The Rundown: Steele Dominant, Brewers Avoid Sweep, Hoerner Gives Hoyer Offseason Options, Maddon Torches Angels FO
“In Heaven, there is no beer. That’s why we drink it here. And when we’re gone from here…Our friends will be drinking all the beer.” – Frank Yankovic, In Heaven There is No Beer
I was disappointed the Cubs didn’t complete the sweep against the Brewers. Milwaukee is battling for the NL Central crown and some of my friends up here north of the Cheddar Curtain get a bit obnoxious at times. Losing two of three was almost unbearable for my fellow Milwaukeeans. The best quote I heard this weekend referred to Christian Yelich.
“At least you guys got something for Javier Báez. Yelich has gone as limp as Ryan Braun after the league stole his syringe.”
You gotta love that quote. I do. Brewers fans tend to be a little salty when they can’t be entitled. Of course, Yelich cost the Brewers a victory on Saturday.
It wasn’t that long ago that Báez and Yelich were battling for league MVP. Back in 2018, it dawned on few of us — if any — that the Cubs would be where they are today. It seemed likely that Anthony Rizzo would retire as a Cub and that the front office would find a way to extend El Mago. Heck, we remained slightly positive on a Kris Bryant return, as unrealistic as that may have been.
“Location, location, location” is a saying among realtors that emphasizes desirable housing. We could apply that same principle to baseball to show why the Cubs have bottomed out. In a word, it’s pitching. It seems Jed Hoyer and his entourage got the memo, and it’s a good thing because top pitching prospect Jordan Wicks may have injured himself in Saturday’s start. Thanks to an insane draft that saw Chicago pick almost nothing but pitchers, depth is no longer a problem. That said, it will sting quite a bit if Wicks is seriously hurt.
As a precaution, Jordan Wicks exited Saturday’s start for Double-A Tennessee after one inning. The Cubs do not yet have a further update on the lefty pitcher who was their 2021 first-round pick. Wicks has made 22 starts (4.11 ERA) with Tennessee and High-A South Bend this season.
— Patrick Mooney (@PJ_Mooney) August 21, 2022
I promise you I’m not purposely meandering this morning, but Wicks’ injury shows how important the emergence of Nico Hoerner has been. We know that this year’s free agent crop of shortstops could include Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts, Trea Turner, and Dansby Swanson. Any of those four would look great as permanent Wrigley Field fixtures. Hoener is as elite as each of those four if we are talking about talent, though his particular skill set is admittedly not as enticing to the casual fan.
It might behoove Hoyer to ignore the marquee shortstops, keep Hoerner at the six, and find reliable starting pitching this winter. Carlos Rodón is the prize and the Cubs will at least kick the tires even if he’s got a qualifying offer, especially if they lose Willson Contreras and gain a compensatory draft pick. Jameson Taillon has had a resurgent season and he’ll be available. Perhaps Sean Manaea or Mike Clevinger piques your interest.
At one point, it was almost a given that Báez would be Chicago’s shortstop and face of the franchise when the team was ready to be competitive again. It’s going to be Hoerner instead. He’s not as flashy and he doesn’t possess the light tower power. But Hoerner has been worth 3.6 fWAR with a 111 wRC+ of 111, both of which dwarf Baez (1.1, 79). Let’s hope Hoyer realizes that pitching wins championships.
Cubs News & Notes
- Despite yesterday’s loss, the Cubs have won eight of their last 12 games and Franmil Reyes is a big reason why.
- Hoerner has been clutch in at least one game of almost every series this season.
- The 25-year-old shortstop put on a fielding clinic Saturday.
- Justin Steele has been the best starting pitcher in the National League lately.
- The Cubs have promoted outfielder Alexander Canario to Triple-A Iowa. Canario blasted his 30th and 31st home runs of the season over the weekend.
- Hayden Wesneski is very close to being a major leaguer. “Tweaks around the margins” may be all that is left to accomplish before he gets the call. A few other pitching prospects are knocking on the door, too.
- The minor league schedules are winding down, but our own Greg Huss has 10 storylines for Cubs fans to track over the next month.
- Retired Blackhawks announcer Pat Foley will call the nightcap of Tuesday’s split doubleheader against the Cardinals.
- Keegan Thompson was sent to the IL on Saturday, though it may be more about managing his workload than the back injury he was designated with.
- Mark Leiter Jr. has been thriving as a late-inning reliever.
Odds & Sods
Yadier Molina is probably not a fan of the Bleacher Bum Band (NSFW).
Here’s the @BleacherBumBand featuring @SonRanto on the mic and @BleacherJeff shredding the guitar, playing Fuck the Cardinals! at the @Club400cubscave! pic.twitter.com/03sFBhlfwo
— Mullet Man Josh (@jdkisntfunny) August 22, 2022
Climbing the Ladder
“And though they did hurt me so badly in the fear and alarm. You did not desert me, my brothers in arms.” – Dire Straits, Brothers in Arms
Ian Happ hit his 13th home run of the year in yesterday’s loss and now has 100 career taters, 85 coming from the left side of the plate. The switch-hitter received a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue for his historic hit. Steele pitched like an ace, allowing just two hits in six innings with nine punchouts. Believe it or not, he’s having a better year than Brandon Woodruff.
- Games Played: 120
- Total Plate Appearances: 4,551
- Total Strikeouts: 1,069
- Strikeout Rate: 23.49%
- Team Batting Average: .243
- Runs Scored: 503
- Runs Allowed: 573
How About That!
The Orioles beat the Red Sox 5-3 in last night’s Little league Classic. Baltimore is just 2.5 games behind the Mariners for the final AL Wild Card berth.
The Phillies will battle the Nationals in next year’s game in Williamsport, PA.
Joe Maddon pulled no punches as he torched the Angels’ front office over the weekend. “It’s like, once [I was fired], I dissolved my affiliation with them. There’s no emotion anymore. There’s no anything. It’s like to me they don’t even exist, organizationally.”
The Rays made baseball history with yesterday’s starting lineup.
Nate Fisher was a commercial lending analyst at this time last year. Yesterday the reliever made his major league debut with the Mets.
Aaron Judge remains on pace to break the American League home run record currently held by Roger Maris, who hit 61 for the Yankees in 1961.
The Padres are giving Josh Hader a timeout. He has been temporarily demoted as San Diego’s closer.
Sunday’s Three Stars
- Steele – Shades of Jon Lester! Give Steele the top spot. The lefty earned it., and Lester was in attendance to witness his big game.
- Alec Bohm – In a losing effort, the Philadelphia third baseman belted two, two-run dingers, and finished the game with six RBI. The Phillies lost 10-9 to the Mets.
- Mark Canha – The Mets outfielder plated five runs in the same game thanks to two home runs on his 3-for-5 afternoon.
Happ now holds the club home run record for switch hitters.
Ian Happ – Chicago Cubs (13) pic.twitter.com/YIFfABoTJC
— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) August 21, 2022
Monday Morning Six-Pack
- Roquan Smith is practicing with the Bears and rumor has it Aaron Rodgers is a lock to make Green Bay’s 53-man roster. We’ve got those nuggets plus all of the breaking NFL news in our latest edition of First & Long over at Bears Insider.
- Now that the Bears have placed WR David Moore on IR, it looks like their receiver rotation is set. Of course, Darnell Mooney will be Chicago’s WR1 this season.
- It’s once again time to wrap bacon on other types of meat and then grill it because college football returns on Saturday. The biggest game of the week will be Northwestern vs. Nebraska, a Big Ten matchup that will be played in Dublin, Ireland. I guess I better renew my FUBO account.
- As it preps for a merger with Discovery+, HBO Max has chopped its catalog, removing about 200 episodes of Sesame Street. At least the Count has something new to, er, count.
- “Made in America” is back, y’all. American companies are on pace to return 350,000 overseas jobs back to the US this year, according to the Reshoring Initiative. In corporate-speak, they’re calling it deglobalization. The real culprit is that supply chain issues over the past 18 months have made it impossible to pay overseas employees, no matter how tiny the wages are.
- Have you ever wondered how much a young adult gets paid to do absolutely no work?
They Said It
- “This team, I think we have something special in here, to be honest. Every player that comes in, they’re willing to listen. They want to win. That’s why I want to play through my injury. It’s not like there’s nothing that I want to be part of. I want to be part of what’s going on here because in the second half we’ve been playing really good baseball.” – Contreras
- “The infrastructure needs to be improved. There are a lot of things that need to be improved there. These guys can’t do it alone, obviously. It’s the non-sexy stuff that has to get better. It’s not just bright, shiny objects — they have that. They need to do the infrastructure better in order to get to where we had been in the past. That was my goal, to get the Angels back to where we had been in the past. That was it. Nothing but pure intentions. I was an Angel. They had every ounce of me, and now that’s done.” – Maddon
Monday Walk-Up Song
“Two men say they’re Jesus. One of them must be wrong.”