We still don’t know what moves Jed Hoyer and Carter Hawkins will have up their sleeves once baseball resumes, so it may be a good time to discuss long-range plans. Based on the latest rhetoric and lack of scheduled meetings, and with the holidays fast approaching, my new CBA target date is February 1. I wouldn’t be surprised if it drags on into the scheduled start of spring training, but I’d be shocked if the two sides reach an agreement before.
I was preparing my non-free-agent wish list for 2022 while I was away from home yesterday, and I got so into it I had to buy a spiral notebook and pen at the hospital gift shop. That will run you about $10.25 at the not-so-convenient store, in case you’re wondering, and those aren’t supply-chain-crisis prices. Anyway, here are my notes:
- I’d like to see Brennen Davis hit .270/.369/.515 in the bigs this season with double-digit home runs and 70-80 RBI. That’s docking him three weeks, of course, because I can only use the last CBA and its service time fudgery as a template.
- I’d love it if Hoyer and Hawkins can find a way to acquire Miguel Vargas from the Dodgers. I don’t know if he’s a long-term solution at third base, but I love his doubles hit tool that helps his developing power play up. This kid can rake. I’ve been on him for a couple of years now and he should rise pretty quickly on most prospect lists this year. He reminds me of a right-handed, pre-PED Rafael Palmeiro.
- It’s unlikely that third base prospect Jace Jung will fall to the Cubs at No. 7 in next July’s amateur draft, and with Hawkins calling the shots I’d bet the house he’ll select a pitcher anyway. The first round is expected to be very offense-heavy, with 23-27 of the first 31 selections expected to be hitters.
- After watching hours of pitching prospect videos, I’d be happy with any of Dylan Lesko, Payton Pallette, and Jackson Ferris in Round 1.
- If I had my druthers, they’d select Ferris. The left-hander features a mid-90s fastball that mixes nicely with a mid-80s changeup. His breaking ball makes lefties look like they’re swatting flies with chopsticks. Ferris turns 18 next month and is by no means a finished product. The “Save Ferris” Obvious Shirts would be a wonderful bonus.
- If he’s still around when the Cubs make their second pick in the draft, I’d love to see Hawkins tab Cayden Wallace. He’s an outfielder with a big bat and bigger arm, but a lot of scouts see him moving to third base. There’s some concern with his bat-to-ball skills and he could end up being a Patrick Wisdom clone.
- Incidentally, the rap on Kris Bryant when he was in Chicago was a lack of RBI, a fact many decided was because the third baseman wasn’t a clutch hitter. Wisdom had 61 RBI to go with 28 taters, which proves the Cubs have just been wretched at getting men on base ahead of their boppers.
- A draft-eligible third baseman I really love is Jayson Jones, but his stock is rising very quickly. He’s gone from a 50-100 pick to a top-20 projection in just under five months. If he somehow drops to the Cubs in Round 2, I hope Hawkins and Hoyer pounce. I don’t see Jones sliding past St. Louis at No. 22 if he’s available. He just looks like a future Cardinal.
- The fastest risers in Chicago’s system this year will be Cristian Hernandez, Owen Caissie, and Kevin Alcantara.
- My biggest concern is that pitchers DJ Herz, Caleb Kilian, and Jordan Wicks might stall or regress. The Cubs have teased us the last two years with pitching prospects that have better-than-average tools. Ultimately, they’ve hit roadblocks that they’ve struggled to get past. Brailyn Márquez, Adbert Alzolay, and Burl Carraway are great examples. I’m hoping Hawkins is the difference-maker.
Cubs News & Notes
- It’s probably fair to assume this is a make-or-break year for Clint Frazier.
- Former Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia has had enough of Frazier’s social media jabs at his former team and their fans. The Cubs play the Yankees in New York in early June. That should be fun.
- Frazier’s fiancé Kaylee Gambadoro posted a nice farewell note to the Yankees and their fans on her Instagram account.
- For the Cubs, the most significant order of business during the lockout is continuing contract extension talks with manager David Ross.
- Reliever Joe Kelly was the only one of the top 50 free agents whose best fit is with the Cubs.
- Danny Duffy had flexor tendon surgery and is likely not a fit for the Cubs anymore.
- The Cubs selected Conner Menez, a left-handed pitcher with the Giants, in the minor-league portion of the Rule 5 draft on Wednesday.
- This week marks the 41-year anniversary of the trade that sent Bruce Sutter from the Cubs to the Cardinals for Leon Durham, Ken Reitz, and Ty Waller.
- Jason McLeod has joined the Diamondbacks as a special assistant to the general manager.
- Iowa Cubs fans are shocked, scared, and saddened by the sale of the team to Endeavor.
Odds & Sods
Five years before the Reds beat the Phillies at Crosley Field in the first night game in MLB history, the Des Moines Demons played under the lights on May 2, 1930, the first-ever professional baseball game to be played at night. Night games were also common in the Negro Leagues as early as 1930 so that those teams could avoid competition with the major leagues.
MLB News & Notes
The Braves were named Sports Illustrated’s team of the year.
Tim Kurkjian of ESPN has been voted the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s Career Excellence Award and will be presented with the honor during the Hall of Fame induction weekend in July.
If your summer calendar is completely empty, nothing beats a 50-state baseball tour.
Negotiations & Love Songs
MLB’s content scrub may have been an act of pettiness by Rob Manfred and the league of owners.
Someone needs to help baseball save itself from a repeat of the more significant work stoppages of years past.
Members of the MLB Players Association aren’t saying they don’t get enough money, they’re arguing that they don’t get enough of the money generated by the league.
History suggests that players training on their own could be problematic.
Today’s Baseball Jones
You’ve reached Sistine heights when your name becomes synonymous with a single baseball game, like Ryne Sandberg, for instance. Willie McGee of the Cardinals hit for the cycle and plated six runners that afternoon, making him the most productive footnote in the history of sports.
Oh hey! Andruw Jones was a +254 defensive runs saved in his career
In just 4 years from 1998-2001 he posted a +123 (+35, +36, +25, +27)
Think about it this way..
Nolan Arenado has 9 gold gloves and 5 straight platinum gloves.. he’s +136 on his 9 year career.
— Shelfy (@RealShelfy) December 9, 2021
Sliding Into Home
I may miss a few Thursdays in the coming weeks due to some outpatient procedures for my illness. It’s actually perfect timing with the lockout, and maybe baseball will be back by the time I finish on January 27.
They Said It
- “One of the most disappointing things about the trip to Dallas was that the owners didn’t make one economic proposal the entire time we were there.” – Happ
- “If I see another Clint Frazier story I’m gonna punch somebody in the f–king face. S–t is ridiculous. That kid played 15 games in the f–king big leagues. Get the f–k out of here with all these stupid a– f–king stories. [Frazier’s] not worth talking about.” – Sabathia
Friday Walk-Up Song
A Change is Gonna Come by Sam Cooke – Twitter was chock full of reminders on Wednesday in honor of the death of John Lennon, but few take the time to remember Cooke, who was murdered under suspicious circumstances in South Central Los Angeles on December 11, 1964. If you haven’t seen the Netflix documentary The Two Killings of Sam Cooke I highly recommend it. The book “Our Uncle Sam” is equally spectacular.