Folks, the Cubs might ACTUALLY make a transaction today. You know, because it’s Rule 5 Draft day. The draft is at 11am CT, and given the state of the organization and plans for 2021, it would be very surprising to me if the Cubs *didn’t* select anyone.
• Saw a clip on Twitter that sent me down a bit of a rabbit hole, which in turn tied into some Jed Hoyer comments. It won’t all play out this way because TINSTAAPP, but it’s fun to think about how the Cubs could soon have three huge fireballing, nasty-breaking lefties on the roster (Carraway, Steele, Marquez):
I need Burl Carraway at Wrigley ASAP. pic.twitter.com/DaEJcWIhu1
— Cubs Live (@Cubs_Live) December 9, 2020
• After I saw that clip and had that thought about the lefties, I had a follow-up thought: The lost minor league year just kills me every time I think about it. The Cubs might actually now have a killer farm system. Or it might stink. We really have no idea. All we know is that the Cubs have overhauled their development process, have shifted to upside plays in acquisition, and have altered their organizational philosophies on both fronts. These are the kinds of changes that you would expect to bear full fruit only after multiple years, but some of which you might expect to see right away. We didn’t get that chance as outside observers.
• Interestingly then, last night, Jed Hoyer was on Marquee talking about a variety of topics, and he hit on that very point: “We really overhauled our player development a year ago and we were excited to get going and to see the progress. Internally, we saw a lot of progress – whether it was at the alt site [in South Bend] and instructs or just working remotely with guys. But unfortunately the public sees very little of that, so really excited for next year. I know we’re gonna have a minor league season of some length and I think we’ll be able to see the proof of concept of what we’re trying to do. Our farm system is certainly on the rise and I think next year will be a big turning point for it.”
• We’ll see, right? Obviously I want to believe Hoyer that the Cubs made huge changes under the hood, and they showed up last year in ways we just couldn’t see yet because of the pandemic. It could be true! We could be absolutely blown away by tons of Cubs prospects come May, June, July. But we won’t know until we know. I’m not really sure the Cubs can know either until there’s actual competition to observe.
• Also: nice to hear Hoyer say “I know we’re gonna have a minor league season of some length.” We have long anticipated that would be true, given the changes coming for the minors, the roll-out of the vaccine, the successful ability to play baseball this past season, etc. But we haven’t actually heard anyone in a position of authority make that claim yet. Hoyer broke the seal.
• The Cubs are aiming to defer a city infrastructure tax payment by a year, per the Tribune. The Cubs long ago agreed to pay a total of $3.75 million to the city in annual installments for infrastructure improvements around Wrigley Field, designed to help accommodate additional usage of the area during and after the Wrigley Field renovations. Since there really wasn’t any such additional usage this year, the Cubs want to push back the 2020 payment – $250,000. It appears to be a perfectly reasonable request, supported by the Alderman and the Mayor, but it’s a reminder about the organization’s efforts to preserve cash in every possible way right now.
• Fun read on the Cubs’ new third base coach:
Willie Harris gained fame by scoring the deciding run for the White Sox in the 2005 World Series.
In his new role, Harris will be sending Cubs baserunners to the plate.https://t.co/LbayQU7Gfl
— Chicago Tribune Sports (@ChicagoSports) December 9, 2020
New #Cubs third base coach Willie Harris on the Cubs #WhiteSox rivalry: “I loved my time with the White Sox. And I am very excited to join the Chicago Cubs organization. I am looking forward to waving Cubs base runners home against the White Sox outfield.”
— David Kaplan (@thekapman) December 9, 2020
• Farewell to the Eugene Emeralds, who are off to join the Giants organization after the minor league shuffle:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) December 9, 2020
Thank you @Cubs. We give our sincerest gratitude to the Cubs organization for being an outstanding partner for the past 6 years. We are excited for the next chapter of Emeralds baseball and we are thrilled to have baseball back in 2021. pic.twitter.com/kFkhWRNvBf
— Eugene Emeralds (@EugeneEmeralds) December 9, 2020
• Meanwhile, former Cubs affiliate Kane County was among the teams not offered an affiliation going forward, and I hope they can make a go of it in another league:
Kane County Cougars lose major league affiliation with Arizona Diamondbacks, plan to join one of MLB’s "partner leagues" https://t.co/FcSAwpKmm7
— Chicago Tribune (@chicagotribune) December 10, 2020