“Dream until your dreams come true.” – Aerosmith, Dream On
So here we are, the final week of the season. Is anybody still watching? Marcus Stroman had a great outing in yesterday’s 2-1 win over the Phillies and that’s significant. The first-year Cub has struggled badly at the Friendly Confines this season, pitching to a 5.71 ERA with two wins and a 1.337 WHIP in 11 starts. He’s 3-2 with a 2.03 ERA in away games. In yesterday’s contest, he held Philadelphia to four hits and one walk with six strikeouts in seven innings. That’s the version of Stro we all expected when he inked his free agent deal with the Cubs in November.
Stroman should be the No. 2 or 3 starter on Chicago’s staff next summer, depending on what the Cubs do in free agency. Tommy Hottovy said the Cubs are already discussing possible additions, and young hurlers Justin Steele and Hayden Wesneski look primed to break out in 2023. Then there’s Kyle Hendricks, who could end up being the league’s best fifth starter. You can never have too much pitching and Chicago has some big arms on the periphery. Without getting too far ahead of myself, it seems like a numbers crunch is inevitable.
That means a trade or two might be coming, and I can’t help but think that Jed Hoyer and Carter Hawkins have enough of a minor league arsenal to make a run at Shohei Ohtani. I’d prefer they wait until he’s a free agent in 2024, but attendance is lagging at Wrigley Field and Ohtani could be that Jon Lester-type of acquisition Cubs fans have begged for since the lockout ended. If I were Ohtani I would want to test free agency at any cost, but who knows? Maybe he’d be amenable to tying his future to Chicago’s imminent turnaround.
The two-way star sure checks a lot of boxes, doesn’t he? He’s worth 9.3 WAR as a pitcher and designated hitter, offers plus power from the left side of the plate, and strikes out 11.9 batters per nine innings pitched. Ohtani throws a 100 mph fastball that moves and follows it with a backdoor slider that falls off the table. He’s also a perennial Cy Young and MVP candidate. He would simultaneously be the Cubs’ best pitcher and hitter. Hoyer will most certainly kick the tires on the 28-year-old superstar if the Angels make him available.
What would it take to acquire this generation’s Babe Ruth? Let’s take a look at what the Padres paid to get Juan Soto from the Nationals. San Diego sent Robert Hassell, MacKenzie Gore, CJ Abrams, Luke Voit, James Wood, and Jarlin Susana to Washington for Soto and Josh Bell. Bell is a pending free agent, so let’s assume that part of the deal was Voit, Wood, and Susana.
If the Cubs want to make a run at Ohtani, they’d probably have to start with one of Brennen Davis, Pete Crow-Armstrong, Kevin Alcántara, Alexander Canario, or Owen Caissie. They’d have to add a pitcher and I’d assume they’d be willing to send Caleb Kilian or DJ Herz to Anaheim. Then, depending on which outfielder they give up, Hoyer and Carter might have to include one of James Triantos or Kevin Made. Maybe Patrick Wisdom is the sweetener to replace some of the power the Angels would give up.
However, Soto has an extra year of control. With that in mind, I’d throw Wisdom, Kilian, Triantos, and Yohendrick Pinango for Ohtani and then identify any gaps. That’s a little light, but it’s not a bad floor to start negotiations.
Cubs News & Notes
- It looks like we are nearing the end of the Willson Contreras era in Chicago. The Cubs are believed to be wanting to go in another direction that doesn’t include the longest-tenured member of the organization.
- The veteran backstop said he just wants to play somewhere where he’s wanted next season. I love his passive aggressiveness.
- He also hasn’t ruled out accepting a qualifying offer if one is tendered.
- Contreras and Seiya Suzuki were activated before yesterday’s game. The Cubs DFA’d Michael Hermosillo and optioned Jared Young to Iowa in corresponding moves.
- The offseason speculation regarding the Cubs and shortstop Carlos Correa is already ramping up.
- Chicago’s top priority this winter should be extending Nico Hoerner.
- Our own Evan Altman championed that very idea a month ago.
- After last night’s win, the Cubs are now 40-46 (.465) in games decided by two runs or less, and their 51 one-run games are tied for third-most in the majors. They’re really not that far away from contending.
- The Cubs are counting on Hendricks to be a “huge part” of their rotation in 2023.
- Stroman said he’d like to help recruit free agents to Chicago this winter.
- Chicago’s rotation is really thriving down the stretch.
- David Ross said second baseman Nick Madrigal is done for the season.
- The Cubs have a simple solution to filling their hole at first base next season. I’ll give you three guesses.
- 103-year-old Chicago legend Sister Jean of Loyola threw out yesterday’s first pitch.
Odds & Sods
Fantastic performance and a five-star Tweet by Bailey Ober.
— Bailey Ober (@baileyOB_17) September 28, 2022
Climbing the Ladder
“On vacation ’round by some college town, I heard whispers in the street…” – Eddie Money, It Could Happen to You
Christopher Morel hit a 3rd inning home run yesterday but I’d rather see Rossy give him the rest of the season off. Yan Gomes — Chicago’s heir apparent to Contreras — drove home Ian Happ with a 7th-inning double. I guess Willson really did know the writing was on the wall when Hoyer announced the Gomes signing.
- Games Played: 154
- Total Plate Appearances: 5,778
- Total Strikeouts: 1,378
- Strikeout Rate: 23.85%
- Team Batting Average: .240
- Runs Scored: 617
- Runs Allowed: 718
How About That!
The Blue Jays walked Aaron Judge four times in five trips to the plate, denying the slugger a shot at home runs 61 and 62. Cowards. “I’ll take four walks for a win every day,” said Judge, who scored twice. Good for him.
NJ.com reported that ESPN allegedly pressured the league not to end Sunday’s rain-shortened Red Sox-Yankees game because of Judge’s home run chase.
Maury Brown of Forbes said via Twitter that those claims are unfounded.
Due to Hurricane Ian, MLB is discussing alternative plans for this weekend’s crucial Braves-Mets series.
Mariners outfielder Julio Rodríguez has been chosen as Baseball America’s 2022 Major League Rookie of the Year, becoming the first Mariner to ever win the award.
Marlins lefty Richard Bleier had himself an inning to forget Tuesday night against the Mets in New York, making major league history as the only player since 1900 to balk three times in the same at-bat, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
Ohtani has hit in 12 straight games, a personal best.
Pitching Ninja says the Dodgers have MLB’s filthiest staff.
The Diamondbacks are baseball’s cheapest team.
Tuesday’s Three Stars
- Jose Altuve – The diminutive second baseman led the Astros to a 10-2 win over the Diamondbacks with two home runs on a 3-for-4 night. Altuve also scored four times.
- Ronald Acuña Jr. – The Braves slugger had two jacks as Atlanta pasted the Nationals 8-2. Acuna has 15 home runs and 28 stolen bases on the season.
- Anthony Santander – Keeping with this morning’s theme, Santander popped two big flies in the Orioles’ 13-9 loss to the Red Sox. Baltimore trails the Mariners by 3.5 games for the final AL Wild Card slot with eight games to play.
That’s Matt Mervis mashing another baseball.
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) September 27, 2022
Monday Morning Six-Pack
- To all our Florida readers, we’re hoping you stay safe as Hurricane Ian makes landfall today. More than 2 million residents are under mandatory evacuation orders.
- Legendary Bears linebacker Dick Butkus orchestrated a semi-hostile takeover of Halas Hall on Tuesday and it was equally awkward and amazing. The semi-hostile part was just for grits and shins.
- Chicago’s run-heavy offense looks like it was copped from the Bears’ 1977 playbook, but it’s probably an effort to protect Justin Fields from himself and his line.
- Legendary wrestler and actor John Cena has been recognized by Guinness World Records as the celeb who’s granted the most wishes through the Make-a-Wish Foundation — and it’s not remotely close.
- Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving said his decision not to get vaccinated cost him a $100 million contract extension.
- One key indicator of the country’s imminent recession can be found on some boxes of Hamburger Helper. “Try it with hot dogs instead.”
They Said It
- “[Correa] is gonna want at least $35 million for X amount of years on a long-term deal. I’m not sure he’s going to get it, but it only takes one idiotic owner to agree, and I’m worried that that owner has already presented himself. And that’s Tom Ricketts of the Chicago Cubs, who has pledged to spend money this offseason.” – LaVelle Neal, Minnesota Star Tribune
- “We all know I’ve been here for 14 years and we don’t know if it’s a real goodbye or just a moment. But I’m looking forward to going out there to have fun with my teammates. That’s all I can do at this point, have fun and do the best I can. I’m not going to make any assumptions. I’m just gonna go out there and have fun and see what happens in the next few months.” – Contreras
- “On great teams, you have five starters, but you need 10. You need guys that come in and are competitive and keep the team in games, stuff like that, and kind of just take the weight off one another. It’s a huge thing.” – Adrian Sampson
- “I’m confident in him getting some rest, I’m confident in him having a good normal offseason build-up. So as of right now, we absolutely are believing in [Kyle] Hendricks to be a huge part of what we want to do next year.” – Hottovy
- “[Madrigal] is done. Hurry up, everybody, tweet that out.” – Ross
Wednesday Walk-Up Song
Despite a disappointing season, I’m a little sad that it’s almost over.