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Chicago Cubs fans were supposed to get their first glimpse of the post-Willson Contreras era Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field.

Contreras received a big send-off July 26, receiving several standing ovations and hugs on what was widely assumed to be his final day at Wrigley as a Cub.

Of course that turned out to be a false assumption, one of many made by those of us trying to predict the decision-making of team President Jed Hoyer.

Last year most thought at least one of the “Big Three” — Javier Báez, Kris Bryant or Anthony Rizzo — would be retained. Hoyer dealt all three. And on Tuesday Hoyer opted to keep the soon to be free-agent after failing to get the kind of return he expected.

That sparked hope the Cubs could re-sign Contreras, though Hoyer said nothing that would indicate his intention to keep the veteran catcher.

Now Contreras will play out the string on a Cubs team that finally has conceded the obvious — that it’s going through a rebuild and looking at players through the lens of where they fit in 2023 and beyond. Christopher Morel, for instance, was inserted at the shortstop position Friday for the second time.

“We’ll move guys around, see what we’ve got,” manager David Ross said before a game against the Miami Marlins.

Ross admitted the Cubs would “think about how we’re going to win in the future, what those pieces look like, and get that picture painted or that puzzle piece put together as good as possible, see where the holes might be.” But once games start he is “going to manage the game to win the game.”

The Cubs entered Friday with a 41-63 record and a five-game losing streak. But they’ve seen good pitching the last two weeks, with a 2.63 ERA in their last 15 games, lowest in the majors in that span.

It’s no surprise the Cubs would be at this juncture in August, despite repeated efforts by Hoyer to avoid having the “rebuild” label attached to this club. When Hoyer held a media teleconference after the trade deadline passed, a Marquee Sports Network reporter apologized to Hoyer for calling it a rebuild.

“Everyone is going to pay you for saying that,” Hoyer joked.

While they still don’t utter the word, the Cubs’ actions speak for themself.

So with development the focus of the final two months, what is the future of outfielder Jason Heyward, who has one year remaining at $24.5 million? Heyward has been on the injured list with right knee inflammation since June 27.

“We’ll adjust that when he gets healthy,” Ross said.

There is no timetable for the return of Heyward or Kyle Hendricks, who has been out since July 6 with a right shoulder strain. Asked if there was a possibility Heyward and/or Hendricks wouldn’t return in 2022, Ross said: “I hope not, to be honest. I know these guys work really hard and they pride themselves on posting, being out there with the guys. … The body is going to let them do what the body is going to let them do.”

Hoyer and general manager Carter Hawkins have their work cut out for them in the offseason, but until then they have to find out which players fit and where.

Nico Hoerner has performed well at short, but his throwing error Thursday in St. Louis was another reason to wonder whether he’d be better suited at second base. Can Morel be an everyday shortstop, and is Zach McInstry, acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers for Chris Martin, ready to play the old Ben Zobrist role as a super-utilityman?

Ten years ago the Cubs were going through the same thing in the first year of a rebuild. After the trade deadline they went 18-42 on their way to 101 losses. Highly touted prospects like Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters got their chance, and showed they wouldn’t be part of the future. The only players on that 2012 team that were part of the 2016 championship team turned out to be Rizzo and Travis Wood.

How many of the current Cubs will be part of the next championship team?

“The goal of this is to win championships,” Hoyer said while discussing the second year of selling off assets for prospects.

Hoyer pointed to trade deadline moves in the original rebuild that netted high-profile prospects like Addison Russell, unheralded prospects like Hendricks, and struggling, young players like Jake Arrieta.

“Sometimes it’s the high profile guys that help you,” Hoyer said. “And sometimes you realize when you take a lot of shots on goal and you bring a lot of young players into the system and have good player development, those guys exceed your expectations.”

Hoyer is taking his shots, and absorbing some from those left scratching their heads at the curious decision to keep Contreras instead of getting something of value in return. Could it be we all overvalued Contreras, or did the Cubs misjudge the market?

It’s something to ponder as Hoyer, Hawkins and Ross hold auditions for the “next great Cubs team.”


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David Manpearl: Neighbor Hailed as Hero in Anne Heche Crash

Getty US actress Anne Heche arrives for the premiere of Netflix's "The Unforgivable" at the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles, California, November 30, 2021.

David Manpearl is a neighbor who was credited with a rescue attempt of Anne Heche after her car exploded in a Los Angeles crash into a home. He aided his neighbor and tried to free Heche, who survived but suffered serious injuries.

The 53-year-old actress slammed into a garage at about 11 a.m. Friday, August 5, 2022, then backed up and careened into another house. Heche was intubated and in critical condition in the hours after the crash.

NBC Los Angeles reported it took 59 firefighters to extinguish the blaze, and that the crash caused structural damage to a home after her blue Mini Cooper went 30 feet into the building. Photos of the aftermath showed the extent of the damage.

Here’s what you need to know:

Manpearl Helped His Neighbor Rescue Her Pets From Inside the House After Heche Crashed Into the Home

David Manpearl told the Daily Mail that he did not think it was possible anyone could have survived the crash he witnessed.

“At about 10:50am I heard a car go speeding by and looked out my window where I saw the car going about 90 miles an hour,” he told the outlet. “Within seconds I heard a loud crash at which point I ran outside in my flip flops because I knew someone was hurt and boy was I right.”

He lives about five houses down from the place the crash occurred, he told the Daily Mail, and caught the moments leading up to the crash on his Ring doorbell camera.

He told the Daily Mail that he rushed to the scene and found his neighbor outside.

“Before I approached the car, I saw the resident of the home standing barefoot in the debris. She was in shock and frantically asked me to help get her pets out of the house,” Manpearl said. “I was able to get the leashes for her two small dogs and escorted her out of the side of her house. She had her two dogs with her and a tortoise.”

Manpearl Said He Did Not Think It Was Possible for Heche to Survive

EXCLUSIVE: Video shows the vehicle owned by actress Anne Heche speeding down a Mar Vista street moments before crashing into a home and sparking a fire. The story on @CBSLA 5pm.

— Rachel Kim (@CBSLARachel) August 5, 2022

Manpearl told the Daily Mail that he was unable to free Heche from the vehicle, and after she was trapped for about 30 minutes in the burning car, he thought there was no way she could have survived.

He said he found Heche, who he did not recognize as the actress, trapped between the airbag and the seat of her car.

“I tried speaking with her a few times asking if she was ok but she wasn’t responding so I had to get closer. I was able to open the back door of the car and crawled half-way inside,” he said. “This time when I asked her if she was ok, she said no.”

He told the Daily Mail that he and the neighbor were trying to put out the fire when firefighters arrived on the scene. The blaze had spread from the car to the house, he said.

“I was positive that the driver was dead,” he said, as rescue attempts dragged on. “That she had burned up. It took at least 30 minutes for the fire department to douse the flames, extract the car and pull her out of the car.”

READ NEXT: Anne Heche Car Crash: Photo & Video From the Accident

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