There Are SOME Cubs Playing Right Now (And Hitting Walk-Off Homers!) and Other Cubs Bullets

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•   Cubs infielder Sergio Alcantara is playing in the Dominican Republic right now, and hit a walk-off last night. It looks like a lotta fun:

•   Even before the homer, the 25-year-old plus-glove shortstop/second baseman was having a good start to his DWL campaign, hitting .290/.419/.420, with more walks than strikeouts. Among the guys who’ve played at least 8 games (Alcantara has played 19), he’s the best hitter on his team by OPS, and 7th in the league.

•   As I scroll the leaderboard, among the old and current friends playing in the DWL: Chris Morel, Robel Garcia, Arismendy Alcantara, Junior Lake, Felix Pena, and Emilio Bonifacio. There are also guys like Albert Pujols, Robinson Cano, Marcell Ozuna, Ervin Santana, and Hanley Ramirez getting in some games.

•   Back to Alcantara for a moment. You would still love for him to be able to hit enough to justify a spot on the bench, because the glove is probably as good as the Cubs can find in a back-up role up the middle. Obviously he was raking at Triple-A last year coming out of the pandemic shutdown, but he couldn’t keep up the same quality and consistency of contact in his periodic big league appearances after the league adjustments came. He could improve from here, but it will be difficult to do receiving only very sporadic at bats as a glove-first bench guy.

•   The roster challenge? Alcantara is now out of minor league options. And, having been outrighted before in his career, if the Cubs put him on waivers, even if he clears, they cannot outright him to Iowa without first giving him the opportunity to choose free agency. It’s conceivable he might decide at that point to head to a new organization. As the roster is presently constructed, Alcantara should have no problem making the team, since he’d be the only back-up shortstop on the roster (especially with David Bote out following shoulder surgery). If the Cubs sign/acquire a starting shortstop, though, and move Nico Hoerner into a utility role, it becomes a little bit tighter to carry Alcantara if you don’t believe in the bat, especially with the likely advent of the DH. All that said, these things tend to work themselves out by the time Spring Training is over – either by way of an injury, by way of clear performance indicators, or by way of a desperate desire to keep as many players in the org as possible – so I’m not tripping up too much on it right now.

Willson Contreras is lookin’ like a monster right now:

•   We talked a bit about the Contreras-trade-or-extend stuff yesterday if you missed it.

•   Not one MLB broadcast made the top 100 most watched TV broadcasts of 2021. The same was true for the NBA and NHL, with only the NFL showing up in the top 100 … 75 times. The finale of the World Series was very close to making the list, though – it drew 14.3 million viewers, and number 100 was a Final Four game at 14.9 million. The NBA Finals peaked at 12.5 million viewers this year, and the Stanley Cup Finals peaked at 3.5 million (both way down from where they’d been a couple years earlier, which is probably some pandemic noise, continued lifestyle changes, short series, and non-huge markets involved).

•   Speaking of TV, I’m gonna have more thoughts on this soon, but it’s potentially key, so I’ll at least park this here for now so you can see it:

•   Now THIS is a good Sunday Night Baseball booth:

•   Love for The Hawk:

•   This was both good and hilarious, and it’s incredible how good Ayo has been so quickly:

•   This is not a flattering story:

•   Also, what exactly are the Bears doing … no one knows:

•   And why exactly aren’t the Blackhawks planning to tear it all down:

written by

Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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