The Rundown: Hoyer’s Vision Getting Clearer, 40-Man Decisions ‘Serious but Fascinating,’ Judge Homers Again
“Shadows of a golden age, a generation waits for dawn. Brave carry on. Bold and the strong.” – Journey, Only the Young
The Cubs lost 7-1 to the Reds yesterday but I want to talk about the future rather than the present. For starters, I’d like to comment on Chicago’s future outfield. Brennen Davis, Kevin Alcantara, and Pete Crow-Armstrong are the team’s top three prospects, and all play the outfield. All three have the potential to one day be MLB all-stars.
Owen Caissie deserves mention here, too, and I think he may be the best of the bunch when all is said and done. His future might be at first base or he could DH. Alexander Canario and Yohendrick Pinango are also attention-worthy. Those six prospects could make up Chicago’s outfield rotation for years once promoted. Jordan Nwogu is also a player to watch.
The organization is also pretty thick at middle infield, though I assure you I am not body-shaming anybody. The Cubs have four legitimate shortstop prospects: Cristian Hernandez, James Triantos, Kevin Made, and Ed Howard. They all may have to switch positions, though, because Chicago employs one of the best shortstops in the game in Nico Hoerner.
It’s no wonder that Dan Kantrovitz and his scouts chose pitchers with 16 of their 20 draft choices this summer. The team has a rotation-in-the-making with Cade Horton, Jordan Wicks, Ben Brown, Hayden Wesneski, and Jackson Ferris. If you add Justin Steele and Keegan Thompson to that mix, Chicago’s starters could go seven-deep by the start of the 2024 season.
Do you know that sound a stylus makes when you pull it across a vinyl album? Insert that here.
I’m hesitant to get attached to any of the team’s prospects because trades are coming. I could even see Hoyer parting with the prospects it would take to pry Shohei Ohtani from the Angels. If I had my druthers, I’d rather the team wait to sign him in free agency.
But, that brings up another point worth considering. Does Chicago’s minor league talent run deep enough that Hoyer might be willing to forfeit a first-round pick this winter to sign a qualified free agent? I’d rather Hoyer not do that this year, but I’d have no problem if he sacrificed his 2024 pick to sign Ohtani.
I’ve been hard on Hoyer, but the Cubs have a top 10 farm system that might still be criminally underrated. The fruits of that success are that the front office can be extremely picky when choosing veteran player additions, whether by trade or in the open market. Trading from strength provides that luxury and the Cubs are very strong at all positions across all of their minor league affiliates. It’s fun and even a bit breathtaking to see Hoyer’s vision coming to life.
Cubs News & Notes
- The season is winding down, and president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer will have some tough decisions to make with regard to Chicago’s 40-man roster.
- The Cubs have a plethora of players who must be protected with 40-man roster spots or risk the likelihood they’ll be nabbed by other organizations in the Rule 5 draft. That appears to be the impetus for not promoting Matt Mervis.
- The roster crunch is a serious but fascinating conundrum for fans to follow this winter.
- The front office also needs to determine how and when to activate Steele, Thompson, and Adbert Alzolay.
- I’d like to see the Cubs pick up a couple of bashers this winter so that we can refer to Mervis and company as Chicago’s M*A*S*H unit.
- Wesneski was positively filthy in Tuesday’s relief appearance. One might even say “nasty,” which would therefore spawn a new nickname and Obvious Shirt for the rookie pitcher.
- Wesneski’s performance gives fans of Chicago’s North Side Baseballers something to dream about for next year and beyond.
- The rookie was interviewed by the gang at MLB Central after his dominating performance.
- Wesneski was the 15th Cub to make his MLB debut this season, tying the team record set last season.
- The list of starting pitchers who will be free agents this winter is exciting, if not a bit long in the tooth. I’d love to see Justin Verlander end up on the Cubs. Verlander could probably pitch until he’s 50.
- Seiya Suzuki made The Athletic’s list of top 10 NL rookies, but Christopher Morel did not (subscription required to access content).
- The Cubs have a “good problem” on their hands, too. Their young pitching has been so fantastic that it will affect how next year’s rotation and bullpen shape up, and how Hoyer will navigate free agency.
Odds & Sods
Nico offered his best impression of Michael Jordan last night.
Just to challenge himself, sometimes @nico_hoerner takes at-bats with his eyes closed. pic.twitter.com/CdLVRXL86G
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 8, 2022
Climbing the Ladder
“Ooh, yes my friend, you’re fading fast. If you stay here you won’t last. Before your time has run astray, you’ve got to try to get away.”– Journey, Too Late
It’s starting to feel like summer is over, yes?
The Cubs cranked out 12 hits yesterday but a double by Morel is the only one that went for extra bases. Franmil Reyes had two hits and is now batting .288 with the Cubs. Yan Gomes had four boring singles. Nelson Velázquez hasn’t hit a home run since August 8.
- Games Played: 136
- Total Plate Appearances: 5,128
- Total Strikeouts: 1,188
- Strikeout Rate: 23.17%
- Team Batting Average: .241
- Runs Scored: 557
- Runs Allowed: 658
How About That!
Fox Sports talk show host Doug Gottlieb retracted his “incorrect” report about Los Angeles Dodgers slugger Freddie Freeman and apologized to agent Casey Close for the error. Gottlieb falsely reported that Close withheld a contract offer by the Braves so that his client would sign with the Dodgers instead.
Former Cubs reliever Jesse Chavez has been traded 10 times in his career but is comfortable in Atlanta and happy to be back with the Braves.
The Yankees are serious about retaining Aaron Judge after the season and intend to be “extraordinarily competitive” in contract talks this winter. Team president Andy Levine called Judge “an all-time Yankee.”
It’s magic number season. Celebrate accordingly.
The magic number is working against the Brewers these days. Milwaukee just finished a very tough road trip and now sits 9.5 games behind the Cardinals in the NL Central. They are also 3.5 games out of the final Wild Card spot.
The MLB Network apparently loves the potentially “immortal” Seattle Mariners.
Luis Castillo started yesterday’s game by striking out the first seven batters he faced, a new Mariners record.
The Major League Baseball Players Association joined the AFL-CIO on Wednesday, strengthening its ties to the larger labor movement as it endeavors to significantly expand its membership by unionizing minor league players.
Wednesday’s Three Stars
- Judge – The Yankees slugger belted his 55th home run of the season, and now sits six shy of the AL record.
- Jacob deGrom – Seven shutout innings pitched with eight strikeouts. The Mets ace is now 5-1 with an otherworldly 1.66 ERA. He has 63 punchouts in 43.1 innings pitched this year, and will be the most attractive arm in this year’s free agent market.
- Michael Toglia – The Rockies first baseman plated four runners on a 2-4 night that included a three-run blast off of Brewers starter Eric Lauer. Lauer left his start with a numb elbow after serving up that third-inning tater.
I wanted to give a digital shoutout to Kristine Stone of SiriusXM, who mentioned Cubs Insider on her show last week. Kristine is the midday host of Classic Rewind on Channel 25. If you don’t have paid access, her show is definitely worth the subscription price. When Sue was alive she insisted we get Sirius and believe it or not, my account is still in her name. I listen to Kristine every day starting at 10 am. Please give her a listen and say hi to her on Twitter.
Classic Rewind spent the weekend counting down the top 100 cassette-era LPs of all time, and I was saddened that Journey’s Evolution didn’t make the cut, and neither did anything by Eddie Money.
Kristine is in the same age group as me, and she works on the same station that features original MTV VJs Mark Goodman and Alan Hunter. That has to be a dream come true. As I mentioned on Twitter last week, she is my favorite spinner of digital wax.
Speaking of digital wax, Labor Day means it is time to start my annual charity, $5 playlists. It runs through December 31, and all proceeds go to the Greater Chicago Food Depository. I match the donations, and then CFD matches both. That means every $5 contributed generates $20 in food for families in need. The way it works is pretty simple.
- You give me three of your favorite songs, any genre. You can even cross genres (those are my favorite).
- I build you a personally curated playlist of at least 80 minutes based on your choices. I’ll even give it a cool title, like “Uncle Dan’s Key Party” for example.
- There is no charge for the playlist, but donations are encouraged. You can donate to me via PayPal and I’ll match it and send it to the Food Depository, or you can donate on your own, and send me a photocopy of your receipt. I will match all donations between $5 and $50. Last year I raised close to $1,000 dollars, which, when matched provided $4,000 to CFD. I promise I am far better than Spotify’s algorithms when it comes to creating playlists.
How do you not love Morel?
Christopher Morel stayed after the game until the very last fan in line got a photo or autograph. #Cubs #ItsDifferentHere pic.twitter.com/JX0RtsbPTn
— Scott Changnon (@ScottyChags) September 7, 2022
Thursday Morning Six-Pack
- The Bears open their 2022-23 season on Sunday, and we’ll have complete coverage over at Bears Insider. Sean Holland will be providing game previews and recaps again this season.
- Twitter might be one of the bigger frauds in social networking history. Disney was close to buying Twitter in 2016 but pulled out due to various concerns including finding out that a “substantial portion” of its users were fake, former CEO Bob Iger said at the Code Conference yesterday.
- Stephen King has authored 75 books, but It is still considered one of his best efforts. I prefer The Shining.
- Netflix is resurrecting the creepy Teletubbies franchise with a reboot. Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa, and Po will get another shot at that final Teletubby bye-bye.
- The White House wants us to get a voluntary, annual C-19 booster, much like the flu shot.
- More domestic workers in the US are making at least $15 an hour, but the share who say they can’t make housing payments or afford food has held steady, a survey released Tuesday finds.
They Said It
- “When you have no real strong 40-man roster decisions or no difficult decisions, that’s a problem. We have a lot of really difficult ones now or guys that I think are deserving.” – Hoyer
Thursday Walk Up-Song
Back in the 1980s I literally wore out my Life for the Taking and No Control cassettes cruising Chicago in my 1983 Grand Prix.