The Rundown: Epstein Still Seeks Cap Relief, Cubs Facing Tough World Series Odds, Cards Fans Confused About Rules Changes

I heard something really interesting — and perhaps telling — from the Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Magazine this morning on Bloomberg: “The players always hit the ball and the owners are constantly striking out.” That’s not something I’d expect to hear from that gentleman and it’s a big statement that carries a lot of weight considering the company’s general demographics.

In consideration of everything that is going on with COVID-19 right now, Forbes believes the owners are still going to somehow sabotage the season. We do know they are at least trying to capitalize on as many revenue streams as possible.

If you’ve navigated the hideous highways of Twitter over the last 24 hours, you’ll see that more and more of that website’s citizenry are calling for the cancellation of the 2020 season. That those cries continue to grow in size and stature has everything to do with what some people are calling a “second wave” of the coronavirus, though new spiking is a more apt description. Yesterday’s big news was that a golfer and two caddies on the PGA Tour have tested positive.

Baseball is already dealing with a mini-epidemic of its own, as a combination of 40 or more players and other baseball employees have tested positive just as the league and players have agreed to restart the season. Is baseball jumping the gun by moving forward with plans to reboot? Another question we should probably ask ourselves concerns the contagion itself. Is it possible that the mass-spreading infection will always be a part of our lives?

Those two questions reveal that long-term planning is not the consideration that money is, though that’s easily deflected by focusing on America’s alleged need to have baseball in our daily lives. I’m still not in favor of getting back to baseball right now, but I hope that the players and owners will have contingencies in place.

As for the Cubs and their front office tag team of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, perhaps it’s time to consider a fire sale. Though flags fly forever and I would not consider breaking up the current team under normal circumstances, there is no guarantee a full season will be played. The dynamic duo that runs the baseball side of the organization has to get under the salary cap and may need to make some tough decisions.

If they have to move money before the August 31 trade deadline, these are some of the players they should be looking to extend or move.

  1. Kris Bryant – The Cubs should make every effort to extend him or let him walk in free agency, netting whatever compensation is granted by the next CBA for losing a player of his caliber.
  2. José Quintana – Even if the season somehow lasts all 60 games, his Cubs shelf life is 12 starts. They won’t get much for Q, if anything, so the value in moving the lefty lies solely in salary relief. Find somebody to take him.
  3. Tyler Chatwood – Trade him, for the same reasons they need to move Quintana.
  4. Craig Kimbrel – I don’t know if anyone will want him, but given his injury history, a short season provides an optimal opportunity to trade the fireballing closer. He may be their best trade chip if Epstein can find a taker that needs a closer and can absorb his salary.
  5. Kyle Schwarber – Extend him, especially because it looks like the universal DH is here to stay, and limits the left fielder’s market, as many front offices likely see Schwarber as a hitter only.
  6. Javier Báez and Anthony Rizzo –  If any of the core is willing to take a hometown discount, these are the guys. Hopefully each will be with the organization for many years. The Cubs have enviable depth at shortstop in the organization, but second base isn’t set right now
  7. Willson Contreras – The bat is special, but the Cubs have insane catcher depth and Contreras may have a future as an outfielder.. It’s a tough call and the offer would have to be overwhelming to warrant trading the backstop. Given his favorable contract, the front office should be listening to all offers.
  8. Jon Lester – He’s the toughest of the list to move and he probably means more to Cubs fans than they realize, but he’s owed a lot of money. It will be tough to trade the aging lefty, if not impossible, but he could be unloaded if another team needs a starter and the Cubs are willing to eat some of that salary.

Realistically, the Cubs are just a move or two from finding cap relief and not everybody mentioned above needs to be moved. Not all of the core needs to be extended, either. Any return, at least in players or prospects, will be minimal and we see more salary-for-salary moves this year. Epstein needs to be as creative as possible and find opportunities to reduce salary commitment ahead of the extended deadline. Moving Quintana and Chatwood, and possibly Kimbrel, might be his most viable options.

Cubs News & Notes

Find Your Inner Hero

Pearl Jam made a little history last night while raising money for coronavirus relief in Washington. If you missed the concert, the band’s first live event in two years, make sure you watch Dance of the Clairvoyants, their first live performance of the song.

Apropos of Nothing

What are the odds that baseball completes its season, including the playoffs and World Series?

Odds & Sods

Rays starter Tyler Glasnow is stating the obvious but keeping it real, so there is at least some hope that baseball just might get through this season.

MLB News & Notes

Baseball’s sprint is going to be absolutely crazy this season.

Pitchers may exploit the “wet rag rule” to gain an advantage over hitters according to retired Yankees reliever Jeff Nelson.

The Astros are hoping the baseball community has forgotten they’re cheaters. We have not.

Sports Illustrated scribe Steve Rushin says we must say goodbye to the baseball handshake and high five.

John Smoltz is in favor of the runner-on-second rule. I’m in favor, too. Commence with the name-calling.

ESPN looks at the players most likely to thrive and struggle in a 60-game season.

Cardinals fans are confused about baseball’s new rules. Typical.

Sliding Into Home

My next MELD test, which had already been pushed back to December 10, has now been pushed back another week to December 17. I’m ready to throw in the towel, but I’m going to spin this positively and say they are simply not worried enough about my condition to consider testing me sooner.

Extra Innings

Be there or be square. You may never see James Taylor, Common, and Steven Tyler on the same bill again. Plus David Ross is performing? What? You won’t want to miss that.

They Said It

  • “Something needs to change. It gets to a point where you say enough is enough. The one thing that I was optimistic about is, for the first time, you’re seeing people across all 50 states and roughly 20 other countries — people of all different races and different nationalities — out there in agreement that now is the time and things do need to change, because it’s been going on for too long.”Derek Jeter

Thursday Walk Up Song

Can’t Get There From Here by R.E.M. – Unfortunately, it may be impossible for the Cubs to get under the salary cap this year. The impact will be significant if they do not.

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