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First Call: Phillies snag McCutchen, Pirates lose Nova, Capitals rock Ovechkin |
Breakfast With Benz

First Call: Phillies snag McCutchen, Pirates lose Nova, Capitals rock Ovechkin

Tim Benz
| Wednesday, December 12, 2018 9:06 a.m
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
The Giants' Andrew McCutchen acknowledges the crowd for a second straight night before coming to bat during the first inning against the Pirates Saturday, May 12, 2018, at PNC Park.

In “First Call,” reaction to the signing of Andrew McCutchen and the trade of Ivan Nova. How bad are the Blackhawks? How hot are the Caps?

Good work if you can get it

Coming up on 32 years of age, Andrew McCutchen just got $50 million from the Philadelphia Phillies. It’s a three-year guaranteed contract.

This after he posted career lows in batting average, OPS, homers, and RBIs. Here’s how the signing was framed in The Athletic.

“The $50 million sum suggests the Phillies see McCutchen as a 2- or 3-win player in future seasons. If he’s a fourth outfielder/veteran presence in the third year of the contract, it would not be a crippling thing. The move to a smaller home ballpark will help his offense and defense.”

The phrase used throughout the article is that ‘Cutch isn’t a “finishing move” for Philly. And that his financial hit leaves plenty of flexibility for them to grab some combination of Manny Machado, Bryce Harper, Corey Kluber, and J.A. Happ.

Here’s a comp floated out there by author Matt Gelb: “One of the better McCutchen contract comparisons is Curtis Granderson’s four-year, $60 million pact that covered his age 33-36 seasons. Granderson, in the first three years of that contract, hit .241/.342/.436 and generated 9.0 bWAR.”

“The Phillies will be pleased with that sort of outcome. For now, McCutchen is a bet that makes them better and does not restrict them from bigger endeavors.”

Meanwhile, the Pirates picked up Lonnie Chisenhall, basically to be a third or fourth outfielder for $2.75 million.

No More Nova

The reaction also seems positive in Chicago regarding Ivan Nova. The Pirates sent him to the White Sox for $500,000 in signing pool money and minor-league pitcher Yordi Rosario.

The Chicago Tribune touted Nova’s acquisition as the Sox adding “much-needed starting rotation help.” It went on to tout his control.

“Nova’s average of 1.75 walks per nine innings during the last three seasons ranks fifth in the majors, trailing only Josh Tomlin (1.03), Clayton Kershaw (1.30), Mike Leake (1.66) and Bartolo Col√≥n (1.66).”

That rotation depth is supposed to be what Nova provided here. A lot of hype around the Pirates potential wild-card chances was centered around the notion that it was good enough so that Nova could be fifth. Instead, it’ll be Nick Kingham or Steven Brault to start.

Try to contain your excitement. We’ll see what the future holds for Mitch Keller.

It’s that bad?

This hasn’t been a smooth year for hockey in Pittsburgh. But look at how badly it’s gone in Chicago.

The Pens are in the Windy City tonight.

The Blackhawks have allowed the second-most goals in hockey and have scored the 26th fewest. Their -1.03 differential is the worst in the NHL.

The goalies are 28th in save percentage. That goes along with the league’s worst power play and the second-worst penalty kill.

Their 23 points and nine wins are both the lowest in hockey.

Aside from that, it’s going great for the ‘Hawks.

Ovi goes off

Alexander Ovechkin got a hat trick last night against Detroit. One came off a deflection, one on a rush, another from the left point on the power play.

The Capitals won 6-2. They lead the Metro. And Ovechkin’s 25 goals lead the NHL.

So much for that Stanley Cup hangover. They must’ve swigged back a lot of coconut water.

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at or via Twitter @TimBenzPGH. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.

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