Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

soler batting mbdYou’ve got until noon central today to qualify to win a Kris Bryant shirsey by donating to the BN Blogathon Make-A-Wish fundraiser. Donate here. Details on how to win here. Easy way to win a shirt and do a good deed. Oh, and to ensure I go nuts covering everything for 38 hours straight at the Trade Deadline.

  • Dave Cameron at FanGraphs is getting into his annual trade value rankings, which always make for an interesting and provocative read. It’s enough for a debate when you start talking about which players are better than other players – but it’s an entirely new level when you bring contracts, projections, team control, and the whole value package into the equation. The players ranked 50 to 41 are out, and Jorge Soler just snuck onto the list at number 50. That sounds about right, given Soler’s huge upside, paired with a contract that does guarantee him some money and does also allow him to opt into arbitration. So far, Soler has not shown what he can really do at the big league level, but he’s gotta stay healthy and get some more games under his belt to get there. He’s just 23, and he’s played only about 230 professional games since 2012. Before that, he missed nearly two years of game action during the defection process. Wrap your head around just how little he’s played, and how far he’s come already. That should help remind you about his absolutely monstrous upside. Which is all to say: I enjoy discussing Soler’s value in trade, but he’s a guy whose trade value I hope the Cubs don’t actually wind up exploring.
  • In the intro to the trade value list, Cameron mentions that Jake Arrieta won’t be making the cut because he’s under control for only two more years after this one. Since Soler is number 50, that sets up a fun, purely hypothetical discussion for the purposes of these rankings: who has more trade value, Soler or Arrieta? Cameron and FanGraphs clearly land on Soler, but it’s close, isn’t it? Arrieta will get a couple significant bumps in arbitration the next two years, but he seems as good a bet as anyone in baseball to remain a top 20 pitcher during that stretch. Soler, by contrast, hasn’t actually yet put together any kind of lasting, quality performance at the big league level. It’s actually a pretty tough call, when you’re going solely by overall value. If Soler’s number 50, I’d say you’ve got to have a guy like Arrieta no lower than 51. And I’d imagine I could find some guys in the 41 to 50 range over whom I’d rather have Arrieta and his remaining team control.

  • We’ll have to see which Cubs show up further on down the list, though I think it’s a pretty safe bet that Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Addison Russell will be up there. I could actually make a decent argument for Kyle Hendricks, but I doubt he gets the love. Ditto Javier Baez, and maybe even Kyle Schwarber.
  • And, what do you know – between me typing this and the moment I click publish, the 31 to 40 group has come out. Addison Russell is at 32, which is right about where I would have expected (even if I might have had him a bit higher, myself). He’s sandwiched between fellow uber-shortstop-crew (remember when they were all prospects?) members Xander Bogaerts at 33 and Corey Seager (still a prospect) at 31. I’d probably have Russell ahead of Seager, and FanGraphs concedes you could actually order those three in any way and have a good case.
  • Hearing Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant talk about how loud Wrigley Field has been the last couple weeks, and how much they’re looking forward to Wrigleyville being nuts for the stretch run ( … it gets me pretty excited.

  • For funsies, the Cubs are having folks vote on their favorite GIFs from the first half of the season – part one of the voting is here.
  • This is pretty interesting, and I do wonder if it’s not as crazy as it sounds:

  • That would leave four fewer home games (and the attendant revenues) for teams, but with the increasing importance of TV contracts and the ability to increase per-game ticket prices based on slightly increased scarcity, I’m not sure teams would see much of a revenue hit from dropping to 154 games. Players seem to be playing in fewer and fewer games every year, and reducing the total number of games – and increasing periodic off-days – could help more of the league’s┬ástars play in more of the games. The only real downside, of course, is “less baseball.”

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