Cubs

Cubs, Rangers discussing Garza trade

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Cubs, Rangers discussing Garza trade

Matt Garza is the clear-cut ace of the Cubs' pitching staff.

Jim Hendry mortgaged three top prospects (and two other players) to lure Garza from Tampa Bay to Chicago.

Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein continually stress the need for "run prevention" as the focal point of turning this Cubs team around.

So why trade your best pitcher?

They might not, but they're at least talking about it:

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Bruce Levine Rangers and cubs conversations on Matt Garza for top prospects . No match yet
Dec 08 via Twitter for iPhoneFavoriteRetweetReply

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DKnobler Rangers are indeed trying for Garza (as they did last yr). First reported by @ESPNChiCubs
Dec 08 via Twitter for iPadFavoriteRetweetReply

That's hardly an indicator a deal will get done. They're not even close right now. Look at how many times Pujols was close to signing and he hadn't as of this writing. Look at how many times the Cubs-Rockies Ian Stewart deal was discussed and that may not go down.

The Rangers are looking for another pitcher and with C.J. Wilson possibly signing in Miami or L.A. and Mark Buehrle having already committed to rejoining Ozzie with the Marlins, there isn't much out there in the free agent market.

Gio Gonzalez and others are available via trade, but they may come at too high an asking price.

I can only hope the Cubs demand a huge package if they do deal Garza. They should be asking for a king's ransom at this stage for a 28-year-old under team control for two more seasons.

I still don't think Garza will get dealt, but he is the Cubs' best bargaining chip by far. It's something to pay close attention to, for sure.

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.