In the spirit of the Christmas holiday that many of us will be enjoying over the course of the next two days, The Loop Sports is going to take a look at what both of our Chicago baseball teams would ask for this Christmas.
The Chicago Cubs have it all right now for the most part, fresh off of a World Series Championship and a massive celebration to cap off the dream season on the north side of Chicago, what could the Cubs possibly hope for under the Christmas tree this weekend?
While there isn’t many things that the Cubs need this weekend, or this season for that matter, I thought of a few things that they probably want to see happen in 2017.
An Improved Jason Heyward in 2017
Last winter the Chicago Cubs gave Jason Heyward a massive deal to leave the rival St. Louis Cardinals for the friendly confines of Wrigley Field, one year later though, the Cubs are still waiting for Heyward to live up to his massive contract.
The 27-year-old outfielder is entering the second year of an eight year, $184 million dollar contract, and looking to rebound from the worst full season of his career. Heyward hit just .230 for the Cubs in 2016 over the course of 142 games, while hitting just seven home runs and driving in 49 runs.
Heyward posted a 6.2 and 6.5 WAR in 2014, 2015 respectively, and saw his WAR plummet to just 1.5 in 2016. The eight year veteran still managed to win a National League Gold Glove Award in right-field for the Cubs, despite his horrid offensive production.
Heyward cut his World Series Championship celebrations short this offseason, to recreate his swing in an effort to return to his previous all-star caliber form in 2017.
Take a look at Heyward’s new swing below,
Hard work. Determination. Belief. 🐻 pic.twitter.com/h5TccJiKnt
— Darnell McDonald (@MacDime54) December 22, 2016
Will a modified swing fix his issues in 2017? Maybe, or maybe a second season in his current environment will help him, maybe he will benefit from the idea that he can’t get much worse than he was in 2016. Who knows at this point, the Cubs can only hope that their $184 million dollar man can figure it out this winter.
John Lester Overcoming His Inability to Hold Runners on base
Jon Lester was solid for the Cubs in 2016, pitching to a 19-5 record with a 2.44 ERA. There’s just one problem with Lester’s game… his inability to hold runners on base.
Call it the “yips”, call it being uncomfortable, call it whatever you want… I’ll just call it bad. This is something ball players learn when they are in junior-high. Jon Lester is a veteran Major League Baseball pitcher and has such a tough time throwing over to first base that he went years in-between attempts.
So Santa Claus, will you do the Cubbie’s a favor and send Jon a bottle of the “secret stuff” that the Tune Squad used in Space Jam so he can get over whatever yip or mental block that is preventing his from tossing the ball over to first once in a while?
A Fifth Starter for the 2017 Season
The Cubs have done a pretty nice job of filling out the back-end of the bullpen heading into 2017, but still need a fifth starter at the end of the rotation now. Tyson Ross has been speculated as a low-risk, high-reward option for the Cubs, but still no deal has been reached.
As of right now, It’s likely going to be Mike Montgomery getting the first look at what could potentially be a “by committee” approach to the bottom of the Cubs rotation. The problem with that approach, is that the Cubs don’t have a starting pitcher inside of their top-15 prospects that are on track to be major-league ready in 2017.
In what would be the best Christmas present of them all, how about the Epstein Machine getting on the horn with their old pal’s, the Oakland A’s, and working a deal for Sonny Gray this Christmas?
The Athletics and the Cubs have a history of one sided trades in favor of the Cubs, so why not go after Gray this winter? Make it happen Claus, and maybe you’ll find some extra cookies and milk (maybe even some World Series gear as well) over at Clark & Addison tonight.