Cubs

Cubs: How much did Cole Hamels' no-hitter boost his trade value?

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Cubs: How much did Cole Hamels' no-hitter boost his trade value?

Cole Hamels was already one of the top arms available at Major League Baseball's trade deadline. 

Now with a no-hitter on his resume, the veteran lefty could be the No. 1 target for contenders over this next week.

Hamels obliterated the Cubs on Saturday at Wrigley Field, striking out 13 while etching his name in baseball history. How's that for jumpstarting a slow-developing trade market for Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr.?

"I'd be surprised if Ruben's phone isn't off the hook right now," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said.

Teams interested in trading for Hamels had to be scared as they saw his pitch count climb to 129, but they also undoubtedly got even more excited after Hamels flashed his tantalizing potential in a record-setting performance. Especially after the 31-year-old lefty gave up 14 earned runs over his last two starts before Saturday.

[MORE: 'Man on a mission' Cole Hamels makes no-hitter history against Cubs]

"Obviously this is the confident me and this is the me that goes out and pitches," Hamels said, admitting he didn't have that same mindset the last two times out. "Once you're able to correct it and gain the confidence that you had, you can go out there and be yourself."

Hamels has spent his whole career with the Phillies ever since they made him the 17th pick in the 2002 Draft. 

With the team in last place and his trade value about as high as it would ever get, Hamels allowed himself to admit that this isn't how he envisioned going out as a Phillie if this was, indeed, his last start for the organization.

Hamels admitted that the baseball landscape has changed and players spending their entire careers with one team like Derek Jeter (Yankees) or Chipper Jones (Braves) or Tony Gwynn (Padres) is becoming more and more rare.

"It just doesn't happen anymore," Hamels said. "You just have to play and be happy with who you are and where you're at and that's kind of what I'm doing. 

"I'm trying to live in the moment and I've been enjoying every moment that I have. That's kind of the gameplan that we have to take and stick to."

The Cubs are an up-and-coming team comprised of young, inexperienced players, so Theo Epstein's front office isn't in any sort of "all-in" buy mode at this trade deadline. Rental players like David Price are not as enticing to the Cubs as a guy like Hamels, who is under team control through the 2019 season.

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Was it a weird twist of fate that what may be Hamels' last start with the Phillies came in the form of a no-hitter at Wrigley Field against the Cubs?

"There's great history in this ballpark and it's a great place to come and play," Hamels said. "It's something that I grew up watching on WGN when I was a kid.

"So being able to play the game and just knowing that I'm able to go out there and enjoy it and be myself, it's just a special moment."

With less than a week until the trade deadline, talks are certain to heat up revolving around Hamels. Could he see himself pitching for the Cubs?

"That's kind of tough to really answer because right now, I'm wearing Phillies red and that's where I plan to play," he said. "I think that's all I can really do. It's out of my control.

"I try to wake up everyday and drive to Citizen's Bank Park and play with the big 'P' on my chest. That's kind of what I've done since the moment I got drafted by them and that's what I'm going to continue to do until somebody says no."

Javy Baez should be the frontrunner for NL MVP heading into the All-Star Break

Javy Baez should be the frontrunner for NL MVP heading into the All-Star Break

If the season ended today, Javy Baez may be your National League MVP.

Of course, the season isn't ending today, only the first half of the 2018 campaign is.

He flashed his skills again over the weekend — scoring the game-winning run Friday, posting a 5-RBI game Saturday and then drove in the Cubs' first run in their 7-4 victory Sunday to close out a sweep of the Padres.

Entering the All-Star Break, Baez should be the frontrunner for Most Valuable Player.

For starters, he's the best player on the best team in the league.

Thanks to a recent hot surge by the Cubs and an ugly weekend for the Brewers (who have lost 6 straight), Baez and Co. will go into the break with the best record in the NL. 

Baez, meanwhile, leads the Cubs in WAR and nearly every offensive category — OPS, slugging percentage, homers, RBI, runs scored, doubles, triples, total bases, stolen bases and hits.

And that's not even saying anything about his glovework at any position on the infield or dynamic baserunning.

He's on pace to become the first Cubs player to drive in 125 runs since Sammy Sosa in 2001.

Baez also is on track for a 30-30 season — something only Sosa accomplished in a Cubs uniform in 1993 and 1995. 

El Mago will enjoy his week in the Home Run Derby and as the NL's starting second baseman in the All-Star Game, but those shouldn't be the end of his accolades this year if he can find a way to keep this pace up in the second half.

What other NL candidate would be a better choice for the MVP right now?

Baez is tied for the league lead in RBI. Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar is just behind Baez with 70 RBI, but he also has 70 fewer at-bats than the Cubs star due to a platoon to begin the year. 

Eugenio Suarez and Scooter Gennett are also having great years, but the Reds are nowhere close to a playoff spot. 

Nolan Arenado, Freddie Freeman and Paul Goldschmidt are also having very good seasons on teams that are currently in the playoff hunt, but how do you deny the best player on the league's best team?

After all, where would the Cubs be without Baez this season? 

Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo have battled through injuries and bouts of ineffectiveness, the pitching staff has had all kinds of consistency/health woes and Willson Contreras has yet to find his power stroke at the plate.

At the very least, "El Mago" has been the most important player on the North Side of Chicago during the first 3.5 months of 2018.

Nico Hoerner makes great catch in first game with South Bend

Nico Hoerner makes great catch in first game with South Bend

Cubs first-round pick Nico Hoerner made his debut with the Class-A South Bend Cubs, and he did not disappoint.

The 23-year old shortstop showed off impressive hops during an acrobatic grab in the topf of the second inning in his first game with the South Bend Cubs. Hoerner will surely be an exciting defensive prospect with ability like this.

As far as offense goes, through four at-bats at South Bend, Hoerner is batting .500, and this comes after he hit .318 with a home run and two RBI through seven games with the Eugene Emeralds, the Cubs Class A short-season affiliate.

Here is to hoping we continue to see big-time plays from Hoerner.