Cubs

Trade updates remain stagnent, Garza prepares to return

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Trade updates remain stagnent, Garza prepares to return

While Saturday morning found the Cubs in a holding pattern in regards to the looming trade deadline, this time remains far from uneventful for Matt Garza.

Not only is Garza the subject of trade rumors, hes recovering from a right arm injury that forced him out of his last start after only three innings last Saturday. Its uncertain when -- or if, in the instance of a trade -- hell return to the Cubs rotation, though it appears he could be ready for the Cubs series against the Dodgers that begins Friday in Los Angeles.

But all that might take a back seat to some personal news. Garzas wife is expecting the couples fourth child. The Cubs reported doctors will induce labor on Serina Garza on Tuesday, the same day of the nonwaiver trade deadline.

As for the injury, Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Garza is progressing well. An MRI this week on Garzas throwing arm revealed a slight fluid buildup in his right triceps area.

Garza threw from flat ground Saturday morning before the Cubs afternoon game against St. Louis at Wrigley Field. The Cubs look to even the series after Fridays 9-6 setback.

Everything is gradually progressing, Sveum said of Garza. Hes doing much better and well try to get him out there late next week. Everything is going really well, so it if I had to say, it should happen. Everything is just getting better each day, so thats looking pretty good.

Garza is expected to throw a bullpen session Monday, and the Cubs will evaluate his progress after that. Sveum added that Garza may be ready to pitch against the Dodgers.

He could. Were looking at late next week so well see what happens, Sveum said.

Meanwhile, nothing new has happened regarding the Cubs and potential trades. Garza and Ryan Dempster remain on the team, but are considered the Cubs prize pieces on the trade front.

Sveum said the players and coaches will all be happy once the deadline passes, and the rumor mill takes a break.

I think everybodys going to be glad its all over with, he said. Its really not over with a lot of the times because of the waiver wires and all that. But the main things will be shut down one way or the other.

Why did Kris Bryant get a first-place vote in this year's National League MVP balloting?

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USA TODAY

Why did Kris Bryant get a first-place vote in this year's National League MVP balloting?

Kris Bryant was the 2016 National League MVP. And despite having what could be considered an even better campaign this past season, he finished seventh in voting for the 2017 edition of the award.

The NL MVP was awarded to Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton on Thursday night, a fine choice, though it was nearly impossible to make a poor choice, that's how many fantastic players there were hitting the baseball in the NL this season.

After Stanton, Cinicinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto finished second, earning the same amount of first-place votes and losing out to Stanton by just one point. Then came Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon and Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon ahead of Bryant.

But there was someone who thought Bryant deserved to repeat as the NL MVP. Yes, Bryant earned a first-place vote — as did everyone else mentioned besides Rendon, for that matter — causing a bit of a social-media stir considering the Cubs third baseman, despite his great season, perhaps wasn't as standout a candidate as some of the other guys who finished higher in the voting.

So the person who cast that first-place vote for Bryant, MLB.com's Mark Bowman, wrote up why he felt Bryant deserved to hoist the Kenesaw Mountain Landis Memorial Baseball Award for the second straight year.

"In the end, I chose Bryant because I believe he made the greatest impact, as his second-half production fueled the successful turnaround the Cubs experienced after the All-Star break," Bowman wrote.

"Though I don't believe the MVP must come from a playoff contender, in an attempt to differentiate the value provided by each of these three players (Bryant, Votto and Stanton), I chose to reward the impact made by Bryant, who produced the NL's fourth-best OPS (.968) after the All-Star break, when the Cubs distanced themselves from a sub-.500 record and produced an NL-best 49 wins."

It's easy for Cubs fans and observers to follow that logic, as the Cubs took off after the All-Star break following a disappointing first half. As good as Bryant was all season long, his second-half numbers, as Bowman pointed out, were especially great. He hit .325 with a .421 on-base percentage and a .548 slugging percentage over his final 69 games of the regular season, hitting 11 home runs, knocking out 21 doubles and driving in 35 runs during that span.

Perhaps the craziest thing about this year's MVP race and Bryant's place in it is that Bryant was just as good if not better than he was in 2016, when he was almost unanimously named the NL MVP. After slashing .292/.385/.554 with 39 homers, 102 RBIs, 35 doubles, 75 walks and 154 strikeouts in 2016, Bryant slashed .295/.409/.537 with 29 homers, 73 RBIs, 38 doubles, 95 walks and 128 strikeouts in 2017.

Of course, the competition was much steeper this time around. But Bryant was given the MVP award in 2016 playing for a 103-win Cubs team that was bursting with offensive firepower, getting great seasons from Anthony Rizzo (who finished third in 2016 NL MVP voting), as well as Dexter Fowler and Ben Zobrist. While the Cubs actually scored more runs this season and undoubtedly turned it on after the All-Star break on a team-wide basis, Bryant was far and away the best hitter on the team in 2017, with many other guys throughout the lineup having notably down years and/or experiencing down stretches throughout the season. Hence, making Bryant more, say it with me, valuable.

So Bowman's argument about Bryant's impact on the Cubs — a team that still scored 822 runs, won 92 games and advanced to the National League Championship Series — is a decently convincing one.

Check out Bowman's full explanation, which dives into some of Bryant's advanced stats.

HandiKapping presented by Xpressbet

HandiKapping presented by Xpressbet

In the latest edition of HandiKapping presented by Xpressbet, NBC Sports Chicago's David Kaplan makes his picks for the weekend.

Kap made his picks with the help of Eddie Olczyk this week.