The Rundown: Hot Stove Still Not Lit, Top Cubs Needs This Winter, World Series Heads Back to Houston
I was hoping we could fire up the hot stove this morning with temperatures dropping below freezing last night for the first time this fall, but the Astros wanted to make sure we’d have November baseball. That doesn’t mean the fans of 28 other teams are left completely out in the cold, and though I can’t speak for this or any other fanbase, I have a high degree of certainty we’re all ready to start planning for 2022.
Though most of us are waiting with bated breath to see if Zach Davies earns a Gold Glove, there are bigger fish to fry. We’re just a new CBA and a little over four months shy of reporting dates for pitchers and catchers. Don’t blink, life comes at you pretty fast and the Cubs have more than a few holes in their roster.
If we are honest with ourselves and willing to remove our blue blinders, we know the Cubs have several major issues heading into the winter. They have just one starting pitcher guaranteed to make the 2022 rotation, little to no power up the middle, and question marks at the corners and at all outfield positions. It’s true I’m a big believer in Frank Schwindel and I also think Patrick Wisdom is perfectly capable of cutting into that 40% K-rate, but it would be a fool’s errand not to at least provide competition for those gentlemen.
Then there is the matter of Willson Contreras and his walk year. I’d hate to see the Cubs lose him, but if they aren’t close to an agreement with Contreras by the Winter Meetings — if they are held this year at all — Jed Hoyer and Carter Hawkins need to thoroughly explore the backstop’s trade market. The Mariners look like they are itching to make some headline moves and could be ready to strike quickly, plus they are loaded with lots of young talent and could swing some big trades.
Then there is the matter of finding value in free agency, where any lengthy delay in a new agreement between the owners and players could theoretically help Hoyer. If the two sides are at a standstill until February, some 200 players will have an extremely small window within which to negotiate deals. Other than a few exceptions, we know the pitch to many free agents in terms of dollars and years will be pretty close for all interested bidders. That would make the perks of playing day baseball at Wrigley Field in front of sold-out crowds all summer a tremendous value add. They’ll just have to believe that Hoyer truly intends to field a competitive team as quickly as possible.
Because hot stove season is still just beyond our reach, I don’t think we’ve all thought about the massive undertaking this winter will bring for the team’s restructured front office. Yes, the sub-Cubs were a lot of fun to watch at times, but those players should be depth options and not cornerstones the organization relies on to bring home a division title or pennant. Hoyer and Hawkins know this and it’s going to be interesting to see how they pull together next season’s roster
Cubs News & Notes
- Other than starting pitching, Hoyer’s biggest needs this winter are a backup catcher, a shortstop, and at least one outfielder.
- In the spirit of 1908, a group of fans dress up as turn-of-the-century zombies to root for the Cubs and give back to Chicago.
- Announcer Pat Hughes has been inducted into the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame.
- “The Run,” a 10-part podcast presented by Audacy and Major League Baseball, walks fans on a trip down memory lane through broadcast clips, interviews, and conversations about Chicago’s run to a World Series victory in 2016.
Odds & Sods
Go hard or go home.
Putting on for the entire city of Houston tonight pic.twitter.com/vPSkWT2YDX
— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) November 1, 2021
From the Front Office
‘‘If you sort of look at the whole season, there’s no question that we have to acquire more pitching — better pitching — this winter. I think that’ll be the No. 1 priority because that was the downfall of this season. Our rotation was short, and we weren’t effective enough in terms of run prevention.’’ – Hoyer
World Series News & Notes
The Astros iced the Braves last night, coming back from an early 4-0 deficit to take Game 5 of the series and keep the Braves from clinching on their home field.
Even leading Vietnamese sportsbook Bongdalu is following the Fall Classic’s developments.
Zack Greinke might go down in history as the last pitcher to get a hit if the National League, as expected, adopts the designated hitter next season.
Baseball’s starting pitching problem has been on full display in this World Series.
Braves manager Brian Snitker pulled starter Ian Anderson the other night with a no-hitter intact, and though controversial, it was probably the right thing to do.
- Martin Maldonado – The veteran catcher had three big RBI and was really the difference in last night’s win.
- Carlos Correa – A big 3-for-5 night with two RBI upped the struggling shortstop’s World Series batting average to .263. Correa also had two RBI.
- Adam Duvall – When the outfielder blasted his 1st inning grand slam, it looked like a Braves’ championship was inevitable.
The players and owners may or may not be close to an agreement, but both sides are not equally greedy.
The Dodgers are planning to decline their option on relief pitcher Joe Kelly.
The Mariners have declined their option on third baseman Kyle Seager.
Miguel Cabrera is recruiting Justin Verlander with hopes the three-time Cy Young Award winner will return to Detroit.
The Giants would love to have Brandon Belt and Buster Posey back in the fold next season. The Giants hold an option on Posey, but Belt is a free agent and would probably have to accept a qualifying offer to stay with San Francisco.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman may have as busy of an offseason as Hoyer and may have a mutual interest in re-signing Anthony Rizzo, who has indicated he’d like to return.
Rizzo’s return will be dependent on cost and years. The first baseman reportedly turned down five years at $70 million from the Cubs with the belief that a nine-figure deal was possible. Rizzo may struggle to get $70 million on the open market.
The Yankees could be looking for a catcher, but they’ll have to trade Gary Sánchez and the market for him might be lukewarm at best.
Steve Cohen can’t find an executive to run his team and the Mets have become baseball’s laughingstock.
Mets president Sandy Alderson has requested to interview Red Sox executive vice president and assistant general manager Raquel Ferreira for the club’s vacant GM job.
Godspeed Jerry Remy. I always enjoyed his Red Sox broadcasts.
Jerry Remy was a treasure for generations of Red Sox fans | Matt Vautour https://t.co/3Pq1oPi0yb
— Matt Vautour (@MattVautour424) October 31, 2021
They Said It
“I think [Contreras] is an elite offensive player. But it’s hard to be an elite offensive player when your legs are gone. That’s something that we have to really focus on this offseason, is building a roster and setting it up to make sure that we can keep Willson as an elite offensive player.” – Hoyer
Monday Walk-Up Song
Houston by Dean Martin – Finally a little drama in the 2021 World Series, which now moves to Houston for Games 6 and 7 with the Astros down three games to two, but certainly not out.