I’m not feeling well this morning, so I apologize for what is a bit of a truncated Rundown today.
The Cubs have what mainstream and social media writers are calling the Core Four, players who would normally be deemed as untouchables. As we’ve heard from the brass, however, all could be available this winter as the front office looks to improve its roster. But I often wonder why Kyle Schwarber is always excepted from the group of Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Javier Báez, and Willson Contreras.
Schwarber is certainly deserving of being anchored to those four, and had a better second half than all of them. Part of Schwarber’s resurgence in 2019 was a balanced approach at the plate and going opposite field at times, negating regular defensive shifts used by the opposition to keep the slugging left fielder off base.
Anyway, when it’s late fall cold and summer seems a million miles away, and the biggest baseball news coming out of Chicago is that the White Sox signed free-agent catcher Yasmani Grandal, there’s nothing like hearing the mid-summer roar of a Wrigley Field crowd. I’d forgotten how well Schwarber bunts.
On another note, I talked yesterday about the preponderance of winter speculation from New York writers. As if on cue, Joel Sherman dropped another bomb yesterday (see below for details) during a segment for MLB Network. In the spirit of that exercise, let’s say you were Theo Epstein: What five moves would you make this winter to get the Cubs back to the World Series?
Remember that you are working with an extremely tight budget, so signing the top free agents is not only impossible, it’s lazy. I’ll look forward to your contributions in the comments section and I’ll include mine later today, too.
Cubs News & Notes
- Sherman’s ridiculous trade suggestion on Hot Stove had the Cubs sending Bryant and Jason Heyward to the Phillies for Jean Segura, Jay Bruce, and three good, but not top, prospects. Sherman was playing the role of the Philadelphia front office in a segment called GM for a Day. He also suggested that the Phillies sign free agent pitcher Cole Hamels, which is not outside the realm of possibility.
- The Cubs got a boost in potential trade value for Contreras when the White Sox signed Grandal.
- As mentioned yesterday, the Padres, Rays, and Reds all line up decently in a potential trade for the Cubs’ starting catcher. Keep an eye on the Rays, who have baseball’s second best farm system and are pitching-rich throughout the organization. Watching Brent Honeywell Jr. learning from Tommy Hottovy and Yu Darvish would be something truly wonderful.
- The path for getting the Angels back to the playoffs includes acquiring Contreras.
- The Cubs have struggled with contact rate over the last four seasons, including 2016 when they ranked 24th in baseball, and are looking to improve that metric in constructing their 2020 roster.
- Keep an eye on free-agent second baseman Eric Sogard, a potential leadoff hitter who had an .810 OPS and 89.3 percent contact rate in ’19. The Cubs were said to be interested in Sogard at last season’s trade deadline.
- The Cubs will have a few roster decisions to consider going into 2020, and whether or not to start the season with Nico Hoerner at second base will likely be a big factor in any offseason moves the team makes during the next three months.
- Pat Hughes is excited about his nomination for this year’s Ford C. Frick award and shared his enthusiasm with Phil Rosenthal of the Chicago Tribune. The winner will be announced December 11 during the Winter Meetings.
- The Cubs will meet the Brewers at Miller Park in ESPN’s first Sunday Night Baseball telecast of the season on March 29.
- Two players protected from the Rule 5 Draft by the Cubs are Iowa shortstop Zack Short and pitcher Tyson Miller. The affiliate website has the intel behind the organization’s reasoning.
Don’t sleep on Hoerner.
4. 2020 ???? prediction #4: Nico Hoerner produces at a 20 HR / 20 SB pace after he's called up.
In his cup of coffee last year he had an expected batting average of .322! He was also clocked at 28.7 feet per second, which ties him with Christian Yelich and Tim Anderson. pic.twitter.com/zIcSnoZcXS
— Common Sense Fantasy Baseball (@commonsensefbb) November 13, 2019
MLB Insider Peter Gammons suggested that the A’s may explore trading top three MVP-candidate Marcus Semien. The infielder slashed .285/.369/.522 (138 OPS+) with 33 homers, 92 RBI and 123 runs scored in 2019.
Cutting 42 minor league affiliates might just be the tip of the iceberg for Commissioner Rob Manfred, who may be intent on strip-mining as many as 25% of all minor league franchises due to what appears to be, in his mind, simple overburden.
The fate of Addison Russell and others will be announced in about two weeks.
The next big deadline the Cubs have to make some big decisions is the non-tender deadline in 2 weeks.
I see the decisions the Cubs need to make centering around 5 players: Addison Russell, Albert Almora, Danny Hultzen, Tony Kemp and Duane Underwood.
— Cubs Prospects – Bryan Smith (@cubprospects) November 21, 2019
They Said It
- “You try not to think about [the Ford C. Frick Award], but it’s like trying to keep the sun from coming up in the morning. It’s just impossible.” – Pat Hughes
Friday Walk Up Song
Never Miss the Water (‘Til It’s Gone) by Chaka Khan featuring Me’Shell Ndegeocello. One of my favorite R&B songs, and that unmistakable Chaka scream at the start of the song really sets its tone. Underrated voice and performer.