Rizzo, Bryant, Zobrist, Maddon, Epstein, and Murphy React to the Big Cubs Trade

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Rizzo, Bryant, Zobrist, Maddon, Epstein, and Murphy React to the Big Cubs Trade

Chicago Cubs

Yesterday, the Chicago Cubs scored just one run on a solo homer for the fifth consecutive game. It’s the kind of absurd Major League record that no one is particularly proud of. But that’s not all they did yesterday.

Not entirely unrelated to that streak, the Cubs went out acquired a very legitimate offensive weapon in Daniel Murphy. I’ve already gotten into why you should believe he’ll be such a big addition to the team yesterday, but there’s a super-short version for those who missed it/don’t know him very welll: Daniel Murphy was an All-Star, Silver Slugger, and MVP finalist in each of the last two seasons, finishing second in the MVP voting only to Kris Bryant in 2016. He’s just a really, really good hitter, full stop.

Of course, as we also explored yesterday, the acquisition of Murphy isn’t exactly black and white. Indeed, he had knee surgery over the offseason that caused him to miss the first portion of the season and struggle initially upon making his return, and he’s always rated poorly on defense. But when he’s healthy – as he has been for the past couple months – the bat is superb.

“We got Daniel Murphy? That’s awesome,” Ben Zobrist said to manager Joe Maddon upon first hearing the news, per Cubs.com. And according to Maddon, it was a “legitimate expression of joy” on the part of Zobrist. And how could it not be? As we discussed, Murphy has been one of the best hitters in the game over the past three years.

Theo Epstein agrees, noting that the Cubs were looking to jump-start the offense: “Daniel Murphy has as good at-bats as anyone in the game. He’s a proven, established hitter who hits good pitching. He puts the ball in play, he uses the entire field, he’s a tough out, he’s postseason proven, loves to hit in Wrigley Field, obviously.”

To that last point, it’s true. For his career at Wrigley Field (109 PAs), Daniel Murphy has slashed .413/.440/.702 over the years. Yep, it’s every bit as painful as you thought it was. Er, well, good now, I suppose, but pain is certainly the word I’ve associated with Murphy in the past, since he was always killing the Cubs.

And believe me, that hasn’t gotten past anybody. “We’ve seen what he does against us, going back to 2015 – geez,” said Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant. “He has a nice at-bat every time, works counts, and is just a pain when you’re playing against him. Hopefully he’ll bring a lot of that here.” Bring the pain! Got it.

But it may be Anthony Rizzo, the unofficial captain of the team, who summed up how I’ve felt over the past 24 hours best: “I’ve seen Daniel carry [a team],” Rizzo told Cubs.com. “It’ll take me a while to get over seeing him every day with the nightmares I’ve had [about the 2015 NLCS].”

Rizzo is certainly not alone on that front. Although Murphy had started to break out a couple months before that NLCS against the Cubs, that was when he really announced himself to the world amid a four-game sweep. *shudders*

As for Murphy himself, he’s excited to play for a title (Cubs.com): “You feel the energy. It’s a good ballclub over there with those guys. I’m excited to go over there, and I’ve been able to speak with [general manager] Jed Hoyer and, again, the beauty of being a player is just deploy me as you see fit. I don’t have any expectations of what it’s going to look like except that I hope that I’m able to be a part of a championship. That’s all I ask.”

(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

For those wondering: the Ricketts Family also reportedly supported the trade “after receiving assurances that Murphy had worked with Major League Baseball about being more inclusive since making those [2015 ‘gay lifestyle’] comments,” according to a David Haugh source.

In the end, as Joe Maddon put it, Daniel Murphy might be exactly what the Cubs needed right now. It seems odd that this group would need (let alone be able) to add a position player/impact bat here in late August, but it made sense to go for it, and I suspect it’ll look brilliant by the end of the year.

And who knows. Maybe by then, Rizzo can finally get over those NLCS nightmares by watching what the revamped Cubs offense can do in their own (fourth straight) NLCS.

Brett Taylor contributed to this post.



Author: Michael Cerami

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