The Rundown: Free Agency Wish Lists, Wisdom Hits IL, Hendricks Ends Season on High Note, AL Wild Card Race Completely Bonkers
“Honey, got no money, I’m all sixes and sevens and nines.” – The Rolling Stones, Tumbling Dice
The Cubs beat the Pirates 3-2 in a relatively meaningless game yesterday. Frank Schwindel had another multi-hit game, Codi Heuer earned his second save of the season, and Willson Contreras drove in all three runs. Kyle Hendricks had a decent night, but it was Pittsburgh so nothing to get too excited about. When two teams are playing out the string, you’re prone to a lot more yawns and moments of dozing off, and last night was no exception. Every once in a while something will pique your interest though.
Alcántara defense on display 😤 pic.twitter.com/BnSzYluDAV
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) September 29, 2021
Our focus is on the future, specifically this winter, and how Jed Hoyer will attack free agency. Cubs Insider EIC Evan Altman published a post about realistic free-agent acquisitions yesterday, so I thought I’d put together my own quick wish list. I hope you’ll entertain me in the comments section with your baseball wants and desires.
Some of you may remember the old days when the Sears Christmas catalog would arrive, steeped in the glory of its 300-500 pages of marked-up-and-then-reduced wares to get us all excited about the pending holidays. There are still 86 shopping days until the annual yuletide celebration, but free agency comes first (depending of course on what happens once the current collective bargaining agreement expires on December 1).
I’ve no desire to get into all the legalese and negotiation tactics until after the World Series, so for now it’s business as usual. The list below would probably cost Tom Ricketts in the neighborhood of $100-120 million in AAV, though I could be way off. Predicting free agency contracts has truly been a crapshoot the last few years.
- Carlos Correa (SS) – The chances are slim and none here but I still don’t have faith in Nico Hoerner, who has missed more games than he’s played. Correa could be a game-changer for the Cubs. He’s only 27, and if he’ll sign for less than $250 million, Hoyer should pounce. Backup: Javier Báez and it’s real close. I would not be upset if El Mago is the consolation prize.
- Nick Castellanos (OF/DH) – Pair that infectious energy and constant attack mode at the top of the order with Schwindel and the North Siders could be one of the more intriguing teams in the NL Central. Castellanos would do for the Cubs what Nolan Arenado has done for the Cardinals. Further, Big Nick Energy has coyly hinted he’d love to return. I know Joe from Obvious Shirts would be on board with this move. Backup: None. Just sign him Jed.
- Carlos Rodón (SP) – Rodón is another who has hinted about playing for the Cubs, though I believe he’d rather be a White Sox lifer and the potential for serious injury scares me a little. David Ross said he would like the team to add at least two starters so the lefty might be worth a two-year deal. Brandon Morrow is the cautionary tale here, at least as far as potential dead money, but Rodón could be special. Backup: Jon Gray.
- Anthony DeSclafani (SP) – Of course I am conceding that Max Scherzer would have no interest in playing for Chicago, but DeSclafini has kind of flown under the radar despite helping the Giants to 104 wins and counting. His four-pitch mix would be perfect for Wrigley Field and he would slot in nicely as a 2 or 3 in the rotation. Backup: Eduardo Rodríguez.
- Corey Knebel and Andrew Chafin (RPs) – Knebel is definitely available and I believe he still has some very good seasons ahead of him. I think he’d prefer to regularly pitch in high leverage situations and I don’t believe he will get the type of opportunity with the Dodgers. Chafin and the A’s have a mutual $5.25 million option, but I don’t believe the two are a match for another season. Backups: Michael Lorenzen and Daniel Hudson.
I’d like to see Hoyer trade for Yu Darvish, too, and give up relatively nothing in return just because I really dislike the Padres. As far as members of the team’s former core, I’d really like to have Kris Bryant back, though I just don’t see the Cubs offering him what other teams will. I wouldn’t mind seeing the return of Kyle Schwarber either, but Brennen Davis may have something to say about that.
Cubs News & Notes
- Patrick Wisdom is on the IL and done for the year, though no formal injury was mentioned in the release.
- It is suspected Wisdom may have COVID-19, though nobody was willing to confirm as of this writing.
- You can close the books on Hendricks for the season; at least he finished on a high note.
- Over the last two weeks, Schwindel is among baseball’s hottest rookies.
- The Cubs announced their Instructional League roster yesterday. Names you may recognize include Ed Howard, Burl Carraway, Daniel Palencia, Bryce Ball, Cristian Hernandez, Kevin Alcantara, and Owen Caissie.
Odds & Sods
Never saw this one coming, but good for Frank Thomas.
SCOOP: Baseball Hall of Famer @FrankThomas — @TheBigHurt_35 — is purchasing controlling interest in company that owns the "Field of Dreams" movie site in Iowa https://t.co/CGLTgAE5YW via @politico pic.twitter.com/R1qXPMMVZJ
— Shia Kapos (@ShiaKapos) September 30, 2021
Climbing the Ladder
“You may find out yourself that doubt means nothing was ever there. You can’t go forcing somethin’ if it’s just not right.” – Green Day, When I Come Around
- Games Played: 158
- Total Plate Appearances: 5,824
- Total Strikeouts: 1,568
- Strikeout Rate: 26.9%
- Team Batting Average: .236
Though Ian Happ has cooled off a little, he’s still slashing .330/.400/1.036 over the last four weeks with seven home runs and 22 RBI.
How About That!
The Cardinals finally lost. Who’s upset about that?
The Dodgers-Giants race in the NL West may be the best of all time.
The AL postseason tie-breakers are absolutely bonkers! The Mainers, Red Sox, and Blue Jays all won last night, and one game separates those three teams and the Yankees in the fight for the two Wild Card spots. That is the greatest playoff race of all time.
The Rays clinched the top seed in the AL playoffs with a 7-0 win over the Astros.
Brewers reliever Devin Williams broke his hand in a moment of frustration after celebrating Milwaukee’s NL Central title.
The Brewers are on a path to face the Braves in the NLDS which should make for some very interesting storylines. The Braves, whose magic number is down to one, moved to Atlanta in 1966, upsetting many Milwaukeeans.
White Sox fans are expected to “black out” their home games in the NLDS and if they go further into the postseason.
Juan Soto is teaching us all the thrill of the take.
There’s a brand new book out that celebrates former Yankees teammates Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris. The book details the trade that brought Maris to New York, the unforgettable record-breaking season in 1961, and the wear and tear that eventually brought an end to their careers.
Shohei Ohtani will not pitch again this season, though he’ll still DH. The two-way star became the second player in American League history, along with Jose Canseco in 1998, to have 45 homers and 25 steals in a season.
I feel like Ted Burgundy here, but Slugger the Sea Dog has just been nominated for mascot of the year. Stay classy, Portland.
Take Me Out to the Ball Game
This is pretty cool.
The young fan was so happy to get the ball 🧡 pic.twitter.com/4Ap3WDaqub
— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) September 30, 2021
Wednesday’s Three Stars
- Trevor Story – The soon-to-be free-agent Rockies shortstop was perfect at the plate last night, going 4-for-4 with three runs scored.
- Salvador Perez – The Royals catcher is having a career year, and last night he hit his 48th bomb of the season, plating three, before leaving the game with an injury. Perez won’t return this season and should get a few votes for AL MVP.
- Alex Wood – The San Francisco hurler tossed six innings of three-hit shutout baseball in leading the Giants to win number 104 on the season. They lead the Dodgers by two games with four left.
Welcome to the show Trent Giambrone! The kid was called up yesterday and will forever have a “late-season cup of coffee” attached to his bio.
First pitch he sees, first big league hit for Trent Giambrone! pic.twitter.com/JznVnYkC4k
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 30, 2021
They Said It
- “We’re taking every precaution we can to make sure everybody’s healthy on the field when they step foot out here. We’re following all MLB protocols and try to do what we can to make sure everybody’s healthy and safe to step foot on that field, and we’ve been doing that every day. Things have popped up, even in my case, that are just out of your control to some point. So all we can do is to continue to follow MLB protocols and try to set everybody up to be as safe as possible and continue playing baseball.” – Ross
Thursday Walk-Up Song
Dance the Night Away by Van Halen – I needed a Thursday morning jumpstart.