So how about the Cubs’ Rafael Ortega? I know what you are thinking. He’s a utility player. Did any of us think he was capable of hitting three home runs in a game? The answer is no. Heck, he’s hit just nine in his entire career – and that’s including the three from this weekend.
These are the ‘new’ Cubs. Patrick Wisdom, Ian Happ, Jason Heyward, Ortega, and the rest of the bunch. Gone are Craig Kimbrel, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, Kris Bryant and more. Now, I’m not saying some of these players won’t come back – that’s certainly a possibility, although far from a guarantee.
More from Cubbies Crib
- Cubs should keep close eye on non-tender candidate Cody Bellinger
- Cubs starting pitching has been thriving on the North Side
- Make no mistake: the Cubs are very much about power hitters
- Cubs are giving pitcher Javier Assad a deserved shot
- Cubs: It’s time to start thinking about potential September call-ups
But what is abundantly clear is Willson Contreras has been handed the keys to the car. He’s under contract for just one more year, and I believe he’ll get an extension before the end of that. Remember now; the Cubs have had brutal luck with anyone not named Contreras behind the plate this year. Jose Lobaton and Austin Romine were sent to the 60-day IL. Thankfully, though, of late Robinson Chirinos has been solid for the Cubs, slashing .240/.345/.640 – good for an OPS of .985 in 16 games. He’s been a godsend for the team.
Contreras has slashed .240/.345/.640/.985 with an OPS+ of 113 throughout his tenure with the Cubs. In addition, he’s averaged 31 percent caught stealing, slightly up from the norm of 27 percent in five years with the team.
Now, he’s tasked with something completely alien to him: lead a team that’s rebuilding and is on the outside looking in when it comes to the postseason picture.
"“We lost 11 games in a row, the Brewers took off, and we were never gonna be able to catch them,” Jed Hoyer said Friday. “Obviously, this year, we’re not wild-card contenders because of what’s happening in the [National League] West.”"
If we’re being honest here? Jed Hoyer is spot-on here. Last week was tough – really tough – but sometimes you have to go through these stretches to get to where you need and want to be as an organization.
"“Sometimes that path might mean letting the garden grow for a long time because you need to let those prospects mature. Sometimes it may mean accelerating it through free agency. . . . We’re gonna do the right thing strategically. I think we have to figure that out. Sometimes opportunities are what determine that.”"
Rebuild or reload? That will be the question on every Cubs fan’s mind. Within two to three years, if we are a championship-caliber team, Cubs fans will be happy. Five or more? It would be best if you looked for a job, Hoyer.