The Rundown: Fans Run Wild With Harper Rumors, Padres Look to Acquire Kluber, Maddon Discusses Cubs Culture

The time between Christmas and New Year’s sure makes every day feel like a Friday, doesn’t it. I suppose that’s a good thing, but it does add sort of a Ned Ryerson feel to the entire week. Bing!

Yesterday was one wonderful day, though. It was warm enough that I saw kids playing baseball in Lincoln Park. I would have killed for a 50 degree day during my Christmas break when I was a kid. As for me, I am going to address a couple social media items from yesterday.

Oh, that Jon Heyman. He sure can stir a pot.

Somehow Cubs fans all over the world have turned “not necessarily out of the running” into “the Cubs are the favorites to land Bryce Harper.” To be clear, not once in that video above does Heyman say anybody is a favorite. In fact, he actually states the Cubs would have to free up some payroll to sign the all-star right fielder, presumably by trading Jason Heyward.

“Going in.[the Cubs] were a real longshot. [They] resigned Cole Hamels and seemed to want to be under that luxury tax.” Heyman said. He then further elaborated that the Cubs and Dodgers are the two best teams in the NL but that both want to set themselves up to “do something big.” Apparently nobody considers the signings of Kendall Graveman and Daniel Descalso to be big moves. Certainly not as big as Harper’s imminent signing.

And boy, are those hot takes flying. At least the writers here at Cubs Insider kept things in perspective. Heyman took to Twitter to provide some context to his opinion as well.

But wait…there’s more.

By about midnight last night, Cubs fans and professional Twitter-ers near and far were placing Albert Almora Jr. and Ian Happ (not a junior) on the Indians with Corey Kluber coming back to the Cubs. One of my favorite Cubs fanaticisms occurs when a player that sits comfortably on one person’s scrap heap suddenly becomes a veritable treasure for an acquiring team in any trade scenario.

“All that is gold does not glitter; not all those who wander are lost; the old that is strong does not wither; deep roots are not reached by the frost..”  – J.R. Tolkien

I find it difficult to believe that the Padres and Indians match up in a trade that would be headlined by Manuel Margot Jr. and Hunter Renfroe (also not a junior). Still, it has to be a bit of a cold sting that a) the Cubs wouldn’t offer Almora and Happ for Kluber or b) that Cleveland would be more enamored of the two San Diego players.

But those Happ and Almora bashers — many of whom will argue to the death that the Cubs do not need starting pitching — would have you believe the Cubs would be getting hosed with such an overpay for Kluber. At the same time, though, they’d gladly acquiesce if given the opportunity.

The front office has made it very clear that they do not intend to increase payroll. But news is slow during the holiday break and though I didn’t see Theo Epstein or Jed Hoyer playing ball in Lincoln Park, I would guess they weren’t quite as busy as Cubs fans were on Twitter yesterday. I suppose the greatest blindness is to simply assume the absence of blindness. Thus is the winter of our discontent.

Survey Says

Don’t forget, I have created a three minute, 10-question survey specific to my column here at Cubs Insider. At the bottom of the survey there is information on winning a $25 Amazon gift card for your participation. Drawing will be held 12/31/2018. You can answer anonymously if you want, so be honest, please and thank you. The survey results will help to make this column better and more engaging. Thank you to those who have already participated.

Cubs News & Notes

Thursday Stove

While the Yankees seem to be interested only in one of Harper or Machado, the Evil Empire is reportedly the preference of both all-star free agents, according to Joel Sherman of The New York Post

Atlanta could be interested in bringing back Craig Kimbrel. Because the former Braves and Red Sox closer has made it clear he wants a six-year deal for over $100 million dollars, I don’t think Kimbrel is on any team’s radar right now.

The Brewers have been as inactive as the Cubs this winter.

Even now, months after their magical run ended, it seems nearly impossible that the Athletics won 97 games with the slapdash group of humans who made up the their starting rotation.

After a flurry of offseason trades, Mitch Haniger is now the face of the Mariners franchise. The club intends to build around their star outfielder. I would have liked to see Mitch the Kid playing for the Cubs.

What was the defining moment of the 2018 season? ESPN offers some suggestions by comparing last season to the 1918 baseball season.

Yasiel Puig showed up on Instagram decked out in Cincinnati gear just hours after his trade from the Dodgers to the Reds.

On Deck

Happy Birthday Cole Hamels!

Extra Innings

If you’ve been following this column for a while, I am sure you are aware of my distaste for baseball’s Hall of Fame. Certainly the exclusion of Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson dictated by some imaginary standards is one reason, and the longtime absence of Ron Santo is another. But the way the BBWAA handles yearly balloting is also a big reason I think the Hall is a sham. I don’t know if there is a way to fix everything is wrong with the voting process, I just know I am not a fan of the power baseball’s writers yield.

You’ll need a subscription to read Joe Posnaski’s take for The Athletic. And though I don’t know if I necessarily feel that Mariano Rivera should be the Hall’s first unanimous selection, I do agree with Posnanski that voting is nothing more than an accident of randomness, negligence, stupidity, and/or personal vendettas. In other words, a sham.

Thursday Walk Up Song

Take on Me by A-ha. You’ll have to read yesterday’s column and comments to find out why this is ranked next to Michael Jackson’s Thriller on my Top 20 music video countdown.

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