Whether you agree with the sell-off direction, whether you like the trade return (I really do), and whether you never quite could separate Joc Pederson from Kyle Schwarber in your mind as a Cubs fan, it’s still OK to note that his presence on the Chicago Cubs was appreciated this year.
By that I mean, when I was watching Pederson play this year, I never felt like he was just putting on a show with his exuberance. He struck me, from thing one, as a guy who just loved that he was out there playing baseball. That’s true for most players, without question, but with Joc, I felt like I could really see it when he was on the field. Sometimes it was obvious – remember when he turned and screamed in joy toward his dugout after finally cranking one (that turned out to be a sac fly into the wind)? – but other times it was just a bit of lightness out there. Pederson’s game this year had its flaws, but he stayed the same guy throughout the process.
Did the signing work out? I think you could probably answer that in a variety of ways, depending on how you were already feeling. For me, working out meant that Pederson took another step forward and was the big power, better contact, better defense left fielder the Cubs were wanting, and the Cubs stayed competitive all year. Or it meant that, if the Cubs weren’t competitive, Pederson put himself into a position to be a valuable trade piece in July. It’s weird, because I don’t feel like his performance this year really merited falling into that second category, and yet here we are. The Cubs got a really good trade return, all things considered.
But back to Pederson. The Cubs can fill his position with relative ease, and they can replace the at bats in a non-competitive year. There’s no sting in that regard. But those good vibes and positive energy? That’s gonna be just a bit tougher to come by now, especially for a team already trending downward. There’s a reason the Cubs used this particular language tonight:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 16, 2021
So to Joc Pederson, may those good vibes and positive energy stick right to you with the Braves, and I have no reason not to root for you to be great there in Atlanta.
It was easy to root for Pederson. It was easy to feel like it wasn’t stupid that he grew a terrible, nearly translucent mustache to try to help shake off a funk. That was just his speed. A knowing, juvenile delight. The kind that doesn’t hurt anyone, and might make someone else smile. That’s what it was like to watch Pederson play, and I appreciated it. The trade was the right thing to do, but that doesn’t mean the Cubs won’t be just a touch less enjoyable to follow the rest of the way.