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Friday, September 10, 2021

Cubs playing their best baseball in months as rookie sensations provide energy boost

It looked like the Cubs were in for a long final two months after all their roster turnover at the trade deadline. Indeed, things started out rough and headed toward rock bottom — including a 12-game losing streak to go along with an 11-game skid earlier in the season.

But then something happened. A group heavy on unknowns and first-time major-leaguers began to show life and started playing good baseball.

The recent success of players such as first baseman Frank Schwindel, outfielder Rafael Ortega and infielder Patrick Wisdom isn’t just having a positive impact on the Cubs as a whole — it’s also establishing them individually as potential pieces for 2022.

“The best way to press forward is to continue to push guys who are playing really well, and [this is] not their ceiling,” said interim manager Andy Green, who’s filling in for skipper David Ross during his COVID-19 quarantine. “As long as the guys are climbing, they’re not trying to just hold their ground, and there’s a huge psychological advantage in that. So anybody that has accomplished what a few of our guys have accomplished in the last month or last week, there’s always more, and as long as you’re hungry for more and pushing for more, you’re more concerned about your trajectory than you are your legacy.


RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 10, 2021 at 10:56 AM | 13 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. JJ1986 Posted: September 10, 2021 at 01:55 PM (#6039038)
These rookies are all 30-years old.
   2. The Duke Posted: September 10, 2021 at 03:24 PM (#6039052)
I wonder if the Cubs dare to go all the way and ship out Hendricks and Contreras this winter. I’m guessing yes. What’s the point of keeping them ? They are so far away from contention. And wrigley will draw well without a good team for 3-5 years.

I miss the old days when they were terrible and there were about 20-25k people out here enjoying the afternoon. It was more like cricket.
   3. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 10, 2021 at 03:33 PM (#6039058)
Schwindel just hit #12.
   4. Tom Nawrocki Posted: September 10, 2021 at 05:52 PM (#6039084)
Since the "building block" article was published, Patrick Wisdom is 3-for-33 with no homers.
   5. Howie Menckel Posted: September 10, 2021 at 09:44 PM (#6039130)
of remaining Cubs batters of any significance, age:

SS Alcantara 25
OF Happ 27
2B Bote 28
C Contreras 29
1B Schwindel 29
3B Wisdom 30
OF Ortega 30
3B Duffy 30
OF Heyward 32
   6. Brian C Posted: September 10, 2021 at 10:26 PM (#6039141)
I'd swap out Alcantara for Nico Hoerner (24), whose injury is the only reason the former is getting any substantial playing time.
   7. McCoy Posted: September 11, 2021 at 04:50 PM (#6039242)
   8. Walt Davis Posted: September 11, 2021 at 06:25 PM (#6039256)
What you hope for is that you get lucky and at least one of those three is the next Justin Turner. Turner was an average-ish part-time until age 29 when out of nowhere he put up a 155 OPS+ and hasn't looked back since. Those guys are few and far between but it happened for Muncy at 27. And while obviously none of the three were as good as JD Martinez was at 24-25, he suddenly turned into the hitter he is at 26. So if Schwindel or Ortega wants to turn into a 120 OPS+ or better corner player, I won't object.

Wisdom's been struggling for a while now. He had a couple of big games in Aug but overall since Aug 1 it's 190/255/444 with a 45% K-rate. The power's still outstanding (about a 40-HR pace) but clearly a 45% K-rate kills it. Ortega's probably the one I think has the best chance -- a productive platoon OF with solid corner defense -- but he's also in a big slump at 167/214/319 over the last 3 weeks. Schwindel who knows? He's obviously not gonna hit 360 but he's got a nice 16% K-rate so if the power is at all for real then that definitely plays in today's game. Something like 280/340/480 seems possible (not likely) and is nice production these days.

Meanwhile Matt Duffy is ... amazing? In this day and age, the man has an ISO of 065.

Anyway, during this good stretch, the offense has managed to average 5 per game but haven't actually hit that well -- 244/303/450, lousy OBP, good SLG about a 100 OPS+ I think.
   9. bfan Posted: September 12, 2021 at 08:15 AM (#6039300)
I assume you drop Madrigal in at second, move Bote in for the worst hitter in the infield, somehow find a career AAAA hitter in his prime years (26-28) who plays outfield to get rid of the non-hitting Heyward, and that is a servicable line-up for 2022?
   10. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 12, 2021 at 11:34 AM (#6039311)
Wisdom's been struggling for a while now. He had a couple of big games in Aug but overall since Aug 1 it's 190/255/444 with a 45% K-rate. The power's still outstanding (about a 40-HR pace) but clearly a 45% K-rate kills it.

Well his K-rate for the season is 40%, so it's not like 45% is a big slump for him. It's just virtually impossible to be any good with a 40% K-rate. You have to hit 40 HRs to put up a 110 wRC+.
   11. Walt Davis Posted: September 12, 2021 at 05:48 PM (#6039348)
#9 ... Yes, presumably Madrigal to 2B but that pushes Bote to the bench with Wisdom at 3B and Schwindel at 1B if we're gonna believe in these guys for next season. It's possible Wisdom ends up in LF but that pushes Happ back to CF. Heyward and his bat aren't going anywhere. He's started 19 of 24 games since coming off the IL, still has two years left on that contract. Not that any of this is a "problem" really, still plenty of mix/match possibilities to give everybody playing time. When Brennen Davis shows up sometime next year then things get interesting for the collection of hopefully useful parts but likely by then at least one of them will have shown themselves to be un-useful.
   12. John DiFool2 Posted: September 14, 2021 at 12:43 PM (#6039615)
   13. The Honorable Ardo Posted: September 14, 2021 at 06:10 PM (#6039687)
Schwindel has a long track record of production in the high minors; I see a few .300/25 home run/few walks seasons in his 30s, which would make him Al Oliver 2.0.

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