MLBits: Yelich-Good (Contreras-Better), Kimbrel Decision Coming? Injured Yankees, O'Neill, Bellinger, Puig, More

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MLBits: Yelich-Good (Contreras-Better), Kimbrel Decision Coming? Injured Yankees, O’Neill, Bellinger, Puig, More

Chicago Cubs

With an average of 6.20 runs scored per game through their first 15 games of the season (3rd best in MLB, 2nd best in the National League), it’s easy to see that the Cubs offense is clicking.

But when you zoom in on the core contributors, you may be surprised to find that Anthony Rizzo (96 wRC+), Kris Bryant (100 wRC+), and Ben Zobrist (103 wRC+) have basically contributed nothing more than league average production. And instead, it’s Willson Contreras (224 wRC+), Jason Heyward (177 wRC+), and Javy Baez (122 wRC+) carrying most of the weight.

Imagine how that would’ve made you feel a year ago today, and be happy about it. This is a deep team.

  • And now that I’ve buttered you up on the Cubs offense, I’m going to rip off the bandaid: Christian Yelich hit three home runs last night and now has 8 on the season (3rd in MLB):

  • However, let’s not forget that Contreras (224 wRC+, 4th in MLB) is totally outhitting Yelich (202 wRC+) while playing a far more demanding and defensively valuable position.
  • Indeed, there are a few important caveats to Yelich’s game:

  • It’s worth pointing out that his “bad” away numbers this season (75 wRC+) account for just 38 plate appearances and were far better over a bigger sample last year (155 wRC+). He’s clearly more comfortable in Milwaukee (178 wRC+ last year, 347 wRC+ this year) than he is on the road, but he’s probably just good everywhere.
  • It’s almost exclusively unfair hindsight, but if the Cubs made one mistake these past two years, it was probably not more aggressively pursuing Yelich – either to solve their own center field/leadoff issues or to at least raise the asking price for Milwaukee. Lorenzo Cain, the bullpen, and some other young players have helped turn the Brewers into the team you see today, but they’re a fundamentally different team without Yelich.
  • According to Jon Morosi, Craig Kimbrel is “moving closer to a decision where he will sign his next contract,” but … there are no favorites and the situation remains fluid. Cool. The Brewers are mentioned first as a potential landing spot, but their interest is apparently tied to how Jeremy Jeffress looks as he comes back from injury, which isn’t happening until today. Would the Brewers really make a quick decision or is Kimbrel’s decision not quite as close as it sounds. My bet is on the latter.
  • And remember: even if Kimbrel decided right away, he’d still have a significant ramp up time before he could join any team. Also: his current asking price is reportedly somewhere between Zack Britton’s 3-year/$39M deal ($13M AAV) and Wade Davis 3-year/$52M deal ($17M AAV). That’s roughly half of what he was reportedly seeking at the outset of free agency, but, well.
  • The Giants are considering changes to Oracle Field. Like Wrigley a few years ago, they still have their bullpens out on the field, and a change is apparently on the table. They’re also considering moving the wall in/filling out that gap in deep right center field, to match more typical ballpark dimensions.
  • The Yankees just placed Greg Bird on the 10-day injured list with a left plantar fascia tear. In addition to Bird, Miguel Andujar, Dellin Betances, Aaron Hicks, Gary Sanchez, Luis Severino, Giancarlo Stanton, Troy Tulowitzki, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Didi Gregorious are each dealing with injuries and/or on the IL. That is … holy crap.
  • Last night, I made fun of Tyler O’Neill’s truly awful throw to the “plate” from center field, because it was really bad and the Cardinals are big, dumb, red birds:

  • But today I learned that he’s heading to the 10-day IL with a ulnar nerve subluxation in his right elbow. Apparently, “he felt something grab or bother him on that throw that got away from him,” Cardinals Manager Mike Shildt said. So … I guess … sorry for making fun of you (nervous face emoji).
  • While we’re talking injuries, I’ll point out that x-rays were negative on the right knee of Dodgers star Cody Bellinger, after he was hit with a 95-MPH fastball on Monday. “That one hurt,” Bellinger said. “Hit me in a good spot, so, nothing serious and wake up [Tuesday] and see how I feel. That hurt real bad, for sure.” Bellinger has been the best player in baseball this season, with 1.9 WAR already banked and a second-best in baseball 264 wRC+ (behind only Mike Trout).
  • Speaking of the Dodgers, Yasiel Puig returned to Dodger Stadium last night for the first time since being traded and in his very first at-bat (against Clayton Kershaw, no less) he did this:

Author: Michael Cerami

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