“Woah, we’re halfway there, livin’ on a prayer. Take my hand, we’ll make it I swear.” – Bon Jovi, Livin’ On a Prayer
Though Jed Hoyer has yet to make a midseason trade, it almost feels like Kris Bryant, Javier Báez, and Anthony Rizzo are already gone. Rumors abound regarding the Cubs’ big three and it’s just too bad we’ve heard nary a peep about potential trades involving Ian Happ, Jake Arrieta, Zach Davies, and Eric Sogard. In fact, that quartet may well represent the team’s star power come July 31. Yikes, you thought things were bad now.
Hoyer almost has to trade Davies because if Chicago offers their No. 2 starter the qualifying offer, he may accept and stay, where he will forever remain known as “the guy the Cubs got for Yu Darvish.” That’s probably not the best ball to have chained to anyone’s leg, particularly when the North Siders have one of the worst rotations in the National League. Fans haven’t saddled that type of notoriety on a player since Lou Brock was traded for Ernie Broglio.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 9, 2021
Forget about the big three and Davies for a second, but if Hoyer somehow finds the moxie to trade Kyle Hendricks this summer, the Cubs may struggle to win 75 games. He may be Hoyer’s best chip to prevent his roster retool from becoming a full-on rebuild, though it would be hard to argue such a move wouldn’t represent a scorched-earth teardown. Because of his team-friendly contract, Hendricks may be Hoyer’s best tradeable asset not named Craig Kimbrel and could help shorten the team’s upcoming window of non-contention
Would Hoyer have the stones to move his ace? He should, if only because Hendricks becomes less of a need if Chicago is going to remain in the southern hemisphere of the National League for the next two or three seasons. He’d be one of the best starters on the market and could provide a decent mix of young MLB players and prospects in return. The fact that the organization is stretching out Justin Steele to start could mean something big may be on the horizon. Keegan Thompson could be a starter, too.
Suppose the Cubs could trade Hendricks to the A’s for James Kaprielian and a prospect or two. That’s something Hoyer would have to look at, right? What about the Yankees for minor league outfielder Jasson Dominguez and a pitcher like Clarke Schmidt or Deivi García? In theory, the Cubs could extend Bryant, Báez, and Rizzo, then retool on the fly by moving Hendricks and Kimbrel.
They’d have plenty of money to spend on pitching in free agency this winter and, especially after drafting a pitcher in Jordan Wicks who is nearly major league-ready, could reinforce the 2022 rotation through free agency. With a group that may include Wicks, Steele, Brailyn Márquez, and Adbert Alzolay, the Cubs could add without having to break the bank.
It’s something to think about, anyway.
Cubs News & Notes
- The All-Star Game festivities are serving as a national stage of sorts regarding trade rumors involving Bryant.
- The third baseman, former Rookie of the Year, and 2016 MVP remained polite as always in diffusing said questions (video).
- Kyle Schwarber said he still feels a strong connection with Cubs fans.
- Kimbrel doesn’t believe Willson Contreras was pointing fingers at any specific teammates when he expressed his dissatisfaction with the team’s effort after Saturday’s game.
- Potential landing spots for Kimbrel include the A’s, Astros, and White Sox, but don’t sleep on the Red Sox or Yankees.
- David Ross thinks the team needs to focus more on working together.
- With a bit of uncertainty regarding Chicago’s future, Hoyer is under the microscope as much, if not more, as Theo Epstein ever was. The difference is he no longer has Epstein’s large shadow to protect him.
- Here’s a quick recap of Day 2 of the Cubs’ minor league draft, and here’s a more in-depth look at the nine players selected.
- It appears Dan Kantrovitz took a well-rounded approach in rounds 2-10, drafting three more pitchers, three outfielders, two infielders, and a catcher.
- Our own Todd Johnson named the organization’s first-half minor league all-stars.
- Data and various scouting reports indicate Wicks is “the total package.”
Odds & Sods
An obligatory reminder of that Brock trade just as you’ve wiped the earlier mention from your memory. Love this Cubs jersey, by the way.
Lou Brock warming up at the Polo Grounds, 1962 pic.twitter.com/O1uwFcRueE
— Baseball In Pics (@baseballinpix) July 5, 2021
Climbing the Ladder
“But it’s hard living life on this merry-go-round, always up, always down, spinning round and round and round.” – Night Ranger, Goodbye
Here’s how the offense shakes out at the mid-summer break, and it’s a little difficult to get a read on whether the glass is half-empty or half-full.
- Games Played: 90
- Total Plate Appearances: 3,294
- Total Strikeouts: 870
- Strikeout Rate: 26.4%
- Team Batting Average: .227
I think we’d all be happy if Chicago’s strikeout rate and batting average could meet somewhere in the middle.
How About That!
Pete Alonso won last night’s Home Run Derby, his second straight, but Trey Mancini was the real story. The Orioles outfielder finished as the event’s runner-up. Shohei Ohtani, the favorite to win, was eliminated in the first round by Nationals outfielder Juan Soto.
Mancini was just as interested in watching Ohtani hit as he was in participating. There is nothing more heartwarming than seeing professional baseball players as fanboys.
Alonso hit 20 homers of 475 feet or more, he had the best playlist to boot, and his timeout to fire up the crowd before eliminating Soto was so Rocky Balboa-esque.
Major League Baseball has pledged up to $150 million to the Players Alliance, a non-profit organization that consists of active and former MLB players “aiming to build more equitable systems in baseball and increase Black representation throughout the sport.”
Epstein believes MLB teams need to scale back their use of advanced analytics.
The Padres are expected to have a very active trade deadline.
ESPN host Stephen A. Smith is in the news for offending the Asian community for making derogatory remarks about Ohtani. He’s issued an almost immediate retraction and apology.
Putting the “O” in “hero.”
TREY MANCINI IS MOVING ON TO THE FINALS 👏
INCREDIBLE 🙌 pic.twitter.com/g1Vd5j7hHX
— ESPN (@espn) July 13, 2021
They Said It
- “I don’t think like that at all. But it could happen, that I could be here for two days, two months, two years, 10 years. It’s all up in the air.” – Kris Bryant
- “[Cubs’ fans] probably like, ‘why did you stink at the leadoff spot with us in Chicago, and then now he goes to D.C. and does that?’ I’m going to watch the film and I hope that when I do get back [in the lineup] that I’m going to remember those feelings. You want to keep those in the back of your head, but you know what? It was a really cool run [with the Cubs].” – Kyle Schwarber
Tuesday Walk-Up Song
I Remember You by Skid Row – Not even the Magic 8-Ball knows who will stay and who will be heading out of town this month.