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Instant Analysis - They're all gone
Our favorite players are off to have fun while we're stuck with what's left
Being a sports fan means you knowingly sign on for some disappointment. It happens to the best of teams. But you most assuredly do not sign up for whatever the hell the Cubs did the last two days. Motivated by greed and a blatant disregard for the fans whose money has helped make the talentless Omaha hillbillies even richer than their daddy did, the Garbage Family That Owns The Cubs™ told Cubs President of “I’m Just Following Orders” Jedward Hoyer to sell off anything that wasn’t nailed down, and he did.
In the span of less than 24 hours the Cubs traded your favorite Cub, whether it was Anthony Rizzo, Javy Baez, Kris Bryant or less likely, Craig Kimbrel. The return for the four will be hotly debated for years by prospect nerds, but you subscribe to his newsletter because you want me to tell it to you straight. The return can be summed up neatly as, “not nearly fucking enough.”
The Cubs stripped things down so completely that the best remaining players they have are Willson Contreras, Kyle Hendricks, and, uh…um…Patrick Wisdom and uhhh, I guess, maybe Rafael Ortega? That’s so bad.
And the system that’s supposed to replenish this roster is so thin that yesterday’s Rizzo trade that brought the Cubs the Yankees ninth best prospect, Kevin Alcantara and he immediately became the Cubs second best prospect. He’s 18. He’s played in eight games above rookie league. It’ll be really cool when he makes his big league debut in eight years.
For weeks we were reminded and reassured that Kimbrel had the most value of any player who would be moved at the deadline because of the importance of late inning relief in the postseason, his complete dominance this season and the fact that he has an affordable salary for next year so he doesn’t have to be a rental. Not only did Hoyer trade him to the White Sox, but he got fuck all in return. Relief pitcher Codi (yes, he spells it with an ‘i’ which is a red flag) Heuer, and second baseman Nick Madrigal. Every team, including the Cubs, already has six guys just like Heuer in their system, and Madrigal sucks.
Madrigal is a tiny, slap hitter, who struggles on defense, isn’t fast and is a bad baserunner anyway. Yes he’s a career .317 hitter (in 303 at bats) but it’s a completely punchless .317. Of his 96 career hits, 81 of them are singles, and he doesn’t draw walks, so his on base average is completely batting average dependent and he will not slug. The Cubs already had a better version of that on the roster in Nico Hoerner. Nico also doesn’t hit for extra bases (he’s closing in on the third anniversary of his last big league homer) and doesn’t walk, but at least he plays defense and is fast. Hey, how cool is it that both Nick and Nico are injury prone!
By now you know that I’m not fond of David Bote, at all, but just for some context, he’s a MUCH better player than Nick Madrigal is. This trade was a laughable return for Kimbrel, and if you’re going to screw up your own team don’t do it by helping the White Sox.
Even worse was the minute you saw that they got Madrigal you knew the plan was to have him and Nico play second and short next year (which is a terrible plan) and you knew they were going to trade Javy.
Of all the trades, this one hurt the most. Javy not only wanted to stay, but he would have made the rebuild…I mean, “retooling” (whatever the hell the difference is)…tolerable. He’s fun. Yes, he’s a streaky hitter who was having a mind-bogglingly error prone season, but he’s Javy. And not only did they trade him they sent him to the Mets. The Mets!
Supposedly, the player they got for him, the oddly named Pete Crow-Armstrong is actually good. And a quick look at his minor league slash would confirm that (.417/.563/.500), until you saw that it was only in 24 at bats, because he tore the labrum in his non-throwing shoulder and is out for the season. Crow-Armstrong is only 19, he was the 19th pick in the draft last year and he went to the same high school as Lucas Giolito, Jack Flaherty and Max Fried, so there’s that. Whatever that is.
The best part of the Javy trade is that the Mets agreed to take Trevor and Richard Williams in the deal, meaning Googles has nobody to interview the rest of the season.
So, the return for Javy is a pre-injured outfielder who missed all of last year due to the pandemic and basically all of this year. Well, I’m sure he’s on the fast track to greatness.
As the deadline got close, there was some naive speculation that maybe the Cubs would just keep Bryant. Maybe they’d just throw ALL of the money at him. And then this happened.
He got a call minutes before the deadline that he’d been traded to the Giants. And he cried. Goddamn you Rickettses. You made Kris Bryant cry!
Granted, I’m sure the tears were short-lived. The Giants have the best record in baseball and that’s a great franchise and city, and they have a bit of a 2015 Cubs feel to them. They’re good before they were supposed to be good.
The Cubs took advantage of the Giants resurgent minor league system by basically leaving it intact. The return for a 29 year old, four-time All-Star, Rookie of the Year and MVP was a class-A outfielder named Alexander Canaris who is hitting a robust .231, and double-A starting pitcher Caleb Kilian who has good numbers but not dominant stuff (of course). And…nope, that’s it.
The Giants were super motivated to trade for Bryant for three big reasons.
1) The Dodgers were loading up with Max Scherzer and Trea Turner
2) The Giants offense is somehow good, but nobody knows how, so they needed another bat.
3) Bryant is a prime target of theirs in free agency and if they traded for him they could schmooze him for two months plus the playoffs, which never hurts, especially since he still lives in Vegas and last I checked, San Francisco’s a lot closer to Vegas than Chicago or New York is. And it’s going to work. He’ll like it there and they’ll throw a shitload of money at him in the offseason and he’ll take it.
And so did the Cubs use those three motivating factors to extract a better return from the Giants.
No. No, they did not.
So here we are, left with a stripped down team, with no discernible plan, a near-term future that is bleak—because it depends on the Garbage Family immediately pumping money into the payroll, which they won’t—and a long term future that is completely unknown because most prospects fail.
And none of this had to happen. None of it. The Cubs rightly looked at this team and said, “it’s not that good” and they could have traded Rizzo because he’s the oldest and most hurt and hasn’t hit a fastball since the 2015 NLDS against the Cardinals, and Kimbrel because he was super valuable (though you’d never know it from what they got back) and relievers are so uncertain from year to year, and kept Javy and KB and retooled around two great, still young players. But no. They did the “hard” thing, which was really the easy, cowardly thing. They just quit. They chose not to up their offers to their best players and instead acted like they did all they could, throw their hands up and pretend to be poor again.
There is a bizarre set of Cubs’ fans who are trying to defend this strategy. Their arguments always go something like this (talking points provided by Tom Ricketts personal PR nitwit Dennis Culloton.
Cubs have had a top five payroll for five straight years
Team hasn’t won a playoff game since 2017
That’s pretty much it. And they use those two things to somehow support the idea that instead of adding better players to guys like Bryant and Baez, you just burn the whole fucking thing down. The Cubs are in the third largest market in the country, a market that, despite the apparent presence of an American League team, they pretty much own. So, yes, they should always have a top five payroll. Lord knows they charge enough for the tickets.
It’s the sad, sycophantic version of weird Brewers fans (the only kind there are) who brag about how low their team’s payroll is. As if you get extra credit for your team winning that way. I’m a fan. I could give two shits what the payroll is, as long as it’s high enough that there are good players on the team and you pay them enough to stay.
But if you’re the Rickettses and you own the Cubs as a way to fund your shitty Super PAC, you not only don’t bother to retain your best players, you have somebody craft a statement from Tom that couldn’t be bothered to reach six sentences.
Look at this shit:
Three players who won a pennant, a World Series, three division titles, went to the playoffs five times in six years, combined for 11 All-Star appearances, won six Gold Gloves and an MVP and he couldn’t even be troubled to pretend to give a shit. One blogger reposted this shite statement and wrote that it showed how much these players mean to Ricketts family. I guess he was more right than he knows, because it does show it. The players clearly didn’t mean much to them.
But you know what? Rizzo, Bryant and Baez got the easy part of this. They’re off to play in pennant races (well, I’m not sure what the Yankees think they’re doing, but Javy and KB are at least in playoff races). We’re left behind with the Cubs.
We are clearly stuck with a franchise that doesn’t care. Nothing about what happened the last two days can be stretched or wadded up into a shape that remotely resembles them giving a shit. They have clearly decided that paying market rates for players and drawing sell out crowds is not as financially sound as paying nothing and drawing mediocre crowds.
For all of the dopes who think that this on the fly restocking of the farm system is going to be an unqualified success there are two things to keep in mind. First, the Cubs gutted their scouting department during the pandemic to save a few bucks, so just how much they really know about any of the teenagers they acquired today is suspect. Honestly, they must not be able to afford NBC Sports Chicago, because if they could you’d like to think they’d have watched a few Sox games and would know that Nick Madrigal is just Aaron Miles without the fun stories about the time he and Morgan Ensberg were held hostage at gunpoint in a hotel room.
Second, the odds of any of these players being anywhere near as good as Javy or KB are infinitesimal, which is why they should have just paid those two guys.
I’ll be sure to nail this horseshit quote from Jed on his career tombstone:
I’m glad he’s proud of making offers designed to be turned down. Cool.
A big market team isn’t supposed to give Javy and KB away for pennies on the dollar. They’re supposed to be the ones bullying small market teams into giving them players like that.
The only thing the Cubs do well these days is make tribute videos.
This all sucks.