Chicago Cubs winning Craig Kimbrel trade because of Tony La Russa

(Photo by Ron Vesely/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ron Vesely/Getty Images) /

We’re coming up on a month now since we sat back in horror and watched Jed Hoyer and the Chicago Cubs front office embark on a foundation-shaking fire sale at the trade deadline.

It’s been a depressing time to say the least, as we’ve watched the Cubs win just four games in August. It feels like the old days on the North Side with no expectations and some enjoyment watching no names get their chance. But we can also take a little joy in the fact that since getting traded to the crosstown rival White Sox, Craig Kimbrel has been an unmitigated disaster.

The Cubs sent Kimbrel to the White Sox in exchange for right-hander Codi Heuer and former top prospect Nick Madrigal. This move was seen as a win by both teams as it helps the Sox contend now, while setting the Cubs up with a few key pieces for the future.

So far, the Cubs have dominated this trade. Madrigal is out this season but Heuer is 0-1 with a 1.50 ERA in 12 innings with the Cubs. Kimbrel is 0-1 with a 5.79 ERA in 9 1/3 frames with the Sox to go along with zero saves.

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Kimbrel’s struggles so far in a Sox uniform could very well stem from the way Tony La Russa is utilizing the All-Star. With the Cubs, Kimbrel had 23 saves along with a 0.49 ERA. The ninth inning is his bread and butter but he’s been relegated to the setup role behind fellow All-Star closer Liam Hendriks. Sure, Hendriks leads baseball with 28 saves this season, but a 3.19 ERA did not compare with what Kimbrel was doing before arriving.

Kimbrel has always been “the guy” no matter what team he’s played for during his hall of fame career. Now, he has to adjust to not being in that role and he’s struggled so far. Hendriks has been in the setup role before in Oakland where he got Blake Treinen ready for the ninth. Sure, it’s been his job all year but La Russa should really look at giving Kimbrel more save opportunities for this team.

The 76-year-old La Russa has been as controversial of a manager as any in the game so far this season and his use of Kimbrel is just the next item on the list of head scratchers. He’s benefited greatly from the talent on the roster and that’s gotten the Sox to where they are today. It’s like being in a relationship and it works for awhile because you like the idea of who they are but once you realize the ‘idea’ of what you want them to be is just that, it fizzles out.

The pressure will be on La Russa come October and his decision-making will make all the difference in how far this Sox team can really go.

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The Cubs have to feel good about this trade and it gives us something to be excited about amidst the tough stretch. Kimbrel provided a lot of value in his time with the Cubs and he brought us a package we could never have expected with the way his tenure started on the North Side. Let’s hope he figures things out for the South Siders and helps them contend this fall.