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BCB After Dark: You be the GM

The late-night spot for Cubs fans asks what you would do with Cody Bellinger.

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Chicago Cubs David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

It’s another night here at BCB After Dark: the hippest happening for night owls, early risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. It’s so nice to see you again after the weekend. Or if you’re new here, welcome. You’re among friends. Get out of the heat. There are still a few good tables available. There’s no cover charge. Bring your own beverage.

BCB After Dark is the place for you to talk baseball, music, movies, or anything else you need to get off your chest, as long as it is within the rules of the site. The late-nighters are encouraged to get the party started, but everyone else is invited to join in as you wake up the next morning and into the afternoon.

The Cubs were off today. They start a two-game series at whatever they’re calling that park on the South Side these days. It seems pretty urgent for the Cubs to win both of those games.

Last week, I asked you which Cubs player needed to step up his game for the second half. In first place was Ian Happ, with 34 percent of the vote. In second place was Jameson Taillon with 29 percent. Seiya Suzuki was in third with 25 percent. Since we last spoke, you can argue that Happ has picked up a little bit and Suzuki took a step back from the Nationals series, but he did have one three-hit game against the Cardinals. Of course, Taillon had a good start against the Cardinals on Sunday. Certainly a lot better than most of his starts this season.

Here’s the part where I talk about jazz and and movies. You’re free to skip ahead to the baseball question at the end. You won’t hurt my feelings.

The great Tony Bennett left us last week at the age of 96. For me, while Bennett was definitely a jazz singer, I feel his talent kind of transcended genres. He couldn’t be described as having any one style other than his own.

In this century, Bennett had kept in the spotlight through recording with popular current musicians, most notably Lady Gaga. At least he did until Alzheimer’s started to silence his voice over the past few years.

Since I know I’ve already featured Bennett singing with Lady Gaga at least once in this space, here we have Bennett singing “Body and Soul” with the late Amy Winehouse. May they both rest in peace.

I did not go to see Barbie or Oppenheimer over the weekend. However, I do have tickets to see Oppenheimer tomorrow (or later today depending on when and where you read this) so I will be able to say something about that after that. I doubt I’ll see Barbie in the theaters, but I’ll probably get around to watching it when it comes to streaming. Surprisingly enough, my teenage daughter, who just a few months ago made a Barbie-themed art project for school, has not expressed any desire to see it yet. Maybe she wants to and is just embarrassed to ask. (She embarrasses very easily.) Or maybe she just doesn’t care. Knowing her, both are possible.

I’m working my way through another collection of 4K Hitchcock discs, and I just watched Shadow of a Doubt (1943) over the weekend. Starring Teresa Wright, Joseph Cotton and MacDonald Carey, it’s been described as Hitchcock’s favorite film. Certainly Hitchcock’s daughter Pat, on the bonus materials included with the disc, said it was her father’s favorite film. On those same bonus materials, director Peter Bogdanovich said it was Hitchcock’s first “American” film, in that he set it in Santa Rosa, California. He set it in Santa Rosa because 1) he was interested in showing evil coming to a small town—Santa Rosa had a population of just twelve-thousand in the 1940s, and 2) it’s in the middle of Sonoma wine country and Hitchcock liked to drink wine. (They don’t say that second one in the bonus materials, but they do imply it.)

I didn’t have the time to write a full essay on Shadow of a Doubt tonight, but I will in the near future. But for tonight, I was struck by how “Lynchian” this Hitchcock film could be. In fact, the thematic parallels between Blue Velvet and Shadow of a Doubt stuck out to me. There’s a portrait of a seemingly tranquil and idyllic small town that is upset by the invasion of a monster. There’s also a young person whose innocence is lost through the events of the picture. There’s also Hitchcock’s dark sense of humor which contrasts with the events of the film. It’s a black sense of humor which David Lynch similarly has. Certainly Hitchcock is not allowed to go into the grotesque like Lynch did. There are no severed ears in Shadow of a Doubt and no, that’s not a spoiler for Blue Velvet. Kyle MacLachlan finds the ear in the first few minutes of Blue Velvet. Certainly the graphic nature of the violence in Blue Velvet owes a lot more to Psycho.

These are some of the reasons why Shadow of a Doubt was Hitchcock’s favorite film. He loved the innocence of small-town America and a family whose lives were upended by an evil that came from both outside and inside. And he loved the story of a young woman having her innocence shattered by this evil.

Here’s a trailer for Shadow of a Doubt to hold you over. If you’ve seen the film, feel free to comment on it. And if you haven’t, you still have time.

Welcome back to everyone who skips the music and movies.

Every Cub fan right now is talking about Cody Bellinger. He’s having an incredible month of July, hitting .452/.475/.795 with four doubles and seven home runs in just 19 games. That’s Richard Pryor-levels of “on fire.”

Bellinger is on a one-year deal, signed as a free agent after the Dodgers non-tendered him after last year. As you can tell from the Dodgers releasing a former Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Award-winning player, Bellinger had not been good after his MVP-winning campaign in 2019. And while he hasn’t been as good this season with the Cubs as he was that year, he’s at least been in the same neighborhood. He’s having the season that the Dodgers had hoped he would put up regularly.

Of course, that means the other question that revolves around Bellinger is whether or not the Cubs trade him before the August 1 deadline. And for a left-handed power hitter who can provide strong defense in center field or at first base. Bellinger will be very much in demand by other teams. There’s a real chance that the Cubs could be offered a very nice haul for Bellinger.

But should they accept it? The Cubs are now five games out of the final Wild Card spot. While the Brewers are pulling away in the NL Central, the Marlins and the Giants are slumping. The Reds and Phillies are just treading water. The Cubs’ playoff odds on Fangraphs are currently at 13.3 percent. That’s not good, but it’s more than double the six percent it was just a week ago. It seems that if the Cubs got on a hot streak, they could still grab a spot. And it seems hard to see the Cubs getting on a hot streak without Bellinger in the lineup.

There are some odd aspects to Bellinger’s season, and Sara Sanchez outlined them ably here. I’m not going to repeat them, but I’ll recommend that you read it if you haven’t already. But suffice it to say that it’s possible that Bellinger is just on a very lucky streak at the moment. Of course, it’s possible that he isn’t. But there are some troubling numbers underneath the hood, along with at least one that is more promising.

So tonight I’m going to put you in Jed Hoyer’s shoes and ask you what the Cubs should do with Cody Bellinger. Signing him to an extension before the trade deadline just isn’t in the cards. For one, Bellinger is represented by Scott Boras, and Boras always encourages his clients to go on the open market. Yes, Boras works for Bellinger and not the other way around, but Bellinger wouldn’t employ Boras if he didn’t trust his opinion and agree with his overall philosophy. So not trading him would risk having Bellinger leave for nothing other than a compensation second-round pick. (Bellinger is eligible to receive a qualifying offer that would entitle the Cubs to compensation.)

However, the predictable part of dealing with Scott Boras as an agent is that if the player does reach the open market, he’s likely to sign with your team if you make the biggest offer. Trading Bellinger at the deadline would not preclude the Cubs re-signing him this winter. However, it would risk whatever team the Cubs traded to him making a “blow-me-away” offer before free agent negotiating period started. It would also risk another team doing that once the Cubs could bid on him as well, although that’s true whether or not the Cubs trade Bellinger.

It should be noted that the days of teams trading elite prospects for rentals is over. While the Cubs could likely get a nice haul for Bellinger, the Orioles aren’t trading Jackson Holliday for him, nor are the Diamondbacks offering Jordan Lawler. Still, some team could offer a very good prospect or two very promising prospects for him. There is always the possibility of getting another Pete Crow-Armstrong, who was the Mets’ #4 prospect (according to Baseball America) when he was dealt to the Cubs and is now their 14th-ranked prospect in all of the minor leagues.

(Of course, part of the issue with signing Bellinger to a contract extension is that the Cubs hope the PCA will be their center fielder of the future, starting with sometime next season. But Bellinger can also play first base, where the Cubs have fewer options.)

So you have two options, although I’m going to break it down into four. You can trade Bellinger for prospects and try to re-sign him this winter. That’s what the Cubs did with Jason Hammel. Bellinger is likely to be in much more demand than Hammel was in 2015, however.

Or you can keep Bellinger for the rest of the year and try to sign him this winter to an extension.

There are two more options I’m giving you. If you think the Cubs should just say “goodbye” to Bellinger, you can vote to trade him and not try to re-sign him. Or if you think the Cubs have a shot at a playoff shot this year but don’t want to commit long-term to Bellinger, you can vote to not trade him and let him leave for a draft pick.


What would you do with Cody Bellinger?

This poll is closed

  • 24%
    Trade him for prospects, try to bring him back this winter
    (73 votes)
  • 15%
    Trade him for prospects, move on
    (46 votes)
  • 54%
    Keep him and try to sign him to an extension later (knowing he could sign elsewhere)
    (163 votes)
  • 6%
    Keep him and let him leave for a draft pick
    (19 votes)
301 votes total Vote Now

Thank you so very much for stopping in this evening. I hope you were able to cool off and enjoy yourself. Don’t be a stranger. Please get home safely. Tip your waitstaff. And join us again tomorrow for more BCB After Dark.