I need to start stocking up on sleep in advance of the Blogathon kicking off in one week. Too many short nights lately, and your generous donations to Make-A-Wish have me up to 36 hours of consecutive blogging at the deadline.
• Eric Sogard, whose spot on the Cubs could be in jeopardy today when Matt Duffy returns, made his case to stick when he doubled in the tying run last night in the 9th inning in a pinch-hit appearance. Given his overall offensive struggles this year, I hadn’t realized how much success he’d had as a pinch-hitter:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 22, 2021
Source: That was Sogard’s 10th pinch hit of the season, the game-tying double also tying him for the MLB lead in PHs.
— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) July 22, 2021
• Sogard has 31 pinch-hit plate appearances this year, and is hitting .345/.387/.414 (115 wRC+) in them. That sample is too small to say anything definitively, but we do know that the ability to have a NORMAL plate appearance when pinch-hitting (i.e., to not be impacted by the moment, which is frequently a big spot) is a skill. Now, what constitutes “normal” varies for different players, and Sogard’s “normal” hasn’t been particularly good for a few years. But maybe he’s just doing very well in those match-up-dictated moments this year? Enough for a trade partner to want him on the bench, when paired with what has actually been a very good and versatile glove this year? Not sure about that, especially if you mean in return for a prospect that you’d want to put into your 180-man group in the minors. But it’s a conversation, at least.
• (I still wouldn’t count out the Cubs just optioning Sergio Alcantara today in favor of Duffy, by the way, unless they’re feeling good that they can trade Sogard for salary relief over a would-be seven-day DFA period.)
• Terrible timing for Michael Hermosillo to come up limping last night with the Iowa Cubs:
Ugh. Sweet Rivas double, but looks like Hermosillo pulled a hammy/groin on the play. Awful timing. pic.twitter.com/oqA6OFZ56C
— Brad (@ballskwok) July 22, 2021
• The breakout Triple-A outfielder, who figured to be among the first post-deadline call-ups, was grabbing at the hamstring area after running first to third and was pulled from the game. Hopefully it’s not too serious, but you know the drill – if it was the hamstring, and if it was enough where he was grabbing at it mid-running, that’s usually a strain, and that usually means a month or more out. If Hermosillo can’t be back until late-August, at the earliest, that’s barely a month in the big leagues – if it happens at all – to show he’s worth sticking on the 40-man all offseason. Just atrocious timing. I’ll hope, against the odds, that it was a cramp or something and everyone was being overly cautious.
• The Cubs were hit by five pitches last night. That seems like a lot. The Cubs were thrown out three times between third base and home plate. That also seems like a lot. These items are unrelated, save for the fact that they occurred last night and involved the words “a lot.”
• There’s an understandable micro focus on every little Craig Kimbrel thing, so a number of folks noticed that Kimbrel’s velocity was down about 1 to 1.5 mph last night on the fastball. I don’t think much of it, though: it was a back-to-back appearance, it was the second straight time he was getting warm without a ton of notice because the Cubs came back late, and it was a multi-inning appearance (be careful with him, David!). I think that’s a pretty normal situation where a guy wouldn’t have quite as much zip, and being down 1 to 1.5 mph is normal variance. Unless we hear something scary, I wouldn’t be concerned, and I don’t think potential trade partners would be either. I also don’t think they’d care too much about him giving up a hit to Yadi Molina in that situation. It happens.
• Kimbrel will be down today no matter what, and as is always the case in these situations, I’m sure an interested trade partner would probably like to see him one more time before pulling the trigger (but many will also want to get him as soon as possible, so it’s a balance). Reliever markets tend to go right up to the deadline, but sometimes the super-elite guys go earlier, since they don’t really have a rival in the marketplace.
• Turns out a lot of front offices are annoyed with the timing of the draft and the signing deadline (which comes just two days after the Trade Deadline), and you can read more about it here at CBS Sports. MLB’s desire was to move the draft back to pair it with the All-Star festivities to get some more attention (a decision that hasn’t borne any fruit as far as I can tell), but the cost came in the form of really mucking up the normal timing and structure of scouting attentions. Some of the suggestions from those in the game are more interesting from an attention perspective: move it to August, when it doesn’t conflict with trade season at all, or move it to the offseason when it could really be a spotlight event. There are potential timing problems with both of those from the amateur perspective (in which case I say just go back to early June!). In any case, let’s just say it’s not a lock that the draft will remain during the All-Star break, and in my view, it shouldn’t. The extra attention wasn’t there, and it just made that whole week cluttered (and has also muddied up the fun of prospects signing, since we’re all distracted by trade season).
• A heads up for out-of-market folks who use MLB.tv – they just announced that they’re now including pre-and-post-game shows in their broadcast streams, so you can watch the Marquee pre and post if you want. Nice addition for folks who can’t otherwise get it.
• I’ll have more thoughts on this in a bit, but for now I just had to share it because it’s so good:
It’s not all about trades — there are some players to keep an eye who should be around in ’22 and beyond. A look at three pitchers currently on the roster (Alzolay, Mills and Thompson), how they’re improving and what to watch with them the rest of the way https://t.co/tugFkkPCVr
— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) July 22, 2021
• Sharma is just so good at sussing out the complicated pitching concepts in very easy to understand ways (and getting coaches and pitchers to talk about them in helpful ways, too).
• Fun Kris Bryant video to enjoy while you can:
Nick Castellanos says his favorite moment with teammates off the field was cruising around the Chicago river with Jason Heyward. 🙌🏼
— Cubs Zone ™️ (@CubsZone) July 21, 2021