MLBits: The Fall of the Nationals, Fowler's Season Over, Kopech's Debut, Wong Better Than Baez(?), More

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MLBits: The Fall of the Nationals, Fowler’s Season Over, Kopech’s Debut, Wong Better Than Baez(?), More

Chicago Cubs

I know we’ve discussed his potential impact, where to bat him in the order, and even the various Cubs reactions to the Daniel Murphy trade, but I still can’t quite get over the fact that he’s on the Cubs right now. I mean, the unique set of circumstances that led to this moment are just so improbable, I would’ve genuinely laughed it off had you told me this would happen last year. [Brett: I would have laughed it off if you told me *last month*.]

  • Consider that Murphy was an MVP finalist in each of the last two seasons, as he was heading into his final year of a contract with the obviously contending Washington Nationals. So right there, alone, we hit a huge roadblock: why/how in the world would the Nationals ever trade an MVP-caliber bat this season. MAYBE they would if he never came back from his injury or wasn’t playing well, but neither of those things are true. So already, things are nuts, but that’s just scratching the surface.
  • Consider also that this Cubs team hasn’t just had one of the best offenses in baseball this season (the last 1.5 weeks notwithstanding), they also have one of the most loaded group of young, cost-controlled position players in baseball. So even if Murphy was going to get moved, the Cubs just don’t seem like an obvious fit (both in terms of literal roster considerations and apparent needs).
  • And then you have to consider that this trade went down in August, when the first-in-the-NL Cubs were last on the NL Trade Waiver Wire, making the logistics of getting Murphy to Chicago even more unlikely. But even laying this all out doesn’t seem to do it justice. I mean, we’re talking about an obvious MVP-level-player-when-healthy getting traded away from an obvious(ly should be) division-leading team to another squad loaded with offensive talent and without much room on the roster … in August … via waivers. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I can’t believe we wound up here.
  • And, yet, maybe I can. When I stumbled upon MLB.com’s rankings of baseball’s most dynamic duos, I was saddened, but unsurprised to see no Cubs make the list. But think about frustrating that is. A team with Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant (they literally already have a celebrity name: #Bryzzo), as well as Javy Baez, Willson Contreras, and Kyle Schwarber should be able to come up with a duo capable of matching the amount of WAR any other team’s best two players could produce. And yet, they didn’t just not crack the top ten, they missed the top 12. If you’re wondering, the best the Cubs currently have to offer is Javy Baez (4.2 WAR) and Willson Contreras (2.6 WAR), but they’ll likely fall far short of even the final team on MLB.com’s list.
  • To go back to the Nationals for a minute, note that owner Mark Lerner wrote an open letter to the fans, explaining the moves his team was more or less forced to make this month. I think you can tell that he’s genuinely pretty upset it ended this way [Brett: yes, but they should have sold hard in July], especially when you consider what Jeff Passan points out: The Bryce Harper era will end without a single playoff series win for the Nationals. That is ROUGH:

(Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
  • [Brett: I’m also reminded how little the Angels have done in the years they’ve had Mike Trout, or the Orioles with Manny Machado. It’s a shame. Young superstars on good, deep-postseason-playing teams is good for the game.]
  • In order to make room for their new (old) addition, Matt Adams, the Cardinals effectively ended Dexter Fowler’s season:

  • Heh. 60-man DL. Since Fowler (foot) was originally placed on the disabled list at the beginning of August, moving him to the 60-day DL will rule him out for all of September, simply for counting reasons. As for the postseason, should there be one for the Cardinals, Fowler won’t be allowed to join the postseason roster because he was placed on the 60-day DL after August 1. However, there is a loophole, if he were ready to play and eligible to replace another injured player on the roster, he could do it, but, given the timing and his play that preceded the injury, it’s just not happening. His season is done. It was a bad one.
  • Yesterday, the Chicago White Sox continued their corner-turn, by debuting #13 overall prospect Michael Kopech. And the results were very good: 2.0 IP, 0ER, 0BB, 4Ks. If you’re wondering what the short start was about, a rain delay . knocked Kopech out. And that’s probably a good thing for the Twins, because there’s no way they were going to touch him yesterday:

  • That guy looks LEGIT. And he was understandably the happiest person in baseball yesterday: “It was a dream come true. It’s everything I thought about since a little kid. I was pumped. You see the fans engaged the way they were. It really made me feel more comfortable and feel like I belonged. I just tried to do what I do best and throw strikes.”
  • Speaking of the White Sox, they traded reliever Luis Avilan (3.86 ERA, 2.70 FIP; 1.0 WAR) to the Phillies in exchange for Double-A arm Felix Paulino.

  • Avilan was having a nice season, but is a free agent after next year. Paulino is quite a top prospect, but can start and relieve and has already been promoted to Double-A. The headline here, I suppose, is that the Phillies just got a little better.
  • The Cardinals announcers – and online community – is going nuts over this play by Kolten Wong, but I don’t see it:

  • I mean, was it a good play? Absolutely, there’s no doubt about it. That throw, from his back, across his body, in time is extremely impressive. But was it the play of the season, as the announcers suggest?! Come on. No. Javy Baez makes that play all the time … and he doesn’t fumble the ball first. #BaezforNLGoldGlove
  • Yesterday, Blue Jays pitcher Aaron Sanchez admitted that the right index finger bruise that’s kept him out of action for the past two months happened when he got his finger stuck in a falling suitcase. I hate to laugh, because this is the guy’s job/livelihood/etc., but also … lol.
  • Aroldis Chapman left last night’s game with pain his left knee, an issue he’s been dealing with all season.
  • Giancarlo Stanton got a pretty legit standing ovation upon returning to Miami for the first time last night:

  • And finally, I’m not one for signs and whatnot, but this was pretty cool:

  • This is less cool, but really funny. The apparent difference in her entire internal demeanor after this exact moment makes me laugh:


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Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami