With the All-Star break – and, more importantly, the MLB Draft – fading into the rearview, you’re going to see Trade Deadline chatter escalate rapidly. I wouldn’t at all be surprised if we see trades as soon as this weekend.
• The American League, which always wins the All-Star Game, won it again last night. Shohei Ohtani pitched well, Vlad Guerrero Jr. hit an absurdly monster home run, and it was generally a fine time. Kris Bryant got a couple at bats, Craig Kimbrel got a couple outs, and it was basically a swell night.
• Kris Bryant twice came up with the bases loaded, but didn’t come through – though he was close. The first time, a run scored on a passed ball before Bryant struck out. The second time, Bryant did this, but Jared Walsh did this:
Jared Walsh saves this one! pic.twitter.com/o3o0va94ma
— Los Angeles Angels (@Angels) July 14, 2021
• Bryant was mic’d up in the game, and I couldn’t (but totally could) believe that Joe Buck led with, “Kris, I know you’re sicking of talking about it, but … ” and proceeded to ask him about the Trade Deadline and him possibly leaving the Cubs. In the middle of the dang All-Star Game. Not only has he been asked a dozen times already this week by the national media (something he’s already discussed a hundred times over locally), but is that really the moment for that?
• For his part, Bryant is all class:
KB: “Right now, I still got the #Cubs on my chest. Proud to play for such an unbelievable city, and—until they tell me that I’m not—I’m gonna give it everything I got. #Cubs #Cubtogether @BleacherNation @realcubsinsider pic.twitter.com/gWbiy18zcH
— MBDChicago (@MBDChicago) July 14, 2021
• Bryant added in an interview before the game, by the way, that if he could play only one position for the rest of his career, it would be center field. Michael discussed that interesting bit earlier. A true thing about Bryant? Oh, sure. I won’t say he’s not being honest. But is it also handy going forward for his free agent market for teams to know that he can not only play good third base and corner outfield spots, but also he can play center field (in a weak class) and WANTS to play there? Yes.
• It wasn’t a save, and it wasn’t a full inning – All-Star Game and such – but Craig Kimbrel did get the 9th, which was a reflection of his standing in the league.
• Matt Duffy’s rehab stint began yesterday at Iowa, playing third base and getting a few plate appearances. The hope is that he can return from his back injury late next week. By then, it’ll be too late for him to make an appreciable difference on the Cubs’ competitiveness this year (and also too late to make himself into a meaningful trade piece), but it’ll afford him and the Cubs a couple months to see where things stand. It’s not hard to imagine both sides wanting to keep things together another year, and with Duffy a free agent after the season, the Cubs might want to sign him to a modest extension before that happens. As long as he’s healthy and still showing the same great approach. It’s just a good player to have on the roster.
• Michael got into the Commissioner’s full comments this week, but I want to make sure no one misses this one:
Manfred expects the seven-inning doubleheaders and runner at second to expire with these season, suggesting that there would however be “non-radical changes.”
Asked if the DH in the NL now qualified as “a non-radical change,” he said:
— Derrick S. Goold (@dgoold) July 13, 2021
• Everyone seems to be proceeding as though the DH will be added in the new CBA without much of a fight. Just prepare for that reality, and consider the Cubs’ various upcoming roster decisions through that lens. It does make me wish the Cubs had more bat-only prospects throughout their system, because sometimes you were able to get those guys on the relative cheap. Setting that aside, it will make signing longer-term position player deals – if wanted – a little easier, relative to American League teams that have always had the advantage there.
• Remember the Pirates first baseman who temporarily forgot how to play baseball because Javy Báez did extreme Javy Báez things? Well, he’s headed to play in Korea now, and THAT PLAY was a non-zero factor in him taking the opportunity to scoot:
Chatted with Will Craig just now. Here's Will on whether the Baez play mattered in his decision to join the Kiwoom Heroes of the KBO: pic.twitter.com/p744D4ncFR
— Jason Mackey (@JMackeyPG) July 13, 2021
• As much as I enjoyed that play, and am thrilled that we as fans got to experience it, I do feel bad for Craig. He just kinda lost his mind for a moment, and Javy Báez could do that to a LOT of players. It sucks that it became such a significant event for Craig.