Six short years ago no normal baseball fan was realistically expecting Joe Maddon to manage his way to his first ever championship on Chicago’s north side. As a life-long die hard Cubs fan I certainly wanted it to happen under his watch for many different reasons. As the Cubs open up the 2022 baseball season today there are only three players remaining with the team that were here at the start of 2016: Jason Hayward, Kyle Hendricks, and Wilson Contreras.
The selloff became official before the 2021 season when the Jed Hoyer felt that Kyle Schwarber would be over paid and let him go in free agency to the Washington Nationals. The thing about Schwarber is that in 2016 he suffered a serious knee injury a few games into the season then when the team made it all the way to the World Series he was cleared to run the bases and served as the DH for every game in Cleveland. The one player most reporters close to the situation thought would not be traded at last years deadline was Javy Baez. Oddly the way everything went down we was the first one to be traded at the eleventh hour making it abundantly clear that this is Jed’s team to run now after Theo left town during the 2020 offseason. Schwarber, Baez, and Bryant are all with new teams in 2022 after being traded at the dead line last year. Rizzo stayed in the Big Apple on a short term deal.
Today is the Cubs home opener! Kyle Hendricks got the call as opening day starter for the third straight year as long as he is not traded the next few two seasons he will have full no-trade rights early in the 2024 season. I see no reason at all why the Cubs would want to trade Hendricks but weirder things have happened in the past. What will be the most interesting to watch this season is if the Cubs negotiate during the season with Contreras since the offseason was cut very short by the lockout.
Many expect them to win 70-80 games this season and miss the playoffs. The thing about that is this team has more talent than many realize. Leaving Heyward’s bat out of the discussion because he is an above average hitter at best they have a bit of hidden talent including Seiya Suzuki who they signed through International free agency. Am I suggesting that the Cubs will go far in the playoffs this year? Absolutely not. With the Reds and Pirates having their fire sales during spring training the Cubs could win 82-90 games though and make it to the playoffs as a wild card much like they did in 2015 then go out next winter and beef up the roster to take the next step to winning another ring.
With that… it is time to play ball!