The Rundown: Contreras-Mets Showcase Starts Today, Hendricks Injury Could Be Season-Ending, White Sox Players Bemoan Lack of Leadership
“I staggered back to the underground and the breeze blew back my hair. I remember throwin’ punches around and preachin’ from my chair.” – The Who, Who Are You
The Cubs lost 7-1 to the white-hot Orioles last night and forgive me for saying so, but the trade deadline can’t get here soon enough. Chicago starts its four-game “Willson Contreras, Ian Happ, and David Robertson Showcase” today against the Mets before the league breaks for its All-Star festivities.
At this time I’d like to call out New York GM Sandy Alderson, who said the other day that he is loath to trade any top prospects this summer after getting burned in the Javier Báez/Pete Crow-Armstrong trade last summer. The Mets need another hitter and every contending team needs high-leverage relievers. The Flushing franchise leads the NL East by 2.5 games over the Braves and has a 7.5-game cushion over the Cardinals for the final Wild Card spot. Alderson can blow it out of his arse.
Whether Alderson wants to admit it or not, he needs Contreras, especially now that James McCann has landed on the IL with an oblique strain. I’m no medical expert, but that’s got to be a tough injury to recover from if you’re a catcher. As I mentioned yesterday, there is no way New York will part with stud catching prospect Francisco Álvarez, but Brett Baty has to be in play. McCann will be out for weeks and the Mets’ backup options are the unheralded Tomás Nido and Patrick Mazeika. Plan B would be promoting Álvarez, but it’s difficult to see Alderson signing off on that even in the heat of a pennant race.
Interestingly, and as someone noted over at the Cubs Insider Discord, acquiring Baty might actually speed up Chicago’s timeline since he is nearly MLB-ready. There’s no doubt that trading Happ means punting on at least next season and possibly the one thereafter, but acquiring prospects that are close to the bigs might shift that paradigm, especially if Brennen Davis is healthy next season and Caleb Kilian becomes a fixture in the Cubs rotation. Adding Nico Hoerner to that trio actually gives the North Siders the making of a core that might eventually include Crow-Armstrong, Jordan Wicks, Owen Caissie, and James Triantos before the calendar turns to 2025.
As a side note from a Cubs fan for over 50 years, there’s nothing I’d love more than to see the Cubs continue to stick it to the Mets at the trade deadline. The only thing better than getting Baty in a deal would be Contreras re-signing with Chicago as a free agent this winter, though that’s highly unlikely.
The Astros may be just as desperate for Contreras as the Mets but nobody among their top prospects moves the needle as far as I’m concerned. The Yankees and Angels would probably love to get their mitts on Chicago’s starting catcher too, but the Yankees are running away in the AL East and the Angels are rapidly descending in the AL West. If it comes down to the Mets and the Astros for Contreras, there is no way Alderson should lose that fight.
Happ will no doubt provide a decent return as well. The Cubs are known to be actively shopping the switch-hitting outfielder, and Jed Hoyer should net a top 100 prospect and more for Happ’s services since he comes with an extra year of control. As far as Robertson is concerned, there’s no way the Cubs will get as much as they got for Craig Kimbrel last year, though with Codi Heuer out for the season and Nick Madrigal hurt and struggling, that trade looks like a wash so far. Ironically, Robertson could end up with the Dodgers, where he would displace Kimbrel as their closer.
Cubs News & Notes
- Kyle Hendricks is at least 2-3 weeks away from playing catch, which is why he’s unlikely to be traded this summer.
- The timeline on that shoulder injury means that the veteran starter’s IL stint could be season-ending.
- New dad Justin Steele was a little rusty in his return to the mound.
- It’s definitely been an unforgettable week for Steele.
- After Happ was announced as a reserve for this year’s All-Star Game, he made sure to thank Theo Epstein for drafting him.
- Jason Heyward played a big role in helping Happ on his journey to All-Star outfielder.
- Happ said he is excited to reconnect with former teammates Kyle Schwarber and Joc Pederson, as well as childhood friend David Bednar, who closes for the Pirates.
- Davis has been dropping in prospect ratings due to his “injury track record,” most notably by Baseball America, and that’s something that genuinely lacks context.
- The Cubs optioned Matt Swarmer to Iowa before last night’s contest and reinstated Daniel Norris from the IL.
- Frank Schwindel went 1-for-4 with a home run in his latest Minor League rehab game with Triple-A Iowa.
- Though we’re all hoping the Cubs will add two gun-slinging hurlers this winter, they could start the 2023 season with Hendricks, Marcus Stroman, Keegan Thompson, Steele, and Kilian as their 1-5 starters.
- In a piece for The Athletic, VP of Scouting Dan Kantrovitz told Patrick Mooney that he’s confident prospect Ed Howard will fully recover from his season-ending hip injury ($), and he’s sure the shortstop “will come out on the other side of this stronger than ever.”
- One seat at Wrigley Field is ranked as the second-worst in all of baseball. Even Bob Uecker would pass on sitting there (“he missed the tag!”).
- Rick Sutcliffe will be Chicago’s organizational representative during the first round of Sunday’s draft. 91-year-old Jack McKeon will represent the Nationals, who hold the No. 5 pick. I fear ol’ Jack is going to burn Chicago for a third time by announcing the selection of a player the Cubs really want. McKeon was the Padres’ GM in 1984, and he managed the Marlins in 2003.
Odds & Sods
I’m thinking a quick perusal of data from ancestry.com will reveal that this outfielder is a distant relative of Max Patkin.
There’s a Baseball field in Finland that has a river camera. The results are what I’d expect. pic.twitter.com/XP5H4Fyzja
— Daniel Holland🎗🏴 ॐ (@DannyDutch) July 13, 2022
Climbing the Ladder
“We got to fight the fight. We got to fall the falls. We got to light the light. We got to call the calls.” – Pete Townshend, Face the Face
The Cubs continued their disturbing trend of flailing with runners in scoring position, going 0-for-6 last night. The lone run came on a sacrifice fly by Rafael Ortega. Christopher Morel hit his fourth triple of the season and was knocked in by Ortega. Happ had two of Chicago’s six hits.
- Games Played: 88
- Total Plate Appearances: 3,360
- Total Strikeouts: 777
- Strikeout Rate: 23.13%
- Team Batting Average: .244
- Runs Scored: 379
- Runs Allowed: 456
How About That!
The White Sox will conclude the month of July with two weeks of games against their AL Central foes and could be sellers at the trade deadline if they don’t gain any ground in the standings.
Chicago’s South Side baseballers have reportedly been telling players on other teams that there is a sense of “unrest” and lack of leadership in the White Sox clubhouse. Two words: Joe Maddon.
Eloy Jiménez is injured again. He exited Wednesday’s game with leg tightness.
Jiménez is due for a big second half if he can remain healthy.
Andrew Benintendi and Whit Merrifield are among 10 Royals players who will not be traveling with the team to Toronto because of their vaccination status.
Albert Pujols is set to appear in this year’s Home Run Derby. At least he won’t be facing a defensive shift, though it would be hilarious if some of the kids shagging flies lined up that way just to make a point.
Josh Hader wasn’t credited with a blown save, but he did give up a three-run walk-off home run to Twins first baseman Jose Miranda, and Milwaukeeans are screaming for the Brewers to trade their closer and give the job to Devin Williams.
Wednesday’s Three Stars
- Shohei Ohtani – The “Big Oh” struck out 12 Astros in six innings and was 2-for-4 at the plate with two RBI as the Angels beat the Astros 7-1. He will be a free agent in 2024 and I’d die if he ended up with the Cubs.
- José Iglesias – The Rockies light-hitting shortstop popped his third home run of the year and plated six runners in a 10-6 win over the Padres. Too bad he wasn’t available when the Cubs signed Andrelton Simmons. Oh, wait.
- Miranda – Including his three-run bomb, he was 3-for-5 on the night.
Good stuff on Kohl Franklin.
Couldn't wait to put this one together. South Bend Cubs pitcher Kohl Franklin @kohlrf had to work his tail off just to be on the mound this season. His story is a great one, check it out below. pic.twitter.com/39F0fGwRyp
— Leo Goldman WSBT (@leogoldmantv) July 14, 2022
Thursday Morning Six-Pack
- The Bears start training camp in less than a week and it looks like Aaron Rodgers will still own The Monsters of the Midway, at least for one more season.
- Three Bears players have been arrested this offseason, the latest being WR David Moore who was picked up on a weapons charge after passing out in his car at a Taco Bell. The team’s current culture seems to be running contradictory to the organization’s stated mission.
- Crime concerns are forcing Starbucks to close a number of its Seattle-based coffee shops.
- Believe it or not, Super Bowl champion quarterback Matthew Stafford will earn $61.5 million this season.
- Even harder to believe: Actress Sadie Sink did not receive a single Emmy Award nomination, though Stranger Things 4 did earn a total of 14. Sink plays Max and received considerable critical acclaim for her performance in Chapter 4, titled “Dear Billy.”
- “Running Up That Hill (Deal With God)” by Kate Bush is No. 4 on this week’s Billboard Hot 100, and “Master of Puppets” by Metallica debuted at No. 40. Both songs were featured prominently in the latest season of the iconic Sci-Fi series.
They Said It
- “It takes a special person to succeed out here at Wrigley Field. It’s an evaluation process throughout, whether that’s conducting Zoom interviews with players, whether that’s visiting their homes and meeting with their parents, whether that’s calling their college coaches, or their high school coaches, whether that’s asking them to undergo certain evaluations just from a psychological aspect. We put a lot of weight on that because we have to really make sure that we understand the person and what motivates them and how they think. That’s also an inexact science. But I think the more that we can put into it, the more that we can be confident we know who we’re drafting.” – Kantrovitz
Thursday Walk-Up Song
Just keeping the theme this morning.