Cardinals Set a Gold Glove Record (But Still Lost), Hawkins Talk, Morel's Splits, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Cardinals Set a Gold Glove Record (But Still Lost), Hawkins Talk, Morel’s Splits, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

The Blackhawks finally fired their Head Coach this weekend, which means it is possible, Certain Other Chicago Team.

•   For the first time since 2015, the Chicago Cubs had no Gold Glove winners. There’s no surprise there (Zach Davies was the only finalist), but it’s still another surprising reminder of how different the 2021 club was from what preceded it for years. To be sure, winning Gold Gloves is not a perfect stand-in for “good defensive team,” but the Cubs weren’t anything special this year, by whatever metric (or eye test) of your preference. Not bad, but not objectively good, either. And with the rotation they put together to open the season, it turns out that the defense probably would’ve needed to feature eight Gold Glovers for them to have any kind of chance.

•   Heading into next year, it’s pretty hard to project what the Cubs will look like defensively, since almost no position is definitely locked down as we speak. Nico Hoerner could be a special defender at second base, but he probably won’t play there regularly. Willson Contreras was stellar before 2021, but was pretty average last year (and he might be traded anyway). I still think Ian Happ could be pretty darn good in left field, but he might wind up having to spend time in center. Patrick Wisdom looked pretty good at third base, but he might not be an everyday starter there. And so on and so on. It’s not that hard to imagine a Cubs lineup that features kinda scary defense across the board. Probbbbbbably should add a strikeout pitcher or two.

•   Meanwhile, the St. Louis Cardinals won a record five Gold Gloves, which is how they were able to hold the Los Angeles Dodgers to just three runs in the Wild Card Game. A game they lost to the Dodgers 3-1 on a walk-off Chris Taylor home run.

•   The Cardinals return all of those guys next year, so their pitchers will be pleased. There are questions throughout that rotation and bullpen, though, from health to age to performance. I would expect them to be pretty active in trying to add at least one impactful starting pitcher, and a quality arm or three in the bullpen.

•   Oh just in case you wanted to see it again like I did:

•   A profile on the Cubs’ new GM, including how his days at Vanderbilt – and the relationships/perspectives that trace back there – have shaped what Carter Hawkins is today:

•   Some of it is cliche business-speak, I admit, but how Hawkins described developing relationships and trust did land for me:

“It’s not different than any other sport or industry,” Hawkins said. “People want to feel heard, they want to feel cared for, they want to feel invested in. But those things don’t happen overnight and you don’t just have trust with someone who walked through the door. It’s an accumulation of trust deposits over months and years. What’s the best time to plant a tree? Twenty years ago. What’s the second-best time? Today. So start planting that tree, start building that garden of trust and investment. Hopefully, it goes two ways. You can create this web of investment amongst people, but there’s no trick to it. There just isn’t. You just have to legitimately and deliberately want to connect and understand people and hear them. It has to be real. If it isn’t, it doesn’t work.”

•   Another admission: I’d never heard that tree proverb before. That’s good. I like that.

•   I was checking in on Christopher Morel’s performance in the Dominican Winter League so far (he hasn’t played a lot, but hasn’t hit much in his seven games) when I noticed something I hadn’t seen before in his stats from the 2021 minor league season: absolutely bonkers splits. Against lefties this year between Double-A and Triple-A, Morel hit .300/.382/.633. Huge. But against fellow righties? Yikes: .206/.282/.389. Although he showed traditional splits a couple years earlier in A-ball, it was nowhere remotely close to this. Now, we know that a single year’s worth of splits can be deceiving, and we also know that Morel dealt with really weird BABIP stuff this year (i.e., his BABIP never seemed to match the implied quality of his contact). But those numbers are just so extremely divergent that you have to take note for a guy who was otherwise going to be on the big league radar next year as a utility man, and is already on the 40-man roster. You’d hate to learn that his ceiling is going to be as a utility guy who can face only lefties. I’m guessing he’s got his marching orders for the offseason.

•   Toys and headphones and chairs and more are your Early Black Friday Deals today at Amazon. #ad

•   I lol’d:

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.