Zobrist as a HOF Candidate, Angels Being (Oddly?) Active, Cruz, and Other Cubs Bullets

All right, MLB gents. Last chance to get deals done before Thanksgiving dinner. So if you wanted to finalize that big trade before your uncle asks you why you aren’t better at your job, or if you wanted to get signed before your wife asks where you’re going to be living next year, today is the day. Do what’s best for you, of course. I’m being tongue-in-cheek. But I’m just saying I wouldn’t hate a final spark of activity …

  • The Los Angeles Angels, amid sale talks, have been the most active team in baseball this offseason, signing Tyler Anderson to a three-year deal, trading for Gio Urshela, and last night trading for Hunter Renfroe (his fifth team in five years, so that’s kinda weird). It’s weird because of how far away they’ve been from contention in a strong division, but it’s less weird if you think about the fact that Shohei Ohtani is going to be a free agent after this season. If you’re selling a team, and one of your major selling points is having the two most talented players in baseball on your club, one of whom is a mega international superstar who recently talked about how bad he felt about this past season, you MIGHT want to try desperately to compete in 2023 to give you and your new owners a real chance at keeping him happy and thus keeping him long-term. Winning also probably just becomes part of the sales pitch to buyers (or your new bosses if you’re the holdover GM).
  • And now that Renfroe has finally been traded, that means the floodgates can open. Market was clearly just waiting on that deal to get sorted out. That was the hold up all along. (Wouldn’t it be fun if this joke turns out to be true and today goes nuts?)
  • Pat Hughes talking about his very special moment this year:
  • Some excellent additions coming in the years ahead, and perhaps an interesting debate about Ben Zobrist:
  • I tend to think Zobrist comes up just shy because his career totals aren’t quite what you’d expect from a Hall of Famer (largely because he didn’t get a shot at regular big league playing time until he was already 27). That said, he’s got a lot of postseason success going for him, and also has a claim to being a guy who revolutionized just how far you could take a utility player and how valuable he could be.
  • Overall for his career, Zobrist hit .266/.357/.426/116 wRC+, playing good defense all over. He accumulated 42.6 fWAR and 44.5 bWAR. Oh, and, you know, he had one of the most important hits in baseball history:
  • Dang, I just went back and watched all the videos in that thread. Still makes me very happy.
  • Two more days of Early Black Friday Deals at Amazon. #ad
  • Pirates shortstop Oneil Cruz is one-of-a-kind, truly wild to watch play shortstop, and able to hit the ball as hard as anyone in baseball. But I found this FanGraphs read interesting that, despite his eye-popping exit velos, Cruz still won’t tap his considerable upside if he doesn’t start making more contact AND elevating a little more I knew about the first, but didn’t know about the second. Cruz’s average launch angle is way below league average, and his groundball rate at Triple-A and in MLB hovers around 50%. When he makes contact, it seems like he either barrels it or beats it into the ground (with the latter far more common than the former). Which isn’t to say he can’t be an offensive force if he does make more contact – Willson Contreras, for example, has been a great offensive player for years despite a groundball rate around 50%. It’s rare, but it happens.
  • Yoenis Cespedes, who’ll play for Team Cuba in the WBC, is raking in the Dominican Winter League right now, including two homers last night:
  • I missed this three weeks ago, but Yadi Molina, who has been managing in the Venezuela Winter League, got his first managerial ejection:
  • This is pretty fun to watch:
  • Absolutely beautiful:
  • PSA:
  • 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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