In just 37 plate appearances with the Cubs, the versatile Christopher Morel leads the team with a 171 wRC+ and his 0.5 fWAR ranks sixth. That’s compared to other players who’ve accumulated nearly five times as much experience this year, mind you. He’s started at four different positions and has batted leadoff in the last three games, which would normally be a strong indication that the 22-year-old is ready to be at least a semi-permanent part of the lineup.
Except that we’re talking about a team in flux, one that doesn’t feel it’s time to call up its top pitching prospect in spite of bringing MLB’s fifth-highest rotation ERA (4.86) into a pair of doubleheaders next week. Cubs starters have the sixth-highest FIP (4.54), ninth-highest xFIP (4.18), and sixth-lowest fWAR (1.6) just in case you were worried about me cherry-picking.
Morel has been one of too few bright spots for a team that you would think needs to sell fans on a future that’s getting harder to see through the gloom of the present. Yet he’s almost certainly destined to be back on that Iowa shuttle in the near future as several veterans return from the IL. Jason Heyward has been on the COVID list for nearly two weeks, Clint Frazier has played eight rehab games in Iowa, and David Bote is almost ready after seven Triple-A games.
That’s three veterans who need roster spots and who play one or more of the positions Morel has manned. Unless the front office deviates dramatically from its desire to prolong the presence of aging players for as long as procedurally possible, there won’t be room for Morel by the time June gets here. And that’s just too bad because I’m struggling to find a way to explain how it’s better to have him in Des Moines.
I mean, the city will still be buzzing even without his electric play and personality so it’s not like the I-Cubs need him back. Maybe they could make a trade with Tom Ricketts ensure the S’s are silent around Wrigley. That might tone down the criticism a little bit.
Jeu Chrit, thi team uck a.
I understand that, like Kilian, there should be plenty of reps for Morel once a lot of these vets are moved prior to the deadline, but that’s not going to stop me from favoring youth over…I don’t even know what. Is it loyalty? Stubbornness? A desire to showcase a few more players in an effort to improve their trade value?
This part of the retool/build/set is the most difficult to slog through because you can see all the talent percolating in the minors while the big club seems to be walking up the down escalator. As obvious as this should have been, it’s even more difficult to take when ownership said the Cubs would have the resources necessary to compete this season.
Oh well, there’s really no point in continuing to whine about it in late May.