The Rundown: Cubs Drop Reds, Finding Fit for Contreras, MLB and KBO Discussing Series Swaps, Perfect Games Trending Downward
“Hold on to what you can waiting for the end, not knowing when.” – Son Volt, Windfall
The Cubs beat the Reds 7-4 last night thanks to Patrick Wisdom, who homered for the fourth consecutive game, and Ian Happ, who hit a baseball that might not have landed yet. Willson Contreras is out with a bad hamstring, but it’s time to light the candle on the 2022 trading season as we enter the final week of May. Most expect Jed Hoyer to trade his starting catcher, though I’m starting to think chances are slightly better he’ll get an extension.
If Contreras is marketed, which teams are likely to vie for his services? If I had to name five teams based on need it would be the Mets, Angels, Astros, Padres, and Brewers. Of course, that means he’ll probably get traded to the Yankees, because, well, they usually get all the best players at the deadline. They’re off to their hottest start in decades at 29-13 and a Steinbrenner knows the smell of blood in the water, plus you can’t rest on your laurels in a competitive AL East. I’d add the Dodgers for similar reasons.
Naming those teams also means scouting their prospects, and though I have no idea what the veteran backstop will command in reciprocal assets, I do know which minor leaguers I would like to see in Chicago’s ever-improving farm system. I’m sure you’re dying to know who I like so, good news, I’m going to tell you.
- If the Cubs have any shot at getting a No. 1 prospect from another team, it’s probably Francisco Álvarez, though I’d bet the Mets would want a window to negotiate an extension for Contreras. Given Álvarez is probably not happening, I’d like to see Hoyer make a play for RHP Dominic Hamel and OF Alex Ramirez. I do like RHP Matt Allan, but his arm injuries scare me a little too much.
- If for some reason the Dodgers throw their hat in the ring for Contreras, I’m all over corner infielder Miguel Vargas, who reminds me of a young Nick Castellanos with a better glove. The power is coming with this kid, too.
- The Brewers have a sneaky good farm system and they need another bat if they’re serious about playing in the World Series this season. Contreras could catch and play some outfield/DH, while the Cubs might be able to get Victor Caratini back in the deal and pick up a stud minor leaguer such as OF Joey Wiemer or 2B Tyler Black.
- LHP Ky Bush and catcher Edgar Quero of the Angels – yes, please!
- The Astros system is nowhere near what it used to be after so many graduations in recent years, and I’d rather the Cubs look to deal Contreras elsewhere. Most of Houston’s prospects are either too old or have serious holes. Pedro Leon is the obvious prize but I don’t think the Cubs have room for any more shortstops.
- How about Contreras straight up for Anthony Rizzo? I’m kidding, but infielder Trey Sweeney would be a nice get and is likely ticketed for third base. Throw in a reliever like hard-throwing Luis Gil and it’s a win-win for both teams.
- The Padres always seem to be on the periphery of a deal with the Cubs but nothing ever happens. I don’t expect they’ll trade for Contreras and we’ve looked at their prospects enough when discussing the potential Eric Hosmer trade. San Diego really needs a catcher, though.
In the end, I think Contreras will remain with the Cubs, and I’d say there’s about a 60% chance he will sign an extension before the trade deadline.
Cubs News & Notes
- Happ has had insane success playing in Cincinnati throughout his career.
- Contreras, Happ, and Marcus Stroman are Chicago’s biggest trade chips this summer.
- Contreras is listed day-to-day with his hammy strain.
- Pete Crow-Armstrong popped into the latest Top 100 Prospect List over at MLB Pipeline. The centerfielder, who has added some eye-opening power to his utility belt, is ranked No. 97.
- A devastating injury nearly cost Christopher Morel his career, but now it defines him.
- Morel has now started at four different defensive positions in his five games with the Cubs, sharing that remarkable feat with Solly Hofman, who did the same thing in 1904.
- If you didn’t catch it yesterday, I debuted a minor league version of The Rundown called Minor League IPA. The next column will be Monday morning, and it will be a daily occurrence.
Odds & Sods
Perhaps Happ thought Kyle Schwarber and his family were in attendance. Good Lord, that thing gotta out of the park in a hurry.
NEVER leave Cincinnati without a dinger. @ihapp_1 pic.twitter.com/euXkKi9FuY
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) May 24, 2022
Climbing the Ladder
“Maybe you and me were never meant to be, just maybe think of me once in a while.” – Steve Carlisle, WKRP in Cincinnati
On the strength of the three-run home runs by Wisdom and Happ, the Cubs notched six of their seven RBI with two outs. Clearing the bases also meant Chicago stranded just five runners all night. Seiya Suzuki is still struggling with strikeouts and had two more in yesterday’s game.
- Games Played: 41
- Total Plate Appearances: 1,514
- Total Strikeouts: 372
- Strikeout Rate: 24.57%
- Team Batting Average: .232
How About That!
The surging Orioles have now won four of their last five games.
Josh Donaldson has been fined and suspended for a disrespectful remark he made to White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson.
Sample sizes are now big enough to conclude that breakout seasons for Daulton Varsho and four others are probably legitimate.
It’s no wonder perfect games have become a rarity since few starters do not come anywhere close to pitching complete games.
MLB and KBO are reportedly in discussions to host each other’s games.
The Mets have won 14 straight times following a loss this season.
Baseball is ruining its own product with needless modifications.
Monday’s Three Stars
- Aaron Judge – He’s having a monster first half, and last night he belted two homers, giving him 17 on the season.
- Jose Ramirez – The Guardians’ third baseman wants to be a Cleveland lifer and I’m sure the ballclub is happy about that. Ramirez had a double and a home run on a 2-for-4 night and plated four runners. He also swiped a bag.
- J.D. Davis – The Mets DH was 4-for-5 with two doubles and two RBI.
I don’t like to post my own tweets but Johnny Bench is one of the most well-respected adversaries to ever crush the hopes of Cubs fans. I always referred to Bench as the Mickey Mantle of catchers because of his tremendous forearm strength and bat speed.
2016 was the greatest year ever but this picture of Johnny Bench getting a standing O in his last at-bat at Wrigley is my jam because those were my formative baseball years. 2016 would mean nothing if I wasn’t a #Cubs fan in the 70s and 80s.
Bench was a God among men. pic.twitter.com/jV7QgDAvcR
— Michael Canter ✨ (@MEdwardCanter) May 22, 2022
Tuesday Morning Six-Pack
- A question was posed on Twitter last night asking about our go-to mall destinations as ’70s/’80s kids. Pre-driver’s license, it was usually Peacock Alley in the basement of Ford City for me. Once I could drive, it was always Rolling Stones Records at Harlem & Irving Plaza, aka “The Hip.”
- “Top Gun: Maverick” drops nationwide on Friday and Val Kilmer, whose voice was digitally synthesized, reprises his role as Iceman, this time as a commander in the Navy who recruits Maverick, played by Tom Cruise, back to the famed flight school.
- Remember the movie Stripes when Bill Murray‘s character talks about his Army-issue digs? “Chicks in New York are paying top-dollar for this stuff,” he said as Pfc. John Winger. That’s become a reality for Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
- Ex-Packer Lucas Patrick is so excited to play for the Bears he makes veterans of the team sound almost lame.
- Speaking of the Bears, new punter Trenton Gill looks like a human version of a character from the old Gil Thorpe comic strip. But what’s really cool is his “Moon Ball Challenge.”
- On May 27, Netflix is dropping “Stranger Things 4,” and I don’t want to play the spoiler, but I have a strange feeling that ST5 will end with the four friends playing D&D as young adults, with each of the five seasons representing separate campaigns. Let’s hope not. Anyway, Netflix has already released the first eight minutes of S4E1 and it’s incredibly intense.
They Said It
- “I’m here to play baseball with what they put on the field. Of course, they all are great guys. They’re all willing to listen and willing to learn and grow. That’s part of my [job] — helping them and guiding them the best way I can.” – Contreras
- “I love the way [Contreras] is playing. To me, the biggest thing is our relationship is good. I get asked about it every single time I do media. I give the same boring answer. That will probably just continue.” – Hoyer
- “I’m really good where I am right now. I know the fans are kind of mad because of everything that’s happened this year. But I’m really at peace in my mind. I’m really at peace with myself. Whatever comes, I’ll be good with it. I have done a lot for this team. And that’s one thing that helps me to keep my head up.”– Contreras
Tuesday Walk-Up Song
They Are All in Love by The Who – On our first date, Sue and I talked about our first albums. Hers was The Who By Numbers. Squeeze Box is the popular choice for best song on that long-player, but Sue chose this one instead, and when she told me I was hooked. My first vinyl was Rumours by Fleetwood Mac and Sue’s favorite song on that album was Gold Dust Woman.