Josh Byrnes, Dave Dombrowski and Brian Cashman were just brought before us to “announce” the Granderson trade. I think I could rip into about 2,000 words on the metaphysics of it all (i.e. has the trade really happened if no one has yet to announce it?) but I’ll save that for the bar and my annoyed drinking companions this evening. The short version:
- Byrnes, Dombrowski and Cashman were all introduced by their official titles. It’s different for each of them. Byrnes is an “executive vice president and general manager.” Cashman is a “senior vice president.” Dombrowski is “CEO, President and general manager.” I’m assuming those titles are, to some extent, negotiable and mildly meaningless. If I ever become a GM I’m going to demand to be called “Vice President of Funk, Empress of India and General Manager.”
- Asked about when and how the talks got started, Dombrowski said that it began back around Thanksgiving.
- Why do the deal, Detroit? Dombrowski: “We had some adjustments we needed to make . . . given our situation.” Read: “we had to dump payroll because I was on crack when I gave Dontrelle Willis and Nate Robertson all that money a couple of years ago.”
- Both Dombrowski and Cashman seemed to go out of their way to talk about how hard a bargain Byrnes was driving. Me thinks the GMs doth protest too much. I mean, he was sitting right next to them, so I suppose it was natural that they wanted to make him feel better.
- Dombrowski on Austin Jackson: “he’s about as sure a prospect as you can have.” No pressure or anything, Austin. And you may want to read this, Dave.
- Cashman claimed that he was the last one into the deal and that he had “said no to so many deals involving Austin Jackson in the past.” I don’t doubt that.
- Cashman was asked if getting Granderson means that they’re going to cut bait on either Damon and/or Matsui. “Not necessarily,” Cashman said. “But it gives us comfort right now.” I think he meant from a roster construction perspective, but I’m guessing he meant from a negotiating perspective.
Now on to the metaphysics of it all . . .
After 71 years, the Cubs are headed back to the Fall Classic.
The dominance with which Clayton Kershaw attacked the Cubs in Game 2 of the NLCS was nonexistent in Game 6 as the Dodgers’ ace loaded the bases to start the first inning and scattered five extra bases and five runs over five frames. By the time Dave Roberts pulled his starter in the sixth inning, Kershaw was sitting on a Game Score of 33, the lowest he’s mustered since the start of the 2015 season. Only one of his strikes came via curveball, and whether he was having difficulty locating his off-speed stuff or felt more confident with the fastball-slider combo, it was the fewest curves he’d seen land for strikes all year (per David Adler).
Where the Dodgers were able to give Kershaw the edge in Game 2, they found themselves powerless against opposing hurler Kyle Hendricks. Hendricks turned out 7 1/3 scoreless frames with two hits and six strikeouts, preserving the Cubs’ second shutout of the postseason and the first since they bested the Giants in Game 1 of the NLDS. After his 1-0 loss to the Dodgers early in the NLCS, seeing the MLB ERA leader turn out a gem was a relief for the Cubs, especially one as spectacular as an 88-pitch two-hitter.
With Hendricks effectively stymieing the Dodgers’ best attempts to get on base, the Cubs played to their strengths at the plate. Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist cleared the bases in the first inning for a two-run lead, followed by a Dexter Fowler RBI single in the second. Willson Contreras came through in the fourth inning for the Cubs, lifting an 87 m.p.h. slider to left field for his first home run of October, while Anthony Rizzo hit his second homer of the postseason on a 1-1 fastball in the fifth.
Neither bullpen allowed a single run from the sixth inning onward. Dodgers’ right-hander Kenley Jansen took the ball from Kershaw in the sixth, scattering four strikeouts over three innings and denying the Cubs so much as a single baserunner through the end of the game. Aroldis Chapman, meanwhile, issued just one walk in 1 1/3 scoreless frames, inducing a Yasiel Puig double play to clinch the Cubs’ 17th franchise pennant.
With the win, the Cubs will face off against the Indians in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday at 8 PM EDT. And, in case you needed a reminder:
So much for Clayton Kershaw posing a threat tonight. The Cubs got their knocks in early and often against the Dodgers’ ace during Game 6 of the NLCS, racking up three runs in the first three innings before rookie catcher Willson Contreras unleashed his first postseason home run in the bottom of the fourth inning.
According to MLB.com’s Phil Rogers, Contreras became the 10th Cub to homer in the 2016 playoffs, following big hits by Addison Russell, Anthony Rizzo, Dexter Fowler, Miguel Montero, David Ross, Jake Arrieta, Kris Bryant, Travis Wood, and Javier Baez. Of the ten home run hitters, Contreras joins catchers David Ross and Miguel Montero as yet another backstop capable of driving the long ball (and, less importantly, as another player capable of a sweet, sweet bat flip).
Rizzo, whose last homer was a deep drive to right field off of Los Angeles right-hander Pedro Baez in Game 4 of the NLCS, piled on Kershaw’s five-run outing with another home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Kershaw called it a night after five frames, and the Cubs currently lead the Dodgers 5-0 in the sixth inning.