Jason Hammel changed his off-season workout program after struggling in the second half last season. Hammel said on 670 The Score he wore down and that led to his poor performance.
It’s easy to forget how good Jason Hammel was over the first three months last season. Hammel was the Cubs’ best starter and was a big reason the team was in position to compete for a spot in the tournament after the first half.
Hammel made 17 starts before the break and posted a 5-4 record with a 2.86 ERA and 0.95 WHIP. Hammel gave up 39 runs, 33 earned, on 80 hits with 18 walks and 105 strikeouts on 103 2/3 innings. Hammel’s season quickly changed after one inning against the Cardinals on July 8. Hammel left the game and was not the same from that point forward.
The Cubs did not place Hammel on the disabled list. The All-Star break was just around the corner and the rotation was adjusted to give him as much time as possible between starts. Hammel did not return to the mound until July 21.
Hammel struggled in the second half. After the break, Hammel was 5-3 in 14 starts with a 5.10 ERA and 1.49 WHIP. Hammel allowed 40 runs, 38 earned, on 78 hits with 22 walks and 67 strikeouts in 67 innings. Hammel went from averaging over six innings per start to under five innings per start.
After the post-season run, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer admitted Hammel’s issues could be traced back to the injury he suffered against the Cardinals on July 8. Epstein went as far to say the Cubs did not handle his injury properly.
In an interview on 670 The Score during the Convention, Hammel said he changed his diet, switched trainers and really focused on his lower half this off-season. Hammel did not point to an injury as the reason for his decline.
“I really focused on the lower half, because I just assessed the way I pitched last year and over the last few years, why I’ve kind of hit a road block in the second half. I made a small adjustment with the mechanics and really focused on the lower half with lifting this year.”
Jason Hammel expects to be in the Cubs rotation this season, somewhere behind Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester and John Lackey. Hammel said the Cubs haven’t told him he would not be in one of the two backend of the rotation spots.
Jake Arrieta is the only arbitration eligible player on the Cubs roster left unsigned for the upcoming season. The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner is coming off an historic season and exchanged salary numbers with the Cubs almost a week ago.
Arrieta filed at $13 million and the Cubs submitted a figure of $7.5 million. The Cubs have not been to arbitration under the current front office and are not expected to start with Jake Arrieta.
According to a report from ESPN Chicago, Arrieta and the Cubs will likely find a middle ground before an arbitration hearing, which would take place between Feb. 1-21.
As ESPN Chicago reported, if the Cubs and Arrieta do not settle before the hearing, an independent arbiter would choose either the $13 million Arrieta is asking for or the $7.5 million the Cubs submitted. When the process reaches a hearing, it’s one salary figure or the other, not the midpoint.
Jake Arrieta made $3.63 million last year and was projected to receive between $10-11 million in his second year of arbitration. If the two meet in the middle, Arrieta will make $10.25 million.
The Cubs named Stan Zielinski the organization’s Scout of the Year on Wednesday.
The long-time scout is responsible for Kyle Schwarber and Jeff Samardzija signing with the Cubs. Zielinski also signed Cliff Floyd.
RHP Fernando Rodney agreed to terms with the Padres on a one-year guaranteed contract.
Rodney’s deal includes a ton of incentives and a club option worth $2 million for the 2017 season that includes a $400,000 buyout. According to Dennis Lin, Rodney has a $1.6 million base for 2016 and if he maxes out his incentives he can earn an additional $5 million and “escalate the option.”
Lin explained, “If Rodney reaches all his performance bonuses in the first year, the option would be worth $7 million, with the $5 million in available incentives rolling over.”
Fernando Rodney can earn as much as $18.6 million over the next two years if he reaches all of his incentives. If the option is not picked up, Rodney will be paid $2 million plus any additional money he earned by reaching performance marks.
News, Notes and Rumors
• Homeland Security secretary met with baseball owners in Florida.
• Ben Zobrist is thrilled to be with the Cubs and be reunited with Joe Maddon according to a report from Carrie Muskat.
• Anthony Castrovince predicted Dexter Fowler will sign with the White Sox … and he thinks Yoenis Cespedes will sign with the Cardinals, Yovani Gallardo with the Blue Jays, Ian Desmond with the A’s, Howie Kendrick with the Diamondbacks, David Freese with the Indians, Austin Jackson with the Orioles and Doug Fister with the Marlins.
• The Nationals made an offer to Yoenis Cespedes according to a report from Hardball Talk citing Ken Rosenthal as its source. Rosenthal said the offer to Cespedes is less than what Justin Upton received from the Tigers. According to Ken Davidoff, the Mets continue to talk to Cespedes. The Angels, Cardinals, White Sox, Blue Jays, Astros and Nationals are the teams believed as fits for Cespedes. And Bob Nightengale reported the White Sox are still interested in Cespedes but for no longer than a three-year deal.
• Ken Rosenthal provided a breakdown of the Gerardo Parra contract with the Rockies. Parra will receive $8 million in 2016, $8 million in 2017 and $10 million in 2018. Parra has a club option for a fourth year worth $12 million and includes a $1.5 million buyout … three-years, $27.5 million.
• One-time top prospect OF Kyle Parker was designated for assignment to make room for Parra on the Rockies’ 40-man roster. The Rockies selected Parker in the first round of the 2010 draft. Parker has not hit in the majors, but put up solid numbers in the PCL. Parker is only 26, if he clears and becomes a free agent, Parker is player that would be worth the gamble on a minor league contract.
• The Mets signed LHP Antonio Bastardo according to multiple reports. The Cubs were linked to the lefty reliever last month. Bastardo received a two-year, $12 million contract according to Jesse Sanchez.
• The Pirates claimed RHP Yoervis Medina off waivers from the Cubs on Dec. 23, and less than a month later decided to cut ties with the reliever. The Pirates designed Medina for assignment on Tuesday to make room on the roster for A.J. Schugel.
• According to Jon Heyman, the Brewers “haven’t heard anything very interesting in trade talks for Jonathan Lucroy yet, price of prospects has escalated.”
• Due to so many free agents left on the market, Jeff Passan put together a roster for the 2016 Montreal Expos. And both Dexter Fowler and Austin Jackson made the team.
• Leaders in defensive runs saved in 2015: Kevin Kiermaier (42), Ender Inciarte (29), Andrelton Simmons (25), Starling Marte (24) and Jason Heyward (22).
• Adam Wainwright did not agree with where he was taken in a fantasy baseball draft and called in to SiriusXM Radio. Wainwright told the show hosts he felt disrespected with his current draft slot.
• Yu Darvish denied involvement in brother’s gambling ring according to a report from Hardball Talk.
Jason McLeod called in to MLB Now and talked Cubs’ prospects … including Gleyber Torres, Carl Edwards Jr. and Billy McKinney.
This Day in Cubstory
2004 – Cubs signed free agent Ryan Dempster
1991 – Cubs signed free agent Scott May
1972 – Alan Benes, born
1953 – Dizzy Dean was elected to the Hall of Fame. Dean pitched for the Cubs for four seasons during his Hall of Fame career (1938-1941). Dean was 16-8 in 43 games, 33 starts, with a 3.35 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and 3.52 FIP.
1952 – Mike Krukow, born
1946 – Phillies purchased Roy Hughes from the Cubs