It’s my turn.
As I sit in my home on a winter’s day, the hot stove is now cold. The burners are off, and the utility company has disconnected the service. I go to my favorite Cubs’ sites and I generally feel sorry for the contributors. They are expected to provide content and we’re getting prospect reviews from way down the line, players with very long odds of stepping across the white lines at Wrigley. I thought I’d take a shot.
We’re frustrated because the billionaire owners and millionaire players can’t decide how to split up OUR money. I say this as someone who has bargained labor contracts, they’re never easy. I know the owners’ lost money of ‘biblical proportions,’ but neither the Ricketts family or Max Scherzer need a ‘go fund me’ page. Enough, my intent was to discuss the Cubs 2022.
I don’t want Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and/or Kyle Schwarber back. Thank for the memories (Bob Hope). I didn’t want Javy back either. It’s time to move on, it’s time to stop ‘Living in the Past’ (Jethro Tull). Thank you for a World Series championship, but that ship has sailed and if it happens again, it will be with a new set of players. Predictivity from the ‘old core’ had been diminishing since the Rizzo jammed the ball in his back pocket after the final out November 2, over five years ago.
I don’t want Carlos Correa either. I am not denying his talent, but the money being discussed is obscene. I don’t believe one player can carry a team to a title in this game, really any of them. Tom Brady still has fifty-two teammates every time he suits up. Since he has just engaged the services of Scott Boras, this part of my commentary may have become a moot point.
If the Cubs were a contender, which they are not, that might be different. Does anyone think this team, as it stands, can make even a wild card game this October? I like the players obtained at the end of July, but these guys are at least two years away. I’d love for someone named Brennen or Brailyn to be named Rookie of the Year, but I wouldn’t wager on it now.
As of now, the projected starting lineup is a huge question mark. We think we have a rough idea who is where, but I want to focus on three guys. The players we enjoyed watching during the second half, both were and are unproven journeymen. Remember that after a twelve-game losing streak in early August, this team went 20-24 to finish the season. These are players who were probably considered "4A," not quite good enough for the big leagues, but nothing left to prove at AAA. I don’t recall three guys ever having seasons like they did before.
I want Rafael Ortega, Greg Schwindel, and Patrick Wisdom to succeed. That would make all this easier. Look at it this way, a year ago, their combined career WAR was -0.7, yes, a negative. If these guys don’t have the success we saw last fall, their uncles would be telling them, "Hey, you had a nice run, but you’re thirty now, isn’t it time to start considering life after baseball?" at the Thanksgiving table. These three position players have to be considered promising question marks at best this spring.
Another reason I oppose the Correa signing is the Cubs have drafted a, traded for and internationally signed heavily at the shortstop. According to mlb.com, five of their top seventeen prospects are at least listed at short (plus 2B or 3B) for three. I know these are the most athletic guys on the field because I never played there as a kid, and they could be shifted to other positions. This trend seems to have continued in recent international signings.
Finally, let me reiterate finally, there is some home grown pitching developing. Logic dictates some are only going to get better. The arms are ahead of position players in the minors. I think we’re good at starting pitcher to start the year and I wouldn’t doubt there’s another mid range guy coming. Miley and Stroman compliment what was there, which is good enough to compete for now. The bullpen was doing well last year before the selloff, young arms showed promise here as well and Wick and Wieck should be back which is a good start. Again, Jed may add another reliever or two.
The remaining position players are reasonably set and all questionable. Once Victor Caratini was shipped to the Padres, Willson Contreras’s backup was an embarrassment. Almost all of them. That has been rectified. The middle infield could be set With Madrigal and Hoerner. I have another odd idea. Since the Cubs have not fared well with launch angle complimented by a lack or contact and too many strikeouts, could Nick and Nico lead off with high on base percentage like Don Kessinger and Glenn Beckert did in my youth? Also remember David Bote lead the team in RBIs in 2020, and spent much of 2021 injured.
Ian Happ and Jason Heyward. They remind me of an old joke Jeff Foxworthy joke; they’re like a Christmas present from your grandmother, you never know what you are going to get. Ian Happ’s performance is like the "two-face woman," (Seinfeld). When he’s hot, he’s hot and when not- yikes. Most of last summer, he didn’t make me feel too bad about my little league performance. If it were me, I’d trade Jason Heyward for another underachieving contract (pitching) and wish him well.
And another thing…if we have a season
Let’s to in the Wabac machine (Mr. Peabody and Sheldon). To be competitive again, there was a formula in 2016 that worked really well. The ‘core,’ was complimented by (don’t forget Addison ‘I blew a great career’ Russell), but they also brought in proven veterans like Ben Zobrist (WAR 3.4), Dexter Fowler (4.0). John Lackey (2.5), and David Ross (1.6). Jed Hoyer knows full well, even as the dynamics or an ancient but ever-changing game evolve, you win with talent, a mix just like in 2016. You need some cost controlled young studs complimented by grizzled veterans.
The kids are coming, fill the holes, and lower your expectations. You’re a Cubs fan.