A couple days of clearance, and I’ll still keep things pretty generic to avoid even the whiff of a spoiler: that return episode of ‘Better Call Saul’ … I was very pleased and surprised at how much played out.
- Starting somewhere nice: Nico Hoerner doubled and stole third base last night, and just keeps putting together such a positive season. A reminder about his big league successes after the Cubs took him late in the 2018 first round:
- To be sure, Hoerner gets a boost there because of his relatively quick debut, and some of the other prospects are only just emerging. But I remember the Hoerner pick very well, and how many pundits were talking about the Cubs taking a “second round talent” in the first round. Getting a player like Hoerner at pick 24? That’s a huge win. Jason McLeod and the Cubs really did seem to improve their draft approach in 2018 and 2019 (Dan Kantrovitz took over the draft in 2020).
- The game didn’t go as well, though, with the Cubs losing 4-2 to the Orioles, who’ve now won 9 in a row and are at .500. They have some good years ahead, now that their young talent is finally emerging and they might actually spend more than $40 million on payroll. I would watch them as a sneaky (no longer all that sneaky?) candidate to spend big in free agency this offseason, trying to land a top talent or two.
- Another start for Adrian Sampson, and another capable outing: 5.1 innings, 3 ER, 6 H, 2 BB, 3 K. Nothing overwhelming there, but capable. I have stopped trying to figure out what’s going to happen with this slightly-new-look Sampson. He’s getting decent results on the strength of a revised pitch mix, a little more velocity, and more whiffs than he got previously. With Kyle Hendricks and Wade Miley both still on the shelf for a while, Sampson is going to keep getting starts until/unless he, himself, gets hurt or completely flops. That hasn’t happened yet, so I’m just like … OK, well, this is unexpected but let’s just see what happens as the sample grows.
- Hey, it’s Prime Day part two at Amazon today. So if you’re looking for pretty much anything, you might as well peruse and make sure it isn’t on a huge discount today. #ad
- Patrick Wisdom committed his 11th error last night, after having just 7 all of last season. He has the second most errors in baseball at any position, and his .939 fielding percentage is the literal worst in baseball among all regulars. I don’t know what to make of all the errors this year. He’s rating horribly on defense this season after looking so good last year, and it’s become a bit of a concern as we think about his role in 2023 and beyond. I love what we’ve seen from him at the plate this year (the decrease in strikeout rate while the rest of the offense stays afloat suggests some ability to keep doing this for several more years), but if the glove turns into stone, then it might be all the more reason to consider the shortstop market in free agency (where someone might wind up sliding over to third anyway).
- Weird little addendum to all that, by the way:
- Frank Schwindel dinger at Iowa:
- Schwindel figures to play just a bit more at Iowa before returning to the big league team. I anticipate that he’ll just displace Alfonso Rivas at first base when he returns, but I really don’t know what the Cubs are thinking bigger picture about first base and Schwindel. I guess they probably would want to see him play healthy the rest of the way and then evaluate again in the offseason? For now, I think of the position as pretty wide open internally/externally. (Heck, what if Wisdom is the one who winds up sliding over to first?)
- As for Rivas, he’s hit well since coming back up for Schwindel – .310/.359/.379/110 wRC+ – but it’s almost entirely on the strength of a .425 BABIP. Yes, Rivas’s line-drive approach will always net him a higher BABIP than most, but even at the absolute highest you could talk yourself into, he’s probably about 65 points high during this stretch. Like Schwindel, I think of Rivas as a guy who remains “in the mix” at first base for the rest of this year/next year/whatever, but I don’t think of him as someone who can foreclose the Cubs from making a move if it presents itself.
- Back to the Iowa rehab for a moment: no word yet on Nick Madrigal, who left his last game three days ago with a groin issue (that’s what he’s rehabbing), and who thereafter went to Chicago for more evaluation. Seems not good.
- Careful, David Ross – here’s a quote from Chris Martin, one of the Cubs’ potential top trade chips at the Deadline (via the Tribune): “It can get tough when you get in a situation where you’ve been throwing a lot,” Martin said. “You start getting tired and start wearing down a little bit, and I’m kind of going through that right now. I need to mentally lock in and stay focused on pitching instead of worrying about how my body feels and things like that when I’m out there. Just trying to get to that All-Star break right now.” Rossy would be getting a quick call from Jeddy if it were up to me.
- Willson Contreras talks about the “priceless” opportunity to start with his brother, William, in the All-Star Game. It’s something they’ve dreamed about since they were kids.
- So good:
- NHL Free Agency opens in a few hours, but don’t expect a surprise Patrick Kane trade to accompany it:
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