What signing Darvish means for Bryce Harper

Everyone knows next year will be one of the hottest free-agency markets of recent history.

Two names: Manny Machado, Bryce Harper.

We are talking about a potential billion dollars worth of deals between those two players.

It’s pretty clear those two are going to the best teams in the MLB with the most money. I predict Machado to the Yankees (or maybe White Sox) and, well, I’m praying Harper to the Cubs.

The Cubs just signed Yu Darvish the other day to a 6 yr/$126 million contract.

So, now the question begs,

Will the Cubs still be able to afford a Harper-type contract?

Well, I got out my protractor out and went to town. I crunched the numbers ‘til the sun came up.

Being the GM that I am, and thanks to my friends at Baseball Reference, I looked over the Cubs contract situation and it won’t be easy to put it lightly.

To start it off, I’ll give you a little background on the contract situation. Lester, Zobrist and Heyward are untouchables. Their contracts are huge.

Did the Cubs overpay for Heyward? Yes. Is it the end of the world? No. They bring just enough value to the team to make up for their gargantuan salaries.

Lester’s contract breakdown follows as so. He is owed $27.5 million over the 2018 and 2019 seasons, $20 million in 2020 and $10 million in 2021. Yikes.

Heyward’s contract is $28.17 mil this year, 20 the next, and 84 million over the next four. Bigger Yikes. Yeah, I already know what you’re thinking holy crap did they drop the ball on that one. Heyward’s contract is the most team unfriendly, but there is no question he is getting better and still one of the top corner outfielders in the league.

Zobrist is owed $16.5 mil this year and 12.5 the next. Now, let’s get to the big question.

Will the Cubs be able to re-sign Kris Bryant and Addison Russell and still sign Bryce Harper.

No.

Bryant and Russell are up for arbitration these next three years since their rookie contracts are coming to a close. Both signed handsome bonuses after bringing the North side it’s first World Series in 108 years, but now that’s up.

So, what does this mean? The Cubs have to get rid of one of them, and I promise you it will not be Kris Bryant. Expect the Cubs to shop around Addy this season and help them bolster their farm system that has produced some of the best young talent currently in the game.

Darvish’s contract is going to average $21 million a year, for a 31 year-old pitcher, over six years. It HAS to be win now and by signing Darvish, it is.

If the Cubs shopped Addison Russell this offseason, not only would they get a good deal from whatever team he’s dealt to, it would be one less person the Cubs would have to deal with in Arbitration. For the Cubs to convince Bryant to take a team friendly contract in order to bring in Harper would be much more likely than Russell.

Harper and Bryant have been good friends since Little League in Las Vegas and have been hanging out a lot this offseason so I would expect him to be more lenient on his contract situation, in order to sign one of the best players in the league. I also expect if Harper does decide to come to the Cubs, that he will take less money in order to be on the team he chooses. This could be huge for the Cubs who are already stacked on major contracts.

I know that sending Addy away is not ideal as he’s only been in the league for 3 years and is already one of the best young shortstops in the game. He’s coming off a year last year where he underperformed due to injury and a domestic violence accusation. After getting through both obstacles he had a good postseason with 5 hits, 2 doubles and 5 RBI’s in 10 games.

Opening up the shortstop position could give a guy like Javy Baez, who is under team control, the chance to show what he has at the spot and give Ian Happ a chance to play his natural position at second base. This could be a very good thing for the Cubs because they would have a very good young infield.

Happ and Baez up the middle could become a dynamic duo in the making. Heyward in center, Zobrist in right and Schwarber in left would be a very slow outfield. It would put a lot more pressure on Heyward, but defense is his specialty and he has thrived in center when he’s had to fill in.

Obviously that would be a one year option if the Cubs decided to go after Harper next year.

Kris Bryant and Bryce Harper on the same team again? Watch out MLB.

In-State or Bust

With National Signing Day in the rear view mirror, and the Texas Longhorns finishing with the 3rd best class in the nation, I want to touch on something that I have noticed over the last five years. Over the last half-decade, there has been a trend beginning every February on NSD. The Longhorn football program has been overselling their incoming recruiting classes judging by the production on the field during the season. What has caused these so-called “top class” to fail:

TOP IN-STATE RECRUITS

How did I come to that conclusion so quickly? Well, here’s the deal. The State of Texas lives and breathes high school football. I mean come on, there was a freaking TV show about it. It’s the State of Texas. High School football is a religion here. It’s the best of the best. The talent level is through the roof. In the 2016 NFL season, a total of 214 players played their high school football in Texas. There’s little to no doubt that this state is made up of some of the most promising up-and-coming players in the country.

With that being said, there is no excuse that Texas has been unable to retain at least 50% of the Top 20 recruits in the State in recent years. Before I talk about now, let’s go back to the Class of 2010. Out of the top 20 recruits in the State of Texas, Mack Brown brought in a total of 10 recruits for the Longhorns. That’s what Texas has been missing in the recent years. In order for the Horns to be successful, they HAVE to and MUST win the in-state recruits.

Why do I say that? Here’s what was going on from 2013-2017 with the top 20 players in the State of Texas:

· Class of 2013, 3 signed went 8-5

· Class of 2014, 4 signed went 6-7

· Class of 2015, 6 signed went 5-7

· Class of 2016, 7 signed went 5-7

Then, in the Class of 2017… ZERO, NONE, NADA signed with the University of Texas at Austin. I get that Charlie Strong was fired, but still. It’s THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS. It’s a world-renowned university. You would think, you would hope, at least ONE of the Top 20 in the State would have wanted to be a Longhorn.

But now…. after waiting almost 5 years, Texas football is back baby. The Class of 2018 has garnered 10 signees from the Top 20 in the State. It appears Head Coach Tom Herman is bringing back the precedent set on recruiting in this state. It truly is second to none. And, when the top recruits are in your backyard, you go out and get them. That’s the philosophy Herman is following and will continue to follow for years to come.

Foles takes down the GOAT, Dynasty in Shambles

First off, I want to say that Super Bowl 52 lived up to everything it was hyped to be. I also want to say that first half was beautiful. Shoutout to the entire NBC team for putting on a great performance until they botched it with a nationwide blackout. But other than that, I thought it was great. Big week for NBC, first the Super Bowl then the entire Olympics?

Stock in NBC = very high

Now, let’s dig into the game. I’m still trying to digest what happened. Saint Nick took down the GOAT, the NFL has a number of issues they need to resolve, is the dynasty in shambles???

I’m not going to bore you with all the stupid catch rule stuff so I’ll just say this.

They need to define what is and is not a catch.

Saint Nick played the game of his life. Every single NFL team out there should send the Eagles an offer for him this offseason because he’s better than any qb in the league right now. He just won the Super Bowl. Don’t even think about arguing it.

Now, going off that. He will still be the backup next year. The Eagles got their win win situation. They just won their first Super Bowl, and did it without their franchise QB who, oh by the way, is just 25 years old.

I love what the Eagles have done with their team. I think they have the potential to be the next dynasty. They are loaded with young and under-contract talent, a hungry athletic defense, a QB with a very high ceiling and a great coaching staff who was able to adjust their system around their backup QB to win a Super Bowl.

There’s a lot of pressure on Wentz now, but I’ve never seen someone overcome as much as he has so I am sure he will be fine.

Now, let’s talk about the Pats and the endless pit of misery they are about to be swallowed by. First off, this is well deserved. I love Tom Brady as much as the next man but the Patriots as an organization deserve what is about to come their way.

They are no longer the Kings of the AFC because, well, the Eagles figured them out. Tom Brady is great because he makes his teammates around him better. But when his teammates aren’t there, it’s a bit of a different story. Julian Edelman was done for the season. Brandin Cooks is probably still dead and Gronk is still recovering from the concussion he received two weeks ago. So Chris Hogan, a former lacrosse player, has to step into the shoes of Edelman? It’s a band-aid solution. It’s patchwork. They said he’s the best we’ve got so lets see how it goes.

Not a terrible strategy as he played well through out the season. But he is still not Edelman, Cooks or Gronk.

Tom Brady is not the QB he once was. He is a robot now. Brady is the greatest Quarterback of all time and was never supposed to come within 1000 miles of that title. He is the epitome of greatness in every sense of the word and everyone, including himself, knows that. He doesn’t have to do anything else in his life because his legacy could never be tarnished, yet, he still decides to keep playing because he simply loves the game. He has perfected every aspect of the game and knows how to beat just about anybody.

Now, let me clarify. Brady has had the same guys for a very long time. It’s the same system and when someone gets hurt, it’s always been next man up. One of Belichek’s biggest slogans. But when those men don’t have the same robotic synchronization with the greatest QB to ever play the game, then its a very tough situation.

All the plays they scripted were centered around three people: Cooks, Gronk, and Amendola/Hogan.

Gronk had NO clue where he was last night. I’d be surprised if in 10 years he remembers a thing from that Super Bowl, and he still had 9 catches for 116 yards and two touchdowns. A great SB performance that will be forgotten by him in less than a decade. It is terrible but true. Head injuries are a very serious issue and another problem the NFL faces.

Cooks was their guy. They needed him to win that game and they knew it. I believe that if he wasn’t trying to do too much to extend the play and just took the first hit to the ground, the Patriots would have won that game. Classic example of players trying to do more than they need to and I am sure Belichek is LIVID over that.

After the birds took out their number one wide receiving threat, the Pats told a concussed Gronkowski, “here’s the play, use your 6’ 7” 270 pound frame and go do something.” It was visible that he was not at 100% mentally. I remember there was one seam route up the middle where Gronk was wide open but instead of coming back towards the middle he ran straight and the pass fell short. Robots don’t miss open seam throws over the middle. They just don’t. It’s been programmed inside their robot brains, since robots started playing football.

With Gronk a semi-scratch, they left the game up to Amendola and Hogan. Don’t get me wrong, both are good receivers when they have space, but neither of them are worthy of being Tom Brady’s number one option.

I do believe, and I know this is crazy, that TB12 can win another Super Bowl. But it HAS to be in the right circumstance and it HAS to be soon, otherwise him and the Patriots are done.

First off, they need to improve that defense. They need better athletes on the front line and in the secondary. The defense is their biggest weakness just because that offense is too lethal.

Second, they need to make the right coaching changes. They got gutted. No other way around it. McDaniels to the Colts and Patricia to the Lions are done deals. Whoever comes in next as OC has to adopt their system AROUND Brady. Not the other way around.

I’d like to see something different from that D than what Patricia has been doing. They need more talent on the opposing side of the ball because they got torched all year. Patricia never had to be the best defense, and he hasn’t needed it because their offense was so good. He’s always had good defenses, and in some circumstances, great ones, but this year’s team was not great by any meaning of the word.

Honestly, I know he’s been there and won it, but I don’t think he will make a great head coach in this league. It is an offensive minded league now, the game is changing. And it’s not like the Lions defense is great where a new face will push them over the edge.

Brady is now 40, so one wrong hit and his career could be over in a flash. Gronk is injured again and as great as he is, still can not seem to play a full season. Edelman, a 31 year-old is coming off an ACL injury which is never easy to recover from, and will no doubt see a step down in his performance next season. Then there’s Amendola who’s entire career no matter what team he’s been on has been cut short due to injuries.

I knew it was bad when Gronk came out last night and questioned his certainty to return to the game. I fully expect he will, but if he’s saying it, it’s definitely on his mind and something he’s thought about before.

Brady I expect to retire after next season. He will announce this offseason that these will be his final games and he’ll be given the full red-carpet treatment, and paraded around everywhere he goes as he very much deserves. But for him to go out a champion like Peyton Manning, they need to fix that defense right now.

Injuries and a lack of athleticism on D plagued the Pats all season long and it is incredible that they were able to do what they did this year overcoming that.

But it just wasn’t enough. This one is going to sit with Brady for a very long time because that game was totally out of his hands. He played possibly his best season (at 40) and best game he could have, but due to a long list of extranious factors he fell short in getting his sixth (I know I still struggle with it too) Super Bowl.

Hell of a game for Eagles Nation. Love what they’re doing with that team and that city and I expect big things in their future.

For Pats fans, you’ve had your fun. Take your rings and be happy. Praise the god that is Tom Brady and be happy with that. No complaints. Just love.