Why haven’t the Cubs made a deal with the New York Mets yet?
It doesn’t necessarily even have to be a blockbuster, because these two big-market franchises look like such obvious trading partners after restocking their farm systems and reshaping their identities in different ways. The Cubs concentrated on building a powerful American League lineup while the Mets focused on designing a dominant rotation for October.
This doesn’t mean the Cubs are about to listen to the New York media and trade one of their shortstops (Starlin Castro, Addison Russell, Javier Baez). But it’s also not just connect-the-dots speculation on Twitter if you widen the angle.
“We’ve had conversations with them,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said before Monday’s 4-3 win at Wrigley Field. “We haven’t made a deal yet. But there’s been matches that made sense. And I’m sure we’ll talk to them in the future.
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“When you factor in the hitting and the pitching, I guess people think it’s unusual. But it’ll happen at some point.”
This dialogue is not unusual and the two Ivy League front offices actually see the game the same way. Hoyer pointed out that he used to work alongside Mets executive Paul DePodesta when they were with the San Diego Padres. Hoyer also said Cubs president Theo Epstein has a good working relationship with Mets general manager Sandy Alderson.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon came away with this impression of the first-place Mets: “Almost like looking in the mirror a little bit.”
The Mets have dealt with so many up-the-middle issues over the years that New York reporters swarmed Castro last year inside Citi Field’s visiting clubhouse. But he’s not exactly a “Moneyball” kind of player and the Cubs are not looking to move a three-time All-Star who’s 25 and potentially under club control through the 2020 season on a reasonable contract.
Castro made a spectacular diving catch to his left in the ninth inning to help preserve Monday night’s victory. His OPS has dropped to .652 but the Cubs are waiting for him to get hot and want to see how he responds in a pennant race.
The Cubs have essentially viewed Russell as untouchable and other teams are getting that message now that he’s playing second base at Wrigley Field. The Cubs are hoping Baez can get his game together at Triple-A Iowa.
It will be interesting to see if any good rumors come out of this four-game series at Clark and Addison – and how the young Cubs stack up against the emerging Mets.
“You’re always curious, obviously, because you feel like you might be playing them in the playoffs,” Maddon said. “But my focus is so much on us, what we’re doing. I went through the same exercise in Tampa Bay, where you’re playing against a lot of really stern competition in that division. If you get caught up in trying to compare yourself to everybody else, I don’t think it really works.
“I really believe in comparing yourself to yourself first. And whatever everybody else is doing doesn’t really matter. I don’t mean to sound pretentious about that at all.
“It’s about us getting our program across, our players buying into our program, us playing the game we think is the right way to play the game. And then how everybody else wants to fit into that, that’s fine.”