“He got the voices speakin’ riddles. He got the eye as black as coal. He’s got a suitcase covered with rattlesnake hide, and he stands right in the road.” – John Fogerty, The Old Man Down the Road
The Cubs were off for Labor Day, a welcome respite for the team and its fans. Rather than go another day without a Rundown, I thought I’d piggyback off of Evan’s predictions column. I don’t agree with some of what Mr. Altman wrote, but then again, what fun would it be if I just copied his predictions and called it a column?
Yes, I agree that Pete Crow-Armstrong will make his MLB debut next season and that Matt Mervis will win the NL Rookie of the Year Award. I also see extensions for Nico Hoerner and Willson Contreras, though the catcher won’t get his until after he accepts Chicago’s qualifying offer. Other than that, here are my bold predictions for this winter and next season.
- Contreras will accept Hoyer’s qualifying offer, which should be in the $18.6-$19 million range. The two will then agree to extend that through 2026 at $16 million per season with a mutual fifth-year option.
- With no extra draft pick, the Cubs will not sign any of the big four shortstops. Xander Bogaerts and Trea Turner will receive qualifying offers. The Braves will probably extend Dansby Swanson, but he’ll likewise enter free agency carrying the QO if a deal isnt reached. Carlos Correa will pass on any offer Hoyer makes. He doesn’t want to be part of a rebuild and he will not be keen on the idea of playing second or third base.
- No extra draft pick means no shot at Carlos Rodón or any other pitcher saddled with that free-agency noose. Justin Verlander will hit free agency unencumbered, however, and I think a two-year guarantee will make him a Cub.
- The Cubs need left-handed power and Mervis will help. Forget about the notion of signing Josh Bell. The Cubs will need somebody to replace Ian Happ on the chance he is traded this winter, and Brandon Drury would be a good fit. He can play multiple infield and outfield positions and he’d be a nice platoon for Mervis against tough lefties. Joc Pederson is available and he can also provide left-handed power.
- I believe Happ will be traded because the Cubs need to get pitching in return. Forget all the Shohei Ohtani rumors, Angels owner Artie Moreno won’t sign off on any trade. Pablo Lopez is reportedly on the block, but the Marlins aren’t going to trade one expiring contract for another. That said, the Padres might be willing to trade Blake Snell and a prospect for Happ to offset the roughly $10 million difference in contracts. San Diego won’t include a premium prospect. That said, Jagger Haynes and Ryan Bergert are lower-level prospects that carry significant risk but with very high ceilings.
- The Cubs will re-sign Drew Smyly, but Wade Miley will move on. I don’t think Alec Mills will be a Cub next season either. Same for David Bote and Yan Gomes.
- I believe the Cubs will trade one of their middle infield or outfield prospects in order to acquire a closer, perhaps Daniel Bard. If Hoyer goes off the beaten path in free agency, Michael Fulmer is a reliever to keep an eye on. Fulmer reinvented himself as a late-inning stopper and he won’t cost much. David Roberston is another pending free agent to watch.
- Brennen Davis will be the star of the Arizona Fall League and fast-tracked to Chicago for Opening Day.
- The Angels will fire team president John Carpino and GM Perry Minasian. That’s not Cubs news but it could be. Craig Breslow would probably be on Anaheim’s shortlist, and it wouldn’t be shocking if he snagged Dan Kantrovitz or Matt Dorey to be his new GM. The spoiled fruits of minor league success mean losing the guys who built it.
- David Ross will be named Manager of the Year in 2023 and get a second contract extension
Cubs News & Notes
- Among a series of moves, the Cubs promoted RHP Hayden Wesneski, designated reliever Kervin Castro, and placed LHP Justin Steele on the IL.
- Mervis was named the team’s Minor League Player of the Month, and Walker Powell was honored as the organization’s top Minor League pitcher.
- Mervis, Chicago’s 21st-ranked prospect according to MLB.com, made the MLB Pipeline Team of the Week.
- Miley will start the series opener against the Reds this evening. It will be his first appearance since June 10.
- Albert Pujols hit his 695th career homer on Sunday, 59 of which have come against Cubs pitchers.
- You don’t have to like the Cardinals to appreciate Pujols.
- Christopher Morel has been working on his defense at third base. Morel’s versatility has been an asset this season and a primary reason that he’s in the club’s plans going forward.
- Mervis could make Bote expendable as soon as this winter. Cubs director of player development Jared Banner said Saturday at Busch Stadium that the door isn’t closed on calling up Mervis before the season ends.
Odds & Sods
Kody Clemens is now a pitching legacy.
Save that ball! 😂
Kody Clemens was hyped to strike out Shohei for his first K. pic.twitter.com/UD4zJ29TWk
— MLB (@MLB) September 6, 2022
Climbing the Ladder
“Mountain gets steeper, the hole you dig gets deeper.” – Eric Clapton, No Alibis
The Cardinals swept the Cubs over the weekend, outscoring Chicago 18-4. The Cardinals hit six home runs in the three-game set. The Cubs hit zero.
At least Marcus Stroman had a strong outing on Sunday. He’s been having a tough go of it at Wrigley Field this season, but he’s been stellar in road games. The two teams have now completed their season series, and the Cubs dropped 13 of the 19 contests.
- Games Played: 134
- Total Plate Appearances: 5,048
- Total Strikeouts: 1,174
- Strikeout Rate: 23.26%
- Team Batting Average: .240
- Runs Scored: 547
- Runs Allowed: 648
How About That!
Rodón said the Giants have the best fans in baseball.
Pujols is climbing the MLB leaderboard in several offensive categories. I know he intends to retire after this season, but I’m not sure I believe him.
Yu Darvish reached a milestone over the weekend. He now has 3,000 career strikeouts, including his time in the NPB. Hideo Nomo is the only other pitcher with 3,000+ punchouts across the two professional leagues.
Jacob deGrom said he is going to opt out of his contract at the end of the season and test free agency. The multiple Cy Young award winner is expected to earn a Max Scherzer-like deal, according to Jon Heyman.
The inaugural MLB Draft lottery is expected to take place during this year’s Winter Meetings, which will be held in San Diego during the first week of December. The Cubs have a 3.9% chance of winning the first pick according to this morning’s standings, and a 32.9% chance of earning a top-six pick.
Monday’s Three Stars
- Bo Bichette – The Blue Jays shortstop had the first three-home run game of his career, and he plated five runners in the process.
- Aaron Judge – He blasted another homer yesterday, his 54th of the season, to help the struggling Yankees maintain their five-game lead over the Rays. He needs seven home runs in New York’s final 27 games to tie Roger Maris for most in American League history. The Yankees went 19-31 during a recent 50-game stretch to allow Tampa Bay back into the race.
- Ryne Nelson – The Arizona hurler tossed seven shutout innings with seven strikeouts in his Major League debut, leading the Diamondbacks to a 5-0 win over the Padres.
Josh Hader's ERA with the Padres is 17.55. pic.twitter.com/nKLmSHDO9T
— Just Baseball (@JustBBMedia) September 6, 2022
Tuesday Morning Six-Pack
- The Bears could be the worst team in the NFL according to a number of NFL writers. Are they accurate in those projections? The team’s fanbase is much more optimistic.
- Rookie offensive tackle Braxton Jones is Chicago’s highest-rated player per Pro Football Focus. There is a caveat, however. The publication graded the rookie based on his senior season at Southern Utah.
- Name, image, and likeness Deals could be giving some universities an edge in recruiting student-athletes. Boosters at many powerhouse schools have formed controversial NIL collectives that aim to funnel money into athletes’ pockets. At Texas Tech, the Matador Club Collective is paying every football player and women’s basketball player $25,000 a year in exchange for event appearances and community service.
- Are you interested in Labor Day trivia? The folks over at NPR believe you might be.
- Peter Jackson’s documentary series Get Back won five Emmy Awards on Saturday evening.
- Mickey Dolenz, the last surviving member of the Monkees, is seeking his unredacted FBI file which describes the band as “beatnik types.”
They Said It
- “Anything is possible whenever you go to Triple-A and perform the way [Mervis] has, put yourself on the radar. But we’re taking things day by day, looking at helping him keep improving on a daily basis. That’s our focus. Everything else will take care of itself.” – Banner
- “We have to think through how to reconfigure our offense. Because we don’t have enough power right now, we have to get the ball in the air more.” – Hoyer
- “You need a balance. Having an entire team of guys that don’t slug a lot and put the ball in play is not the way to go. And having a team of high strikeout/power guys is hard. Ultimately, you want to blend. That way, you have multiple ways to beat teams. I do think we battled some really good pitchers well this year because we put the ball in play and we don’t strike out a ton. But I do think the lack of explosiveness is something we have to address.” – Hoyer
Tuesday Walk-Up Song
I hope you all enjoyed your Labor Day.