The Chicago Cubs are having a very good season. They currently boast baseball’s second-best record. Earlier this week, their entire infield was voted to start the upcoming All-Star Game in San Diego for the National League. They’re picking up right where they left off last year, when they made the postseason for the first time since 2008 and went on to advance to the NLCS. Even though things are going well right now, the team can still make a few moves to improve themselves before the trade deadline later this month.
The Cubs don’t need more offense. The aforementioned All-Star infield that includes Anthony Rizzo (first base), Ben Zobrist (second base), Kris Bryant (third base), and Addison Russell (shortstop) is one that has a lot of power. Bryant has also been playing left field. He leads the NL in home runs, while Rizzo is tied for fifth. Both players are in the top five in the league in RBIs. Chicago’s outfield includes slugger Jason Heyward and newcomer Albert Almora Jr. Utility infielder Javier Báez has put up decent numbers in the at-bats he’s had.
The starting pitching has been relatively solid as well. With Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, and John Lackey leading the rotation, they’ve been in good shape. Arrieta was also named to the All-Star team and has arguably been the best pitcher in the National League this season. He currently has a record of 12-3 with a 2.33 ERA. Lester has had a good season as well. He’s 9-4 with a 2.67 ERA and was just named to the All-Star team as well.
With the offense and starting pitching in good shape, what this team could really use is a dominant arm in the back end of the bullpen. If they had a shutdown closer like Aroldis Chapman, then they’d really be set. Chapman is currently with the New York Yankees, but they’ve let it be known that they’re open to trading him. He’s converted on 17 of the 18 save chances he’s had so far this season. The only reason that he doesn’t have more than 17 saves is because he was suspended for the first 30 games of 2016 due to a domestic violence incident in the offseason. The incident is part of the reason that the Cincinnati Reds traded Chapman to the Yankees in the offseason.
Chapman consistently throws his fastball around 100 mph. He’s always been known as one of the hardest-throwing pitchers in the game. This season, he has recorded 34 strikeouts over 23 innings pitched. Last year, he struck out 116 batters in 65 appearances while saving 33 games for the Reds.
The Cubs current closer, Hector Rondon, has actually had a good year. He has 13 saves and an ERA of 1.84, although he has blown four saves. If Chicago could land Chapman, Rondon would most likely thrive as a setup man. This would take pressure off guys like Pedro Strop, Justin Grimm, and Trevor Cahill. The bullpen would just be strengthened overall with the addition of Chapman. Between Rondon and him, the back end of Chicago’s bullpen would be electric. Additionally, the Cubs signed veteran closer Joe Nathan back in May. He’s currently recovering from Tommy John surgery, but is projected to be back sometime in September. Anything he could contribute at that point would just help their bullpen even more.
From the Yankees perspective, trading Chapman would make a lot of sense. The team already has Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller. Both have proven that they can be dominant in the late innings. Miller was the closer last season and has done a very good job as the setup man this season. Betances was the Yankees setup man in 2015, but has now become their seventh inning guy. Between Betances, Miller, and Chapman, the Yankees have a dominant 1-2-3 punch to close out games. They don’t need all three pitchers however. Especially considering the fact that the team isn’t even over .500, it’s doubtful that they’ll be serious contenders in the American League in 2016. Chapman’s contract is up at the end of this season anyway, so even if they didn’t trade him there’s no guarantee that he’d stay. The Yankees would benefit most from trading him before the deadline on July 31. They’d have a decent trading partner in the Cubs. Chicago could offer them Javier Báez or Kyle Schwarber. Out of the two, Schwarber would be the more attractive piece, considering his power. He has the potential to be baseball’s next great power hitter. Currently, he is sidelined for the season due to a torn ACL that he suffered in April. His only weakness is defense, but on the Yankees that wouldn’t really be a problem because of the DH. If the Cubs were willing to trade him, they should definitely jump on the offer.
Winning the World Series this season is definitely a possibility for the Cubs. Aroldis Chapman could be the last piece for this team. He could be the player that really puts them over the top.
MLB Investigating Racist Social Media Messages Sent to Cubs’ Carl Edwards Jr.
Major League Baseball is investigating racial messages sent, via social media, to Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Carl Edwards Jr. prior to his demotion to the Triple-A Iowa Cubs back on April 6th.
According to The Athletic’s Patrick Mooney, the messages have caught the attention of both the Cubs and the MLB Players Association, leading to the launch of the investigation.
Mooney had been a solid bullpen option during the last few seasons, but had a nightmare start to the 2019 season posting a terrible 32.40 ERA in just 1.2 innings of work over four appearances.
Chicago Cubs Signs Big Name Free Agent
Over the weekend, the Chicago Cubs announced that they have signed MLB free agent and Japanese Phenom Yu Darvish from free agency according to multiple sources.
Before joining Major League Baseball, Darvish was playing in the Nippon Professional Baseball League with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters down in Japan. After spending six years with the team, many MLB scouts tapped him as being one of the top Major League prospects in several years.
In 2012, Darvish signed with the Texas Rangers. Yu Darvish played with the Rangers four full seasons and half of the 2017 season with the Texas Rangers and the Los Angeles Angels. In his five year MLB career, he has a 56-43 record, as a starting pitcher, 1,021 strikeouts, and a 3.42 ERA.
Now, Darvish is going to start the 2018 season playing for the one of the most historic teams in baseball history… The Chicago Bears.
Steve Bartman Issued World Series Ring By Chicago Cubs
One fateful night at Wrigley Field.
October 14, 2003.
The Chicago Cubs were five short outs away from their first World Series appearance since 1945. With a 3-0 lead against the Florida Marlins in the eighth inning of Game 6 and Mark Prior dealing on the mound, thousands of fans throughout Chicago were on the brink of celebration.
Until one play—one infamous play—changed everything.
After a one-out double by Juan Pierre, Luis Castillo comes to bat against Prior. Castillo works the count full, and on Prior’s 113th pitch, hits a foul pop-up down the first base line. Left-fielder Moises Alou seems to be in position to make the play as he times his leap while reaching into the stands, until a fan—wearing headphones while sporting a Cubs hat—appears to interfere with the ball. Alou’s visibly angry after failing to make the catch, glaring at the fan as he makes his way back to his position in left.
That one fan’s name was Steve Bartman. And from that point on, his life had changed forever.
On the next pitch and ninth of the at-bat, Castillo walks as Pierre advances to third on a passed ball. Ivan Rodriguez’s up next. Prior gets ahead 0-2, but hangs a curveball as Rodriguez promptly slaps a single to left to make the score 3-1. Up steps 20-year-old rookie Miguel Cabrera. On the first pitch, he hits a grounder that shortstop Alex Gonzalez boots. Everyone’s safe. Bases loaded and one out now. Up next is Derrek Lee, coming off a career year in 2003 up to that point. Prior’s at 118 pitches. Kyle Farnsworth is loose in the pen. Manager Dusty Baker leaves Prior in. On the first pitch and Prior’s 119th of the game, Lee drives a fastball to left to drive in two runs.
Tied at three. Prior’s night is done. Here comes Farnsworth.
Intentional walk, sac fly, intentional walk. Here comes the light-hitting righty Mike Mordecai to hit with two outs and the bases full of fish. All Farnsworth has to do to keep it a one-run game is get him out. Keep it close and within reach. But it wasn’t to be, as Mordecai rips a double in the left-center field gap. Three runs score, now the Cubs are down 7-3. Exit Farnsworth. Florida scores one more that inning, wins 8-3, wins Game 7 to advance to and eventually win the World Series, and the rest is history.
And who were Cub fans most angry at?
You already know.
Soon after the floodgates had opened in that disastrous eighth inning, Bartman had to be escorted out of Wrigley Field by security personnel soon after fans began chanting and pointing. Drinks and other debris were thrown at him, insults were hurled his way left and right, and his life was never the same. Following the incident, personal information about him was released on online-message boards. Cruisers even had to surround his home for his own safety. It wasn’t too pretty.
Bartman was Chicago’s public enemy #1, as many Cub fans associated him with the Curse of the Billy Goat.
However, that curse finally ended last season, as the Cubs won their first World Series since 1908 to put an end to the longest championship drought in professional sports.
Two days ago, Monday, Cubs owner Tom Ricketts handed out World Series rings in his office to players and other team members.
And none other than Mr. Bartman himself.
In a statement from Ricketts, he said: “On behalf of the entire Chicago Cubs organization, we are honored to present a 2016 World Series Championship ring to Mr. Steve Bartman. We hope this provides closure on an unfortunate chapter of the story that has perpetuated throughout our quest to win a long-awaited World Series.”
Bartman also made a statement, breaking his silence:
“Although I do not consider myself worthy of such an honor, I am deeply moved and sincerely grateful to receive an official Chicago Cubs 2016 World Series Championship ring. I am fully aware of the historical significance and appreciate the symbolism the ring represents on multiple levels. My family and I will cherish it for generations. Most meaningful is the genuine outreach from the Ricketts family, on behalf of the Cubs organization and fans, signifying to me that I am welcomed back into the Cubs family and have their support going forward. I am relieved and hopeful that the saga of the 2003 foul ball incident surrounding my family and me is finally over.”
If this is how the Cubs organization saw fit to finally put an end to the “Bartman play”, then great. I can dig it. One can’t help but feel for Bartman. He made a mistake. Since that night he hasn’t made any appearances at Wrigley, has declined interviews, and for the most part has been out of the public eye.
Even though it was just one play, it’s not the reason the Cubs lost that game or the series. It changed the course of the game for sure, but Chicago just couldn’t seal the deal. Prior hung an 0-2 pitch to Pudge, Gonzalez boots a ball, Farnsworth doesn’t do his job, Cubs can’t win Game 7 which was also at Wrigley. The Cubs made mistakes, but of course, it was easy for their fans to create a scapegoat.
But it’s all over now.
Who knows, maybe a first-pitch at Wrigley will be in Bartman’s near future. We’ll see.
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