The Rundown: Contreras and Happ Say Goodbye to Wrigley, Saddest Win Streak Ever, Trade Rumors Abound
“All our times have come here but now they’re gone.” – Blue Oyster Cult, (Don’t Fear) The Reaper
God bless Willson Contreras. In the time that his name first popped up in trade rumors until (presumably) his last game at Wrigley Field yesterday, he’s managed to make Jed Hoyer look like the Grinch and Tom Ricketts look like Old Man Burns from The Simpsons. Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Javier Báez couldn’t do that, and fans showed their appreciation yesterday with an outpouring of love for their beloved catcher.
The backstop’s interview with Taylor McGregor of Marquee Sports Network was the most tearful Chicago sports moment since Gale Sayers asked us all to take a knee for Brian Piccolo in the movie “Brian’s Song.”
“I love you all,” Contreras told Cubs fans during the interview. “Thanks for everything. Thanks for everything you guys did for me, my family. I got a good relationship with some friends from Chicago and I’m pretty sure I’m gonna love it forever. Thank you for everything and I wish I could play for you guys, but this is a business. I understand that and love you all.”
I will require a box of tissues and a mimeograph of Hoyer to tape to my dart board. How in the name of William Contreras can the president of baseball operations trade a guy who has grown into arguably the best team leader in baseball? I sure hope Willson ends up with the Braves playing with his brother because anything else will leave me devoid of feeling until the baseball season mercifully ends in Chicago this October.
Some things look a lot better on paper until you see how it affects a person’s loved ones. Frank Shirley, a wise man who learned his lesson with a similar faux pas, said something like that in the movie Christmas Vacation. As fans, we feel a lot more like Clark Griswold right now. Contreras’s loved ones number hundreds of thousands of Chicago Cubs baseball fans.
It appears Ian Happ has played his final game at the Friendly Confines, too. It will hurt to lose him, though not as much as his fellow All-Star. You have to give credit to Hoyer for not waiting until Happ’s walk year to move him. Still, something stinks about his imminent departure. He’s not really expensive, he’s still young, he’s a switch hitter, and he won’t cost an ungodly amount to extend. Granted, all those things make him a very desirable acquisition for other teams, so his return should be exceptional.
If the Cubs aren’t willing to pay Contreras and Happ, how are we to believe that Hoyer will be active in free agency? I’ve said previously that the president of baseball operations wants to completely remove any reminder that Theo Epstein once ran things in Chicago, and maybe that’s the proof. The exception is Jason Heyward because if Kyle Hendricks was healthy I believe he would be as good as gone. For better or worse, these aren’t your older sibling’s Cubs anymore.
Apropos of Nothing
“I’m telling you guys, I gotta have more cowbell. Guess what? I got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell!”
Cubs News & Notes
- Cubs fans showered Contreras with love during an emotional afternoon at Wrigley Field.
- The All-Star catcher is leaving Chicago with his head held high, and deservedly so.
- Contreras and Happ shared an embrace after being the final two players to remain in the clubhouse after yesterday’s win.
- At least the two buddies should get to play for teams with a chance of making the postseason. I know the Cubs are the hottest team in baseball right now, but that won’t last.
- Contreras and Happ could be potential Yankees. Miguel Andújar is interesting if Hoyer can trade Patrick Wisdom somewhere.
- Christopher Morel thinks of Contreras as a brother and is already feeling the loss.
- The Phillies might be a fit for Happ, too.
- The switch-hitting outfielder is also a target of the Padres and Blue Jays.
- The Mets are reportedly interested in a package that would send Contreras and closer David Robertson to New York for a couple of top prospects. Francisco Álvarez and Brett Baty are unavailable, however.
- Hoyer’s now-annual selloff has put Cubs fans in a somber mood.
- Since being recalled on June 20, Nelson Velázquez has started 14 games. While his average (.246) and on-base percentage (.307) could use a boost, he has shown he can hit for power (.536 slugging percentage). Of his 15 hits since being recalled, nine have gone for extra bases. He and Seiya Suzuki are the two fastest guys on the team according to David Ross.
- Velázquez has a cannon as well.
- When Adrian Sampson beat the Pirates on Monday evening, he exacted a little revenge on the organization that drafted him 10 years ago.
- If the Cubs pursue pitching in free agency this year, here’s hoping Hoyer has blinders on for Carlos Rodón. That’s your Jon Lester-like signing if one exists. He’ll be in high demand, though, and Hoyer will have to sell Rodón on his vision. Spending a winter signing reclamation starters again won’t help the cause. The biggest hurdle to this, however, is that failure to reach an agreement on an international means the qualifying offer returns and Rodón is sure to have attached penalties that will scare the Cubs off.
Odds & Sods
The kid’s got a valid point.
Imagine a world in which this had been the first 3+ weeks of the season instead of July 3-26. pic.twitter.com/dSr4vFDJir
— Andrew Simon (@AndrewSimonMLB) July 27, 2022
Climbing the Ladder
“So, roll the dice, boy ’cause my money’s on you. Take my advice now and put your money down, too.” – Glen Hansard, Winning Streak
The Cubs struck out just three times yesterday, and have now won six straight. It’s nice to see the boys rally around Contreras and Happ. Keegan Thompson had his best outing of the season, and Suzuki hit a monster home run. How cool would it be if the Cubs continue streaking against the Giants and Cardinals?
- Games Played: 97
- Total Plate Appearances: 3,704
- Total Strikeouts: 851
- Strikeout Rate: 22.98%
- Team Batting Average: .246
- Runs Scored: 418
- Runs Allowed: 483
How About That!
No, an incident in which Rodón kicked a bat in frustration did not affect his trade value. The bat hit a teammate, but it’s folly to think that it’s concerning enough that it would diminish the value of a guy with a 2.41 FIP who’s averaging 11.5 K/9 IP. It won’t hurt him in free agency, either.
Juan Soto is not the only difference-maker on the market. Andrew Benintendi, Frankie Montas, Josh Bell, and Luis Castillo will be in high demand this week.
The Yankees, Mets, and Astros are linked to all the best available players. That feels like a shrinking market to me.
There aren’t any exciting names on the 2023 Hall of Fame ballot, but it will be interesting to see if John Lackey or Mike Napoli get any votes.
The White Sox are reportedly interested in Jose Quintana, which must mean the apocalypse is nigh.
The Astros have been linked to Contreras and Bell.
Tuesday’s Three Stars
- Contreras – You will be sorely missed.
- Happ – You, too.
- Wade Miley – I’d actually like to see the Cubs re-sign him next year, as long as Hoyer pairs him with Rodón.
What a beautiful swing by Suzuki.
Seiya Suzuki 8th Homerun of the Season #ItsDifferentHere #SeiyaSuzuki pic.twitter.com/BpeHnU55lg
— Homeruns MLB (@homers_mlb) July 26, 2022
Wednesday Morning Six-Pack
- Robert Quinn and Roquan Smith both reported to Halas Hall, avoiding CBA-mandated fines for holding out or reporting late. That’s the good news. On the flip side, Smith may not practice. Here are your Bears training camp bullets for Wednesday morning.
- A lawsuit claims that Skittles are unfit for consumption.
- When inflation is rampant, nothing beats a Quarter-Pounder and a Coke with a side of ice cream. Thanks to the Chocolatey Pretzel McFlurry (did not know that was a thing), McDonald’s reported record Q2 sales. Extra Value meals are also a godsend during inflationary times.
- The rumors are true: The Choco Taco is being discontinued. Citing “an unprecedented spike in demand across our portfolio,” Klondike parent company Unilever announced this week that it’s killing Choco Tacos to focus on keeping its other ice cream products in stock. That was Sue’s favorite.
- As prices surge, how is money factoring into our dating lives? Are there any financial red flags we should be concerned about? Morning Brew hit the streets to find out.
- Last night’s Mega Millions drawing came and went without a six-digit match, and the jackpot has now exceeded one billion dollars.
They Said It
- “I’m really seeing the ball well. I’m trying to stay more on my approach to where I can do some damage and locking myself in. I really want to have the chance to get ahead and I really feel much better than a couple of weeks ago. That’s something that I’m really proud of.” – Velázquez
- “If we’re gonna say goodbye to [Contreras], let’s do it big like they did today. I also stood up and cheered the hardest I could because he deserved it.” – Morel
Wednesday Walk-Up Song
It’s hump day. Celebrate accordingly. Try not to remove an associate’s ear or anything like that.