“No, I don’t want you back for a weekend, not back for a day. I said baby I just want you back and I want you to stay.” – Katrina & The Waves, Walking on Sunshine
I’m no reader of tea leaves, nor am I a supersleuth on par with Jerry Krause or Sherlock Holmes, but there is so much going on within the Cubs organization that it’s almost obvious the day of reckoning Theo Epstein once promised us is near. Jed Hoyer is stockpiling first basemen through trades and waiver claims, and, though the president of baseball operations said that he is going to continue to try to extend Anthony Rizzo and Javier Báez before the trade deadline, there’s an underlying message that perhaps means each could be traded if neither strikes a deal with the team.
Over the weekend, one of my few insider contacts mentioned that the Brewers inquired about Báez, which really isn’t news because I suspect most front offices have as well. But it’s interesting that Milwaukee GM David Stearns was rebuffed because Hoyer indicated he wants to work out an extension with the shortstop. The market for El Mago should certainly be robust if he is made available, though it would be a rental play for the acquiring team. If Báez helps a team get to the playoffs and then performs like he is capable of in the postseason, the $200 million or more he is allegedly seeking could grow substantially. For that reason alone, it seems unlikely he would immediately sign an extension upon being traded.
The market for Rizzo would seem to be considerably lower. The combination of his age, his back issues, and the fact that he is not playing at the same level as he used to has suppressed his market. It used to be you could count on the veteran first baseman for a .280 average, 25-30 home runs, and 100 RBI. Not anymore. Heck, he doesn’t even get hit by pitches with the frequency he has in past seasons. The Red Sox or Yankees might be nice fits for the Cubs’ captain, but other than that, who’d really go out of their way to trade for Rizzo and what would he be worth? Probably not much, and Hoyer’s best option may be to extend a qualifying offer to Rizzo and see how that plays out.
Craig Kimbrel seems like the best asset the team has as far as maximizing a return and considering what the Twins are asking for José Berríos, no one should rule out the possibility of Kyle Hendricks getting moved in the next 10 days. It seems unlikely, but we also don’t know how committed the front office is to overhauling this team or to what extent. Though he never really traded anybody, Epstein used to say that he had “no untouchables.” Hoyer operates in stealth mode. He rarely commits to anything and by leaving all options on the table, he eliminates the shock and awe if/when he makes any moves. As fans, we know, but we don’t know.
Final: Cardinals 8, Cubs 3. pic.twitter.com/mxEMuZdzXV
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 20, 2021
In the meantime, the Cubs lost 8-3 to the Cardinals last night and just seem to be treading water these days. An uncertain future will do that to players and a number of defensive miscues last night indicates that the players may have more on their minds than just winning ballgames. The good news for fans and players alike, is that 10 days from now we’ll all have a better grasp of Hoyer’s plan and the short- and long-term future of Chicago’s North Side baseballers. The byproduct of that is listless, not-very-fun-to-watch baseball. It almost feels like the cold winds of another barren October at Clark & Addison have already started whipping through Lake View.
Cubs News & Notes
- The reality of what’s likely to come in the next 10 days is finally setting in for David Ross and his fourth-place team. The second-year manager understands that he does not have a contending team.
- Just asking, but I wonder if the job of managing the Cubs will remain attractive to Ross if Hoyer goes into full rebuild mode?
- Chicago’s marketable players say they have been able to shut out all the noise as trade talk surrounding the team continues to swirl.
- Kimbrel should net the Cubs at least one blue-chip minor league player if he is traded.
- Patrick Wisdom hit his 14th home run of the year last night and has a .962 OPS in 47 games this season. If he finishes hot and in the everyday lineup down the stretch, he could join the Rookie of the Year conversation. His 157 OPS+ seems almost confounding when you consider he has 54 strikeouts in 138 plate appearances.
- The phrase “waving the white flag” doesn’t sit well with me and seems a little out of place in the context of a recent article by Bob Nightengale of USA Today. There was no mystery to the fact that Hoyer would divert to sell mode if the Cubs fell out of the race. There are better ways of making a point.
- Zach Davies may look like a great buy-low candidate for some teams, but his numbers suggest he may be difficult to move no matter how cheaply.
Odds & Sods
The Kris Bryant trade chatter never gets old, or does it?
Here's the Latest on Persistent Rumors of Mets' Interest in Kris Bryant – Cubs Insider https://t.co/XvO9qaTtrg
— Cubs Insider (@realcubsinsider) July 20, 2021
Climbing the Ladder
“God damn, the reaper man, he just walked through the door.” – Widespread Panic, One Arm Steve
- Games Played: 94
- Total Plate Appearances: 3,439
- Total Strikeouts: 906
- Strikeout Rate: 26.3%
- Team Batting Average: .227
The Cubs are 19-10 this season against the Mets, Dodgers, Padres, and Cardinals. They are 25-36 against everybody else, including a 3-9 record vs. the Brewers.
How About That!
The Orioles will make history tonight by broadcasting their game against the Rays with an all-female broadcasting team. Melanie Newman will handle the play-by-play duties with Sarah Langs providing analysis. Alanna Rizzo will cover on-field reporting and special interests, and the pre- and post-game hosts will be Heidi Watney and Lauren Gardner.
Fourteen hitters across six different teams made history on Monday and smacked seven separate sets of back-to-back home runs, an MLB record according to Stats by STATS.
A’s fans fear that losing the team to another city may make the bayside city the laughingstock of professional sports.
Monday’s Three Stars
- Jon Lester – The veteran lefty earned his 196th career win in the Nationals’ 18-1 laugher against the Marlins. Lester didn’t allow a run in seven innings, notched seven strikeouts, and had a 2-for-3 night at the plate that included a two-run homer, the fourth of his career.
- Juan Soto – The Nationals’ right fielder was 3-for-5 with two jacks of his own, three runs scored, and five RBI.
- Kiké Hernández – The Red Sox infielder had the exact same stat line as Soto in Boston’s 13-4 win over the Blue Jays.
Lester’s bomb was a thing of beauty!
— MLB (@MLB) July 20, 2021
They Said It
- “I don’t know historically what all the numbers might say and the percentages. I have a hard time buying into that win-probability and stuff like that during a game. I’ve just seen that change too much too fast.” – David Ross
- “With all that, I’ve said my piece on how I feel [about a possible extension] and how I love the city. We’ve gone back and forth, but I just think that focusing on today right now is best for me, and I have no idea what’s going to happen [before the trade deadline. I have no idea what’s going to happen tomorrow.” – Javier Báez
Tuesday Walk-Up Song
Whipping Post by The Allman Brothers Band – There’s no doubt the next 10 days will be tough on Ross and his players, and decisions will not likely come easy for Hoyer, either.