Well, the Chicago Bears won, which should make me happy, but boy did I leave yesterday’s game feeling miserable. I expect many of you landed the same way, because we all know that wins right now are FAR LESS important than how Justin Fields develops. And yesterday – in his words, not mine – he “played like trash.” It was really, really discouraging. It’s early, he has no weapons, new coaching staff, blah blah blah. But some of the open receivers he isn’t seeing/hitting, some of the throws he’s badly missing, and some of the times he’s just hanging onto the ball… it really looks bad. Concern level is as high as it has been.
- Adrian Sampson threw another quality start yesterday, going 6.0 IP, allowing just 1 ER on 4 H and 0 BB, striking out 3. That’s his fourth straight quality start, and he’s allowed just six earned runs, total, over his last six starts. He’s approaching 100 innings on the season, and the ERA is just 3.23 (20% better than the league average), with a 3.79 FIP (4% better than the league average). The barrel rate is just 6.7%.
- If Sampson enters Spring Training as the Cubs’ 6th or 7th starter, they are looking very good in the rotation. And if that sounds like a stroke, it’s not – something even Sampson, himself, understands. “On great teams, you have five starters, but you need 10,” Sampson said, per Cubs.com. “You need guys who come in and are competitive and keep the team in games, stuff like that, and kind of just take the weight off each other. It’s a huge thing.”
- Sampson has to be a super easy 40-man decision at this point. It’s not just that his performance keeps being adequate or better, it’s that he’s a guy with minor league options remaining, and who has already shown he can succeed when moving in and out of the rotation, and up and down from Triple-A. Good teams need pitching depth, yes, but they need a lot of that depth to be able to do that stuff, specifically. Unless the Cubs trade him for value (why would they?), Sampson needs to be on the 40-man come Spring Training.
- Here’s a mildly tough one about a fellow 30-year-old who has been a great story already: was there ever anything Esteban Quiroz could’ve done in September to keep his 40-man spot for the offseason? It feels like the answer is no, given the crunch, his positional limitations, and his age … but I suppose it’s worth considering: (1) the Cubs traded a fringe 40-man guy in Harold Ramirez for Quiroz in the first place; (2) when healthy, Quiroz always raked in the minor leagues (including for the month and a half at Iowa when he finally returned from his long knee injury absence, hitting .299/.450/.442/148 wRC+).
- He’s gotten just 26 big league PAs so far, but Quiroz has hit with the Cubs, posting a .333/.440/.333/132 wRC+, albeit with a .412 BABIP and without an extra-base hit. The lefty-hitting second baseman is probably a big-league-capable bat, but the question is whether you could dedicate a 40-man spot to a 30-year-old, possibly-only-league-average-batting second baseman (that’s how the projection systems have him, by the way). His glove was not seen as a plus in the scouting reports, although he looked at least OK to my eye so far. There’s a lot of overlap with Nick Madrigal, and not as much upside. Can you really keep both of those guys AND David Bote AND Zach McKinstry on the 40-man?
- Gut says the Cubs will work very hard to keep Quiroz in the organization, but not necessarily with a 40-man spot when it comes time to start opening up spots in November (or possibly earlier). I remain intrigued, though, because it’s not JUST that he’s always hit in the minors, it’s that the way he hits does look to be decently projectable to the big leagues (great contact, but also walks and enough power to keep defenses and pitchers honest ), and he was always blocked. You’re swimming up stream a bit if you count on one of these 30-plus-year-old guys to break out, but it’s not as if we haven’t seen it happen.
- Happy Chicago Cubs memories:
- This melted my heart. Great way to start the week: