The Rundown: Rizzo to Opt Out, Caissie Warming, Dodgers Chasing Judge, White Sox in No Hurry to Replace La Russa

Baseball is pretty much on radio silence up until Game 1 of the World Series on Friday night, so things will be a little light here at The Rundown this week. I’m still buzzing over last night’s Bears-Patriots game, and don’t forget you can get recaps and other fun stuff over at Bears Insider, where Sean Holland and I do the bulk of the writing.

I normally do player grades at this time of year, but the team is in transition and used so many players I just can’t get into it. Frank Schwindel, Nick Madrigal, Nelson Velázquez, and Alfonso Rivas disappointed me. That said, Madrigal looked strong in August before getting injured again. Let’s be blunt: If Zach McKinstry is threatening to take your job away, you underperformed. Andrelton Simmons, Jonathan Villar, and Jackson Frazier were a waste of time and money.

Nico Hoerner, Ian Happ, Seiya Suzuki, and Willson Contreras were Chicago’s strongest offensive players. Contreras won’t return and Happ could get traded this winter, though it is possible that the Cubs could extend him. Hoerner and Suzuki will be even better in 2023. I also liked what Christopher Morel and P.J. Higgins did this season. That’s not quite the nucleus you want to build a team around, but the Cubs will enter 2023 with their strongest group of veterans since 2019.

Patrick Wisdom, Yan Gomes, and Rafael Ortega played like we expected them to. I think we’ve seen the last of David Bote, Franmil Reyes, and Michael Hermosillo in Chicago, though I wouldn’t mind seeing middle infielder Esteban Quiroz for another season.

Chicago’s rotation was pretty much lights-out after the All-Star Break and was the main reason the Cubs were among the league’s better teams from mid-July on. Justin Steele, Marcus Stroman, and Hayden Wesneski are anchors. Jordan Wicks and Ben Brown are on the come. Caleb Kilian and DJ Herz aren’t far behind. Brailyn Márquez will probably be a victim of the 40-man crunch, but Adbert Alzolay should be a significant part of the bullpen if he can stay healthy.

Drew Smyly did better than expected and Wade Miley was better than average when healthy. Smyly should be back and Miley could return, too, but the Cubs need to sign or trade for another anchor arm. The Marquee Sports Network analysts were glowing about the possibility of Carlos Rodón on a six-year deal. I’m not sure that qualifies as intelligent spending, but you can’t win a World Series without an ace. I’m all on board for that reason.

Jed Hoyer will need to find a closer this winter, too. I wouldn’t mind seeing the return of David Robertson or Craig Kimbrel, and Kenley Jansen is intriguing as well. If I were a betting man, I’d say the Cubs will trade for a closer rather than sign one, so my primary target would be Liam Hendriks of the White Sox.

I know that’s a high-level recap of the season, but there will be significant churn this winter and I’d rather wait to see what the new roster looks like before evaluating those who remain. Roles are going to change and there will be some surprises. Though I’d like to see the World Series go seven games I wouldn’t be opposed to kicking off the Hot Stove Season as early as next weekend.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

There is a lot to unpack here. If the Dodgers sign Aaron Judge and move Mookie Betts to second base, they’ll most certainly re-sign Trea Turner to play shortstop. Gavin Lux probably despises that scenario. And oh, how come Los Angeles gets first dibs on all the best players?

Postseason News & Notes

The Giants are on a mission to steal Judge from the Yankees.

Judge sounds like a guy who is looking forward to playing elsewhere next season.

The Astros don’t have a weak link in their rotation, which could spell trouble for the Phillies.

Dodgers fans are upset that Los Angeles didn’t make more of an effort to sign Bryce Harper.

According to Zachary Rymer of Bleacher Report, Judge is expected to earn $300 million in free agency. Contreras is projected to get as much as $80 million over four years, and the Mets and Cardinals could get into a bidding war for the All-Star backstop. Some other projections are almost unfathomable, including Justin Verlander (2/$88 million), Jacob deGrom (3/$135 million), and Carlos Correa (9/$270 million).

Bill Simmons wants Jack Buck back on FOX for this year’s World Series.

Now that MLB is embracing gambling, the league should reinstate Pete Rose. It won’t happen because Rose is considered a cheat, but the irony is wonderful theater.

I don’t follow the White Sox enough to know any better, but it seems like Kenny Williams and Rick Hahn are content to wait until all of the best managerial candidates have signed before making their decision. I’d hate to be a fan of that team.

Extra Innings

We need to give Caissie a cool nickname. Suggestions? He’s got those Mickey Mantle forearms, though.

Tuesday Morning Six-Pack

  1. The Bears beat the Patriots 33-14 and outplayed New England in every facet of the game. At one point, Chicago scored on five consecutive drives and could have easily added another 14-17 points or more.
  2. Justin Fields looked like a new quarterback, and rookies Kyler Gordon, Jaquan Brisker, Braxton Jones, and Dominique Robinson played big roles in the Bears’ win last night. Young teams are often inconsistent, but when the entire group excels, it is a sight to see.
  3. The McRib is coming back for maybe the last time ever. McDonald’s announced yesterday that its seasonal barbecue-flavored pork sandwich will return to menus from Oct. 31 to Nov. 20, but dubbed this stint the “farewell tour.” I’m not a fan. Good riddance.
  4. Bono takes full responsibility for the awful Songs of Innocence by U2 that’s still on your iPhone, whether you wanted it or not. “I’d thought if we could just put our music within reach of people, they might choose to reach out toward it,” he wrote. “Not quite.”
  5. The UK is going through prime ministers faster than Spinal Tap goes through drummers. Let’s hope Rishi Sunak “goes to eleven,” as in at least 11 weeks. Sunak is a Web3 guy. This spring, he asked the Royal Mint to create an NFT.
  6. Fossil fuel protesters struck again yesterday and early this morning, smearing cake on the wax sculpture of King Charles III at Madame Tussauds in London. It was Just Stop Oil’s third recent food-on-art attack. They also sprayed orange paint over the front of 55 Tufton Street in London, home to the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a climate denial group.

They Said It

  • “We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to execute well every offseason. On some of the bigger items, I feel really good about Stroman and Seiya. Candidly, we had a lot of holes to fill. I think we probably missed on some of the other transactions, and that set us back a little bit in the first half.” – Hoyer
  • “We have to keep one eye on the future as we think through this. We want to build something lasting. We want to build something that we’re proud of for a long time. But we do want to be aggressive to capture that momentum, to fill the holes on the team that we know we have.” – Hoyer

Tuesday Walk-Up Song

Give it up for the Bears’ rookies!

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