Kicking things off with a stray Cubs thought that leads into the MLB stuff. Given the extent and duration of Frank Schwindel’s offensive outburst (161 wRC+ over 161 PAs), and the peripherals therein, I am generally okay with the Cubs handing him the keys to first base in 2022 … under three conditions:
(1) There’s no offensive cratering to end the year. He doesn’t have to be as good as he has been so far, but if starts striking out over 30% of the time or something equally suspect, we’ll have to revisit the conversation.
(2) The Cubs remain open to splitting some of his time with someone like Alfonso Rivas. It doesn’t have to be him, precisely, but his left-handed bat and complimentary offensive profile could be a nice fit and help protect Schwindel against his most vulnerable matchups.
And most importantly, (3) the Cubs use the financial savings at first (and potentially third) base to spend big elsewhere this offseason, particularly in the rotation.
I don’t need the Cubs to spend all their longer-term money at once, but if we’re going to be handed a Schwindel/Rivas platoon at first base while Anthony Rizzo, for one example, signs on somewhere else, the Cubs need to spend some money on the rest of this team. They just do. Otherwise, the Schwindel gamble is too big of a risk.
Now around MLB …
Freddie Freeman Free Agency?
Of course, Rizzo isn’t the only big-time free agent first baseman out there this winter. Freddie Freeman might hit the market as well:
Freddie Freeman and Braves have been talking but there’s still a gap so free agency appears a surprisingly strong possibility. Both sides want to get it done and that’s the likelihood eventually. Reminiscent of Turner/LAD and HOF Jeter/NYY talks, great FA who stayed. @MLBNetwork
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) September 9, 2021
I would have never expected Freeman to leave Atlanta — and, frankly, I still don’t — but after watching Rizzo hit homers in Yankees pinstripes, I suppose anything is possible. For what it’s worth, Freeman is just a couple months younger than Rizzo, and has been the better player throughout his career. If he does become a free agent, he will be attached to draft pick compensation, which Rizzo will not, for what that’s worth.
MLB Trade Rumors has him as the 5th best free agent this winter (behind Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Kris Bryant, and Trevor Story). I’m still betting he’ll end up back in Atlanta.
Hall of Fame Stuff:
Okay, this was fun to see (even if it all happened on a Wednesday afternoon, when no one is at home watching TV … *shakes fist at whoever’s in charge of promoting MLB*) …
Derek Jeter's nephew, who tipped his cap to Jeter in his final game at Yankee Stadium, was front row for his uncle's Hall of Fame induction. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/TPlNy1iZ4r
— MLB (@MLB) September 8, 2021
Derek Jeter had some big-time audience members at his induction.
MJ and Patrick Ewing pulled up to support Derek Jeter at the MLB Hall of Fame ceremony 🐐
Two legends in the building
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 8, 2021
Obviously Jeter wasn’t the only inductee, however:
Your Hall of Fame Class of 2020. pic.twitter.com/b6A62CHIuL
— MLB (@MLB) September 8, 2021
And Marvin Miller deserves a special shoutout (together with not-yet-Hall-of-Famer Curt Flood), as a reminder of the many ways someone can qualify for eternal enshrinement:
Marvin Miller was a true trailblazer. The former MLBPA Executive Director paved the way for owner and player relations.
The leader of MLB's first CBA is now a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. pic.twitter.com/aXoMrZNg9f
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) September 8, 2021
Marvin Miller's legacy is undeniable tied to Curt Flood, who should be in the Hall of Fame
There is no modern player empowerment movement without the sacrifice of Curt Flood and the work of Miller. Their fight for labor rights should not be sanitized. https://t.co/sjNHJAAFSU https://t.co/4EC4ZAp4ir pic.twitter.com/6A6NDgEk6o
— Joon 이준엽 (@joonlee) September 8, 2021
A Must-Read of the Day
Ken Rosenthal’s latest at The Athletic is chock full of great baseball bits, so much that instead of pulling just one thing out, I’m going to push you in the direction of reading it all for yourself. Among the highlights, you’ll find notes on …
• Salvador Perez’s once maligned contract extension (4 years, $82M) looking like an absolutely brilliant move, even for an older catcher. Perez is hitting .276/.316/.548 (129 wRC+) this season with 42 homers, second only to Shohei Ohtani. You immediately wonder about the measuring stick impact on an extension offer for Willson Contreras.
• Robbie Ray’s candidacy for the AL Cy Young award, with a look into his unique (multi-) home/road splits.
• Collin McHugh’s intentional balk in the 10th inning of Monday’s win over the Red Sox, which is actually something we saw Craig Kimbrel do earlier this year, if you recall:
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) May 27, 2021
And so much more. Really, go check it out. Rosenthal is always good.
No Neander for You
The Tampa Bay Rays lost Andrew Friedman to the Dodgers and Chaim Bloom to the Red Sox. But they have no intention of losing current GM Erik Neander to any other team. He got a promotion (sort of) and a multi-year extension:
Neander is promoted to #Rays President of Baseball Operations but said there are no plans to hire/name a GM or change the structure of how they do business
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) September 8, 2021
It’s a promotion in title only as the Rays aren’t planning to hire a GM underneath him, but the extension will keep him in Tampa Bay, where he’s had a ton of success living up to some pretty high front office expectations. It comes at a really important time. After all, both the Mets and Cubs (and Mariners likely, too) will be looking for a GM now/this offseason, and I bet Neander was one of those pie-in-the-sky targets.
In fact, he already was:
Rays denied the Mets permission to interview Neander last winter. Because of that, they weren’t going to try again. https://t.co/DLq809Unuo
— Andy Martino (@martinonyc) September 8, 2021
The Cubs probably had no shot at Neander no matter what, so I guess nothing lost here. Jed Hoyer has indicated an intention to be interviewing GM candidates this month.
Odds and Ends:
• There may have been plenty of better individual pitcher seasons along the way (Jake Arrieta in 2015 comes to mind, Jacob deGrom this season was unstoppable when healthy, etc.), but the second half of Max Scherzer’s career went about as well as you could have possible imagined. I have no reservations calling him the greatest pitcher of this generation and, heck, he has a 2.28 ERA with a 35.7% strikeout rate at age-37 *this year!*
.@Britt_Ghiroli and I spent a few weeks talking with more than dozen people about Max Scherzer and what has made his journey to 3,000 K special. Here is what we found @TheAthleticMLB https://t.co/2br6mp7GuU
— Maria Torres (@maria_torres3) September 9, 2021
• Also, oops! The Cardinals whiffed. You just hate to see it.
Goold: How the Cardinals business model missed on an outlier like Max Scherzer https://t.co/hjPqv3b8vR
— STL Cardinals News (@STLCardsNews) September 7, 2021