Cubs

Top 5 moments of Kris Bryant's career

Top 5 moments of Kris Bryant's career

Kris Bryant has already accomplished a career’s worth of milestones at the age of 26. In one four-year stretch, the can’t-miss kid from Las Vegas was named College Player of the Year, Minor League Player of the Year, National League Rookie of the Year and the National League Most Valuable player.

Awards and accomplishments have piled up, but what about his actual top moment on the diamond? In honor of his birthday, we look back at KB’s Top 5 moments on the field. Let the first great debate of 2018 begin.

No. 5: July 12, 2016 – Bryant homers off Chris Sale in the All-Star Game

Bryant went to the dish on the national stage batting third against Chris Sale, a pitcher he was 0-for-6 against with 6 strikeouts. This moment was extra special at Petco Park, playing the All-Star Game in San Diego where three years before, Bryant was drafted by the Cubs second overall out of the University of San Diego. With his father watching in the crowd, KB recalled his father’s advice:

"He said, 'First-pitch fastball, be ready for it.'” Bryant said. "'No, Dad, I'm taking the first pitch.' Obviously I should listen to my dad more."

No. 4: July 27, 2015 – Walkoff HR off Colorado’s John Axford

"It's got to be one of the best feelings in sports.”

That’s what the Cubs rookie said after lifting the Cubs to a memorable 9-8 victory. 

It was a big win for a team that was struggling, just 14-16 over their last 30 games. The rookie himself needed a boost at the plate and he provided exactly what the Cubs needed after the bullpen blew a 3-run lead in the top of the 9th.

No. 3: Oct. 30, 2016 – Game-tying HR off Trevor Bauer in Game 5 of the World Series

It was the line drive that started the comeback and eventually ended the curse. Down 1-0 in an elimination game, the Cubs needed a big hit and Bryant delivered. 

The 1-1 pitch left the ballpark in a hurry, finding its way safely into the basket in left field and provided the Cubs with a spark in a 3-run 4th inning.

Bryant shares the franchise record with 6 postseason round trippers, but this blast - the first World Series HR of his career - was by far the most important and the most memorable.

No. 2: June 27, 2016 – 3 HR, 2 doubles vs. the Reds

It was a performance for the ages, a first of its kind. Bryant decimated Reds pitching at Great American Ballpark with 3 homers and 2 doubles, the first such MLB performance in over 100 years. 

The Cubs needed every base knock during Bryant’s first career 5-for-5 night in the 11-8 win. The 16 total bases was a new franchise record and Jim Deshaies summed up the performance perfectly,

“What a show, what a show!”

No. 1: Nov. 2, 2016 – World Series final out

A slow grounder in between short and third, and Kris Bryant charged. He fielded the ball cleanly, but slipped as he went to release more than a century of Cubs fans frustrations. 

The 2016 National League Most Valuable player smiled as he fired the ball across the diamond, ending the Cubs 108 years World Series Title drought.

No more curses, no more goats, just one of the greatest endings in the history of professional sports.

Jed Hoyer says Cubs plan to add depth before the trade deadline

Jed Hoyer says Cubs plan to add depth before the trade deadline

With the second half of the season about to kick off Thursday afternoon, the Cubs front office is in the final stretch of roster building as the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline looms.

Cubs General Manager Jed Hoyer spoke with NBC Sports Chicago's very own David Kaplan today on his ESPN 1000 radio show answering plenty of questions on what the Cubs' gameplan is before the trade deadline. 

There has already been a flurry of moves over the past few days, with two of the more enticing trade pieces being moved in new Dodger shortstop Manny Machado and former Padres reliever Brad Hand, who was traded to the Indians Thursday morning.

But when asked about going after big-name talent at the deadline, Hoyer explained while the team may "engage" in those conversations, the focus for him and the Cubs was on adding depth to the roster. 

"Obviously, we'll be involved in those [trade] discussions, but I do feel like adding depth is something we are going to do," Hoyer said. "We're going to be in on every discussion, but at the same time, I do believe we have the pieces internally to be a heck of a team." 

The name that has garnered attention recently has been Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom, who is currently having the best season of his career at age 30, but Hoyer made no indication the Cubs would once again facilitate another blockbuster deal.

And even with Tyler Chatwood struggling to locate in the strike zone this season, Hoyer made it clear the front office hasn't lost faith in their second biggest investment of the off-season. 

"We're confident [Chatwood] will have a better second half, we're going to have a really big, long pennant race," Hoyer said. "It's going to be really challenging second half and we're going to need all the pitching we can possibly get and I think Tyler is going to be a big part of that." 

In terms of team needs, the Cubs are a club with few holes on their roster but could stand to add more pitching in both the bullpen and rotation with everyone but Jon Lester having frustrating moments in the first half of the season.

Making moves similar to the Mike Montgomery trade in 2016 are what Hoyer relishes, telling Kaplan those are the moves the Cubs "pride themselves on." 

But when it comes to Cubs improving on their already impressive first half of baseball, Jed Hoyer continued to back the players who are currently on the roster.

And while it may not be the move that creates the social media buzz fans crave this time of year, Hoyer knows he can get more from his current roster in the second half. 

"There's no doubt that the best way we can get better is by having guys we already have [play] better than they have to date." 

 

Yadier Molina sees something familiar in Cubs: 'They remind me of what we were back in the day'

Yadier Molina sees something familiar in Cubs: 'They remind me of what we were back in the day'

Yadier Molina has been playing the Cubs for a decade and a half.

For 15 years, Molina has been one of the faces of the St. Louis Cardinals, making nine All-Star Games, winning eight Gold Gloves, playing in nine postseasons and winning a pair of World Series championships. And for much of that time, his Cardinals had the upper hand in the rivalry between the two National League Central foes.

But that's changed in recent years. The Cubs have ascended to the Cardinals' old spot as a perennial contender, and it was their defeat of the Cardinals in the NLDS back in 2015 that really seemed to usher in the current era of World Series expectations on the North Side.

If you watch any rivalry long enough, you'll see the balance of power shift back and forth. Molina has been watching this rivalry for a long time.

"They've got good chemistry, they've got good talent there, they play together," Molina said Tuesday in Washington, D.C., before suiting up alongside Willson Contreras and Javy Baez on the NL All-Star team. "So yeah, they remind me of what we were back in the day with the Cardinals."

High praise considering all that Molina and those old Cardinals teams accomplished.

It wasn't too long ago that the Cardinals were a dominant force in this division and in this rivalry. Between 2009 and 2015, the Cubs lost double-digit games to the Cardinals in all but one season. The Cardinals won a World Series title during that seven-year span (2011), ending all but one of those campaigns with a postseason appearance. The Cubs, meanwhile, had five straight fifth-place finishes and missed the playoffs in all but the last.

But since the end of the 2015 regular season, the Cubs are 30-20 against their biggest rivals, a record that includes that 3-1 series win in the 2015 NLDS.

And now it's the Cubs who have seemingly built a winning machine. Like the Cardinals dominated the division with a core cast of characters that included Molina as well as Albert Pujols, Adam Wainwright and Matt Holliday, the Cubs now have that reliable core featuring Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Baez, Contreras and so many others. They're expected to be at the top of the Central standings and compete for championships, just like the Cardinals were for much of a decade.

The Cardinals, of course, have quite recently been thrown into a state of atypical tumult with manager Mike Matheny fired in the middle of the season and a couple off-the-field controversies grabbing national headlines. That's not to say they're exactly out of contention, though, as they begin the second half with an above-.500 record, 7.5 games back of the division-leading Cubs and only four games back for the second NL wild card spot.

But when you compare the drama-drenched Cardinals with the Cubs — who while no one would describe as firing on all cylinders have managed to stay not far behind their 2016 pace — there's a noticeable gap, a gap that's somewhat crazy to think about for those who can remember the Cardinals' past dominance in this rivalry.

Though the Cardinals have actually won more head-to-head matchups this season (five of the eight), the five-game set to begin the second half — the first of eight games between the two teams over the next two weekends — would figure to favor the Cubs, who won 12 of 15 to close out the first half.

"It's important for us to go out there and try to win the series. Right now, we need that as a club," Molina said. "It's going to be tough. The Cubs, they're playing good baseball right now, they've got chemistry there. It's going to be tough, but our concentration is on trying to win the series."