Willson's Ranking, Schwarber's Gut Punch, Belize's Cubs Fans, and Other Cubs Bullets | Bleacher Nation

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Willson’s Ranking, Schwarber’s Gut Punch, Belize’s Cubs Fans, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

The Chicago Bears are reportedly making almost no changes, which is so disappointing that I can’t really offer much in the way of nuance or context at the moment. We’ll see what the brass says later this afternoon, but I’m at a loss and it’s at the top of my mind this morning. Maybe the Cubs will make some frustrating trade to really stomp on the fan grapes.

•   Speaking of which, you don’t trade a guy who fairly ranked in the top five on this list unless you’re getting a massive return:

•   It’s not at all hard for me to imagine Willson Contreras sliding into the top spot by September if the framing improvements hold (or improve further!) and the bat does what it does. I wouldn’t say it’s likely, because Realmuto and Grandal are studs, but it’s certainly not inconceivable (he’s 28, and they are 30 and 32, respectively, for what that’s worth). Having Smith there at three is based on a lot of projection for the young chap, but man, he sure does seem like he’s going to be a stud. Maybe he’s the top guy by the end of the year.

•   And speaking of trade stuff, Gordon Wittenmyer wrote about the impact of the Liam Hendriks signing on the rest of the closer market – e.g., Craig Kimbrel’s trade value – but he heard from at least one former baseball operations boss that the White Sox are an “outlier” in terms of the willingness to spend on a closer at that level. So we’ll see. Yesterday we talked about how Kimbrel’s deal probably isn’t as bad as many have suggested (if it’s even “bad” at all).

•   Kyle Schwarber was unsurprisingly sad to learn of his non-tender by the Cubs:

•   This is a fun read, and also a reminder of how broad the Cubs’ fan base is/could be when you’re actually reaching them:

•   Yes, the WGN superstation is long gone (by their own decision to become a more traditional cable network), but it’s not as if the Cubs *couldn’t* keep reaching fans across the country and around the world. The broadcast landscape is changing, and while MLB retains the out-of-market rights for games at present, who’s to say the world of streaming, in time, won’t change that, too? If it happens – heck, even before it does – it seems the Cubs would be wise to find these pockets of possible fandom around the country and around the globe. People love to commune over sports, which means you’re more likely to succeed in growing your fanbase in pockets if you actually get into that community, where they’ll start sharing their fandom together. Like in Belize:

•   The puck drops tonight for you Blackhawks fans, so make sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please and thanks:

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.