Nats Get Hand, Finding Breakout Players, Random Heroes, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Nats Get Hand, Finding Breakout Players, Random Heroes, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

I can’t believe Tom Brady is going to another Super Bowl. We’re living through and observing not just the greatest quarterback run in football history, but maybe the greatest postseason run of any star player in any sport in history, right? I really don’t know what I would compare it to when you consider the volume and length of success and the singular importance of the quarterback position.

Bonus fun and baseball connection:

Also, a reminder that Patrick Mahomes’ dad was a pro baseball player, Mahomes was drafted by the Tigers in 2014, AND Mahomes also owns part of the Kansas City Royals. It all comes back to baseball eventually.

•   Lefty reliever Brad Hand picked his next team, and it’s the Nationals, who are now like the one-year version of the Padres (i.e., taking advantage of the market to push their chips in (as they should, given the state of the roster)). I also had some fun with the signing:

•   As it becomes more and more clear that the Cubs are going to bank on low-or-no-cost moves this offseason, I’m thinking more about random players who popped out of nowhere after changing organizations. One I think about often is Gio Urshela, who went from a non-hitting, high-contact, slap-ball, utility guy to a powered-up borderline star at age 27. It was an immediate transformation:

(via FanGraphs)

•   To be fair, Urshela had had some success in the upper minors offensively, but in lots of chances to translate in the bigs, it just wasn’t happening. Then a swing change with the Yankees combined with a more aggressively-pull-oriented approach, and boom, the power took off like a rocket (look at the freaking exit velocity change!). Again, at age 27. So it does happen. Cubs will need a “win” like that if they want their offense to, you know, improve.

•   Happ with Demp:

•   Stray TV points continuing the ongoing discussion:

•   This is a fun set here, because each had totally random hero moments with the Cubs:

•   Teagarden had a pinch-hit winner off of Aroldis Chapman, and Chris Denorfia actually walked the Cubs off twice. Two fun facts on the Denorfia walk-offs: both were 1-0 Cubs wins, which is kinda insane when you think about it, and the sac fly one was also the game where the dude caught the foul ball while holding his baby:

•   Fun way to bring things back to an earlier Bullet: Denorfia was an up-and-down minor leaguer who was actually usually pretty useful in the big leagues, but never enough to get a full-time gig until he was 30 years old, when he finally got a shot with the San Diego Padres and … GM Jed Hoyer.

•   It’s weird that Trevor Bauer’s longstanding misbehavior on Twitter is only just now getting attention in the context of his free agency, but I suppose the Jared Porter incident has led to additional scrutiny:

•   Fun read here, and it’s wild to think that there are usually about 40 active Hall of Famers at any given time:

•   The only Cubs-connected player on the entire list of 40 possible active Hall of Famers? Jon Lester. While I do agree that he’s a very solid maybe when you consider his postseason accomplishments, it’s weird that no other Cubs are even in the “yeah, maybe” group. What about a resurgent Craig Kimbrel? People seem to forget just how good he was. Kris Bryant could be a maybe if he turns things on a dime from here for the next decade. Kyle Hendricks would probably have to stay this good for another decade to get into the conversation. Ditto Anthony Rizzo. Actually, yeah, none of those things seem particularly likely, so I’d pretty much only go with Kimbrel at this point, and only if he is utterly dominant for at least the next five-ish years.


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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.