The Rundown: Cubs MiLB Star Power Resembles 2014-15 Teams, Heyward Nominated for Clemente Award, MLB Votes on Rule Changes Today
“Gunter glieben glauchen globen.” – Def Leppard, Rock of Ages
There are 25 games left in the Cubs’ season, and though Chicago is not mathematically eliminated, there will be no postseason baseball this year at the corner of Clark and Addison. Last night’s 4-3 loss to the Reds was one of those late-season, going-through-the-motions games. As I mentioned in yesterday’s Rundown, we are at the point of fervently anticipating the offseason and the start of spring training.
Chicago has the league’s eighth-worst record at 57-80, which makes them two losses shy of their second consecutive losing season. The Cubs finished 71-91 in 2021 so a 14-11 finish will get them back to that mark. The Giants come to town today, then the Cubs will head to New York to play a three-game set with the Mets. Winning 14 of their final 25 games is not out of the question, making it unlikely the Cubs sneak into the top five odds for the top pick. Based on their remaining strength of schedule, Chicago looks to be firmly planted in that No. 8 spot.
Still, I’m not as excited about the draft as I am about Chicago’s prospects. Patrick Mooney authored a nice piece for The Athletic that looks at the potential star power of future Cubs teams ($). Brennen Davis, Miguel Amaya, Pete Crow-Armstrong, Owen Caissie, and Kevin Alcántara have that same “it” factor that Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, and Javier Báez did back in 2014-15. If nothing else, the younger Cubs should have no trouble becoming fan favorites once they reach the bigs. Alcántara carries an extra helping of charisma according to minor league hitting instructor Dustin Kelly.
Fans are already getting a taste of that type of magnetism thanks to rookies like Christopher Morel, Seiya Suzuki, and Hayden Wesneski. Morel has done a particularly nice job of picking up the torch that was dropped when Bryant, Schwarber, Báez, and Anthony Rizzo left town last season. The exciting rookie could be a super utility player in the mold of Ben Zobrist because he reaches base at a decent pace and boasts a nice combination of speed and pop.
With that in mind, I’m anxious to see the younger Cubs finish the season strong. Last night’s answer to insomnia is proof that Jed Hoyer should start the transition toward tomorrow’s stars. Back in the day, September was always a fantastic time to get a good look at a team’s best prospects. Front offices are a bit too protective of their young stars these days and that’s a shame. I know I’d rather watch Matt Mervis than Alfonso Rivas, and I’d prefer Caleb Kilian over Adrian Sampson. Heck, I’d love to see if Crow-Armstrong could light up September the way Nico Hoerner did in 2019.
Cubs News & Notes
- Ian Happ has been a much-improved defensive outfielder this year, and David Ross is championing Happ as a Gold Glove candidate.
- Suzuki has had an up and down season and he’s using that humility and pride to help boost his confidence.
- Sampson had another quality outing yesterday and hopes to use the rest of September to earn a spot in next year’s rotation.
- Wesneski’s dominant debut on Tuesday was the toast of the clubhouse.
- The Giants come to town on the heels of a sweep at the hands of the Brewers. Interestingly, Carlos Rodón gets today’s start against Drew Smyly. Is it too early for Hoyer to greet Rodón with a fat contract?
- Yesterday’s announced attendance of 23,910 was the lowest at Wrigley Field since September 4, 2013. Even worse, the team is now 29-40 at home this year. Those two facts should be the entire focus of Tom Ricketts when he sets next year’s baseball operations budget.
- Jason Heyward is the team’s nominee for the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award. I’d love to see J-Hey win to put a nice bow atop his Cubs career.
- Here’s a guy who just doesn’t get it. I’m actually embarrassed to link to his article.
Ed. note: I’m upset about reading that last piece Michael noted and I’d advise you not to find out why.
Odds & Sods
I was too young to remember watching this game but I must have seen a replay of it somewhere. Sandy Koufax was an unbelievable pitcher. Somebody should make a movie about Vin Scully, by the way.
"Vin Scully's call of Sandy Koufax's perfect game is a particular kind of work of genius." ~ Ron Howard #MLB #Baseball #Dodgers #History pic.twitter.com/3LX5SKG8Fb
— Baseball by BSmile (@BSmile) September 9, 2022
Climbing the Ladder
“Now I’m just floating on the breeze, and I feel I’m falling like these leaves. I must be cornerstoned.” – Bishop Gunn, Shine
Suzuki continued his late-season surge with another homer last night, his 12th of the season. Hoerner had a double (20) and a triple (5), and he leads the team in three base hits and stolen bases (17). Franmil Reyes had a hit and an RBI, boosting his OPS+ to 126 since coming to Chicago.
- Games Played: 137
- Total Plate Appearances: 5,163
- Total Strikeouts: 1,202
- Strikeout Rate: 23.28%
- Team Batting Average: .241
- Runs Scored: 560
- Runs Allowed: 662
How About That!
The two Wild Card races are setting up nicely to make for some of the most compelling baseball games over the next few weeks. I’d particularly love to see the Orioles and Brewers find their way into the postseason. In a nice scheduling quirk, Milwaukee plays 20 of its final 26 games at home.
The Orioles could be on the verge of spending big this winter. In fact, Ken Rosenthal speculates that Baltimore will target starting pitchers from both New York teams, including Chris Bassitt and Jameson Taillon.
Believe it or not, every batter in Baltimore’s regular starting lineup has reached double-digit home runs.
Julio Rodriguez and Spencer Strider have emerged as the top two Rookie of the Year candidates.
The MLB Competition Committee will vote today on the pace of play rules changes for next season. Moreover, the league is expected to approve a pitch clock and shift restrictions, among other changes.
Baseball Insider Tim Kurkjian believes the Giants need to sign Aaron Judge this winter.
Tony La Russa hopes to return to the White Sox as soon as next week.
Two teenage baseball players are suing the Angels in a Dominican Republic court, alleging that the organization reneged on verbal agreements to sign them
A’s pitcher Dave Stewart gave Queen Elizabeth II the Curly Howard routine at an Oakland-Baltimore game back in 1991. For some reason that does not surprise me.
Thursday’s Three Stars
- Corbin Burnes – The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner punched out 14 Giants batters yesterday in eight innings of work. He did not walk a batter. Burns is 27 and won’t be a free agent until 2025, but he’s going to see a significant jump in pay this winter when he enters his first arb year.
- Yoan Moncada – The White Sox third baseman was 5-for-6 yesterday with two home runs and five RBI.
- Romy Gonzalez – In the same game, the White Sox super UT was 4-for-5 with a home run, three runs scored, and three RBI. Chicago beat the Athletics 14-2, by the way.
Is it wrong that the first thing I thought of when I saw this was the Bartles & Jaymes guys?
The Chicago #Cubs grounds crew installs the very first ivy to the famous brick walls of Wrigley Field! (September 1937) #MLB #Baseball #History pic.twitter.com/WTjBpiggK3
— Baseball by BSmile (@BSmile) September 8, 2022
Friday Morning Six-Pack
- I’ve added two new sections to First & Long, the companion football piece to The Rundown that I write for Bears Insider. The first is called Scout Team, which obviously focuses on Chicago’s upcoming opponent. The second is called Film Room, which can best be described as “relevant stuff.”
- One analyst is a big believer in Bears quarterback Justin Fields and head coach Matt Eberflus, and he actually has a favorable outlook on the upcoming season.
- Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-serving British monarch, died yesterday at 96. Consequently, her 73-year-old son will now take the throne as King Charles III, inheriting a very different Britain than his mother did seven decades ago. When QE2 first clocked in on day one, Britain held 70+ territories around the world; at the time of her death, that number had dwindled to 15.
- A spike in thefts of certain Kia and Hyundai models is being attributed to videos on TikTok egging on robberies. Nearly 48% of all cars stolen in St. Louis this year were Kias and Hyundais. The kids are using USB cables to hotwire cars that do not have a push-button start.
- California’s power grid is teetering amid a heat wave, and utilities are begging citizens to conserve power as a result.
- I’ve been upset because the Shepherd Express, a Milwaukee arts-and-entertainment weekly, stopped printing the New York Times crossword puzzle on its back page. Subsequently, I’ve found digital jigsaw puzzles to keep my brain cells stimulated.
They Said It
- “The learning curve for [Crow-Armstrong] has been incredibly fast. I think we knew he could hit. I personally — and I think most of us — have been surprised with the power. We knew that the bat speed was there. We knew that he could impact the ball. But for him to have 16 homers total this year has been a pleasant surprise. We knew that he could do that down the road. But coming off (basically two lost seasons) to have that kind of power numbers has been really impressive.” – Kelly
- “[Alcántara] is just a guy that people gravitate to. Probably the best thing that came out of that priority camp [last offseason] was those players getting to be together every single day. They got to work out together. They ate together. They took batting practice. They did everything together as a group. You just started to see the real personalities start to come out. Kevin has done a great job with his English. He always had that great, big personality. Even in Spanish, you could just tell that he had a glowing smile. But now [that he’s speaking better English] he just connects with everybody on the field. He’s a leader. He’s a star.” – Kelly
Friday Walk-Up Song
I had to, and I promise this song is way better than you may want to believe.