It's that time of year when kids around the world are writing letters to Santa, colorful trees have gone up in the living room/family room/foyer/whatever, and people are secretly thinking of holiday wishes they'd like to find wrapped up in pretty paper on Christmas morning. While people in the Cubs' orbit might have their own ideas about what they want for the season, I've taken the liberty of writing out my own list of wants for current Cubs, former Cubs, and some of the more prominent figures in Major League Baseball. If Santa listens to me, we just might be set up for major success this year!
For Jed Hoyer: the Wisdom of Andrew Friedman
If you squint just a little and take a deep, calming breath, you can see Jed (and his new sidekick Carter Hawkins) starting to build both the Cubs major league roster and farm system in the image of the Los Angeles Dodgers. For years, Andrew Friedman has been a master at keeping a deep farm system AND a deep MLB roster through a series of shrewd trades that restock the farm while bringing in major big league talent at the same time. The Dodgers don't just spend in free agency--they keep enough prospect currency to go out and get guys like Mookie Betts and Max Scherzer via trades. In order to do that, though, they have to--you guessed it--keep trading MLB talent to get that prospect currency. Jed kicked off his attempt to build the Cubs system into this
model with the Yu Darvish trade, bringing four very young, but very exciting players into the organization along with veteran starter Zach Davies. While Davies didn't pan out, those four young players have a ton of potential either on future Cubs teams or as high level trade currency. And that was just the start, particularly with the Cubs payroll flexibility over the next several years (thanks BN Mitchell!). Jed's trying to do what Theo could not--build a sustainable winner. Let's hope he navigates it deftly going forward.
For Clint Frazier: 100% Health
PEOPLE. There are some Yankees fans out there who absolutely hate Clint Frazier. One jumped into my mentions on Twitter last week just to be mad at Clint Frazier, and Clint Frazier isn't even a Yankee anymore. Why stay mad at Frazier when Gary Sanchez is right there?!? I already documented Frazier's frustrations on the Yankees, and since then he's been plagued by concussion issues that were, shall we say, handled less than ideally by his former team. If Frazier can stay healthy, the bat has a ton of potential. I'm super excited he's a Cub, and it looks like the feeling is mutual!
For Marcus Stroman: A Dependable Shortstop
Did I mention how much I love this signing? What do you get the man who is already perfect? Well, since Stroman is an extreme groundball pitcher, the Cubs need to lay out some cash on someone who can gobble up grounders in the middle infield. I'm not in love with the Carlos Correa idea what with the cheating and all, but... he does play a tremendous shortstop. The bonus would be that Kyle Hendricks, Wade Miley and Alec Mills would also benefit. Whole starting rotation gift, what what!
For Ian Happ: Some Much Needed Consistency
No one is rooting harder for Ian Happ than I am. I like the guy--he seems like good people. But what we learned from the Albert Almora Experiment is that being good people doesn't mean much when game time comes around. I don't fault Ian for selling coffee, podcasting with his besties, modeling pants or any of his other hobbies. I have hobbies too! You wouldn't be reading this now if I didn't! The thing is that we know Ian is capable of MVP-level performance. We just haven't seen it for a full season... yet. I think it's in there, I really do. Maybe the Cubs should forget the righty stuff and convert Happ to a full-time lefty where he's more successful. Whatever the fix is, I still think Ian Happ can be a star. He just has to consistently prove me right.
For Kyle Hendricks: Sticky Balls
Get your minds out of the gutter, people! The Professor's performance notably declined after the Sticky Stuff Crackdown of 2021 and while I'm not accusing him of CHEATING (I would never!), I am saying that I think his grip suffered dramatically from not being able to use a little sunscreen or something. If MLB puts pre-tacked balls into play like they plan, I think Kyle will transform back into Cyle and we can all stop wringing our hands.
For Kris Bryant: A Fat Contract on the West Coast
I miss Sparkles, not gonna lie. I'd love nothing better than for the Cubs to blow him away with a 6-7 year deal that brings him back home. The problem is that I would love that for me... it would not be best for Kris. While we've heard pretty definitive leaks about what the Cubs offered both Javier Báez and Anthony Rizzo to extend them in Chicago, the talk around keeping KB is much, much fuzzier. Did the Cubs want to move on from the team's best player over the past seven seasons? Or did the taint of service time manipulation, scuzzy Cubs beat writers and meatball Cubs fans simply make KB's decision to leave a whole lot easier? My guess is we'll never know, but what I do know, deep down, is that the Sparkles Era in Chicago is most likely done. It's my genuine hope that KB signs a huge contract somewhere on the West Coast, say Seattle, where he can get home to Vegas easily and the fans will absolutely adore him. Oh, and far away from Jesse Rogers. Bless.
Finally, for Rob Manfred: A Heart
You probably thought I'd gift MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred some coal. Trust me, I think he'll have an entire stranded cargo ship's worth of it under his tree this year for how badly he's botched just about everything he's touched during his MLB tenure. I have a plan, though... if we just got him a heart, which I don't think he currently has, maybe he'd find some actual love for baseball. It is, after all, the most romantic of all the sports. Then perhaps he'd stop trying to ruin MLB at every turn and everyone else who loves it would be that much happier along with him. It's worth a try, right? If nothing else, at least then we wouldn't have to feel like MLB is under the rule of the real-life version of Emperor Palpatine.
There you have it, everyone... my 2021 Christmas wish list for various Cubs and Cubs-related MLB folks. I wish you all a very happy holiday season and a swift, equitable resolution to the Collective Bargaining Agreement!