The Rundown: So Long J-Hey, Reyes a Puzzling Acquisition, Schwindel Optioned, Orioles Making Noise in AL Wild Card Race
“And I thank the Lord there’s people out there like you.” – Elton John, Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters
There are some Cubs fans who love every move Jed Hoyer makes and others who question all of them. I tend to fall into a group that reacts to every transaction strictly with respect to the future of this ballclub. To put it in a nutshell, it’s sad to see Jason Heyward go even though it has been way past due, but signing slugging outfielder Franmil Reyes is a bit of a head-scratcher even as a temporary replacement for Heyward.
For years, I’ve called Heyward the “$184 million pep talk.” Thanks to a famous 2016 World Series meeting during a rain delay, the right fielder cemented his place in team history. At the time, he was in a 5-for-50 postseason slump with one RBI. Despite his offensive troubles, Heyward was able to gather the young Cubs who had just blown a 6-3 lead. A 17-minute break gave the veteran outfielder a chance to lead an impromptu team assembly, where he reportedly told his teammates “We’re the best team in baseball … for a reason… Stick together and we’re going to win this game.”
The rest is history, thanks to an RBI double by Ben Zobrist and a clutch, much-needed RBI single by Miguel Montero. All of that aside, it’s sad to see J-Hey go just because he’s such a great guy.
I’m not sure why Hoyer decided to sign Reyes. Given Chicago’s need for 40-man roster spots, the move seems counter-productive. The 27-year-old hit 30 home runs a season ago but struggled with the Guardians this year, slashing .213/.254/.350 with nine home runs in 70 games. Reyes was batting .162 with a disastrous 55.1% whiff rate on breaking balls when Cleveland released him. While the power is exciting, Reyes makes Patrick Wisdom look like Ted Williams at the plate.
Perhaps Hoyer and GM Carter Hawkins see something fixable with the outfielder’s approach at the plate. Reyes had one of the quickest downfalls we’ve ever seen in a major league hitter. Prior to this year, he hit .256/.322/.504 while splitting time with the Padres and Guardians, sporting a 119 OPS+ while hitting 30+ home runs in 2019 and ’21. Hawkins was likely instrumental in bringing Reyes to Cleveland, so he might see something in the right-handed slugger. The Cubs could certainly use a power hitter.
“We’re lacking in the power department right now,” Cubs president Jed Hoyer said. “For the whole year, we’ve done a decent job of getting on base, but we’ve done a really poor job of converting that into runs. Some of that is the ball on the ground and some of that is the lack of power.”
The Cubs are ranked seventh in the National League in OBP, but they’re No. 19 of all 32 MLB teams in power. That said, Reyes’s 37.1% strikeout rate is four points higher than Wisdom’s and he is just another role player on a team that has far too many of those types already. Perhaps he will show the front office something that makes it worth keeping him around next season. Reyes is a great clubhouse leader according to many reports, so he can pick up there where Heyward is leaving off. But a long-term solution? I don’t see it.
Cubs News & Notes
- Heyward could possibly return to the organization in some capacity once his playing days have ended. That would be a wonderful gesture by an organization that struggles to provide warm PR. The right fielder is a respected voice and leader in the clubhouse who’s heavily involved in the Chicagoland community.
- In another long overdue move, the Cubs have optioned first baseman Frank Schwindel to Iowa. The 30-year-old is batting .229 with a .277 OBP and just a 75 wRC+ and -0.7 fWAR.
- Hoyer said it’s time for the club to start focusing on its younger players. I would expect more fringe veteran players to be headed out of town between now and the Winter Meetings.
- Shortstop Andrelton Simmons was designated for assignment over the weekend.
- Baseball insider Ken Rosenthal believes the Cubs will sign one of Xander Bogaerts, Trea Turner, Dansby Swanson, or Carlos Correa this winter. We’ll see if any of those players are interested in being part of (it’s not a) rebuild. By the way, I listed them in order of my preference.
- There is no guarantee that pitchers Kyle Hendricks and Adbert Alzolay will return to action before the end of the season.
- Chicago’s farm system is ranked No. 18 overall by Kiley McDaniel of ESPN based on projected dollar value.
- Throwing fewer strikes might be the secret sauce to the further development of the Cubs’ young group of pitching studs.
- Alexander Canario and Luke Little were named Chicago’s Minor League Players of the Month for July.
- Thursday’s game between the South Bend Cubs and the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers will be available for free on MLB.tv. The game will feature two Top 100 prospects: Pete Crow-Armstrong and Jackson Chourio.
Odds & Sods
Happy birthday, you’re fired!
Jed Hoyer is one cold dude… Cutting Jason Heyward on his birthday pic.twitter.com/HKq6fEmbng
— Cubs Memes (@Cubbymemes) August 8, 2022
Heyward wasn’t as bad as most Cubs fans made him out to be. He was at a sub-replacement level in just two seasons, 2016 and 2022, and his best seasons in 2019 and 2020 saw his overall numbers suffer due to things beyond his control.
Climbing the Ladder
“I’ve got a song, I ain’t got no melody.” – Billy Preston, Will it Go Round in Circles
Nelson Velázquez had three hits on Monday and has four home runs since the All-Star break. If Reyes cuts into his playing time the move to acquire him is absolute insanity. Christopher Morel also homered, marking the first time the Cubs hit more than one home run in a contest at Wrigley Field since June 30. The Cubs beat the Nationals 6-3 and have now won three of their last four games.
- Games Played: 108
- Total Plate Appearances: 4,085
- Total Strikeouts: 956
- Strikeout Rate: 23.4%
- Team Batting Average: .242
- Runs Scored: 445
- Runs Allowed: 522
How About That!
Derek Jeter will join Álex Rodríguez and Yankees announcer Michael Kay on ESPN’s “KayRod Cast” during this Sunday’s matchup between the Red Sox and Yankees at Fenway Park. There’s no way that’s a rating grab, right?
On Sunday, umpire Ed Hickox had one of the worst days you’ll ever see by one of the guys in blue. He missed 20 calls in the first six innings of a Cardinals-Yankees tilt according to Umpire Auditor.
We’ve just passed the trade deadline and the winter rumor mill is already cooking with the likes of Shohei Ohtani, Ian Happ, Salvador Perez, and Shane Bieber as players potentially available once the 2022 season officially ends.
Aaron Judge will be the prize of this year’s group of free agents.
The Phillies have gone 21-11 since Bryce Harper was injured to jump ahead of the Giants, Brewers, and Padres and move into a tie with the Cardinals for a Wild Card spot.
The Padres were swept by the Dodgers in their first post-deadline series. I have a small confession to make. I love watching A.J. Preller wheel and deal only to see him come up short time and again.
Monday’s Three Stars
- Zac Gallen – The Arizona starter tossed seven innings of shutout baseball, allowing just three singles with eight punchouts as the Diamondbacks dropped the Pirates 3-0.
- Jose Suarez – He had almost the exact same pitching line as the Angels beat the A’s 1-0.
- Ryan Mountcastle – The Orioles are now 57-52 and are unbelievably one game out of a Wild Card berth after last night’s 7-4 win over the Blue Jays. Mountcastle sparked the win with a 2-for-3 night that included a game-deciding home run. Baltimore is my team for the rest of the season, and good for Brandon Hyde.
Apropos of Nothing
I missed yesterday because I had a family member pass away unexpectedly. I will also be missing in action on Monday, August 15 because I’m taking a one-day cruise to Bimini to propose marriage. Sally is a White Sox fan and probably won’t read this, so I’m not spoiling the surprise.
David Bote is most remembered for his walk-off grand slam in 2019, but Heyward did it first that season.
Tuesday Morning Six-Pack
- The Bears lost N’Keal Harry and Byron Pringle to injuries over the weekend, and their lack of depth at wide receiver is now a major concern.
- Teven Jenkins finally returned to the field, and head coach Matt Eberflus is setting a grueling pace through the first two weeks of practices. We’ve got you covered at Bears Insider with this morning’s edition of Camp Notes.
- Olivia Newton-John passed away yesterday after a three-decades-long battle with breast cancer. A big, burly dude on a custom Harley was driving through my neighborhood all night blasting Twist of Fate, Hopelessly Devoted to You, and If You Love Me (Let Me Know). After 25 years in remission, Newton-John announced in 2017 that the disease had spread to her lower back.
- The US Treasury banned Americans from using the crypto-mixing service Tornado Cash, calling it a preferred tool for criminals looking to launder money. Now we know why we need an additional 87,000 IRS agents.
- Jake Paul, the YouTube star-turned-boxer, has raised $50 million alongside sports betting entrepreneur Joey Levy to launch a new company called BETR. The company hopes to launch as one of the first direct-to-consumer sports micro-betting app experiences in the U.S.
- Historic rainfalls in Seoul, South Korea have turned roads into rivers, leaving at least 8 dead.
They Said It
- “We’ve talked to Jason. It’s unlikely we see him play again this year, given the knee and the time it would take him to get back. Also, you look at our outfield depth right now and how we want to reallocate at-bats in other places.” – Hoyer
- “Personally, I’m just super lucky to call [Heyward] a close friend at this point. Just incredibly grateful that I lucked into a situation where I got to know him. And what he was for me was a lot more than just a veteran in the clubhouse.” – Nico Hoerner
Tuesday Walk-Up Song
For What it’s Worth by Buffalo Springfield. No embed today since I posted the Heyward video above.