The Rundown: Time to Fix Cubs Potholes, Mervis Raking at Iowa, Alcántara Earns Honors, Incompetent White Sox Setting Records

“Working on the highway, laying down the blacktop. Working on the highway, all day long I don’t stop.” – Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street Band, Working on the Highway

If you’ve driven Chicago’s roads during early spring, you are painfully aware of the abundance of potholes. Likewise, the Cubs need a few patches here and there despite the team’s encouraging start. The North Siders were off yesterday and there wasn’t much team news to ingest, so I’m going to make it short but sweet and fix the few problems this team has.

  1. Kyle Hendricks has to be put on notice. His upcoming schedule is very unfavorable, so if he doesn’t turn it around against the Red Sox on Saturday, Craig Counsell needs to make a change. If he stays in the rotation, Hendricks would face the Mets, Padres, and Braves in his three starts after Saturday.
  2. What does Counsell do with the veteran? Give Hendricks an injury designation and see if he can find his groove pitching for Iowa.
  3. Christopher Morel needs to be moved off of third base. I admit he’s improving defensively, but his bat is suffering. Morel enters today’s game with a .205 average and a very uncomfortable .361 slugging, second-worst among Cubs starters.
  4. Matt Shaw is ready for the bigs and he proved that in Arizona. His fielding’s a little suspect but it’s improving, and it isn’t affecting his bat. Counsell can move Morel to DH, Patrick Wisdom can serve as a backup, and the front office can trade or cut Nick Madrigal.
  5. It’s time for Yan Gomes to pass the torch to Miguel Amaya. I love Gomes, but Amaya needs to develop a working chemistry with all of Chicago’s pitchers if he’s going to be catcher No. 1 during the team’s competitive window.
  6. Find an established closer, even if it means trading Adbert Alzolay for a veteran on a shorter contract. I wouldn’t be opposed to Keegan Thompson taking that role, either. Thompson has nine strikeouts against two walks and has yet to allow a hit in six innings of work. He was also in the closer conversation following the 2021 season. Opposing hitters have tagged Alzolay for four homers in 10 innings this season after he allowed just five in 64 IP in 2023. The Cubs need to start developing better relievers. I thought Daniel Palencia would be one, though he still has plenty of time.
  7. My ideal rotation is Justin Steele, Shōta Imanaga, Cade Horton, Jameson Taillon, and Ben Brown. I prefer Javier Assad to Taillon, but the former is better suited for a swingman role.
  8. Make Hayden Wesneski a high-leverage, middle-innings guy. The Cubs have proved they need a pitcher to regularly shut things down before a game gets out of hand. Wesneski is that guy.
  9. I also prefer Alexander Canario over Mike Tauchman, but admit I’d hate to see Tauchman leave the organization because I genuinely like him. Every team needs a player like Tauchman.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

“Get Taylor Rogers up. You know what? You better get Tyler Rogers up, too.”

Central Intelligence

Climbing the Ladder

“I’m only going where my toes are pointed, but I just bought me this new pair of big shoes.” – Widespread Panic, Walkin’ for Your Love

Nico Hoerner is running less but walking more. After an extremely slow start, he’s hitting .289/.389/.754 with 10 BB and a 120 OPS+. His BB% is up to 11.1%, four points higher than his career average.

  • Games Played: 22
  • Record: 13-9 (.591), 2nd place in NL Central
  • In One-Run Games: 3-4 (.429)
  • Total Plate Appearances: 843
  • Total Strikeouts: 188
  • Strikeout Rate: 22.3%
  • Team Batting Average: .247
  • With Runners in Scoring Position: 51-for-177 (.288)
  • Runs Scored: 119
  • Runs Allowed: 101
  • Pythagorean Record: 13-9
  • Chances of Making the Playoffs: 76.7%, 4.2% chance to win World Series 

How About That!

It was another long night at the plate for the White Sox in a 7-0 loss to the Twins. The Sox were shut out for the eighth time, the most in MLB history (1901-present) through the first 22 games of a season. With only three wins, this team appears primed to make a run at the 1962  Mets, who finished 40-120, still the modern record for most losses in a season.

Manager Pedro Grifol, who doesn’t appear to be in danger of losing his job, said Chicago’s record “sucks.”

Tim Anderson sounds like he’s happy to have escaped the South Side.

Aaron Boone was given a warning by the umpire five pitches into Monday’s game not to say anything, then a fan proceeded to yell at the umpire and got Boone ejected.

Umpire Hunter Wendelstedt explained the reason for ejection after the video went viral, but it sounds like a cop-out.

Ronald Acuña Jr. has stolen more bases than any other Braves player since the franchise moved from Milwaukee to Atlanta.

Dylan Cease has quickly become the Padres’ new ace.

Several pitchers and scouts believe MLB is using juiced baseballs this year. Expect that to be tied to the rash of arm injuries in 3…2…

Monday’s Three Stars

  1. Eugenio Suárez – The D-backs third baseman was 3-for-4 last night with two doubles and two RBI.
  2. Ranger Suárez – The big lefty led the Phillies to a 7-0 win over the Reds thanks to seven, two-hit innings with five punchouts. His scoreless streak now sits at 25 innings.
  3. Albert Suárez – The 34-year-old Baltimore starter continues to make history. He pitched four-hit ball into the 6th inning against the Angels to earn his first win since 2016.

Extra Innings

Dexter Fowler has some pretty impressive stats that I was not previously aware of.

Tuesday Morning Six-Pack

  1. The NFL Draft is two days away and the Bears have several options with their No. 9 pick, so I ranked them. I’m one of the few who believes Rome Odunze or Brock Bowers are better fits for Chicago than Marvin Harrison, Jr.
  2. The Bears are getting a new stadium, but it’s not going to be in Arlington Heights and it reportedly won’t be publicly funded. The announcement is coming Wednesday with the blessings of the City of Chicago.
  3. Faced with rising prices and disappointing shows, an increasing number of Americans are putting “cancel streaming subscription” reminders in their GCal. I’m one of them. I’ve canceled everything but Netflix.
  4. Hmmm…Tapestry, the parent company of Coach and Kate Spade, is trying to monopolize the fashion industry.
  5. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame named its latest inductees, and it’s probably the first time Cher, Mary J. Blige, Dave Matthews, A Tribe Called Quest, and Ozzy Osbourne have been grouped together.
  6. Happy Shakespeare Day to all those who celebrate. I’m feeling bedazzled and multitudinous, yet slightly half-blooded by the pageantry of the day.

Apropos of Nothing

I’ll be covering the entire first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday night at Bears Insider. I hope you’ll follow along if you’re a football fan.

They Said It

  • “I didn’t go into this year looking to walk more. I’d obviously rather walk more, but you want to do that from a place that’s still aggressive and getting your swing off. There’s some back and forth there. If I’m able to walk at a league-average rate or better, then I know I’ll be on base a lot and score a lot of runs.” – Hoerner
  • “When you’re out there, you really can’t have those human emotions. It’s just [the] task at hand, lock in, executing on the glove. Those are thoughts I have to have the whole time when I’m out there. [Sunday] was much better on that path.” – Hendricks
  • “We’re gonna have more tough losses during the course of the year. That’s just the nature of this sport. Not having those things linger [is important]. It’s been a really resilient group and I think that’s probably the part that is most exciting for me. … It’s early but I’m hoping that [resiliency] is a hallmark of this team.” – Jed Hoyer

Tuesday Walk-Up Song

Cher in the Hall of Fame? Sounds like a party to me, and she’s going to own the induction ceremony. I met her once, she lives right off of PCH and has the coolest backyard, though it did remind me quite a bit of Sanford & Son. Credit Quincy Jones for the earworm.

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