The Rundown: Cubs Youth Movement Comes with Fair Share of Swag, Thompson Moved to Rotation, Today is Lou Gehrig Day
“This generation rules the nation…with version.” – Musical Youth, Pass the Dutchie
I’m not going to get excited because Christopher Morel walked it off last night with a sacrifice fly, and no offense to the multitude of bloggers out there, but the accomplishment is certainly not worthy of an exclamation mark in the headline or lede. It was a can of corn and, frankly, Jason Heyward deserves all the credit for darting home to secure last night’s 4-3 win. That doesn’t mean it was any less fun, though.
I’m much more fascinated with Morel’s record and continuing on-base streak. Last night’s win was one of those warm-fuzzy moments usually reserved for weddings and graduations, and a fantastic way to kick off the month of June.
- Something old: Heyward
- Something new: Morel
- Something borrowed (from Dexter Fowler): “You go, we go,” with Morel solidifying his spot at the top of the order.
- Something blue: Fly that “W” baby.
Even better, May gave us a month of baby Cubs graduating to the bigs and all have played vital roles in helping the Cubs win a few games. Morel is no doubt at the top of his class, but Brandon Hughes, Matt Swarmer, and Nelson Velázquez have all stepped up when asked to. Second-year players like Justin Steele, Keegan Thompson, and Scott Effross have had a galvanizing effect on the pitching staff. Letting go of the past is suddenly becoming a little easier.
I may be in the minority, but I’m more excited about the future of the Cubs than I was back in the early-to-mid 2010s when Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Javier Báez were plying their crafts at Triple-A Iowa. It seems like Jed Hoyer is setting up his farm system to produce good-to-great players that will arrive in waves. There are no guarantees with prospects, of course, but when a system is so good that Brennen Davis and Brailyn Márquez become afterthoughts, it’s worth paying attention to what’s going on at Myrtle Beach, South Bend, Tennessee, and Iowa. I know both players are injured, but still.
Transitional seasons are not supposed to be this much fun, and though the current Cubs aren’t as good as the breakout team of 2015, it’s nice to see the return of that youthful swagger. More downs than ups still lie ahead, but that’s okay. It’s nice to see that David Ross isn’t afraid to let the kids ride without their training wheels.
Cubs News & Notes
- Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic suggests that Seiya Suzuki may want to change his plate approach ($) once he returns from injury.
- Despite a 21-29 record, Cubs fans have a number of reasons to remain optimistic.
- Morel is one of the more exciting reasons to dwell on the future Cubs, and he’s playing like his hair is on fire.
- Heyward is adjusting to a more transitional role now that Morel has arrived. Once Suzuki returns, it’s fair to say J-Hey might become a legitimate fourth outfielder.
- We learned a lot about Chicago’s North Side baseballers in May, and one item sure to rock your socks is that the team’s youth movement has not-so-quietly begun.
- That might turn into a palpable roar on Saturday. Caleb Kilian remains in play for his big league debut this weekend because Drew Smyly has been placed on the injury list. I’m excitedly reserved. Or is that reservedly excited?
- Thompson, who jokingly refers to himself as the team’s “Innings-Eater Guy,” has been moved to the starting rotation and it looks to be permanent. His 2.1 bWAR ranks eighth among big-league pitchers and second overall on the Cubs behind catcher Willson Contreras.
- DJ Herz had a career night for South Bend, striking out 12 batters across five nearly-perfect innings.
- Mets fans are hoping their team will trade for Contreras, David Robertson, and Smyly.
- On the other hand, White Sox fans are dealing with a case of clinical delusion. I love trade speculation season. Okay, not really.
- The Astros are still listed as the most logical fit for Contreras, and the news continues to harsh my morning mellow.
- The Cubs will launch NFT fan engagement experiences at Wrigley Field with Valence, a Web3 software startup funded by Cubs co-owner and chairman Tom Ricketts. The activations include the launch of an SMS-based digital wallet to store NFTs, which can be redeemed for in-ballpark perks.
Apropos of Nothing
If someone really wants to create a useful NFT, how about one that holds all of my rewards cards so that my keychain doesn’t make me look like a zookeeper or janitor?
Odds & Sods
I can neither confirm nor deny that the Duffer brothers are planning a Stranger Things follow-up starring Mike Trout, Tommy Pham, and Joc Pederson.
Mike Trout says he’s talked to Tommy Pham and Joc Pederson about the fantasy football feud
“I think it’s you guys dragging it on… It’s in the past. Like I said you guys are dragging it on.” pic.twitter.com/eDHbuqpJ9e
— Jomboy Media (@JomboyMedia) June 1, 2022
Climbing the Ladder
“Deep in my heart, I’m a warrior.” – Eddy Grant, Electric Avenue
In addition to getting on base every game, Morel stole a base last night, his sixth of the season. If I see Rafael Ortega batting leadoff one more time I’ll become a Brewers fan. The Cubs had more walks than strikeouts last night. When was the last time that happened?
- Games Played: 50
- Total Plate Appearances: 1,877
- Total Strikeouts: 449
- Strikeout Rate: 23.92%
- Team Batting Average: .236
How About That!
Today is Lou Gehrig Day, and MLB will auction 30 autographed and authenticated commemorative baseballs (one for each MLB Club), among other cool items and packages, to raise money for the Healey & AMG Center for ALS.
Hearing that Gehrig faced just seven teams during his historical streak is cause for a double-take until you realize that there were only eight American League teams in the 1920s and ’30s.
The Blue Jays are the hottest team in baseball, and catcher Danny Jansen is a big reason why.
The Pirates swept the Dodgers at Chavez Ravine, the first time that’s happened since the turn of the century.
Marcus Semien was a marquee signing by the Rangers this winter but he’s had a disastrous start to his career in Texas.
The son of Marlins manager Don Mattingly has been nominated for this year’s Darwin Award. Jordan Mattingly was arrested in Evansville, IN on Memorial Day, and his BAC was 3.5 times the legal limit despite drinking just “one beer.” The 30-year-old was picked up while he was trying to sell his damaged car at a local Honda dealership.
Wednesday’s Three Stars
- Brendan Rodgers – The Colorado shortstop blasted three home runs with four RBI in the Rockies’ 13-12 win over the Marlins in the nightcap of a doubleheader. His final tater walked it off in the 10th inning.
- Jazz Chisholm Jr. – The Miami shortstop plated four runners in Game 1 of the doubleheader, helping the Marlins to a 14-1 win.
- Konnor Pilkington – The Guardians rookie punched out eight batters in five shutout innings while earning his first big league win. They grow pitchers on trees in Cleveland.
I find this accomplishment by Garrett Whitlock fascinating.
Garrett Whitlock became the first pitcher since Rick Porcello – his favorite pitcher – in 2014 to pitch 6 innings with no Ks, BBs, HRs, or ERs. How a throwback Zero True Outcomes night offered a glimpse of an emerging starter https://t.co/Z38y7TS87C
— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) June 2, 2022
- Ex-Bears and Cowboys running back Marion Barber was found dead yesterday. The cause of death was not immediately available. Barber was 38 years old.
- EA Sports has decided to put a legend on the cover of “Madden 23” rather than a current player.
- The Depp-Heard trial – a showcase for stan culture – is finally over. I never paid attention for a single minute. It’s not like Johnny Depp or Amber Heard would take time out of their lives to check in on me.
- Apparently Heard will appeal, which means neither of the two is unlikely to go away any time soon.
- Elon Musk told his Tesla employees that it is time to return to the office or find a new job. I can’t help but think that’s a veiled shot at Twitter employees, who have enjoyed work from home benefits and personalized schedules since before the pandemic.
- President Biden admitted that there is going to be little, if any, short-term relief on gas and food prices. This came a day after Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen acknowledged that she was wrong about inflation being a “transitory” problem.
They Said It
- “Obviously I can hit, but I feel like I’m not in a condition to play a full nine innings. Even if I do, I may have to be taken out of the game in the middle of an inning and that could affect the other players on the bench. When I go out there, I want to be 100 percent and be at my very best.” – Suzuki
- “[Morel] has been nothing but amazing. He got called up and he’s really comfortable. He’s being himself, which is huge for us. He’s not afraid of failing. Batting behind him, I have to be ready because once I get to the on-deck circle, he’s already swinging.” – Contreras
Thursday Walk-Up Song
Detroit Rock City by KISS – Another stellar track from Stranger Things 4.