The Rundown: Ian Happ 2020 Report Card, Sinclair RSNs Hemorrhaging Money, White Sox-La Russa Announcement May Be Imminent, Hot Stove Lit
Remember about a month into the season when Ian Happ was being mentioned as a dark horse MVP candidate and his career trajectory was being compared to Phillies superstar Bryce Harper? Those were fun times, though Happ pretty much fell off a cliff offensively from that point on. In fact, the final month of this season was the polar opposite of September 2019 for the 26-year-old outfielder. Let’s compare numbers.
- September ’19: .311/.348/.673, 6 HR, 17 RBI, 124 OPS+
- September ’20: .218/.236/.360, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 56 OPS+
Happ walked just eight times in the final month of this season, and three of those came in a single game against the Cardinals on September 7. He followed that with a stretch of 13 strikeouts in three games against the Reds. Though he performed admirably at times as a leadoff hitter, he does tend to strike out too often to be considered a lock next year, and his September OBP clearly indicates that.
Ian Happ leads the @Cubs in:
• HR (Tied with Schwarber)
• Doubles (Tied with Báez)
• BB pic.twitter.com/cR1FIZ24FI
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) September 2, 2020
As a switch-hitter, Happ offers legitimate power from both sides of the plate and he led all Cubs regulars with 12 home runs and a .247 ISO. We can also consider his semi-extended slump commensurate with that of any other struggles that were unfairly amplified because of the short season, though that doesn’t mean there should be no concern.
It’s reasonable to expect a 15-20 home run season with an OPS in the .840-.860 range and an OBP of .340-.345 in 2021. Happ has been remarkably consistent when looking at a high level snapshot of his career. However, he tends to be really streaky, so it would be nice if he could find more consistency in shorter spurts. We could say that of most of the Cubs regulars, though.
- Final Stats: .258/.361/.505, 27 R, 24 XBH, 12 HR, .369 wOBA,131 wRC+, 1.9 fWAR
- Final Grade: B
Cubs News & Notes
- Happ is at the top of Chicago’s center field depth chart for 2021.
- The Cubs are the way-too-early favorites to win the 2021 NL Central. By the way, I hate way-too-early anything, but I’m ethically responsible to find any and all Cubs news, so have at it.
- Reliever Andrew Chafin, right-hander Tyler Chatwood, outfielder Billy Hamilton, reliever Jeremy Jeffress, second baseman Jason Kipnis, outfielder Cameron Maybin, catcher Josh Phegley and left-hander José Quintana are officially free agents. Call me crazy, but I bet Quintana signs with the White Sox this winter.
- Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer will be making decisions in the next five days regarding Jeffress, Anthony Rizzo, and Jon Lester.
- The Cubs have an estimated 2021 payroll of $153 million per Roster Resource, which is well under the $210 million luxury tax threshold set for next year, but that number will climb quickly depending on what they decide to do with Rizzo, Lester, and to some extent, Kyle Schwarber, who could be non-tendered.
- Mark Gonzalez of the Chicago Tribune offers a glimpse at which players will likely will return in 2021 and which ones might be moved, non-tendered, or DFA’d.
- Cubs beat writers Patrick Mooney and Sahadev Sharma share a similar sentiment, but you’ll need a subscription to The Athletic to access the content.
- Based on the team’s current financial struggles, signing any of the top free agents like Trevor Bauer, George Springer, or even Tommy La Stella is probably nothing more than a pipe dream for Cubs fans.
- Free agency on the North Side offers about as much sunshine as the old Games of Thrones ads.
- Per baseball insider Jon Morosi, the Angels have asked the Cubs for permission to speak to VP of Scouting Dan Kantrovitz in regard to their GM opening. It is unclear, however, if a formal interview will take place.
- Sinclair Broadcast Group is considering a restructuring after what has been a dreadful year full of crippling debt from their RSNs.
Odds & Sods
I don’t believe the White Sox have interviewed anybody but Tony La Russa, though AJ Hinch is said to at least be on the team’s radar. Steve Stone thinks La Russa is a lock to be named the team’s next manager and according to numerous reports, the Stone Pony could be spot on. In fact, an announcement may come as early as today.
— Cody Tapp (@codybtapp) October 29, 2020
The 2020 season is officially a wrap and the next 4-5 months will be chock full of rumors, trades, and free agent signings. The first order of business is that teams must decide whether to extend a qualifying offer to eligible players. This year’s qualifying offer will be $18.9 million, and teams have until this Sunday at 5pm ET to extend said offer to applicable players, who will then have 10 days to accept.
Cubs Insider has provided all the pertinent offseason dates to help you kick off the hot stove season.
MLB says Los Angeles third baseman Justin Turner violated MLB protocols when he returned to the field to celebrate with his teammates after Tuesday’s win.
Turner actually displayed blatant disregard for teammates, friends, and family while celebrating the Dodgers championship.
Based on Kevin Cash removing starter Blake Snell while he was pitching the game of his life the other night, it appears that analytics continue to take all of the fun out of baseball for casual fans.
Hinch may be more interested in the Tigers opening than any opportunity with the White Sox.
The Twins have declined their option on former closer Sergio Romo, granting him free agency.
The Mariners have declined 2021 options on Dee Strange-Gordon and Kendall Graveman.
Outfielder Adam Eaton, starter Anibal Sánchez, first baseman Eric Thames, and utilityman Howie Kendrick of the Nationals have been added to the rapidly growing list of available free agents.
The Rockies bought out their $6 million option on infielder Daniel Murphy, making him a free agent.
The Cardinals have declined their $12.5 million option on second baseman Kolten Wong.
For the first time in his career, St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina is a free agent.
Here’s a fun exercise: How about taking a look at the ex-Cardinals all-star team, led by World Series stud Randy Arozarena, Yankees masher Luke Voit, and, wait, three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer?
Apropos of Nothing
I miss baseball already, so I watched A League of Their Own last night. Tom Hanks is a treasure in this flick, but Jon Lovitz really steals his scenes.
It’s rare that John Mozeliak admits to any error, so don’t be surprised if the success of Arozarena causes the St. Louis president of baseball operations to horde his prospects even more than usual.
Cardinals president John Mozeliak admits he regrets trading playoff hero Randy Arozarena.
'That's on me' ➡️ https://t.co/HmHktFz9R5 pic.twitter.com/yggeX1DdK3
— Yahoo Sports MLB (@MLByahoosports) October 29, 2020
They Said It
- “This was the most challenging year that I’ve experienced. I will not be the one to take anything away from the Dodgers. Huge props to them for making it all the way.” – Ian Happ
Thursday Walk Up Song
I’m On Fire by Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street Band – Fire up that hot stove!