The Rundown: Wisdom Gives Fans New Hope, Hoyer Plotting Offseason Moves, Rizzo Sets Yankees Record, Dodgers Fans Vent at ‘Stros
“I’ve got a heart hanging around my door, and I’ve got grace hanging in the mirror, and I’ve got you, a token of the wreckage.” – Megan Slankard, A Token of the Wreckage
The replacement Cubs showed signs of being big league-ready last night and even the staunchest of the team’s detractors — myself included — had to be impressed. To wit;
- Patrick Wisdom had a huge three-run double in the 5th inning, giving the Cubs a 3-2 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
- Left fielder Johneshwy Fargas had two hits and a neat outfield assist when he nailed Ryan McMahon, who was trying to tag and advance on a flyout by Rockies’ catcher Elías Díaz, with a perfect one-hopper to Wisdom.
- Manuel Rodríguez earned his first career save with little drama but a two-out single in the 9th inning.
Last night’s 3-2 win over the Rockies snapped a two-game losing streak and gives the b-squad Cubs an opportunity to win their first series since last week’s selloff. Wisdom is settling in nicely, appears to be the biggest offensive force in the lineup, and is providing the type of production that might help Cubs fans feel a little less anxiety over the loss of Kris Bryant. If nothing else, Wisdom gives us all someone to root for and puts a face on the rebuilding ballclub.
Patrick Wisdom is now slashing .280/.344/.589 with 16 HR and 32 RBI this season with the Cubs in 175 AB.
Over 500 ABs, that would put him on pace for 46 HR, 92 RBI and 209 K.
— Tony Andracki (@TonyAndracki23) August 5, 2021
The strikeout rate is alarming, and though clutch hits aren’t really quantifiable, Wisdom has provided some big moments all season long. He went 3-for-4 yesterday evening, part of a 12-for-30 (.400) stretch over his last nine games, and he’s also become a favorite of manager David Ross.
“[Wisdom] is somebody that I’ve come to trust and I like his approach,” Ross said two weeks ago. “Even when he’s getting out, it seems like a pretty competitive at-bat night in and night out. Wiz is on track to have a great season and he’s been a huge lift for us.”
First things first, the rookie needs a better nickname than “Wiz.”
Earlier this season, while Wisdom seemed to be hitting anything and everything that was thrown at him, he approached Ross to ask if the skipper saw anything alarming with his at-bats. Wisdom indicated the conversation centered on some of the things that may get into a player’s mind while getting everyday reps, something he hasn’t really experienced before this season. Wisdom said the chat was extremely helpful and the results are obvious. He looks comfortable at the plate, and other than a propensity to take a few too many called third strikes, the power-hitting third baseman generally provides good at-bats.
After a disheartening week that saw Hoyer break up the band, Wisdom offers new hope for Cubs fans as a potential leader and someone the masses can look forward to watching. He’s old for a rookie at 29, but the journeyman has certainly found a home with Chicago’s North Side baseballers. Even better, he’s a team-first guy, something that may further endear him to those just getting to know him as a player and major league personality.
“The hardest thing to do from a younger player’s perspective is staying true to the same things you’ve done your entire life,” Ross added. “He’s doing a really nice job of staying true to who he’s been since the day he got here.”
Cubs News & Notes
- A combination of talent and timing has sent Rodríguez, 24, rocketing from Double-A to Triple-A to the bigs in a matter of months.
- Alec Mills had a nice outing last night and continues to build his case to be a member of the team’s 2022 rotation. In nine starts since joining the rotation full-time on June 15, he holds a 3.55 ERA in 45.2 innings.
- The Cubs’ young bullpen passed its first big test of the season in yesterday’s win.
- Codi Heuer hasn’t allowed a run in three appearances since coming over from the White Sox in the Craig Kimbrel trade, though he has yet to register a strikeout. He, Rodríguez, and Kyle Ryan give Ross a new three-headed monster to replace the departed Ryan Tepera, Andrew Chafin, and Kimbrel.
- The Cubs may have a replacement for Anthony Rizzo at Triple-A in Alfonso Rivas.
- The Great Reset looks no less daunting than the rebuild engineered by Theo Epstein beginning in 2011-12.
- Hoyer continues to stand by his stance that the organization is not embarking on a long rebuild.
- The president of baseball operations is still plotting the direction he will take this winter but expects the team to compete for a division title.
- MLB released its tentative 2022 team schedules yesterday and the Cubs will start their season on March 31 against the Reds in Cincinnati. Chicago’s first home game is scheduled for April 4 against the Cardinals.
Odds & Sods
Do we ever tire of the battle royale between Nolan Ryan and Robin Ventura? No, no we do not.
OTD in 1993, Robin Ventura charged the mound.
46-year-old Nolan Ryan was ready. pic.twitter.com/eUdsPozJkv
— MLB Vault (@MLBVault) August 4, 2021
Climbing the Ladder
“Oh and I might fail, oh I might succeed. Whatever the outcome is just keep your faith in me, just believe in me.” – Trik Turner, Friends & Family
- Games Played: 109
- Total Plate Appearances: 4,000
- Total Strikeouts: 1,038
- Strikeout Rate: 25.9%
- Team Batting Average: .228
With virtually no competition in the system to challenge Wisdom, he’s Chicago’s third baseman of the future unless Jed Hoyer upgrades through free agency. Options this winter in the open market will include Bryant and Eduardo Escobar. Nolan Arenado has an opt-out, and José Ramírez has a club option, as does Kyle Seager.
How About That!
With a solo home run against the Orioles yesterday, Rizzo became the first Yankees player ever to register an RBI in each of his first six games with the team.
It’s almost mind-boggling that Rizzo ended up in New York after weeks of rumors had him headed to the Red Sox.
Max Scherzer struck out 10 Astros batters in his debut for the Dodgers and got his first-ever curtain call from the home crowd at Chavez Ravine.
Cole Hamels has signed with the Dodgers.
Shohei Ohtani has a 2.93 ERA this season, leads the majors with 37 home runs, and he has a chance to be named MVP and win the AL Cy Young Award. He’ll have some competition for AL MVP with Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who has a shot at the Triple Crown.
Resurgent years by Miguel Cabrera, Buster Posey, and Joey Votto are showing that the old guys can still play, too.
Angels’ third baseman Anthony Rendon is scheduled to have hip surgery and is expected to miss the remainder of the season.
Dodgers fans have a unique way of expressing their anger at the Astros for the 2018 cheating scandal.
Wednesday’s Three Stars
- Patrick Wisdom – I’ve apparently been a little hard on the “leftovers” recently, so I’m going to honor the Cubs’ three stars from yesterday’s game.
- Manuel Rodríguez – Ross said he would choose a permanent closer within the week and the competition looks to be between the rookie flamethrower and the veteran Ryan. Don’t forget, Rowan Wick is waiting in the wings, too, and he was always thought to be Kimbrel’s heir apparent. regardless, Chicago has the foundation of a better-than-decent bullpen.
- Johneshwy Fargas – Imagine if Fargas permanently supplants Ian Happ or Jason Heyward.
“I don’t care to see a new horizon or to watch an old horizon disappear…When it’s one wrong step got you into all this, and it’s one false move and you’re out.” – Marah, Bar Stool Boys
I hope I’m wrong about Nick Madrigal because I truly love the Cubs. I just don’t see him as the impact player others do because he doesn’t take walks. As an example, I’ll cite Jeff Francouer. The fact is that Madrigal walks about as much as Javier Báez, but without the power and difference-making intangibles.
Steve Stone didn't envision Nick Madrigal making a big impact for the White Sox, citing his questionable baserunning, below-average arm and lack of power.
Listen to full interview on @ParkinsSpiegel:https://t.co/bWCEUz8TvR pic.twitter.com/d8HnPEavBC
— 670 The Score (@670TheScore) July 31, 2021
They Said It
- “It was a great moment for me to just show the world who I am what I can do. I’m Manny Rodríguez, I’m from Mexico, I’m here to make it. It was a great experience. It really helped me set the stage for just what could happen next.” – Manuel Rodríguez
- “Hitting’s so hard, if [Rodríguez] can fill up the zone with that type of stuff and continue to keep your poise and make pitches, that’s extremely valuable in our game. His body language coming off doesn’t look like he’s going to be fazed by too much. So, I was really impressed with that. It’s not how you handle success; it’s how you handle adversity.” – David Ross
Thursday Walk-Up Song
Smooth Sailin’ by Leon Bridges – A win is a win, right? They’ll likely be few and far between, so we’ll take it, and it’s nice to have a chance to go for the series win before coming home to face the White Sox.