The Rundown: Cubs Need to Dominate Hot Stove Headlines, Ross Loves Happ, MLB Growing in Popularity

I respect Evan Altman a great deal and almost always side with his opinions, but I don’t feel the Cubs should settle for merely being competitive next season. They need to dominate the offseason and do everything in their power to take over the National League.

We’ve reached that time of the year when we all become amateur talent scouts and evaluators. The plots and subplots of the Hot Stove season are so intriguing and the arguments so polarizing. Naturally, we tend to focus on the best of the best in free agency. That means we’ll hear plenty about the top shortstops and starting pitchers. Of course, a large contingent of fans would rather see the Cubs shy away from the open market and continue to horde minor league players.

As a fan, I want the Cubs to win now. If that means trading 4-5 prospects for Shohei Ohtani, I’m 100% chips in. I know what Ohtani will bring to the Cubs, but I can’t determine with the slightest bit of accuracy how well Owen Caissie and Jordan Wicks will do as big leaguers. The Dodgers gave up Keibert Ruiz and Josiah Gray for Trea Turner, and that seemed to work out pretty well. The Padres gave up Robert HassellJarlin Susana, James Wood, CJ AbramsMacKenzie Gore, and Luke Voit for Juan Soto and Josh Bell. I’m sure San Diego has no regrets.

The same could be said of free agency. I am so tired of the Jason Heyward argument, as if the Cubs are the only team that has ever been burned in free agency. Plenty of players have earned their salaries after signing life-changing contracts. I’d name Greg Maddux, Barry Bonds, Max Scherzer, Randy Johnson, and Andre Dawson off the top of my head.

Does signing Xander Bogaerts mean one or more of James Triantos, Cristian Hernández, Kevin Made, or Ed Howard is expendable? You betcha. But I’m okay with seeing Ohtani and Bogaerts trotting onto the field in Cubs pinstripes at those prices. If you need a nudge in my direction, revisit the Addison Russell saga. Or, look up the major league stats of Josh Vitters, Hee-Seop Choi, Ty Griffin, and Felix Pie. I’ll agree that scouting is a bit more accurate these days, but a study in April by a non-profit organization revealed that only 10% of minor league players make it to the bigs. A 90% failure rate leaves little to bank on.

I love Chicago’s minor league depth and the conversations that surround those players. But I’d rather talk about the acquisitions of Bogaerts, Turner, Ohtani, Jacob deGrom, Justin Verlander, or Carlos Correa. There are two weeks left in the 2022 season. I’ll be awfully disappointed if the Cubs aren’t dominating the hot stove headlines.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

This video offers every single reason why I intend to skip CubsCon this January. I’m too old for shuffling Ryan Dempster and dudes dressed in flashing lights.

Postseason News & Notes

Verlander surpassed Los Angeles Dodgers star Clayton Kershaw for the top spot on the all-time postseason strikeout list. He struck out the side in the top of the 4th to bring his career total to 215. Kershaw’s previous record was 213 strikeouts.

Phillies starter Aaron Nola and Padres catcher Austin Nola are about to make postseason history. It’ll be the first time two siblings have ever faced one another as pitcher and batter in MLB postseason history.

Quantifiably speaking, the Padres registered the biggest postseason upset since 1995 when they upended the Dodgers in the NLDS.

Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts should be embarrassed by his LDS performance, at least according to MLB analyst Bill Plaschke.

The postseason emergence of Harrison Bader indicates the Yankees may have won the trade that sent Jordan Montgomery to the Cardinals.

Rob Manfred owes a big thank you to Judge because MLB’s popularity appears to be rallying. However, an overall decline in offense is still hurting the game. The new shift rules will help.

This postseason has reaffirmed that a short series can’t actually determine which of two baseball teams is better.

The Mets intend to be big spenders again this winter.

Reliever Eduard Bazardo is now a free agent and I would love it if he signed with the Cubs.

Extra Innings

I’d love to see Willson Contreras join Schwarber in Philadelphia. It won’t happen, but it sure would be fun.

Thursday Morning Six-Pack

  1. On Thursday night, the Bears had three drives of 60+ yards to Washington’s 5-yard line and came away with zero points. That hasn’t happened in the NFL in 30 years.
  2. At least the Bears gave up on incompetent wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette.
  3. Happy Sports Equinox! For only the 27th time ever, all “Big Four” North American pro sports leagues will be in action on the same day. There will be four this year, with the last one falling on Halloween.
  4. A massive avocado surplus is forcing a Philadelphia nonprofit to give away 2,000+ pounds for free in an event it’s calling “Avogeddon.”
  5. If it feels like working from home has given you so much of your life back, it has. Americans who WFH spend 60 million fewer hours commuting to work every day, according to research from the New York Fed.
  6. We do not put ketchup on our hot dogs in Chicago, and our pizzas are always cut tavern-style.

They Said It

  • “One of the most gratifying things for me in this job is watching the arc of a player, watching that development. [Happ]took a really remarkable step forward in terms of his consistency on the field. He made a very concerted effort with his swing and his mentality to even that out. I think he did a fantastic job. There’s no reason he can’t continue to do that.” – Jed Hoyer
  • “Ian created that himself. He identified what he wanted to be. Part of that was being consistent, and part of that was expanding his game and being versatile. A lot of that has to do with getting the at-bats, in his mind.” – Ross

Thursday Walk-Up Song

Here’s to the great Sports Equinox! If only we had some NCAA basketball, too.

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