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MLB News: Cubs Acquire Flame-Throwing RHP Motte

December 17th, 2014 at 3:00 PM
By Tim Duxbury

The Chicago Cubs continued their shopping spree when they came to terms with RHP Jason Motte on Monday. Motte, a former St. Louis Cardinals’ standout, will join the Cubs on a one-year deal worth $4.5 million but could earn as much as $6.5 with incentives. Motte only threw 25.0 innings for the Cardinals in 2014 and struggled to regain his past dominance.

Period

ERA

Saves

IP

WHIP

2014

4.68

0

25.0

1.520

Career

3.03

54

285.0

1.109

(Stats per baseball-reference.com)

Jason Motte missed the entire 2013 season and the first half of the 2014 season due to an arm injury, but was one of baseball’s best relievers from 2010-2012. He posted an ERA under 2.76 in three consecutive seasons and led the league in saves (42) in 2012. Before his injury, Motte had a fastball the regularly hit triple-digits and a Brian Wilson-esk beard, but post-injury his fastball and beard have seen some reduction. Motte doesn’t figure to be the Cubs closer in 2015 but the signing is a good one by Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer (although it may be a bit pricy). Motte, 32, will bring experience and intensity to an already talented group and if he is able to regain his form, he could help the Cubs solidify themselves one of baseball’s best bullpens.

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Cubs Introduce Lester: New Ace, Old Number

December 17th, 2014 at 3:00 AM
By Tim Duxbury

The Chicago Cubs officially introduced Jon Lester at Wrigley Field yesterday. There had been some question about what number he would wear with the Cubs as the number that he has worn for most of his career, #31, has been retired by the Cubs in honor of Fergie Jenkins and Greg Maddux. In the press conference Lester put all the rumors to rest when he donned a jersey with the number 34. Former Cubs’ ace, Kerry Wood made the number 34 famous in Chicago when he wore it from 1998-2008 and 2011-2012.

Kerry Wood was a tremendously talented pitcher but was, unfortunately, never able to truly put it all together. Hopefully Lester does not have that issue as his career in Chicago gets under way.

Lester

Stat

Wood

9

Seasons

14

116

Wins

86

3.58

ERA

3.67

32.6

WAR

26.7

N/A

ROY

Winner, 2008

3

All-Star Appearances

2

84.0

Playoff Innings

44.2

6-4

Playoff Record

2-2

2.57

Playoff ERA

3.43

2

World Series Rings

0

(Per baseball-reference.com)

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Breaking Down the Cubs’ New Catcher Miguel Montero

December 16th, 2014 at 3:00 AM
By Tim Duxbury

The Chicago Cubs acquired Miguel Montero last week when they struck a deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks, but what are they really getting? As we discussed last week, Miguel Montero is not a huge statistical upgrade over the Cubs’ current backstop, Welington Castillo, but his resume is very impressive. Montero is known as one of the games’ better framing catchers, something that Castillo struggles with, and his left handed bat should play well at Wrigley Field. Montero has done his best work when hitting out of the five-hole, posting a slash of .281/.346/.475 with 33 home runs and 142 RBI in 228 career games.

Montero has spent his entire nine-year career out in the National League West with the Diamondbacks, so his experience against his new NL Central opponents is not terribly extensive. However, he has enough experience to formulate a decent sample size:

Opponent

Games

.ave

.obp

HR

RBI

Cincinnati Reds

37

.238

.317

3

15

Milwaukee Brewers

38

.281

.376

8

18

Pittsburgh Pirates

34

.242

.313

1

18

St. Louis Cardinals

41

.286

.340

6

19

At Wrigley Field

16

.327

.426

1

5

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Bold Predictions: Jason Hammel Will not Replicate 2014 Success in 2015

December 15th, 2014 at 3:00 AM
By Tim Duxbury

The Chicago Cubs made one heck of a splash last week when they added C Miguel Montero and free agent starters Jon Lester and Jason Hammel to their roster. Both Montero and Lester figure to play key roles on the 2015 Cubs, serving as the starting catcher and ace, but today we’re focusing on Jason Hammel. The Cubs signed Hammel to a two-year, $18 million dollar contract last week, but it’s hard to believe that he will replicate the success he had in Chicago during the first half of 2014.

Period

ERA

W-L

WHIP

WAR

2014 (CHC)

2.98

8-5

1.021

3.1

2014 (OAK)

4.26

2-6

1.286

0.0

Career

4.60

59-70

1.392

10.1

(Stats per baseball-reference.com)

Today’s Bold Prediction is that Jason Hammel will not replicate his 2014 success in 2015 because, unfortunately, the Jason Hammel that the Oakland Athletics got in the second half of 2014 was a more accurate representation of his ability. In nine professional seasons, Hammel, 32, has posted a sub-4.00 ERA just twice (2012 & 2014) and has had a winning percentage over .500 in only three seasons (2009, 2010, 2012). A strong 2015 campaign from Hammel would be a huge benefit to the Chicago Cubs as it would lengthen their rotation considerably, but to set high expectations is to set yourself up for disappointment.

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Sunday Spotlight: Could Jacob Turner Follow in the Footsteps of Andrew Miller?

December 14th, 2014 at 3:00 AM
By Tim Duxbury

Last weekend, the New York Yankees signed LHP Andrew Miller to the richest contract ever for a reliever without closing experience; a 4-year, $36 million dollar deal. Miller has been one of baseball’s best relievers the past two seasons, posting ERAs of 2.64 and 2.02 for the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles, but he wasn’t always such a stud. The big lefthander broke in with the Detroit Tigers and Florida Marlins as a starting pitcher, but floundered until the Boston Red Sox moved him to the bullpen fulltime in 2012. Could Chicago Cubs pitcher and Miami Marlins product Jacob Turner benefit from the same role change?

Pitcher

Role

ERA

WHIP

.oba

K/9IP

Andrew Miller

As Starter

5.70

1.732

.296

7.1

As Reliever

3.38

1.229

.197

12.6

Jacob Turner

As Starter

4.97

1.471

.282

5.7

As Reliever

4.95

1.400

.305

6.8

(Stats per baseball-reference.com)

Jacob Turner apparently lost the ability to be effective as a starter last season and his chances to make the 2015 rotation look slim due to the recent additions of Jason Hammel and Jon Lester. The Cubs experimented with Turner in the bullpen in 2014 and although his numbers were not markedly better, he did show signs of life.

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