Cubs not a good fit for Pujols, Fielder

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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:

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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:

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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?

John Lackey sees Cubs lining up for World Series run: ‘It’s all here’

John Lackey sees Cubs lining up for World Series run: ‘It’s all here’

PITTSBURGH — The Cubs have so much going for them, all this blue-chip talent, a clubhouse mix of young players and grizzled veterans, arguably the best manager in the game, an impactful coaching staff and a front office that blends scouting and analytics as well as anyone.

So, no, John Lackey is not at all surprised by the way this clicked into place, 101 wins and counting for the machine built with October in mind.

“Not really,” Lackey said after Tuesday night’s 6-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. “I had some pretty good offers from other people, and I chose this one for a reason. It’s all here.”

But to win the World Series — and get the jewelry Lackey talks about — you still need some luck, good health and the guts to perform in those Big Boy Games. That reality of randomness and matchups made a pregame announcement some 250 miles away from PNC Park so telling.

Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos tore the ACL in his right knee, ending his MVP-caliber season. The National League East champions will lose a .307 hitter with 22-homer power from the middle of their lineup and a veteran presence for a playoff rotation that will likely be without injured ace Stephen Strasburg (right elbow) in the first round.

“That’s a tough one when you lose your catcher, a guy who’s that significant for the pitching staff,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “Think about the pitching staff — it’s so different when you know the guy back there is your guy and he knows what’s going on. The communication’s different. The trust factor, all that stuff is different.”

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Within that big-picture context, the Cubs survived as Lackey limited the checked-out Pirates (77-80) to one run across five innings in his fifth start since recovering from a strained right shoulder and coming off the disabled list. Maddon then used six different relievers — staying away from Pedro Strop, Hector Rondon and Aroldis Chapman — during a three-hour, 49-minute game that felt more like the Cactus League.

After defecting from the 100-win St. Louis Cardinals team the Cubs bounced out of last year’s playoffs, Lackey finished the regular season at 11-8 with a 3.35 ERA and 188 1/3 innings.

“I’m going to get to 200,” Lackey said.

Beyond wins and losses, Lackey called this season his career best in terms of “those numbers that they’ve made up in the last few years” like WHIP (1.04) and opponents’ OPS (.646) and whatever. And, no, he doesn’t know his WAR, either: “Not even close.”

Yes, the Cubs got the old-school attitude they wanted when they signed Lackey to a two-year, $32 million deal before the winter meetings. For all the talk about the pitching deficit and the New York Mets after their young guns swept the Cubs out of last year’s NL Championship Series, the Cubs are getting their money’s worth with a guy who will turn 38 in October.

The amazing Mets have lost three of those frontline starters — Matt Harvey (thoracic outlet syndrome), Jacob deGrom (nerve damage in his right elbow) and Steven Matz (bone spur in his left elbow) — and are still holding onto the first wild-card spot, which says something about this playoff field.

This doesn’t guarantee anything in October, but the Cubs are just about as close to full strength as they could reasonably hope now. Instead of the silence that would have come with losing an irreplaceable player like Ramos, the sound system in the postgame clubhouse blasted Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and Notorious B.I.G. after their 101st win.

“Yeah, we lost Dexter (Fowler) for a bit,” Maddon said. “We lost (Kyle) Schwarber all year. Otherwise, when a couple pitchers got banged up, whether you’re talking about Rondon or Strop, I don’t think that our injuries have been as magnified because we’ve covered them pretty well.

“We still had our moments, like everybody else has. But when you get to right now, we’re getting well, and hopefully that trend continues. But to lose somebody of that magnitude for them, that’s got to be difficult.”

Preview: Arrieta, Cubs aim to stay hot vs. Pirates Wednesday on CSN

Preview: Arrieta, Cubs aim to stay hot vs. Pirates Wednesday on CSN

Jake Arrieta takes the hill as the Cubs continue their series against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday, and you can catch all the action on CSN at 6 p.m. Then catch first pitch with Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on Cubs Postgame Live.

Starting pitching matchup: Jake Arrieta (18-7, 2.85 ERA) vs. Jameson Taillon (4-4, 3.49 ERA)

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

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