“I watch the ripples change their size.. But never leave the stream of warm impermanence…” – David Bowie, Changes
The traditional second half will kick off today now that MLB has concluded its All-Star festivities. For the game’s fans, that means we are about to enter the Summer Stove at warp speed, and it’s fair to presume the offices at Clark & Addison will generate a big portion of that activity. The Cubs have several trade candidates, including Willson Contreras and Ian Happ. As many as a half-dozen Cubs could be moved, but if Jed Hoyer trades for more prospects, where the heck is he going to put them all?
I’m not saying you can have too many good prospects, but there are a finite number of openings available with four affiliates and a 180-player cap. As good as Chicago’s farm system is, few players are ready to matriculate to the bigs. Everyone is excited about the potential of Matt Mervis and Jake Slaughter, but will three more weeks in the minors be enough to ready them for major league pitching?
I’d expect Mervis, Slaughter, Jackson Frazier, Narciso Crook, and Caleb Kilian to be Cubs soon, and don’t forget the perpetually-rehabbing Nick Madrigal should be getting close to returning from Iowa. Darius Hill might get the call if Hoyer trades Rafael Ortega, and someone will have to replace David Robertson in the bullpen. Who’s the next closer? I vote for current Cub Scott Effross.
New additions dictate that the organization will also outright release some players. If I were Sean Newcomb, Mark Leiter Jr., Stephen Gonsalves, Donnie Dewees, or Esteban Quiroz, I’d be wary of anybody holding a pink Post-It. The Cubs just added 20 new draftees to the system, and the potential acquisition of 8-12 prospects at this year’s deadline will mean changes at each of the team’s affiliates. At some point, Hoyer will reach a level of saturation that will force him to finally address his major league roster, whether that be this winter or the next.
Just like last year, we’ll have to get used to new names and faces as the Cubs start to look more and more like an expansion team. Hoyer may find a diamond in the rough like Frank Schwindel, and there will be some journeymen who will add Wrigley Field as a place of employment to their résumés. A lot of fans will tune out, but for the local sports junkies, the only teams not in the early stages of a rebuild are the Bulls and Sky. I don’t expect many Cubs fans will give a rat’s ass about the successes or failures of the White Sox.
For the second straight season, fans of Chicago’s North Side baseballers will abandon the season with just less than two months of summer remaining. Please excuse my heavy sigh and lack of energy for this year’s early dismissal.
Cubs News & Notes
- The Cubs have reportedly shown interest in Mets first baseman Dominic Smith.
- The front office will spend the second half of the season focusing on the development of their prospects.
- The Juan Soto rumors continue to cling to the periphery, but acquiring the superstar right fielder doesn’t make a lot of sense for the Cubs considering the current state of the organization.
- Mervis is getting a lot of well-deserved hype these days.
- VP of scouting Dan Kantrovitz indicated the Cubs may sign even more pitchers from among the ranks of those who were not drafted. You’ve got to believe that will be the organization’s approach at the trade deadline, too.
- I don’t know if the Cubs and Dodgers are involved in any trade talks, but third base prospect Michael Vargas continues to be at the top of my wish list. Los Angeles could be among the suitors for Soto and Reds starter Luis Castillo, however, and it’s doubtful their backup plans include Contreras and Drew Smyly or Wade Miley. Happ might be a nice option though.
- Happ could be an ideal fit for the Yankees.
- Mike Axisa of CBS Sports is predicting the Cubs will trade Contreras to the Rays.
- Jon Lester really enjoyed his Cubs teammates and his six seasons with the organization.
- The Cubs are not completely married to making two-way player Nazier Mulé strictly a pitcher. Mulé is also an athletic shortstop and some of the team’s scouts are really excited about his offensive potential.
- The fourth-round pick wouldn’t say if he was going to sign but did indicate he is leaning strongly toward whatever his decision might be. “I’m still determining [the decision] with my family,” Mulé said Tuesday when contacted by phone. “I have a little bit of time before I have to report.”
- 2022 first-round selection Cade Horton was listed as one of 10 draft picks who will be quick to the bigs.
- You’ll probably disagree — and rightfully so — but Through the Fence Baseball gave Kantrovitz a D- for this year’s draft. I gave the Cubs a solid B for their efforts based on the selection of Mulé and the ability to grab Jackson Ferris.
- Due to his abnormal delivery and repertoire, Ferris garnered a Tim Lincecum comp from Joe Doyle of Prospects Live earlier this year.
- A way-too-early 2023 mock draft has the Cubs picking OF Enrique Bradfield of Vanderbilt with the No. 7 overall pick. Let’s hope that’s not the case. If the Cubs are picking outside the lottery, the (it’s not a) rebuild will continue for at least one more season.
Odds & Sods
No offense to Tom Ricketts, but tickets should be cheaper and the beer and dogs should be reduced to half-price so they are commensurate with the current state of the big league roster. By the way, why would anyone park at Wrigley Field?
— Mark J. Burns (@markjburns88) July 20, 2022
How About That!
The buzz that the Nationals will trade Soto grows louder each day, even if it is still more hyperbole than fact. That said, MLB.com lists seven teams with the greatest potential to land the superstar along with the packages of players it will take to secure his services.
This year’s All-Star Game was the least-watched ever.
Actor Jon Hamm tried to make the phrase “Hamm Slam” a thing during Tuesday night’s game. Giggle. Snort. Yikes. Ick.
Rob Manfred argued the other day that minor league players are indeed “paid a living wage” and he’s catching a shit ton of shrapnel for it.
That Ron Santo was exactly the same as a player as he was in the broadcast booth just made my morning. How cool would a Santo-Yogi Berra conversation have been? Glenn Beckert wins the award for perfect comedic foil.
This Day In 1969: The @Cubs Ron Santo hits a home run in Philly, tells teammate Glenn Beckert in dugout: “'I've never had a standing ovation on a road trip.’"
Beckert’s reply? “‘You still haven't, Ron. Take a look at the scoreboard. A man just walked on the moon.'” pic.twitter.com/yZnIMiJSbr
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) July 20, 2022
Thursday Morning Six-Pack
- Ryan Poles inherited a hot mess when he took over the Bears in late January. He’s made some mistakes, including the botched addition of DT Larry Ogunjobi, but he’s done some positive things, too.
- Quidditch has rebranded itself as Quadball in an effort to escape the ginormous shadow cast by the Harry Potter franchise.
- Billboard released its 50 Greatest Breakup Songs of All-Time and Taylor Swift took top honors for a 10-minute version of “All Too Well.” I’m shocked “Silent Lucidity” by Queensrÿche did not make the cut. I hope I never have to spend weeks listening to that song again.
- More bad news for cryptocurrency fans: Tesla disclosed it converted about 75% of its bitcoin holdings into fiat currency during yesterday’s earnings report.
- For you cold case fans, a discarded coffee cup could be the key to solving a homicide case that dates back to December 5, 1975.
They Said It
- “We all know what’s going on around here. I’m just trying to let things happen and not worry about the outcome.” – Contreras
- “Everybody in here is professional. That’s part of the gig. We have guys that come to work really hard every day. We have young guys who are learning. We have guys in different spots of their careers all over the place. Losing is not fun. It is never something that is enjoyable at the end of the day when you go out and lose. But there [are] a lot of little things that guys are working on and they’re getting better every day. It’s part of the process. Guys have to continue to stay focused and locked in.” – Happ
- “The hard part’s the fun part, isn’t it? All the challenges in my life, whether on field or off the field, have made some great experiences and some of the rewarding times in my life that much better. I think we all know we’re not where we want to be, but the difficult challenges we go through make us better every single day, myself included. The players, being in the environments we’re getting put in right now, we’re going to be able to handle those moments better in the long run.” – David Ross
Thursday Walk-Up Song
The Cubs will open the second half of their season with a weekend set against the Phillies.