Astros Win the AL Pennant, Dusty, Dodgers Troubles, Protecting Velazquez, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Astros Win the AL Pennant, Dusty, Dodgers Troubles, Protecting Velazquez, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

How did I get ‘Bootylicious’ stuck in my head? I swear, these songs come completely out of nowhere most of the time. And I don’t even really know much of the song, just like two lines that go on a loop over and over and over in my head.

•   That’s that for the ALCS, as the Houston Astros won again last night, sending them to the World Series:

•   Dusty Baker will finally get another chance, 19 years later, to win a World Series. I don’t necessarily have fond memories of Baker as a manager, but, whatever, I can get over myself enough to acknowledge that it’s a nice story. And if it plays out that the Astros do win it all, Baker’s is the name I’ll probably think of first. I certainly don’t wish him ill, even if I don’t necessarily want to see the Astros win this one.

•   You can’t blame the entire ALCS outcome on the one missed call from Game 4, though I reckon some Red Sox fans will be doing that for years to come. But it’s still just crazy how – even RIGHT WHEN IT HAPPENED – you could point to the precise moment in the series when it went from a Red Sox series to an Astros Series. Everything flipped immediately.

•   As for the NLCS, its Game 6 is tonight, and if the Dodgers want to stay alive, they’ll have to do it without Max Scherzer, who’s reportedly going to be scratched due to lingering arm soreness. The Dodgers leaned on him HEAVILY to get here in the first place, and it’s not as if Scherzer would want it any other way. But if he can’t go, physically, he can’t go. I doubt it would have any meaningful impact on his free agent market unless there’s a serious injury, but it could definitely impact the Dodgers’ chances tonight and, if necessary, tomorrow. The Dodgers have already lost Max Muncy, Justin Turner, and Joe Kelly this postseason, and Clayton Kershaw just before it.

•   What’s perhaps most interesting about having such a huge NAME group of free agents is I’m not sure how much worse for the wear the Dodgers will actually be in trying to sort out these losses:

•   If all depart, then, yeah, sure there are some clear production losses. But the Dodgers have Trea Turner in place to replace Seager, they have Gavin Lux in place to replace Taylor, they have a million bullpen arms to replace Jansen, Kershaw is a lock to return, Pujols isn’t much of a loss, and Scherzer was a rental.

•   It might be a bit paint-by-number, but I’m not sure this is a step down in terms of the overall booth:

•   Over the years, Alex Rodriguez has demonstrated that he’s pretty darn good in the studio, and pretty darn awful in the booth. Ravech is fine. Perez is solid. It’ll be fine, if not super exciting.

•   Kevin Goldstein was still working with the Houston Astros when new Cubs AGM Ehsan Bokhari arrived from the Los Angeles Dodgers, so it’s interesting to see him drop this comment unprompted:

•   If you missed the other big org change news last night:

•   This guy cannot stop raking in the AFL – he hits the ball so hard:

•   I don’t know that a team would take Nelson Velazquez in the Rule 5 Draft, but I do know that the Cubs can’t risk it at this point. There’s just too much potential in that bat, and the upper levels are sufficiently thin on big outfield bats. Even if you anticipate him starting 2022 back at Double-A, and/or even if you think there’s no chance he could contribute in the big leagues next year, you still have to put him on the 40-man roster next month. The 22-year-old just kept getting better as the season went on, put on his best show at Double-A (34 games), and now he’s raking in the AFL. That’s a breakout. He’s breaking out. Don’t risk losing him.

•   Gonna make you see it, too:

•   The Cardinals claimed righty Ljay Newsome off of waivers from the Mariners as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery:

•   Newsome, an uber-duber-extreme strike-thrower will not be ready to pitch competitively until mid-summer, is an interesting stash if you’re willing to use the 40-man spot all offseason (note that he would’ve passed the Cubs on the waiver wire first before reaching the Cubs). It’s more likely that the Cardinals are simply grabbing him now so that they can try to later sneak him through waivers this offseason and outright him to the minors. That would allow them to keep him for 2022 on a minor league deal.

•   Today’s Epic Deals at Amazon are all Calphalon, from air fryers to pans to coffee makers to blenders. #ad

•   The Chicago Bulls were pretty darn fun to watch last night, starting the season 2-0:

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.