The Rundown: Spring Training Starts Early in Miami, Canario Goes Off at Iowa, Esteban Quiroz is Human Highlight Reel, Maury Wills Passes Away

“Kick on the starter give it all you got, you got, you got…” – The Rolling Stone, Start Me Up

Mercifully, we are now down to the final two weeks of the season. The Cubs have been eliminated from playoff contention, will enter the first lottery sweepstakes, and all eyes now turn to the future. Expect a lot of winter news regarding the likes of Pete Crow-Armstrong, Brennen Davis, Matt Mervis, Caleb Kilian, Jordan Wicks, and Kevin Alcantara. Those guys have been so good that they’ve almost made James Triantos, Owen Caissie, DJ Herz, Miguel Amaya, and Cristian Hernandez forgotten prospects.

Yes, the Cubs farm system is stacked, so you’ll probably see a lot of Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout rumors, too. It’s almost embarrassing to ask, but would you even want Trout considering the cost to acquire him given his recent health history? I never thought I’d ask that question. Then again, I never thought Trout might be available. But, the Angels may have a new owner by next spring and a new direction, so anything is possible, I suppose.

The debate over the shortstop class will be all-consuming. If you were handicapping the entries as potential Cubs, what order would you choose? I’m a contrarian of sorts, so I’m going Dansby Swanson, Xander Bogaerts, Trea Turner, and Carlos Correa, with a caveat. I don’t believe Correa will exercise his opt-out.

Jed Hoyer and his front office entourage need to do some creative planning when it comes to the team’s 40-man roster. We may see some shock and awe, as that has been Hoyer’s M.O. at least once each offseason. There aren’t many certainties offensively beyond Nico Hoerner, Yan Gomes, Christopher Morel, and Seiya Suzuki, though I believe Franmil Reyes and Zack McKinstry will get extended auditions in 2023. Veterans who could get traded include Ian Happ, Willson Contreras, and Kyle Hendricks, though you could easily add Gomes, Nick Madrigal, and David Bote to that list. Or Bote could be released outright, just like Jason Heyward will be.

Last night, the Cubs fielded a lineup that allowed them to further assess a number of fringe players. Happ was the only pedigreed regular in a starting nine that felt an awful lot like something David Ross would run out during the first week of Cactus League play. Yes, the season is over for all intents and purposes. We’re about seven weeks from lighting the hot stove, though transactional conversation will dominate this space as soon as Game 162 is in the books.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

I love the Savannah Bananas, and somebody has got to make a movie or documentary about this team. The world needs to, er, go bananas for Savannah.

Climbing the Ladder

“Don’t think that we don’t know and don’t think that we’re not trying. Don’t think we move too slow.” – Men at Work, It’s a Mistake

Quiroz, who made his first Major League start in Tuesday’s 2-1 win over the Marlins, was 2-for-3. David Bote provided all of the run support with a home run and sacrifice fly. Nelson Velazquez had another tough night. The rookie was 0-for-4 with three punchouts, dropping his batting average below the Mario Mendoza line (.196).

  • Games Played: 148
  • Total Plate Appearances: 5,557
  • Total Strikeouts: 1,312
  • Strikeout Rate: 23.61%
  • Team Batting Average: .240
  • Runs Scored: 594
  • Runs Allowed: 698

How About That!

The White Sox lost 10-7 to the Guardians and are now five games behind Cleveland in the AL Central with 14 to play.

Maury Wills passed away at the age of 89 yesterday. During his 14-year career, Wills batted .281 with 2,134 hits and 586 stolen bases in 1,942 games. He was also the first player to steal more than 100 bases in a single season.

Albert Pujols said he “is at peace” with his retirement plans.

The Braves have clinched a playoff spot because the Brewers lost to the Yankees last night.

Some MLB teams are completely abandoning the fastball. Here’s why.

The league is banning the shift as we know it, but that won’t stop teams from tinkering with other opinions to reduce base hits.

Whether you want to believe it or not, there is a verifiable, strong connection between higher payrolls and winning baseball.

The Mets, Dodgers, Yankees, Phillies, Padres, and Red Sox will all pay the luxury tax at the end of this season.

Ken Rosenthal noted that some teams are considering a four-man rotation ($) in his latest for The Athletic. The impetus behind the notion is that starters would go two times through the order before turning the game over to the bullpen. That would limit each starter to about 70-75 pitches. That would also shift the value of wins to relievers for all you fantasy baseball players.

Tuesday’s Three Stars

  1. Aaron Judge – He hit number 60 last night, joining Babe Ruth and Roger Maris as the only Yankees to reach that mark. The three are also the only players in the American League 60+ home run club. Judge is also the first player since Miguel Cabrera in 2012 to lead all three Triple Crown categories on September 1 or later.
  2. J.T. Realmuto – The Phillies catcher was a perfect 5-for-5 from the plate with a home run and two RBI, though Philadelphia lost 18-11 to the Blue Jays. Kyle Schwarber blasted his 40th home run of the season in the loss.
  3. Bryan Reynolds – Pittsburgh players rarely make this list, but Reynolds had a worthy evening. The center fielder was 4-for-5 with a home run, two runs scored, and two RBI.

Extra Innings

Wills was an incredible bunter and base stealer. He broke a 47-year-old record for stolen bases in 1962, previously held by Ty Cobb.

Wednesday Morning Six-Pack

  1. The Bears are letting Teven Jenkins and Lucas Patrick split snaps at right guard, and that’s bothering some of the team’s fans.
  2. A 7.4 magnitude earthquake rattled Mexico City on Monday, which was the same date—September 19—as two other deadly earthquakes that hit Mexico, one in 1985 and the other in 2017.
  3. Watch some British dudes make London Rock Candy in this remarkable video from 1957.
  4. Bring on autonomous cars! Uber suffered a major hack to its computer network, with one security analyst saying, “They pretty much have full access to Uber.”
  5. There is no cheating in Chess! Or is there?
  6. The answer to yesterday’s trivia question – “When combined, which two words have the most letters?” – was Post Office. Let’s try again with something a little easier. What is made of water but if you put it into water it will die?

They Said It

  • “I think we’re close. A lot of that’s out of my control. Hopefully, we make a few moves. I think we have a great core group of guys, great young guys coming up that are going to make great contributions throughout a full year. But yeah, if we add a few pieces, I think we can compete in the division right away.” – Stroman
  • “I think we could have a lot of good [pitching] options. It’s hard to hang your hat on ‘could’ or ‘should’ or ‘might.  don’t know if Drew Smyly will be here. I don’t know if [Wade] Miley will be here. I don’t know if Kyle [Hendricks] will be healthy. There are some question marks. The things that we know going into [the offseason] right now [are] Justin Steele has done a really nice job of putting himself in a position to be in the rotation. Stroman, obviously, has done a really nice job. You need to get Keegan Thompson back [from the injured list]. I don’t know after that, right? I don’t know if anybody can talk about certainty after that.” – Ross

Wednesday Walk-Up Song

This one is for my friends back in Worth-Palos, IL. It was always a car washing staple.

My 40-year high school reunion is on October 22, which is odd because I’m only 36. Time stopped when we hit the new Millenium, yes?

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