The Rundown: Cubs Play Spoiler in New York, Sampson Challenges Alonso, Matt Mervis Watch, Judge Blasts Two Taters
“It was so easy living day by day, out of touch with the rhythm and blues. But now I need a little give and take…The New York Times, The Daily News.” – Billy Joel, New York State of Mind
Sampson slayed Goliath in Gotham yesterday. Heavens to Murgatroyd, I should be a headline writer for one of the New York rags. The ironic thing about last night’s 4-1 win over the Mets is that if the Cubs sign Jacob deGrom or any other marquee starting pitcher this winter, Adrian Sampson might find himself in the bargain bin of free agency.
David Bote provided a nice audition for prospective clubs with a 7th-inning home run off of Seth Lugo, another pitcher I wouldn’t mind seeing on the Cubs. He’ll be a free agent this winter, too. Might as well add Chris Bassitt and Michael Conforto to the mix. Heck, Conforto can be signed immediately if Jed Hoyer is in the mood to beat other suitors to the buffet. Somebody get Scott Boras on the horn, let’s see if Tom Ricketts really wants to spend some money this year.
It’s too bad Bote can’t be moved now so the Cubs can add Matt Mervis. I suppose they could outright release Bote and eat his contract, but that’s beyond wishful thinking. I can imagine Arizona Fall League games drawing more viewers than the Cubs will over the next three weeks. It could happen, and I know I’ll be watching if I can. Mervis is batting .311 with 32 home runs and 109 RBI. The Cubs haven’t had that kind of production at first base since 2016 and ’17, when Anthony Rizzo had nearly identical counting stats in each of those seasons.
Mervis has a beautiful swing as you can see here, here and here. The kid has hops and packs some serious leather, too. When I look at prospect lists and see Mervis ranked outside the top 20, it always makes me do a double take. I imagine he’ll shoot up those lists ahead of spring training. Even if the Cubs do not sign a single free agent this winter, Mervis looks like he will be a fantastic addition to the parent club.
Just imagine Mervis — the future Rookie of the Year — in the middle of Chicago’s order with Brennen Davis. Add Pete Crow-Armstrong to the top of the order and round out your rotation with Hayden Wesneski, Jordan Wicks, and Cade Horton. That’s what we will be witnessing at this time next year, if not sooner. Crow-Armstrong, Wicks, and Horton will probably be late-summer additions.
If you add deGrom to that mix, the Cubs will be serious contenders for the NL Central. Perhaps Hoyer was right all along that it really isn’t a rebuild. This year was the seeding and next year will be the first harvest. Biblical scholars and farmers know exactly what I am talking about.
Cubs News & Notes
- Sampson said he was “up to the challenge” of battling deGrom in New York.
- Sampson also had a heated conversation with Mets slugger Pete Alonso last night. “I was just, like, ‘Don’t do that,’” Sampson told the Cubs TV broadcast about Alonso’s bat toss. “It doesn’t look good. It’s not part of our game. [The encounter] was a non-issue. I have a lot of respect for the guy.”
- Rafael Ortega fractured his ring finger in last night’s game and he’s done for the season.
- Michael Hermosillo helped the team win with a big defensive play last night and will get plenty of at-bats with Ortega sidelined. He’s fighting for a roster spot next season, too.
- Last night’s win clinched the series over the Mets, the first time the Cubs have taken a three-game set in three weeks.
- The Mets have really struggled this season against the league’s weaker teams.
- David Kaplan speculated on his reKAP podcast that Willson Contreras could sign with the Cardinals in free agency. I don’t see that happening.
- Seiya Suzuki made the final monthly list of baseball’s hottest rookies.
- It’s been two years since Alec Mills threw his no-hitter.
- South Bend and Myrtle Beach have advanced to the playoffs.
Odds & Sods
The potential additions of Carlos Rodón and Trea Turner would make this the happiest Cubs winter in almost a decade.
According to @thekapman:
Shortstop Trea Turner is interested in signing with the Chicago Cubs this offseason. "Cubs mutually interested in Turner."
Pitcher Carlos Rodon is also interested in signing with the Cubs this offseason.
— Daniel Greenberg (@ChiSportUpdates) September 14, 2022
Climbing the Ladder
“You get a shiver in the dark, It’s a-raining in the park but meantime…South of the river you stop and you hold everything.” – Dire Straits, Sultans of Swing
We are officially down to the final 20 games of the season. The Cubs struck out 16 times yesterday and still won the game. In addition to Bote’s home run, Ian Happ hit a bomb off of deGrom that may have ripped a seat off of its anchors. I’m hoping Happ gets to 20 taters by season’s end. Patrick Wisdom provided the game’s best highlight by perfectly executing a safety squeeze.
By the way, every music link in this post is a live performance. You’re welcome. The bridge and coda on “Sultans” is grandiose and that’s understating things.
- Games Played: 142
- Total Plate Appearances: 5,337
- Total Strikeouts: 1,257
- Strikeout Rate: 23.55%
- Team Batting Average: .241
- Runs Scored: 577
- Runs Allowed: 676
How About That!
Mike Trout did not homer last night, breaking his streak of seven consecutive games in which he left the yard. Trout said he is going to start a new streak.
Jordan Montgomery was shelled by the Brewers last night, but the Cardinals starter entered the game with a 1.45 ERA since being traded to St. Louis by the Yankees. “Pinstripes are heavy,” said the lefty. I suppose some people feel boring is better.
The Mets continue to lose while the Braves continue to win. They’re now separated by 0.5 games for the NL East lead.
Tony La Russa is finding it tough to be a White Sox fan. He should see what it’s like when he’s managing.
Corbin Burnes said that he and the Brewers have not engaged in extension talks. The Brewers have three-fifths of their rotation entering their contract years next season and have some big decisions to make.
Jake Mintz of FOX Sports thinks baseball fans should be thrilled about the addition of a pitch clock next season.
Look for teams to return to an emphasis on speed thanks to next year’s rule changes. In addition to bases expanding from 15 to 18 square inches, pitchers will be limited to two pickoff attempts or step-offs. If they attempt a third and fail, they’ll be called for a balk.
On this day in 1990, Ken Griffey and Ken Griffey Jr. hit back-to-back home runs.
The Onion left me in stitches once again, and this time Fernando Tatis Jr. serves as their foil.
Tuesday’s Three Stars
- Aaron Judge – The Yankees slugger homered twice and now has 57 jacks on the season with 21 more games to pass Roger Maris for the American League home run record.
- Mark Mathias – The Texas first-sacker also had two home runs on a 3-for-5 night as the Rangers topped the A’s 8-7.
- Adolis Garcia – The Rangers outfielder was 2-for-2 with a home run, three RBI, two walks, and a stolen base in the same game.
Apropos of Nothing
I have $95 in donations for playlists but no way to deliver them. If you sent money to me via PayPal, please send me an email so that I can provide your songs and a Spotify link. Right-click over the link above and you will see my email address. Thank you so much, by the way.
It was an “oh no he didn’t” moment, no doubt.
Bunting is BACK, baby!#DailyWisdom pic.twitter.com/jpJlaM4I3P
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 14, 2022
Wednesday Morning Six-Pack
- Bears head coach Matt Eberflus started his weekly presser by thanking the team’s fans.
- Despite sloppy field conditions on Sunday, the Bears had some of the highest-ranked players in the league per Pro Football Focus. That includes rookie edge rusher Dominique Robinson, tackle Larry Borom, cornerback Jaylon Johnson, and wide receiver Byron Pringle.
- The NBA has suspended Suns owner Robert Sarver for one year and fined him $10 million following an investigation into allegations of workplace misconduct. According to the probe, Sarver “repeated the N-word when recounting the statements of others,” frequently made sex-related comments at work, and interacted inappropriately with male and female employees. Sarver, a real estate developer, also owns the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury.
- Raise your hand if you’re already sick of political ads. We’re still 54 days out from the midterms and I already miss regular commercials. Inflation came roaring back yesterday and my 401k took another hard hit. I’m down 36% this year. Fed Chair Jerome Powell, whose job description is to get inflation to 2% by raising interest rates, sees no other option than to continue jacking up three-pointers. Maybe instead of spending on ads, we can try to find a way to right the economy. Food for thought.
- The residents of Stow, MA have nothing left to live for now that the local Dunkin’ has closed. As one dejected resident grumbled, “You have to travel more than a mile and a half to get to the closest Dunkin’ the next town over.”
- Have you ever wondered what happens behind the scenes once you press play on Spotify, YouTube, or other streaming services? Here’s how musicians, distributors, and content creators get paid.
They Said It
- “The ball’s in Jed’s court when it comes to how and where he puts financial resources to work. He’s got a lot of flexibility. So you let him do it. You let him decide what he wants to do …. You guys know how we do it. We figure out our projections. We figure out what it costs to put on games and pay people to run the organization and everything else. And then everything left goes to the baseball guys. Jed has the resources to add people. If he feels like it’s the right person at the right time, he has 100 percent support from me. And I’ll leave it to him.” – Tom Ricketts
- “I wasn’t upset that he didn’t throw the ball over the plate, I was frustrated the ball [in the corner] went foul. It’s about putting runs on the board, and I was just frustrated at that.” – Alonso
Wednesday Walk-Up Song
Widespread Panic is coming to Milwaukee next month and I have got to go. They’re one of the best live bands ever.