Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

Kris BryantIf the Cubs were in contention in the NL Central, how excited would you be for the four-game series that starts tonight against the Cardinals? The All-Star break is coming, it’s the Cardinals, it’s four games … the atmosphere at Wrigley would be absurd. As it stands, it’ll still probably be a lot of fun, but don’t lose sight of what’s coming long-term. 2008 wasn’t *that* long ago, and I remember what it was like.

  • Kris Bryant’s deal with the Cubs is technically pending a physical (which he may have already taken), but it should be announced any time now. Once into the system, you can figure Bryant will head to Arizona for a little adjustment/instruction/orientation, before likely heading to Boise to get his professional career underway with the Cubs’ short season A-ball club there. GM Jed Hoyer, without confirming the signing just yet, suggested that would be the plan for Bryant. “We would need to get a feel for how rusty he is,” Hoyer said Wednesday, per “Once we get a feel for his conditioning, we’ll figure out exactly what the right path is. Certainly, he’ll start out at the very low levels [in the Minors]. We’re hopeful he can move quickly through those.” Projecting where Bryant ends this minor league season is anyone’s guess, because, based on talent and age, climbing to just about any stop on the rung is realistic, even in the short month and a half left in the season. You’d love to see him play a few games at Boise (adjusting to wood bats) before it’s plainly clear that it’s ridiculous for him to be playing there. If he reaches High-A by the end of the year, you’re plenty impressed.
  • Jeff Samardzija put it well to the media last night when he said that the Angels “kicked [his] ass today.” To my eye, Samardzija was just consistently missing his spots, and left a whole lot of balls out over the plate. The Angels did not miss the mistakes.

  • That ass-kicking was the Cubs’ first loss in five games, but Dale Sveum remains level-headed about where the Cubs stand. “Even though we’re playing really well, there has to be that streak of wins to climb back into something,” Sveum said before Wednesday’s game, per ESPN. “Especially when you have three to four teams to climb over. It still takes a 10-game winning streak to say, ‘Ok, now we have a chance.'” That streak isn’t coming before more sell-off trades come, so – like Darth Vader’s line about death after destroying the Emperor – there’s no stopping that now.
  • Relatedly, I recently asked, hypothetically, whether the Cubs being near .500 would really matter in terms of their July approach. Would they still be poised to sell off? Patrick Mooney got to ask that hypothetical question to Hoyer, and I thought his response was spot on. “The answer would probably be ‘yes,’” Hoyer said. “The challenge is that we’re so far behind the other three teams in our division. Right now, [the] Reds and the Pirates are kind of running away with the National League wild cards. So it’s still about making the postseason. Finishing around .500 or over – while enjoyable – that’s not what ultimately is our goal. So if a playoff spot is at stake – that changes your perspective. If a playoff spot’s not at stake, it really doesn’t.” This Cubs team, even if it were at .500 right now, almost assuredly wouldn’t be making the playoffs. Thus, selling off short-term assets for an improved organization would still be the right move. We’d all probably feel a lot more encouraged about 2014, though.
  • In a prospect chat, BA’s Jim Callis essentially said that, even before adding Kris Bryant, the Cubs have the biggest power trio in the minors (Javier Baez, Jorge Soler, Dan Vogelbach). Add in Bryant, and no one else is even close.

  • Theo Epstein’s Foundation to Be Named Later charity, Chicago Cubs Charities, and Pearl Jam joined up to contribute some serious dollars to support art education in Chicago.

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