“He’s a perfect stranger, like a cross of himself and a fox. He’s a feeling arranger and a changer of the ways he talks.” – Neil Young, The Loner
Franmil Reyes is one imposing dude. He’s so big he makes Wrigley Field look small in the same way Glenallen Hill and Sammy Sosa used to. I actually had to do a double-take when I saw him at the plate in last night’s 6-5 loss to the Nationals.
I doubt Reyes will mash at the rate Sosa did, but it wouldn’t be such a bad thing if he can do the same thing Hill did during his two stints with the Cubs. Reyes, listed at 6-foot-5 and 265 pounds, is known for his prodigious power. Hill was only 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds but brought that same menacing demeanor to the plate when he stepped into the box.
When Reyes is locked in offensively, he’s capable of driving the ball to all parts of the field while hunting for pitches he can crush. According to several reports, that’s exactly what the slugger was doing during batting practice before Tuesday night’s game. The Cubs will have two months to evaluate Reyes, and if they like what they see, he’s under team control until after the end of the 2024 season. He’ll mostly DH, but he can also play some outfield and, hopefully, strike fear into the pitchers he faces along the way.
As far as the strikeout rate, Chicago’s coaches should be able to help reduce that somewhat. Patrick Wisdom and Ian Happ are great examples of the efforts of first-year hitting coach Greg Brown. In fact, Brown brings stability to the position the team hasn’t seen in a long time.
Since debuting in 2018, Reyes has hit 101 home runs and 65 doubles. That’s good for an OPS+ of 114 in 481 games. His game has suffered dramatically this season, which is why he was designated by the Guardians. Reyes entered last night with an OPS+ of 72, so Jed Hoyer and Carter Hawkins are certainly hoping the team can turn the hulking slugger around. If anything, it will be fun to watch him unload on a dozen or so misplaced fastballs between now and the end of the season.
Apropos of Nothing
I have a good friend who works as a low-level player agent and part-time minor league scout (he calls himself a bird-dogger) and he told me last night that getting Ben Brown from the Phillies for two months of David Robertson is the equivalent of highway robbery. He believes the trade will turn out even better for the Cubs than the Pete Crow-Armstrong deal with the Mets.
“The stunner is not that Hoyer held onto Contreras and Happ,” he told me over a beer last night. “It’s that the ‘Jedi’ showed no mercy in prying Brown from the Phillies. The Philadelphia staff saw Brown as a future swingman but he has workhorse, top-of-the-rotation potential. He’s going to quickly ascend to the top of Chicago’s prospect boards.”
Scouting services are generally divided on Brown’s future. There is a huge discrepancy in where he ranks depending on your preferred analysts. I point that out because the 6-foot-6 right-hander is a polarizing prospect, and my friend is simply among the pro-Brown faction. But what he told me about Hoyer is a bit more interesting.
He said Hoyer enters trade negotiations with a leg up because he knows his opponents’ farm systems as well as or better than his peers. Executives are hesitant to trade with Hoyer because he tends to approach negotiations in a matter that’s just far enough off the beaten path to make his opponents question what he sees that they do not.
“He’s got a Michael Jordan-like killer instinct when it comes to trade negotiations,” my friend continued. “That will be his legacy in Chicago, and that’s the one thing that makes him better than Theo [Epstein]. It was Hoyer that brought Anthony Rizzo and Jake Arrieta to the Cubs. Epstein is a groupthink exec who seeks synergy. Hoyer is a lone wolf who won’t make a trade unless he absolutely gets his guy. It’s a socially unacceptable analogy, but he’s a sniper… a true mercenary.”
In exchange for the insight, I happily picked up our $19 tab.
Cubs News & Notes
- Christopher Morel has an uncanny ability to produce when he is in a two-strike count. Seven of his 10 total dingers on the season have come with two strikes.
- A lot of Cubs players are on the mend, including Wade Miley, Manny Rodriguez, Adbert Alzolay, and Brennen Davis.
- Kyle Hendricks is still hurting and his return this season seems less likely with each passing day because the right-hander is still experiencing inflammation in his right shoulder. He had an MRI on Monday, but the Cubs won’t let him throw a baseball until his shoulder is healthy.
- Assistant hitting coach Johnny Washington is excited to work with Reyes. The outfielder said his career changed when he met Washington seven years ago.
- The Cubs are hoping Washington will help Reyes find his missing pop.
- It’s fair to wonder what’s next for Frank Schwindel now that he has been demoted to Iowa. I’m sure he’ll get another chance with Chicago before October, but the Cubs are facing a bit of a roster crunch once this season ends.
- Yan Gomes used PitchCom to troll starter Justin Steele during the pitcher’s last outing.
Odds & Sods
Shohei Ohtani, King of the Pitchers who Rake Club. 👑 pic.twitter.com/vB12nalDO6
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 10, 2022
Climbing the Ladder
“I do believe it’s true that there are roads left in both of our shoes…” – Deathcab for Cutie, Soul Meets Body
Reyes had his first hit as a Cub, an RBI single in the 7th inning that scored Willson Contreras and tied the game at 4. Seiya Suzuki was 3-for-5 with a home run and an RBI, and Nico Hoerner, Zach McKinstry, and Ian Happ also had multi-hit games.
- Games Played: 109
- Total Plate Appearances: 4,127
- Total Strikeouts: 965
- Strikeout Rate: 23.38%
- Team Batting Average: .243
- Runs Scored: 450
- Runs Allowed: 528
How About That!
The Mariners and Yankees played an old-fashioned pitching duel with several defensive gems that went 13 innings on Tuesday.
Here are baseball’s 10 biggest surprises of the 2022 season (so far).
Tuesday’s Three Stars
There were about 20 individual standout performances last night, so I chose my three favorites.
- Randal Grichuk – The journeyman outfielder led the Rockies to a 16-5 over his ex-Cardinals teammates by going 5-for-5 with a home run and three RBI.
- C.J. Cron – The Colorado first baseman was 2-for-5 and plated five runners in the same game.
- Trea Turner – The pending free agent was 2-for-5 with two doubles and three RBI and now has 80 on the season.
I’m sure I’m not the only blogger sharing this post this morning.
— Baseball Bros (@BaseballBros) August 9, 2022
Wednesday Morning Six-Pack
- The Bears are down another receiver, but as long as Darnell Mooney and Equanimeous St. Brown remain healthy enough to play every down all season, the team should be okay. I’m kidding, of course. Also of note, the chemistry between Luke Getsy and Justin Fields continues to grow with each practice. That said, a temperature check will reveal that the defense is away ahead of the offense right now. Oh yeah, Roquan Smith asked the Bears to trade him Tuesday morning. Here are your Wednesday morning Camp Notes.
- Chicago gave up on Leonard Floyd in 2019 and he’s flourished with the Super Bowl champion Rams. Bears GM Ryan Poles would be smart to avoid a Floyd-like situation with regard to Smith.
- Serena Williams, the predominant figure in women’s tennis for the past several decades, suggested yesterday that she’ll step away from playing the sport after the US Open in a few weeks. That means Williams will finish her spectacular career where it all began: Flushing Meadows, where she won her first of 23 Grand Slam singles championships (the most of any tennis player in the Open Era) as a 17-year-old in 1999. She’s not calling it a “retirement” however.
- Walmart has reportedly held talks with Paramount, Disney, and Comcast about including streaming in its membership service, Walmart+. What do we think about The Rudown+ as a subscriber email option? I could sure use the extra scratch. I’m getting married in case you were unaware.
- Not for nothing, but weren’t streaming services designed to untether us from channel bundles? Did I miss a memo?
- Did you know Lego bricks are universal? A brick you buy now will interlock with one you have laying around from 1932. Today is The Lego Group’s 90th birthday. Celebrate accordingly.
They Said It
- “[Heyward is] someone who — even when he was struggling — tried his absolute hardest every day, every offseason. That’s kind of what I’ll remember. He certainly had his good moments here, but he had a lot of struggles as well. When he had those struggles, he never blamed anyone. He never stopped working. He was always a guy who showed up in the best shape coming into every season. He was always a guy who was in the cages trying to get better.” – Jed Hoyer
- “This game is about making adjustments. Obviously, things are not going well the last couple [of] years. I always say I would try to give my best every time. I’m not going to quit. That’s not how I was raised. I have to keep working hard and give my best every day like I know. I’m going to be back soon.” – Reyes
Wednesday Walk-Up Song
Happy Birthday, Lego!