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?

Kyle Ryan's emergence is coming at exactly the right time for Cubs

kyle_ryan_emerging_as_a_force_slide_photo.jpg
AP

Kyle Ryan's emergence is coming at exactly the right time for Cubs

With the MLB trade deadline two weeks away, bullpen help figures to be on the Cubs' wish list.

But thanks in part to Kyle Ryan's emergence, the Cubs don't absolutely need that reliever to be left-handed (though it would probably be ideal).

The Cubs began the week with three southpaws in their bullpen, but at some point this weekend, Ryan may be the lone lefty remaining. Mike Montgomery was traded to the Royals late Monday night and with Carl Edwards Jr. progressing in his rehab (he threw again Tuesday), he might take Randy Rosario's spot in a couple days. 

The Cubs like Edwards against lefties and they also feel confident in Pedro Strop against either handed hitter when he's on. But Ryan has worked his way into Joe Maddon's Circle of Trust and is currently the only lefty residing there.

That's not to say the Cubs don't need another reliable southpaw in the 'pen, but Ryan looks like he's going to get some big outs for this team down the stretch.

"He's done a great job for us since he's been here," Jon Lester said of Ryan last month. "I don't think he gets enough credit for what he's been able to do."

Ryan impressed the Cubs with his work as a multi-inning reliever in Triple-A last season and turned heads again in camp this spring. Still, Rosario made the Opening Day roster over him, though Ryan got called up on the team's season-opening road trip and made his first appearance on April 6.

Since then, he's been a mainstay while Montgomery battled injury and ineffectiveness, Rosario and Tim Collins have bounced between Triple-A Iowa and Chicago and veteran Xavier Cedeno's time off the injured list was short-lived.

Ryan looked to be finding his way throughout his first month in the bullpen, but after his infamous "freeze" moment against the Marlins, he endured some struggles (7 runs allowed on 12 hits in 7 innings from May 8 through June 1).

He's righted the ship since then, permitting only 1 run over his last 17 appearances (14 innings) and lowering his season ERA to 3.21 to go along with a 1.31 WHIP and 33 strikeouts in 33.2 innings.

A big part of that recent success can be tied to Ryan's increased improvement against left-handed hitters. 

Lefties hit .344 with a .405 on-base percentage off Ryan through June 5. But since then, Ryan has surrendered only 3 hits — all singles — and zero walks to the 19 left-handed hitters he's faced (.158 AVG).

He credits part of that turnaround to working on a changeup, which he thinks has helped lock in the "feel" of all his other pitches as well as his mechanics. 

As he works to add a new pitch to his repertoire, Ryan has leaned on Cubs bullpen coach Lester Strode and pitching coach Tommy Hottovy for assistance, while also picking the brains of veterans like Cole Hamels, Kyle Hendricks and Brad Brach who have all thrown changeups for quite a while.

But even with all that work, he still hasn't resorted to using the changeup much in games. The pitch is so foreign that it's still being picked up as a sinker, including on the Wrigley Field video board Sunday when he threw one in his inning of work.

"Eventually, I'm gonna find the changeup and it's gonna be a comfortable, confident pitch," Ryan said. "But I do think it's gotten me behind all the rest of my pitches and it's maybe a little bit better feel for everything. It's gonna stay where it is for a while. I'm gonna keep trying."

Ryan said one of the things he likes about the changeup is that it can eventually be a nice weapon because it "goes in the opposite direction" of all his other pitches.

We'll see if the new pitch can ever become a factor for the 27-year-old. But if it's helped lock in his other pitches, that's great news for the Cubs, especially as they look to fortify their bullpen this month.

Cubs Talk Podcast: The Yu Darvish 1st Wrigley win and post-ASG hot start podcast

darvish_thumb.jpg
USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: The Yu Darvish 1st Wrigley win and post-ASG hot start podcast

On the latest Cubs Talk Podcast, Kelly Crull and Tony Andracki discuss Yu Darvish's 1st win at Wrigley, Cole Hamel's status, and Kris Bryant playing better than he did in his MVP season.

01:00     Darvish picking up 1st win at Wrigley

03:30     Cole Hamels injury update

05:00     Starting rotation after the All-Star break

06:00     Cubs defense looking sharp

07:30     How the Cubs will approach the weekend and the expected heat

09:30     Kris Bryant playing above his MVP level

12:00     How the NL Central stacks up

14:00     Upcoming road trip to San Francisco, Milwaukee and Saint Louis

16:00     Addition to Martin Maldonado

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

Cubs Talk Podcast

Subscribe:

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