton of money.

But the last part is a bit false. They don't have that much money, largely because of the albatross contracts of Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Zambrano and even Ryan Dempster's 14 million.

Plus, one guy won't suddenly make the Cubs a playoff team, even if that guy is Pujols.

ESPN's Buster Olney concurs, tweeting Sunday:

embedly_twitter_77869802background:url(http:a3.twimg.comprofile_background_images146607075busterback2.jpg) 131516; padding:20px; embedly_twitter_77869802 pbackground:fff;padding:10px 12px 0px 12px;margin:0;min-height:48px;color:000;font-size:18px;line-height:22px;-moz-border-radius:5px;-webkit-border-radius:5px embedly_twitter_77869802 .embedly_tweet_contentbackground:fff;padding:10px 12px 10px 12px;margin:0;min-height:48px;color:000;font-size:18px !important;line-height:22px;-moz-border-radius:5px;-webkit-border-radius:5px embedly_twitter_77869802 p span.metadatadisplay:block;width:100;clear:both;margin-top:0px;height:40px; padding-bottom: 12px; embedly_twitter_77869802 p span.metadata span.authorline-height:15px;color:999;font-size:14px embedly_twitter_77869802 p span.metadata span.author aline-height:15px;font-size:20px;vertical-align:middle embedly_twitter_77869802 p span.metadata span.author imgfloat:left;margin:0 10px 0 0px;width:48px;height:48px embedly_twitter_77869802 p a color: 009999; text-decoration:none; embedly_twitter_77869802 p a:hovertext-decoration:underline embedly_twitter_77869802 .embedly_timestampfont-size:13px;display:inline-block;margin-top: 5px; embedly_twitter_77869802 .components-above span.embedly_timestampfont-size:10px;margin-top: 1px;line-height:12px embedly_twitter_77869802 a color: 009999; text-decoration:none; embedly_twitter_77869802 a:hovertext-decoration:underline embedly_twitter_77869802 .tweet-screen-name font-size: 14px; font-weight: bold; embedly_twitter_77869802 .tweet-full-name padding-left: 4px; color: 999; font-size: 12px; embedly_twitter_77869802 .tweet-actionsmargin-left: 10px;font-size:13px;display:inline-block;width:250px embedly_twitter_77869802 .components-above span.tweet-actionsfont-size:10px embedly_twitter_77869802 .controlsline-height:12px!important embedly_twitter_77869802 .tweet-actions a margin-left:5px embedly_twitter_77869802 .tweet-actions a bfont-weight:normal embedly_twitter_77869802 .components-above span.tweet-actions a bvertical-align:baseline;line-height:12px embedly_twitter_77869802 .components-above .tweet-textfont-size:13px;vertical-align:baseline embedly_twitter_77869802 .tweet-image float: left; width: 40px; embedly_twitter_77869802 .tweet-user-block-image float: left; width: 48px; height: 48px embedly_twitter_77869802 .tweet-row margin-left: 40px; margin-top: 3px;line-height: 17px; embedly_twitter_77869802 .tweet-user-block margin-left: -40px; embedly_twitter_77869802 .stream-item padding-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 12px; embedly_twitter_77869802 .simple-tweet-image img margin-top: 4px; embedly_twitter_77869802 .simple-tweet-content margin: 0 0 13px 0px; font-size: 14px; min-height:48px; embedly_twitter_77869802 .in-reply-to-border border-color: EBEBEB; border-style: solid; border-width: 1px 0 0; embedly_twitter_77869802 .in-reply-to-text margin-left: 4px; padding-left: 8px; padding-right: 10px; color: 999; font-size: 12px; embedly_twitter_77869802 .tweet-actions i background: transparent url(http:a2.twimg.coma1306889658phoeniximgsprite-icons.png) no-repeat;width:15px;height:15px;margin:0 4px -3px 3px;outline: none; text-indent:-99999px;vertical-align:baseline;display:inline-block;position:relative; embedly_twitter_77869802 .tweet-actions a.retweet-action i background-position:-192px 0; embedly_twitter_77869802 .tweet-actions a.reply-action i background-position:0 0; embedly_twitter_77869802 .tweet-actions a.favorite-action i background-position:-32px 0; @Buster_ESPN
Buster OlneyAnd neither Pujols nor Fielder is a perfect 1B long-term target for the Cubs -- Pujols because of his age, Fielder because of defense.
Nov 27 via webFavoriteRetweetReply

That's exactly the point. Even if Pujols is only 31 and his age was never doctored (a rumor I won't even touch on besides this mention), he's looking for a megadeal and the Cubs' new front office doesn't want to tie themselves down with a contract that will be paying a 40-year-old 23 million.

At four years younger, Fielder seems to be a safer option for a long-term contract. He would still be in his prime (at age 33) roughly six years into the deal. But even in the midst of his prime right now, he's a below-average fielder (despite his name) and will only lose range and possibly gain weight (given his body type) as he ages.

Olney makes the point that Fielder would be a better fit on an AL team where he could sign a 10-year deal and spend the last three or four years serving primarily as the designated hitter:

embedly_twitter_33800860background:url(http:a3.twimg.comprofile_background_images146607075busterback2.jpg) 131516; padding:20px; embedly_twitter_33800860 pbackground:fff;padding:10px 12px 0px 12px;margin:0;min-height:48px;color:000;font-size:18px;line-height:22px;-moz-border-radius:5px;-webkit-border-radius:5px embedly_twitter_33800860 .embedly_tweet_contentbackground:fff;padding:10px 12px 10px 12px;margin:0;min-height:48px;color:000;font-size:18px !important;line-height:22px;-moz-border-radius:5px;-webkit-border-radius:5px embedly_twitter_33800860 p span.metadatadisplay:block;width:100;clear:both;margin-top:0px;height:40px; padding-bottom: 12px; embedly_twitter_33800860 p span.metadata span.authorline-height:15px;color:999;font-size:14px embedly_twitter_33800860 p span.metadata span.author aline-height:15px;font-size:20px;vertical-align:middle embedly_twitter_33800860 p span.metadata span.author imgfloat:left;margin:0 10px 0 0px;width:48px;height:48px embedly_twitter_33800860 p a color: 009999; text-decoration:none; embedly_twitter_33800860 p a:hovertext-decoration:underline embedly_twitter_33800860 .embedly_timestampfont-size:13px;display:inline-block;margin-top: 5px; embedly_twitter_33800860 .components-above span.embedly_timestampfont-size:10px;margin-top: 1px;line-height:12px embedly_twitter_33800860 a color: 009999; text-decoration:none; embedly_twitter_33800860 a:hovertext-decoration:underline embedly_twitter_33800860 .tweet-screen-name font-size: 14px; font-weight: bold; embedly_twitter_33800860 .tweet-full-name padding-left: 4px; color: 999; font-size: 12px; embedly_twitter_33800860 .tweet-actionsmargin-left: 10px;font-size:13px;display:inline-block;width:250px embedly_twitter_33800860 .components-above span.tweet-actionsfont-size:10px embedly_twitter_33800860 .controlsline-height:12px!important embedly_twitter_33800860 .tweet-actions a margin-left:5px embedly_twitter_33800860 .tweet-actions a bfont-weight:normal embedly_twitter_33800860 .components-above span.tweet-actions a bvertical-align:baseline;line-height:12px embedly_twitter_33800860 .components-above .tweet-textfont-size:13px;vertical-align:baseline embedly_twitter_33800860 .tweet-image float: left; width: 40px; embedly_twitter_33800860 .tweet-user-block-image float: left; width: 48px; height: 48px embedly_twitter_33800860 .tweet-row margin-left: 40px; margin-top: 3px;line-height: 17px; embedly_twitter_33800860 .tweet-user-block margin-left: -40px; embedly_twitter_33800860 .stream-item padding-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 12px; embedly_twitter_33800860 .simple-tweet-image img margin-top: 4px; embedly_twitter_33800860 .simple-tweet-content margin: 0 0 13px 0px; font-size: 14px; min-height:48px; embedly_twitter_33800860 .in-reply-to-border border-color: EBEBEB; border-style: solid; border-width: 1px 0 0; embedly_twitter_33800860 .in-reply-to-text margin-left: 4px; padding-left: 8px; padding-right: 10px; color: 999; font-size: 12px; embedly_twitter_33800860 .tweet-actions i background: transparent url(http:a2.twimg.coma1306889658phoeniximgsprite-icons.png) no-repeat;width:15px;height:15px;margin:0 4px -3px 3px;outline: none; text-indent:-99999px;vertical-align:baseline;display:inline-block;position:relative; embedly_twitter_33800860 .tweet-actions a.retweet-action i background-position:-192px 0; embedly_twitter_33800860 .tweet-actions a.reply-action i background-position:0 0; embedly_twitter_33800860 .tweet-actions a.favorite-action i background-position:-32px 0; @Buster_ESPN
Buster OlneyAn AL team would be best-suited to be really aggressive on Prince Fielder, because it could project him as a DH at end of contract
Nov 27 via webFavoriteRetweetReply

But what AL team would be the best fit?

Behind a refined approach, Albert Almora Jr. is off to a hot start this spring

Behind a refined approach, Albert Almora Jr. is off to a hot start this spring

The Cubs have only played three spring training games, and it’s dangerous to use spring results to predict regular season successes/failures. Still, it’s okay to acknowledge Albert Almora Jr.’s hot start in camp.

In two games, Almora is 4-for-4 with a walk, double, home run, four RBIs, and four runs scored. That line is essentially equivalent to a single game in the regular season and could be turned upside down by the end of the week. But it’s a start for the 25-year-old who’s struggled immensely at the plate for the last season-and-a-half at the plate.

In his last 177 games (dating back to the second half of 2018), Almora holds a .235/.270/.347 slash line. The advanced stats paint an uglier picture: 58 wRC+, .261 wOBA and 52.2 percent groundball rate.

Last season was the most challenging of Almora’s young career. He hit .236/.271/.381 in 130 games with a 64 wRC+, .271 wOBA, -0.7 fWAR (all career worsts). On top of that, he was involved in a heartbreaking moment early in the season; an Almora foul ball struck a young girl at Minute Maid Park during a Cubs-Astros game in May.

Almora recently refused to blame his 2019 offensive woes on that incident, though it obviously played a part. He did admit he was in a bad place mentally and used this winter to decompress. Almora also used it to make some adjustments to his swing and the changes are clear as day:

Pre-2020:

2020:

As MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian notes, Almora is now more upright in the box and his stance is more closed. His leg kick is less defined, and he’s rotating his front leg far less than previous seasons. In short, he’s more direct to his swing and has more time to react in the box because he cut out a lot of his pre-swing movements.

Almora said Monday he’s far from where he wants to be, pointing out the MLB season is a 200-day marathon. It’s too early to tell whether his simplified approach leads to sustainable success.

Small sample size be damned, Almora’s made noticeable adjustments. That’s the first step in his mission to get back on track offensively.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Chicago Cubs easily on your device.

Two of the Cubs' best prospects made Keith Law's annual Top 100 list

brailynmarquezmilb.jpg
USA Today

Two of the Cubs' best prospects made Keith Law's annual Top 100 list

For those who follow such things, Keith Law's yearly Top 100 prospect rankings is always a highly anticipated read. What would baseball twitter even do with their time if they couldn't spend it vocally disagreeing with subjective lists? Having a handful of Top 100 guys is always a shot in the arm for franchises that maybe aren't doing a whole lot of winning at the major league level; when you know you're not winning a World Series, the debuts of these prospects are high points of the summer. 

There wasn't a whole lot of Cubs' representation this season, which isn't a surprise by any means. Only guys two made Law's list: Brennen Davis at 55, and Brailyn Marquez at 80.  

Law claims Davis has the highest upside of any Cubs' prospect, but isn't necessarily close to a debut: 

Davis is lanky and has barely begun to fill out, so there’s likely to be more power to come, while he’s already shown he can manage at-bats and use the middle of the field to get himself on base. Despite his 6′4″ frame he already has a very balanced swing, and the Cubs will just have to tighten up some mechanical things since he’s got such long levers. A former shortstop, he’s adapted quickly to center field; he projects to stay there and add value with his range. 

He also loves Marquez's stuff – comparing it to Aroldis Chapman's – and says it's the reason why he's team's best pitching prospect since Dylan Cease. You can see the entire rankings, which go pretty in-depth, right here.