The Rundown: Hendricks Compares Swanson to Lester, Potpourri of Prospect News, MLB Has Spelling Problem

Before I get started, just let me say I came a little too close to having a catch with my dad last week, and Ernie Banks for that matter, too. A blood infection tried to do me in. I survived, I’m very fatigued, and I have a new outlook on life. Writing about the Cubs feels a little awkward, so bear with me today and the rest of this week as I re-adjust. Thankfully, baseball news has been relatively slow in my absence.

Kyle Hendricks is the lone remaining player from the Cubs’ last championship team and he compared the signing of Dansby Swanson to that of Jon Lester. He’s referring to Swanson as that impact deal that signals the organization feels it is confident in its ability to compete.

That would be a nice standalone story, but let me dig a little deeper. David Ross is entering his fourth season as manager with a career record of 179-205. He’s signed through 2024 with a team option for 2025, which puts him in the driver’s seat of the current competitive window. I don’t want to make a story out of a non-story, but what if Chicago doesn’t compete? Does Ross become the fall guy?

Jed Hoyer retooled his roster over the last two seasons and he’s done an admirable job. It’s almost unbelievable that those who still long for the likes of Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Báez, and Kyle Schwarber are among the shrinking minority. That said, Chicago still lacks a No. 1 starter and could use a lineup addition that’s expected to hit 35-40 home runs. Cody Bellinger could be the latter, but his career has basically bottomed out. The rotation has a couple of No. 2 starters and a whole lot of back-of-rotation types. We’re basically pinning our hopes on Marcus Stroman, Justin Steele, and Jameson Taillon.

Those three can’t hold a candle to Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, and Eric Lauer of the Brewers, and forget about comparing Chicago’s rotation to the Mets, Braves, Dodgers, or Phillies. Burnes will be a free agent after the 2024 season and if the Cubs are one player away from being legitimate World Series contenders, he could be the guy. Perhaps it’s Shohei Ohtani, who could be available next winter. Pablo López would have been a great addition, but he was traded to the Twins. If Jesús Luzardo is available, perhaps Hoyer can find a match with the Marlins.

Ross has been complimentary of Hoyer’s moves, but he knows what his team lacks. Frankly, I’m surprised the front office has yet to acquire a top starter via trade. The team is obviously hoping to challenge the Cardinals this year, but it appears Hoyer sees 2024 as the season that his squad is primed to take a serious run at contending. The Cubs will have more money to spend next winter, though Hendricks might not be around to celebrate a second championship. His contract expires after this season.

Whether or not Hoyer decides to extend Ian Happ and/or Nico Hoerner, Hendricks has yet to be mentioned as a long-term rotation option.

“It’s definitely strange, in a way,” Hendricks said in his conversation with Maddie Lee of the Sun-Times. “It just goes to show that the turnover is so quick in the game these days. I just look at it from a grateful perspective. I have so much gratitude for the organization and for the city just for being able to be there for that long.”

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

Do alternate universes exist? Perhaps Buster Posey and Kenley Jansen have the answer.

Monday Stove

The MLB league office is struggling with spelling.

Justin Verlander is excited to be a Met. Has any player ever joined a new team without that obligatory statement? Maybe Milton Bradley, if I had to venture a guess.

It’s the 20th anniversary since MLB Pipeline debuted in 2005. Their first top prospect was Delmon Young, who headed the ’06 and ’07 lists, too. Jason Heyward was the alpha dog in ’10 and Bryant was No. 2 in ’15.

Just Baseball ranked the uniforms of all 30 MLB teams and the Cardinals are at the top this year. The Cubs are fourth.

The Cardinals may look good (they do not), but they could be facing some serious financial issues due to their affiliation with the Bally Sports RSN.

Bradford Doolittle of ESPN wrote that St. Louis has the second-best lineup in baseball ($) right now, trailing the Padres. The Cubs are No. 20.

The Mariners are ditching their iconic grey road uniforms because of new league-mandated limitations.

The Mets and Dodgers are the current favorites to sign Ohtani next winter.

White Sox starter Mike Clevinger is under investigation for allegedly violating Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy.

Some team owners are angry with the Padres and Mets for spending too much this winter.

Apropos of Nothing

McDonald’s has decided to ditch the “super straw” in favor of sippy cup lids for soft drinks, but believe it or not, that straw is a big reason why their fountain Coke tastes so much better than their competitors.

Extra Innings

If you need something to beat the dog days of winter, a number of Cubs players are working out at the team’s Arizona complex. That includes Nick Madrigal, who is learning the intricacies of playing third base. Madrigal has had a rough go at it since joining the Cubs, but don’t forget he was lighting it up last August. It’s a small sample size, but that was the expected norm when Hoyer acquired the infielder from the White Sox.

They Said It

  • “Being back at the convention, that’s obviously one of the best parts, just hearing the fans and their stories and how much they still love and connect to [the 2016 team]. But the even better part of that, honestly, at the convention, was seeing the fresh faces and seeing the fresh, renewed energy, and just seeing where we’re going now.” – Hendricks

Monday Walk-Up Song

Apropos of something.

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