Honestly, it’s as if I want to take a break from writing about the Cubs but I can’t avoid everything else that is being said and written. If anything, for me at least, it was fine to watch them take a killshot from the Rockies rather than watching them slowly bleed to death through the playoffs.
We watched a beaten team that had nothing left in the tank once the calendar rolled into October. The only positive from Tuesday’s season-ending loss is that the players get an extra month off to unwind and re-energize ahead of 2019.
Cubs News & Notes
It may make perfect sense for Joe Maddon to exercise some due diligence in the next month or two. If he can get a five-year $30 million offer from another team — the Angels, for example — he could ask the Cubs to match it or release him from the final year of his deal. I don’t think the team would stand in his way if he wanted to manage elsewhere. I am not sure if Theo Epstein’s desire to show a greater sense of urgency next season fits well with Maddon’s laid-back approach anyway.
Maddon often refers to taking the rubber game of a series as Meat Loaf, as in two out of three ain’t bad. It’s not a bad thing if you lose the first or second game of the series but if you are going for a sweep, I think Epstein would prefer something tastier now and then.
In a syndicated article that hit the wires yesterday, Melisa Reidy refers to putting up with “years of abuse” during her marriage to Addison Russell. It’s mostly everything you’ve read previously, except this: “I was bawling in the stands,” she said, referring to Russell’s grand slam in Game 6 of the 2016 World Series. “Like, ‘Oh my God, thank God, finally. I don’t have to expect him to be grumpy when we go back to the hotel.’”
With the team’s early exit from the playoffs, new businesses, including hotels and restaurants that recently opened, will be challenged by the loss of foot traffic and revenues that they may have depended on. Playoff baseball brings a lot of money to the Wrigleyville area. Not this year.
Matt Snyder of CBS Sports offers a succinct off-season to-do list for the Cubs front office:
- Get a new hitting coach
- Sign Bryce Harper
- Get their staff right, including exercising the $20M option on Cole Hamels.
I’d add two more:
Resurrect the offense of Willson Contreras and get Kris Bryant healthy.
Before this season, Contreras was touted by many as a possible MVP candidate. In fact, the turning point of this season may have been back in April when the Cubs catcher kind of threw Yu Darvish under the bus. Remember, a year earlier Miguel Montero was banished from the organization for doing something similar to Jake Arrieta.
There will be more moves, even if the front office can check those items off of their lists. The bullpen needs to be addressed and the Cubs may have to look to trade from some of their major league depth to add to their minor league inventory while reducing future arbitration obligations. In fact, one local writer believes Kyle Schwarber, Ian Hap and Jesse Chavez will likely be playing elsewhere next season.
That said, the Cubs won’t be trading from as strong a position as they may have been at this time last year, when the idea of trading depth was first brought up. Down years by key players have depressed some of their potential return value. They may be able to base their sales pitch to other teams on projection, but most of baseball is well-stocked there, so the Northsiders aren’t aren’t exactly cornering the market on young upside.
Around The Horn
Some big-time pitching performances at Miller Park this week have the Rockies on the brink of playoff elimination in their NLDS matchup with the Brewers.
The Red Sox jumped to an early 5-0 lead before edging the Yankees 5-4 in game one of their division playoff.
The Astros used the longball to take a 1-0 series lead against the Indians, beating Cleveland 7-2. Justin Verlander took a no-hitter into the 6th inning and allowed two hits and two runs in 5 1/3 innings for his 12th career playoff win.
George Springer’s home run cost one fan $300 worth of beer.
The Dodgers are one win away from going to the NLCS thanks to a career-best playoff performance by Clayton Kershaw. The ace allowed just two hits across eight innings in a 3-0 victory over the Braves to give the Dodgers a seemingly insurmountable two-games-to-none lead in the series.
Yasiel Puig one-upped Javier Baez when he kissed Braves infielder Charlie Culberson after being caught stealing. As you may remember, Baez hugged Nolan Arenado when he was caught trying to go from second to third on a fielder’s choice the other night.
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 6, 2018
How About That!
One of baseball’s busiest offseasons, with five managerial and two GM jobs up for hire, begs the question: Who would want any of these jobs?
The Orioles’ newfound international money will likely make them the front-runners for Cuban outfielder Victor Victor Mesa, who tried out for teams Friday at Marlins Park in Miami.
The qualifying offer for free agents is now set at $17.9 million for the 2019 season.
Cardinals AAA manager Stubby Clapp has been getting rave reviews and is starting to appear on the radar of teams looking for a big league manager.
Former NFL wide receiver and current CBS studio analyst Shannon Sharpe thinks Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray should “go and get that baseball money.”
One Cubs fan kept a promise he tweeted back in May and wrote a 1,000-word apology dedicated to all Brewers fans.
One Cubs fan had a lot of emails to send out after Game 163 https://t.co/I6XKcbpIIo
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) October 4, 2018
They Said It
- “History moves in long cycles with its talk of eras, ages and empires or its habit of counting in generations. But baseball erases the blackboard every year — clean slate. And each season is the exact equal in pleasure and pride of every other — none better, though some shine brighter. It’s even a rule of thumb to expect a ring only once every 30 years. If you ignore the rules, that’s just your own fault.” – Thomas Boswell
- “That’s not always the answer, to rush back out and spend more. That said, there are obviously a lot of attractive players out there. Some impact players out there. We’ll get together and figure out what’s possible, what’s not possible and all the best approaches to this offseason.” – Theo Epstein
- “Sometimes you need to get your dick knocked in the dirt to appreciate [success]. Maybe we needed that.” – Jon Lester
Saturday Walk Up Song
Whammer Jammer (Live) by the J. Geils Band, featuring “Magic Dick” on the harmonica. Jon Lester, if you are reading, this is for you, my brother. Loved your quote.