The Chicago Cubs could have loads of time to ponder the “what ifs” of a season that fell in need of their postseason purpose.
Adding to the sting of ending one recreation out of playoff place: the Cubs acquired the assistance they’d wanted coming into the weekend with the Arizona Diamondbacks getting swept by the Houston Astros. The Cubs, although, didn’t care for enterprise by dropping two of three video games to the Milwaukee Brewers, together with a 4-0 loss in Sunday’s season finale.
They closed the season by dropping 15 of their final 22 video games. Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts described the up-and-down 83-79 12 months as “4 completely different seasons” from getting off to an OK begin and the next droop that just about derailed the season to rallying again over .500 and the tough remaining three weeks in September.
“It’s robust to not obtain your purpose,” Ricketts mentioned Sunday. “It’s robust once you’re simply a few video games away from making the playoffs. And it’s additional robust that for some time there it regarded fairly seemingly so it seems like one thing received taken away.
“All I can actually say at this level is that I hope the fellows all take it to coronary heart and are available again within the spring able to go.”
Ricketts gave a powerful endorsement of supervisor David Ross, whose contract runs by means of 2024 with a membership choice for 2025.
“Rossy had a fantastic season and the gamers play exhausting for him,” Ricketts mentioned. “He’s our man, so I like him loads. He had 12 months. … When the crew received down, means beneath .500 and it regarded just like the season was over, he didn’t let it go. He received the fellows again and enjoying exhausting and we received to right here so he was a giant a part of that. He’s a fantastic supervisor.
“He creates a fantastic clubhouse tradition. The gamers love enjoying for him. He retains a gradual, balanced strategy game-in and game-out that you simply want over the course of 162 video games.”
Key roster choices await president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer and the entrance workplace as they enter the offseason. Among them are the futures of outfielder Cody Bellinger and right-hander Kyle Hendricks. Bellinger will turn out to be a free agent when he declines his finish of a mutual choice, and the 28-year-old is predicted to have a powerful market as one of many prime free-agent sluggers.
Hendricks, 33, has a pre-bonus $16 million membership choice for 2024 with a $1.5 million buyout. It will probably be as much as Hoyer to resolve what to do with Hendricks’ contract, Ricketts mentioned, “however at this level I’d see him coming again.”
“We’ve had such relationship the entire time I’ve been right here and I actually respect the heck out of them,” Hendricks mentioned Sunday. “I admire every thing they’ve given me, all of the alternatives they’ve given me so I’ve full belief and no matter it’s, no matter is meant to occur will occur.
“Obviously, I find it irresistible a lot in Chicago and my complete profession enjoying in entrance of the perfect followers on the earth, going out in Wrigley Field on a regular basis. So I wouldn’t need to commerce that for something they usually’re effectively conscious of that. If it really works for each side, that’d be nice.”
Bellinger’s future on the North Side is far murkier. He made positive to embrace the previous few weeks along with his teammates due to the unknowns that include free company. Bellinger has beloved his time with the group, and positively there may be consolation within the rapport he’s constructed with the Cubs’ major-league hitting coaches and infrastructure throughout his bounce-back season.
“We’d like to have him again,” Ricketts mentioned. “And that’s one thing that will probably be as much as the baseball guys and the free-agent markets.
“In common, I imply, there’s one thing to retaining your greatest gamers, proper? I imply, clearly, we prolonged Ian (Happ) and we prolonged Nico (Hoerner) this 12 months. We’ve received six extra years of Dansby (Swanson) so we’ve received core that we’re undoubtedly holding on to. Like I mentioned it’d be good, it’s a Jed choice. It’ll be as much as Jed, Cody and the free-agent markets.”
The Cubs’ 819 runs have been the third-most within the National League behind the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers. They hadn’t scored that many runs in a season since 2017 after they put up 822. Their 24 video games with 10+ runs have been their most since 1935 with solely the Texas Rangers (26) producing extra such video games this 12 months. Losing Bellinger can be a blow in the event that they don’t change his manufacturing, they usually seemingly want so as to add one other energy hitter even when they re-sign him.
Supplementing their pitching workers, particularly within the bullpen, and enhancing depth will probably be a should for the Cubs. They completed 21-24 in one-run video games, which creates one other layer to the ache of coming so shut to creating the playoffs for the primary time because the COVID-19 abbreviated 2020 season.
“I don’t assume that we need to begin calling seasons we don’t make the playoffs good seasons, that’s a comfort prize and we don’t play for comfort prizes,” Ricketts mentioned. “That mentioned, there have been some nice moments and nice performances. There was plenty of pleasure and the organizational well being is as sturdy because it’s been a very long time. So with all the frustration that we had, there’s plenty of optimism as effectively.”