That was glorious. The sleep, I mean, not all that preceded it. And certainly not how I’m feeling now. My brain and body are trying to shake off the compounded effects of 40 hours without sleep, then 12 hours of sleep, massive stress responses throughout the two days, terrible eating, and more caffeine than I would normally consume in a week. To put it mildly: I feel like crap. HOWEVER, at least I got to sleep, and that 12 hours felt like it went by in about 12 minutes.
Now back to reality …
• Because the Anthony Rizzo trade came a day earlier, and especially because the Javy Báez and Kris Bryant trades came amidst the dizzying crush of the Trade Deadline’s final hour, we didn’t get nearly the same chance to lean into the farewells and nostalgia and what-have-you with those two guys like we did with Rizzo. We haven’t yet heard from Bryant, but Javy Báez spoke with the media shortly after his trade to the Mets, and also posted some love on his IG:
“We love you.”
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) July 30, 2021
— Russell Dorsey (@Russ_Dorsey1) July 30, 2021
View this post on Instagram
• David Ross on, well, you know (Cubs.com): “Emotional is the first word that comes to mind. Sad, difficult, a lot of negative words that I usually don’t like to use on these Zooms. … [Rizzo, Báez and Bryant] changed expectations about this organization. They changed the caliber of play expected. They changed expectations for a fan base that’s passionate in a place it’s amazing to play. They made it a place, along with ownership and front office, that free agents want to come. Those guys, they changed my life.”
• Anthony Rizzo homered in his first game with the Yankees, naturally, and it did it with Chicago batting gloves on:
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) July 31, 2021
• In not-sad-news, how freaking awesome did Manny Rodriguez look last night in his big league debut? We’ve been waiting on this young man to arrive for a couple years now ever since the Cubs surprised folks by putting him on the 40-man roster two falls ago. He came out throwing 98-100 mph, with cutting action on the four-seamer and so much movement on the two-seamer, and dropping this pitch that had the movement of a curveball but came in at 89-90 mph. I assume it’s a slider, Pitching Ninja called it a cutter, and I believe Bryan was thinking of it as just a very, very hard curveball. My guess is the pitch classification systems will call it a slider because of the movement and velo, but whatever it is, the thing is hilariously nasty when paired with the fastball:
Manny Rodriguez, 100mph Two Seamer and 90mph Cutter, Individual Pitches + Overlay. pic.twitter.com/RnRSwGYgnH
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 31, 2021
• Although he’s only just making his big league debut, it’s conceivable that Rodriguez will immediately get late-inning – even closing – opportunities as the Cubs sort out his role for 2022. When Rowan Wick finally returns, I suspect he will be the nominal “closer,” but it’s possible the Cubs will want to ease him back a bit more than that.
• A part of me wonders just how high the Cubs are on Codi Heuer, by the way (the new reliever acquired in the Craig Kimbrel deal). He was projected as a big league setup man by the time he graduated as a prospect (that’s a compliment), and he was dominant in that role as a rookie in 2020. This year, he’s taken a step back (mostly in results, rather than peripherals), and the Cubs *clearly* believe they can unlock more (which, hey, I tend to believe them when it comes to relievers now). I don’t think that means he’ll slot right in as the closer or anything, but it’s also like … who cares? Unless it’s for development purposes, I really don’t care who is closing for the Cubs the rest of the way. Give it to Dan Winkler or Rex Brothers for all it matters.
• Also, Michael Rucker made his big league debut last night, too, and if it weren’t for Rodriguez looking so amazing, I probably would’ve been more loudly proclaiming how much I enjoyed that, too. Rucker was throwing a four-seamer at 96 mph, a sinker at 91 mph, a cutter at 89 mph, and a curveball at 81 mph. The cutter was the nastiest looking pitch (netted his only three whiffs), but the way they all work together was very interesting. I like the mix, and I hope he gets a look the rest of the way.
• The Cubs will have many young pitchers coming up over the next few weeks, and I wonder if that could be a benefit to having guys like Jake Arrieta and Zach Davies still around (together with others in the bullpen and obviously Kyle Hendricks): helping the young pitchers transition to big league life. Maybe it’s a stretch – I don’t know that you pass up a solid Davies trade offer to keep him around – but these are guys who have done it a long time, who have succeeded in different ways, and may have a lot to offer in the development process.
• Tony La Russa wanted to RUMBLE last night after James Karinchak hit Jose Abreu in the helmet:
White Sox manager Tony La Russa confronts Roberto Pérez on the field after James Karinchak accidentally hits José Abreu on the helmet with a pitch.
In the aftermath, Abreu embraces Karinchak on his way to first base. pic.twitter.com/287unE8YoP
— Bally Sports Cleveland (@BallySportsCLE) July 31, 2021
• Obviously that was unintentional, and obviously it’s a little funny to see La Russa running out there as an older gent. But for all that he’s earned in chiding with some of the rough decisions he’s made, I don’t think that was one. He had a point, as we’ve discussed before with certain Cubs hitters getting hit up high all the time: “The point was that the guy did not have command and it’s scary to call the ball inside,” said La Russa, per WhiteSox.com. “There was no question it was not intentional. That guy lacked command and it was scary to throw the ball, and if you are going to throw the ball in, get it down. Just a very scary area. That’s what I said.”
• Part of the reason the Mets wanted Trevor Williams in the Javy Báez deal is because they found out earlier in the day that Jacob deGrom had suffered a setback in his recovery, and now is going to be out until at least September. You hate to see that for a guy who was having a HISTORIC season.
• The Cubs are still missing upper-level impact guys at the top of the system – Brennen Davis is really the only guy at the moment – but their farm system depth (i.e., the sheer volume of legit prospects) is now absurd:
To give you an idea of farm depth disparity: Espinoza was 8th on SDP list, now 29th on Cubs. https://t.co/hDWHIGBS04
— Eric Longenhagen (@longenhagen) July 30, 2021