The Cubs are back in action tonight in Arizona, and don’t forget that it’s the first Cubs Apple TV+ game. That means the game is exclusively on Apple TV+, but anyone can watch it (for free) as long as you have the Apple TV app and an Apple ID to log in. Prepare yourself accordingly.
• We’re still months away from knowing where this goes – though I think it’s my job to prepare you for the likeliest reality, which is a deadline trade – but I just want to point out how exceptional Willson Contreras has been so far this year. He’s hitting .304/.413/.522 through 109 PAs, with a 166 wRC+ (12th best in baseball among qualifiers). His contact quality has been incredible, too:
Willson Contreras has been making some DECENT contact this year … pic.twitter.com/OwNSQTx7Qx
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) May 13, 2022
• Oh, and it’s his birthday. Happy 30th birthday, Willson. I hope whatever happens works out well for everyone, and if it means Contreras goes, I hope the Cubs have a plan for having a competitive catcher spot in 2023. Because I still really have trouble seeing it.
• It’s also Nico Hoerner’s 25th birthday, and Mychal Givens’ 32nd birthday. So many gifts to get.
• Everywhere you look, there’s another story like this the last few weeks:
In 13 games since April 27th Andy Weber is hitting .440/.500/.560 (192 OPS+) for Tennessee.
Weber's been even better over his last 8 games:
.531/.571/.656 (238 RC+), recording 2+ hits in 7 times, and reaching base 2+ in every one of them.
— Michael Ernst (@mj_ernst) May 13, 2022
• Bryan noted several this morning, too, especially first base prospect Bryce Ball, who has been obliterating the ball at Double-A lately thanks to a fundamentally transformed approach at the plate (super short version: he’s being more aggressive after years of arguably being way too passive). As Bryan said, soon, pitchers will stop going into the zone as much, and that’s when you can find out if he’s actually ready for Triple-A – does he start to expand his zone, or does he go back to accepting his walks without becoming overly passive?
• As for Weber, health has held him back from really showing if the bat would play enough at the upper levels for him to have a big league utility profile (with the ability to play shortstop, it would be very valuable to have). Your big statistical caution for the results at Tennessee for the 24-year-old so far this year: .519 BABIP. To be sure, when it’s THAT high over 80 PAs, there has been a lot of good contact (his line drive rate is nearly 30%!). But when you see a .081 ISO and a 27.5% K rate, you want to be a little cautious about getting overly excited about the slash line. Not that you expect huge power from him, but I always question what happens to that profile as they face better and better pitching and better and better defenses. The pitchers can make the strikeout rate worse as they exploit holes and challenge more aggressively in the zone, and the defenses can better cheat away a lot of the singles.
• Which one is the bae:
• Mattresses, tools, and coffee are among the Deals of the Day today at Amazon. #ad
• The Cubs wear pinstripes, just sayin’:
Aaron Boone with a big smile talking about Anthony Rizzo: “He’s made for the pinstripes.” pic.twitter.com/qFXwTrJhdO
— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) May 12, 2022
• Anthony Rizzo of course had disappointments tied to how things ended, but he still says all the kind things:
Reflective Anthony Rizzo — who's now in a great place with the Yankees — is proud of helping establish #Cubs' culture, also admits trade out of Chicago stung https://t.co/8f0tAMujP9 via @MLBBruceLevine pic.twitter.com/zrij0ixrRH
— 670 The Score (@670TheScore) May 12, 2022
“Jed Hoyer, Theo Epstein and Jason McLeod know me as a human being and saw me group up,” Rizzo said. “They know Emily, my wife, and the whole family. I know who they are. It’s all about business. They had to make tough business decisions. And as a human being, was I pissed off? Of course. As a baseball player who understands the business of the game, I want Jed and all of them to have success. For Jed to build the next great Cubs team would be great for him and his family.”
• Rizzo, of course, wound up re-signing with the Yankees, and he’s hitting .232/.353/.536 (163 wRC+) this year, driven primarily by ridiculous production at Yankee Stadium (.288/.397/.667, 213 wRC+, 7 of his 9 homers). It’s a great ballpark fit for him, and clearly a good emotional fit, too. Good for him.