Cachorros caminan hacia lo inevitable: reconstrucción

Willson Contreras pidió a comienzos de temporada una nueva oportunidad a la gerencia de los Cachorros. Solicitó que no cambiaran a Kris Bryant, Javier Báez, Craig Kimbrel o a otra figura, porque tenían la convicción que, al mantenerlos, podrías aspirar a un nuevo campeonato de las Grandes Ligas. Que no importara que los dos primeros iban a ser agentes libres al finalizar el año, porque reunirlos iba a traer mayores recompensas que un grupo de prospectos.

Por ciertos momentos Contreras tuvo razón. Para el 24 de junio, los Cachorros estaban igualados con los Cerveceros en el primer lugar de la División Central de la Liga Nacional. Tenían nueve victorias más que la cantidad de derrotas, por lo que mantener a las estrellas y añadir a otras parecía el camino a tomar por la gerencia de Chicago.

Willson Contreras-Milwaukee-Pelotazos
Willson Contreras habló del futuro de los Cachorros- Foto MLB

El problema es que, desde ese momento, la zafra de los oseznos se convirtió en una pesadilla. Una tan grande que seguramente finalizará con el escenario que ningún aficionado quiere escuchar: reestructuración. Desde el 25 de junio hasta el 7 de julio, los Cachorros perdieron 11 encuentros consecutivos, cadena que convirtió al equipo de un aspirante a postemporada a uno de los peores de las Grandes Ligas.

Chicago entra en el enfrentamiento de esta noche contra Filadelfia con un récord negativo de 43 triunfos con 45 derrotas. Mientras tanto, los Cerveceros han ganado 11 de sus últimos 14 enfrentamientos, durante ese tiempo, abriendo una ventaja de 9.5 juegos sobre Chicago en un lapso de 15 días. Asimismo, los Cachorros no están mucho más cerca en la carrera de comodines, por detrás de los Padres por ocho juegos.

Ante ese escenario, las declaraciones y la actitud de los directivos cambiaron. Los mismos gerentes que afirmaron que iban a reforzar al equipo, ahora son más precavidos. ¿Y cómo no serlo? El 24 de junio, FanGraphs le dio a los Cachorros un 35.7% de posibilidades de llegar a los playoffs; al entrar en juego hoy, sus probabilidades se redujeron al 4.9%.

Gerencia de Cachorros comenzará a escuchar

Durante los dos primeros meses de la temporada, la actitud de la gerencia de los Cachorros era más proactiva. Llamaban a otras oficinas y preguntaban por jugadores. Querían lanzadores y relevistas para mejorar a su equipo. Ahora todo cambió, son más pasivos y las conversaciones con los otros equipos son para desprenderse de sus figuras.

Y el momento en Chicago es tan malo que Jed Hoyer, presidente de operaciones de beisbol en los Cachorros, no utilizó esa premura característica de los gerentes que no van a adquirir talento en el mercado de cambio. Dijo sin chistas que la actualidad del equipo cambió y que se preparen para varios movimientos, aunque no como pensaron anteriormente.

«Hace once días, ciertamente estábamos completamente del lado de las compras … y obviamente (los equipos) ahora están llamando para ver qué jugadores están disponibles», dijo Hoyer a Jordan Bastian de MLB.com. “Así que es un escenario muy diferente al que esperábamos. La vida te llega rápido». Cuando se le preguntó estarán dispuestos a hacer que los jugadores estén disponibles, Hoyer señaló su responsabilidad de considerar cualquier cosa «que pueda ayudar a construir el próximo gran equipo de los Cachorros».

La frase “ayudar a construir el próximo gran equipo de los Cachorros», fue tajante. Aquella obra que se construyó por mucho tiempo y provocó el campeonato de 2016—cortando 109 años de sequía—será derrumbado. Se empezará una nueva obra en Chicago, sin varios de los elementos que ayudaron a armar una de las edificaciones más envidiadas de las Grandes Ligas.

“Es la forma en la que funciona el beisbol. Estas cosas pasan cuando llegan rachas de derrotas, que es algo que no esperábamos. Ahora debemos hacer cambios en nuestra planificación”, siguió Hoyer ante los reporteros.

¿Quiénes estarán disponibles?

Los mejores años recientes de los Cachorros llegaron, en gran parte, por tres jugadores: Kris Bryant, Javier Báez y Anthony Rizzo. Ahora esos mismos peloteros se convertirán en agente libre al finalizar el año y, con una gerencia que utiliza frases como “pensar en construir el próximo gran equipo”, es inevitable pensar que ellos serán los primeros en ser traspasados.

Principalmente porque son beisbolistas que buscarán un aumento sustancial de sus salarios para 2022. Si el conjunto considera que necesitan pensar a futuro, será mejor mover a estos peloteros a clubes contendientes y recibir talento emergente que ayudará a acelerar la reestructuración. Mantener a Bryant, Báez o Rizzo será un chance desperdiciado por la gerencia.

Ciertamente, habría mucho interés en cada miembro de ese grupo. Bryant se recuperó de un 2020 decepcionante para conectar un fuerte .269 / .349 / .498 con 16 jonrones en 324 apariciones en el plato este año. Volvió a hacer contacto mucho más consistente y golpeando pelotas a un ritmo que no hacía desde que ganó el Jugador Más Valioso en 2016.

Rizzo solamente tiene promedio de .246, pero con 10 cuadrangulares y OBP de .339 se le considera un bateador sobre el promedio (113 en OPS+). Mientras que Báez se ha ponchado a un alarmante 36,6% este año en camino a un promedio de bateo de .234 y un porcentaje de embasado de .282. Pero también ha disparado 21 jonrones y su slugging de .496, es más que positivo. Además, es un defensor y corredor élite, por lo que son habilidades importantes para un campocorto.

¿Y Willson Contreras estará disponible en el mercado de cambio? Está bajo control hasta 2022 y es uno de los mejores receptores de la actualidad. Podría ser un pelotero que la directiva quiera mantener para pensar a futuro, pero sería el jugador que más permitiría recibir a cambio por su estatus contractual más el talento.

Es otra de la decisión que tomará el alto mando de los Cachorros. Les restan 17 encuentros antes de finalizar el mercado de cambio y, aunque ganando 14 de ellos se meterán de nuevo en la pelea, el escenario más probable que inicie una reestructuración profunda en Chicago.

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