Tag Archives: Kris Bryant

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of the Chicago Cubs Hot Start

Baseball is back and back with a vengeance. We already have our first canceled games for the week due to COVID and the Miami Marlins. But they are not the concern of this article. I want to break down these first five games and usually, I would be bombarded with “iT iS OnLy FivE GaMEs in”. Well, SpongeBob meme, that is nearly 10 percent of our season this time around. The Chicago Cubs are off to a 4-1 start and atop the NL Central. Although 4-1 is a great start, there is always something to improve on and with this Cubs team, there certainly is.

Good, Bad, Ugly: The Cubs Hot Start

The Good:

The bats are “woke”; as the children like to say. Even though they are only hitting .250 as a team, good for third in the National League, the ball still jumps off of the bat. They are first in the NL with 10 home runs as a team. Chicago’s 31 runs scored is also good for first among NL opponents.

Another good thing about this Cubs team is the starting pitching. National League Player of the Week Kyle Hendricks takes the bump Wednesday against the Reds after going the distance against the Milwaukee Brewers in the opener. In 29 innings of work, the starting rotation has given up six runs. Half of those were by Yu Darvish who will be in the latter portion of this reading.

Right now, the Cubs offense is just putting up runs. If you can’t hang with six runs a game then you will not be beating them on a consistent basis.

Free-agent acquisitions Jason Kipnis and Steven Souza Jr have stepped into their roles nicely and have been playing well above expectations so far. Kipnis is hitting .375 and has brought a nice presence to the plate with that left-handed swing. Souza has gotten limited playing time but hit a very nice double down the line the other night to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead in Cincinnati.

The Bad:

There really isn’t a lot of holes to poke in a 4-1 start but there is always something extra you would like to see happening. For the Cubs, that is Kris Bryant who has been placed in the leadoff spot and has a measly slash line of .059/.158/.059; not good by any means. The bright spot for Bryant in this spot is the number of pitches he sees in each at-bat. He really sets the table for Anthony Rizzo, Javy Baez, and Willson Contreras to drive in the runs.

Darvish is supposed to be one of our go-to starters. Unfortunately for Darvish, his style of pitching does not cater to efficiency. His stuff is downright filthy but very erratic and he could only get through four innings in his debut and gave up three earned runs. This is the Cubs only loss of the season so far and it comes from one their least likely suspects.

Usually, throughout a 162-game season, I would be patient with these slow starts. But October is right around the corner and the Cubs need these two in prime form if they want a chance to win another title because this is the Cubs “Last Dance”.

The Ugly:

Let’s be frank, we all know what this section is all about. The bullpen is a joke. Craig Kimbrel nearly blew the save the other night and put his teammate Jeremy Jeffress in quite the predicament. Thankfully, Jeffress shut the door. A former Brewer, Jeffress is coming off of his worst season ever in Milwaukee and is looking to bounce back. Being put in a bases-loaded situation with only one out and nursing a one-run lead is not a recipe for success.

The bullpen has pitched 16 innings (out of 45) and given up 15 runs; all earned. Kimbrel looks like a shell of his former self and can’t locate a pitch. He looked flustered on the mound and had no answers to get himself out of that situation. The Cubs have a lot of work to do for a 4-1 team. This ugly portion will rear its ugly head in October because the Cubs will not be averaging six runs a game all season.

The Cubs First Five Games

There is “a lot” of baseball to be played and I am beyond excited. I will touch back with you guys in between the 15 to 20-game mark to see where this team is and if their October chances improve or not. When I say chances in October, I am talking about how the team could do in the postseason in terms of winning a title, not just making it to the postseason.

MLB Draft: Sox Take College Pitcher, Cubs Take Local High-Schooler

With no games being played, and the 2020 baseball season in doubt, Major League Baseball took a pause from contentious negotiations with its players to look to the future, as the 2020 MLB Draft took center stage in an otherwise empty sports landscape on Wednesday night.

Both Chicago baseball teams looked to infuse new talent into their organizations during the first round of the MLB Draft, hoping that the players chosen could make an impact on their respective big clubs in the not so distant future.

White Sox Take LHP Crochet, Cubs Take SS Howard With Top Picks

The White Sox, with the 11th overall pick, selected University of Tennessee left-handed pitcher, Garrett Crochet, adding talent and depth to the organization’s already strong pitching ranks.

Five picks later, at number 16, the Cubs created the buzz of the evening in Chicagoland by choosing shortstop Ed Howard, the local kid made good out of Mt. Carmel High School in Chicago.

“I’m excited to be a hometown guy, I think it’s special, it’s unique,” said Howard during his introductory conference call with Cubs beat reporters. “I’m ready to take on that challenge, have fun, and play my game” Howard continued.

Cubs Pick of Ed Howard Brings a Jolt of Excitement to the Northside Fan Base

The pick of Howard is sure to generate excitement with Cubs fans, who have been looking for some positivity after back-to-back disappointing seasons on the field and off.

The Cubs blew a late division lead in 2018 and wound up losing to the Colorado Rockies at home during the National League Wild Card game. 2019 saw the Cubs miss the playoffs for the first time since 2014, ending a five-year post-season run.

Off the field, the Cubs have had their issues as well. Most notably with the Kris Bryant years of service grievance, and the rollout of the Cubs new team-owned regional sports network, The Marquee Network. The network was roundly booed during the Cubs Convention in January when team owner Tom Ricketts mentioned it by name. Many fans were unsure if their television providers would even carry the fledgling network, or if they did, how much extra would it cost. More recently, Ricketts has come under fire for comments stating 70% of team revenue is derived from day-of-game receipts, a figure many are questioning.

The selection of Howard, however, gives the Cubs a chance to ride some positive buzz about their team, at least in the near future.

Howard grew up in Chicago, and was a member of the Jackie Robinson West Little League team that captured the hearts of Chicagoans and the nation when they won the 2014 Little League World Series. Their title was eventually revoked due to roster eligibility issues, but the team still remained popular locally.

He went on to play baseball at Mt. Carmel High School, where he starred as the team’s shortstop. Even without playing a single game for the Caravan during the 2020 season, Howard was viewed by scouts and draft experts as one of the top shortstop prospects in the country. His selection with the 16th pick confirms that.

Howard was also a product of the Chicago White Sox Amateur City Elite program, or ACE, an arm of White Sox charities that provides inner-city kids with opportunities for education and to develop in the game of baseball, providing avenues for advancement to college or professional baseball. Another goal of ACE is to reverse the decline of African-American players in baseball, something that was probably not lost on Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein, who recently stated he needs to build more diversity in the Cubs organization overall.

Ultimately, however, Howard’s talent and potential as a baseball player is the reason the team made him their first-round pick. Cubs new Vice President of Scouting, Dan Kantrovitz, told reporters that Howard being available “was literally our best-case scenario.” Kantrovitz added: “He’s got an electric skill set. He’s a plus shortstop. He’s got pop in his bat. He can run. He can impact the game in so many ways. We think he has a chance to be a star.”

The Cubs stated that Howard would remain at shortstop in the organization. Most experts believe 2023 would be the soonest Howard might make his Major League debut. However, the timeline for all prospects could be delayed due to the absence of minor league baseball in 2020.

White Sox Bypass One of Their ACE Program Graduates in Howard, Draft University of Tennessee LHP Garret Crochet

With Howard, a Southsider, available when the White Sox pick came around at number 11, many people were wondering if the team would select one of their home-grown talents from their ACE program. However, when MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred stepped up to present the team’s pick, the name of a large college left-handed pitcher was announced instead.

Crochet comes to the White Sox as one of the top left-handed college pitchers in the draft. He struck out 149 batters and walked 48 over 132 innings pitched during his three years at Tennessee. He is known for a plus fastball that can reach triple digits, as well as a good slider and change-up. Control has been an issue for the lefty, who only pitched one game for the Vols in 2020 while dealing with shoulder soreness.

“I told Garrett … it’s an outstanding piece of your life to be compared to Chris Sale” Shirley told reporters. “But please proceed as being Garrett Crochet” he said. – White Sox Director of Amateur Scouting, Mike Shirley

Crochet has been receiving many comparisons to another tall left-handed hurler, former White Sox starter Chris Sale. And while he acknowledged to reporters during his post-selection conference call that some parts of his game were modeled after Sale, he doesn’t want people to just assume the same outcome. “I feel like it’s kind of tough to make on me(the Sale comparison), as I have not achieved anything as close as Chris Sale has achieved” Crochet told reporters.

The Chicago Cubs Should Trade for Nolan Arenado

Did you hear the pops of those gloves The other day? I did. I’m happy to see that baseball is getting back into the swing of things and opening day is around the corner. It has been a quiet off-season on the Chicago Cubs front in terms of personnel moves. The team has had nothing short of drama. They had to watch Nicholas Castellanos sign within the division to the rival Reds. Kris Bryant’s grievance case finally came to a conclusion with the team being found not guilty of any wrongdoings.

With the same team intact pretty much from the previous season (minus Cole Hamels), Chicago is strapped for cash as they try to get under the luxury tax threshold, and reset to make another title run. This begs the question, with the recent rumors of “displeasure” between Nolan Arenado and the Rockies and the Cardinals seeming interested in acquiring said talent, should the Cubs trade for the disgruntled third baseman?

Cubs Should Trade for Arenado

Well, duh

Arenado is a once in a generation defender at the hot corner. A seven-time Gold Glove winner (In seven seasons of service). He has won the platinum glove three times. Not only does he possess an otherworldly glove, he can swing the bat too. In his last five seasons, Arenado has averaged nearly 40 home runs and 115 plus RBI. This is a once in a lifetime chance to snag him for a possible king’s ransom.

 

The Package

Now, I know you’re asking if the Cubs have enough to acquire such a rare talent. The answer is yes. Some of you might not like the price, though. Here is a trade proposal that I think is fair for all parties involved:

Cubs Receive: Nolan Arenado

Rockies Receive: Kris Bryant/Kyle Schwarber/Victor Caratini/Pitching Prospect

For only two guaranteed years of service (from Arenado), this is a quality package for a team that is attempting to rebuild. Bryant replaces Arenado immediately at third base, and with that Colorado air, an improvement in his numbers will come as well. The Rockies get an above-average catcher. Colorado also gets a power-hitting lefty who will undoubtedly hit nearly 40 home runs most years. The pitching prospect is hearsay, but its potential. The Cubs will get Arenado and solidify the left side of the infield. Chicago can use Albert Almora in centerfield full time. Ian Happ can get the shot he deserves either at second base or in left field. These are just some ideas that I have.

Why It Makes Sense

There was a rumor earlier in the week that the Cubs and Rockies were looking into a deal where they do a straight swap of Bryant and Arenado. If that was the case, the Cubs should have accepted it immediately. I am not sure what will come of this drama out in Colorado, but I sure hope that the Cubs can make a move to pick him up. The Cubs are projected around 85 wins this year. That’s a one-game improvement from last year’s squad. The thought process behind this move would be to assist the franchise in acquiring big-time free agents in the seasons to follow this one.

The Cubs are going to reset on the luxury tax this season so they will not be hit with the penalty and be able to open cash up for the future. This, in turn, can help get the players to convince a player of his magnitude that Wrigley should be home for the rest of his prime. If nothing is done, the Cubs will enter the season with two years left of Bryant and Anthony Rizzo. This season is the core guys’ shot to show what they’re worth. This season will have its ups and downs, but don’t worry. The Cubs will be playing meaningful baseball in September again.

What are your thoughts on Arenado’s situation? Do you have any trade ideas? I would love to hear them. Follow me @illiniRyan7 on twitter and let’s discuss.