The year that was for the Chicago Cubs was not necessarily a “successful” one, though I’m not sure exactly what that would’ve looked like, realistically, after the teardown in 2021 (which was, itself, urged by the organizational failings from 2017 to 2019). It wasn’t a terrible year, all told, but I don’t really want to be in the practice of calling any 74-win season a “success.” Just feels like the wrong word, for obvious reasons.
I would say 2022 did represent “progress,” though, which you could see most acutely in the way pitcher development and performance – from the lowest levels up to the big league level – seemed to outpace expectations. There were other good things, too (and plenty of bad), but I suspect we will look back on 2022 as the year the new Cubs pitcher development infrastructure really started to show itself. If I’m right, we will again be in for pleasant surprises in performance and development among Cubs pitchers and prospects in 2023.
And other bullets …
- The Cubs DFA’d Alfonso Rivas 8 days ago, and Erich Uelmen 7 days ago. Should be finding out the resolutions there pretty soon, perhaps after the new year (is there extra time built in for the holidays? because 7 days is usually the limit), and I’d imagine the Cubs are hoping both cleared waivers and can be outrighted to Iowa.
- NBC Sports Chicago runs down 22 of the biggest Cubs moments in 2022, and I knew my personal favorite moment would be on there:
- The NBC list also reminds us just how long it’s been since Kyle Hendricks pitched: the day after the Fourth of July. That means, if he takes the mound for a late Spring Training start as hoped – but not guaranteed – it will have been nine+ months since he last started a game. I want to believe he can come back from the capsular tear in his shoulder and contribute at the back of the rotation, but the nature of his injury (pitcher shoulders are scary), his age (always harder to come back at 33 than 23), his style (margins for error are so thin), and now his time away from pitching make it feel like a longer shot than it might be in other circumstances.
- Jon Heyman wrote up the nine best free agent contracts so far – from the player perspective – and Jameson Taillon’s four-year, $68 million deal is the one Cubs contract that shows up. I’ll admit, it was a whole lot more than I expected he’d get when the offseason began, but then, the starting pitching market was just bonkers. Heck, Taijuan Walker got four million more (and I’d definitely prefer Taillon).
- Willson Contreras’s five-year, $87.5 million deal with the Cardinals also shows up, by the way. And yeah, again, that’s a lot more than I thought he’d get once draft pick compensation was attached. So, good for him.
- Former Cubs reliever Steve Cishek is hanging ’em up: “It’s time,” Cishek told Rich Maclone of The Bourne Enterprise. “It’s gotten harder for me to bounce back game-to-game. The ball wasn’t coming out as crisp as before, and it felt like I had to pitch differently. I know I’ll get the bug and want to get back out there, but I don’t think I’m pulling a Tom Brady.”
- Cishek, 36, pitched for the Cubs in 2018 and 2019, posting a 2.55 ERA over 134.1 innings. For his career, Cishek managed a sub-3 ERA over 710.2 innings. The funky delivery really worked for him. Great career.
- … is it bad that, in connection with the Cubs, I’ll most remember him for the three runs he gave up to the Cubs in the 9th inning of that miracle comeback against the Mariners in 2016? The one that ended with Jon Lester’s walk-off bunt? One of my favorite games ever. Thank you for that, Steve. The other stuff, too, but especially that.
- Joe Girardi talked about his firing by the Phillies (who then went on to run their way to the World Series), and there’s a lot of human-ness to it that you kinda forget in those situations:
- Dave Kaplan’s time at NBC Sports Chicago is at a close, and we’ll see what comes next for the long-time Chicago sports stalwart:
- Impressive and hilarious at the same time:
- The Cubs won a championship in 2022. People forget that:
- For those of us in Ohio, today is the LAST DAY to sign up for any of the sportsbooks that are doing pre-registration bonuses (i.e., you get funds to bet with starting tomorrow just for signing up today). Once sports betting actually launches in Ohio tomorrow, those bonuses go away.