The Rundown: Don’t Expect Splash Prior to CBA Expiration, More Front Office Changes, Billy Williams Doc Coming Soon, Nelson Velazquez Dominating AFL
With the World Series schedule set, we now know the latest free agency will start is November 8, which leaves just about three weeks to do any damage before the current CBA expires on December 1. Fans who are hoping the Cubs make a big splash or two this winter will probably have to wait until a new agreement is completed. Most of the offseason housekeeping in November will probably be internal decisions on players and coaching staff as the revamped front office completes its organizational evaluations.
The mantra has been “intelligent spending” since the season ended three weeks ago, and the new executive team continues to slowly delineate that concept. It is not a matter of budget limitations as much as it will be an exercise in avoiding overexuberance when it comes to spending the money team chairman Tom Ricketts puts in the budget.
We know that the Cubs will have a big influx of new players by Opening Day, but we don’t really know how Jed Hoyer and his staff will reconstruct the roster. Pitching is at the top of the list, but Chicago needs at least one outfielder, a shortstop, some bullpen help, and roster depth, especially if the league and players decide to implement the designated hitter in the National League.
Though Hoyer has been at it almost a full year, the 2021 squad still had Theo Epstein’s signature all over it until it was waylaid at the trade deadline. The coming season will essentially be Hoyer’s first roster, and one would think ex-Cubs like Anthony Rizzo, Javier Báez, and Kris Bryant will not be re-joining the team. Despite the successes of Patrick Wisdom and Frank Schwindel, smart money says Hoyer will still need to replace the former core with similar star power, either in free agency or by trade, and if not next season, certainly in 2023 or ’24.
In the meantime, fans will need to be patient while baseball negotiates its way to a new contract between the owners and players. Though I’m no expert, my gut feeling is that if an agreement is not reached in the first week of December, negotiations could drag on well into spring training. That would create quite the scramble in free agency and would work heavily in favor of the owners. For a team like the Cubs, who have so many holes to fill and want to fill them “intelligently,” it could mean punting on the ’22 season.
Cubs News & Notes
- Carter Hawkins joined MLB Now to talk about his role with the team and admitted that his wife has begged him to stop using the word “processes” when speaking publicly (video).
- Jason McLeod has left the Cubs and Ehsan Bokhari has been hired as the team’s assistant general manager. Bokhari previously worked with the Dodgers and Astros.
- Jed Hoyer believes great things lie ahead for McLeod. “I’ve been with him for almost 20 years with three organizations,” said Chicago’s president of baseball operations. “I think he’s an absolute culture changer, [and] a fantastic evaluator. I have no doubt he’ll transform another organization.”
- Outfielder Seiya Suzuki of the Hiroshima Carp is going to be made available to MLB teams this winter via the posting system and the 27-year-old could be a great fit for the Cubs.
- Nelson Velazquez continues to rake in the Arizona Fall League. The outfielder has posted a .370/.500/.630 slash line with a 1.130 OPS through seven games in Arizona, racking up 10 hits, seven walks, and seven runs scored.
- The Marquee Sports Network announced its offseason programming, including a documentary about Billy Williams that will debut mid-winter.
- The organization’s minor league players are excited to matriculate through the system to get a chance to make an impact at the major league level (video).
From the Front Office
“I think it’s, not to get cute, but I would probably call it more constraints than limitations [in Cleveland]. I think we were forced to be disciplined in our processes, we were forced to be deliberate in our decisions. I think that’s something that’s applicable to any size market. Obviously, your range of options when you have more resources is a little bit wider. But the ability to be deliberate in those decisions, building processes in those decisions should be just as good.” – Hawkins
Odds & Sods
Poor Bill Buckner. It’s a shame he bore most of the blame for what amounted to a bunch of bad pitching decisions by Red Sox manager John McNamara.
35 years ago today, a ground ball off the bat of Mookie Wilson scored Ray Knight to give the Mets a walk-off win in Game 6 of the World Series.
— Michael Mayer (@mikemayer22) October 25, 2021
World Series News & Notes
Though they have different strengths, the Braves and Astros make a good match and may provide a compelling World Series.
Dusty Baker promised good friend Henry Aaron he would one day reach the World Series. Now he will have to beat Aaron’s former team to win it.
The Braves haven’t been to the World Series since 1999, and no one is more excited to be there than first baseman Freddie Freeman.
Jorge Soler will serve as Atlanta’s designated hitter in Games 1 and 2, which will be played in Houston. The Braves are hoping Soler will provide some decent pop.
The World Series kicks off tomorrow night at 7:09pm CT and the final tilt will be played on November 3 at Minute Maid Park in Houston if it goes seven games.
How About That!
Current St. Louis bench coach Oliver Marmol is expected to be named the 51st manager in Cardinals history, which would make him the youngest manager in baseball. Marmol is 35 years old.
The Yankees are said to be interested in free-agent starter Justin Verlander.
Dave Roberts summed up the 2021 season with an emotional message to the team’s fans.
Kyle Schwarber said he would be “all ears” if the Red Sox are interested in retaining his services beyond this season.
Velasquez is getting recognition everywhere these days. The accompanying article is non-subscriber content in case you were wondering. He and Asa Lacey have been the talk of the league through the first week of play.
Prospects to know this morning?
Eric De La Rosa, @tigers
Joey Wiemer, @Brewers
Nelson Velasquez, @Cubs
Asa Lacy, @Royals
Slade Cecconi, @Dbacks
Arizona Fall League report: https://t.co/htRjkMk6hU
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) October 25, 2021
They Said It
“I want to win at the end of the day, and that’s it. That’s kind of where I’ve been my whole life. They know that, but I have full faith and trust in them. And that’s all they want, as well. From Jed all the way down. These guys are pros. They know what they’re doing. They know how to construct [a team]. They’ve been around the game so long, and they know how to evaluate talent.” – Kyle Hendricks
Monday Walk-Up Song
Build by the Housemartins – Hoyer, Hawkins, and Bokhari certainly have their work cut out for them this winter.