In this edition of Cubs Corner, we’ll take a look at some of the latest news in the world of the Chicago Cub and MLB. Just to remember a happier time – pre-COVID-19 and prior to the dismantling of the Cubs core, let’s just start with this…
Cubs Corner: Season Officially Delayed (?)
Well, you knew that 162 games, an on-time Spring Training start, and fans in the stands were a tall order to fill. Lest you had your hopes up, official word has now come down that the 2021 MLB season (including Spring Training) will, in fact, be delayed and shortened; the same holds true for the Minor League season.
While the MLBPA is still expected to reject Rob Manfred’s proposal, little can be done, as the Cactus League has already asked for a delayed start as COVID cases continue to rise in Arizona.
On Monday morning, WLS radio (890 AM, Chicago) reported that the delay was now official, however, the latest reports still suggest the Players Union intends on fighting the delay. As it stands now if the delay does occur, the season will be cut to 154 games, with Spring Training to start on March 22nd, and Opening Day on April 28th. This proposal (quite likely to become a unilateral mandate from Manfred’s office) would also include the extended playoff format that MLB fans witnessed in 2020.
If you do the math, this will also mean a plethora of doubleheaders again. The season was due to start on or about April 1st, so delaying by a month while only losing eight games is going to men another doubleheader extravaganza.
Cubs Corner: Cubs Reach Agreement With Starter
While rumors (verified) have circulated about the Cubs showing interest in Jeff Samardzija, Jake Arrieta, and Mike Foltynewicz, they have, in fact, reached a deal with the free-agent righty, Trevor Williams. This is a one-year deal.
Over his five season MLB career (all witht the Pirates), Williams has compiled a career ERA of 4.43 (96 starts, 104 appearances) over a total of 534.2 innings pitched. Williams career WHIP is somewhat disconcerting (1.337), but he hasn’t exactly been backed up by the best defensive alignment in Pittsburgh.
While he does boast a 2.33:1 strikeout to walk ratio, his walks per nine IP are somewhat high at 3.0, while averaging over one homerun ball per outing. Williams will turn 28 just prior to the new proposed Opening Day.
Cubs Corner: Joc Pederson Vs. Kyle Schwarber
While there have been a plethora of mixed emotions on Kyle Schwarber being non-tendered, followed by the signing of Joc Pederson, the statistics say this was pretty much a net-zero deal when it comes to facing right-handers.
Granted, Pederson is playing for $7M on a one-year deal, whereas Schwarbs fetched better money in Washington, but when you look at the numbers, both players are about equal. I’d have to give the fielding advantage to Joc Pederson, though Schwarber’s defense has increased exponentially since returning from his knee surgery in 2016.
Cubs Corner: Will the Cubs Move Kris Bryant?
For the last several seasons, one name has topped the list in Cubs trade rumors, that name being Kris Bryant. Just a personal opinion here, but the Cubs should have traded KB about two minutes after losing his service time grievance. Trading Bryant then – when he still had trade value – would have meant controllability for two years to the buyer.
Bryant has had diminishing numbers (OK, his 2019 season was decent), but his defense has slipped, his bat has been lackluster (.206 batting average in 2020), and injuries seem to be plaguing the former MVP ever since taking a fastball to his head in 2018.
Brant has outwardly stated that he isn’t enjoying the game as he used to, so a change of scenery may be just what he – and the Cubs – need. The team seems content to want to ride this out, hoping for a rebound that I just don’t see happening.
Now in his walk-year, the Cubs are faced with three possible choices: (1) Trade him this offseason; (2) Trade him at the deadline for whatever they can get, or; (3) Let him walk away as a free agent, getting nothing in return, other than an extra year of controllability which the team won in the service time grievance dispute.
There’s really no secret that Scott Boras, Jed Hoyer, and Tom Ricketts will never come to terms on an extension for Bryant, as that service time grievance loss caused some bad blood – even if Bryant doesn’t outwardly show it. Will KB fetch those Bryce Harper dollars Boras hopes to snag for him? Doubtful, without a strong bounceback season in 2021.
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