The Rundown: Another Excruciating Road Loss, Maddon Loves Frisco, Deadline Intel, Atlantic League to Keep Robot Umpires
It is an immutable fact that when you win 65% of your home games and only 35% of your road games, you are nothing more than a .500 team. That is the path the Cubs are on and after last night’s 5-4 loss to the Giants, something needs to be done to reverse their road splits or Chicago will be on the outside looking in when the playoffs start.
After last night’s walk-off, the Cubs have now lost 21 of their last 30 road games. Consecutive series against the Brewers in Milwaukee and the Cardinals in St. Louis loom after they finish up with the Giants today.
I don’t want to be the one to throw this out there, but I will anyway: the Cubs could certainly be one of the few teams that could quickly retool much like the 2017 Yankees if they decided to be sellers rather than buyers this week. They could easily garner a wealth of good, young players by conceding that they are in no position to believe that they are carrying a championship roster and alleviate their financial excess in doing so.
The poster child of this year’s miserable bullpen took the loss last night when Brad Brach gave up a 13th inning home run to Pablo Sandoval.
Lucky inning 13.
— SFGiants (@SFGiants) July 24, 2019
And one more time…this game is over!
By the way, I love what Robel García is doing with the stick but I can’t help thinking that a real left fielder might have robbed the Panda of this home run. Not that Brach deserves such fortune. The rest of the bullpen pitched well last night so I suppose that the lineup deserves some of the blame as well. But none of it matters, because until the Cubs can find a way to play a more complete game in a visiting stadium, they will continue to lose.
Jon Lester will try to salvage the series finale with a matinee start today. Because the Cardinals have won three straight while the Cubs have lost three, first place is on the line. A Chicago loss and a St. Louis win means the Cubs will head to Milwaukee trying to hold off the Brewers for second place. Yes, after starting the second half of the season winning seven of eight, the Cubs could be fighting for their playoff lives as the month ends.
I think the Cubs need more than a couple cursory moves to have any chance of being a World Series contender. If the season ended today, they’d be 12 games behind the Dodgers for the best record in the National League and would enter the postseason with a tough matchup against the Braves.
Time to break up the band? Probably not, but the fact that I am even considering it feels a little unnerving.
Cubs News & Notes
- The Cubs enter today’s game losers of their last three games, facing a Giants team that has a .237 batting average (last in the NL) and a 25-27 home record.
- Like the rest of us, Joe Maddon seems to have washed his hands of Addison Russell. We’re all tired of the distraction Russell has become, and if I’m being forthright, just removing him from the roster might do as much for this team as any additions they could make at the deadline.
- It’s not that far-fetched that the Cubs might favor improving their farm system over depleting it further by acquiring spare parts on expiring contracts for the stretch run. Think of it as borrowing from the Payday Loan Store. There’s a small window where you feel like you can exhale before you realize you just buried yourself for the mid- and long-term.
- It’s also possible that Theo Epstein could decide to break up the core of this team much like he did in 2004 with the Red Sox when he traded Nomar Garciaparra to the Cubs as part of a four-team deal.
- Daniel Descalso isn’t seeing much playing time, and it’s baffling that the Cubs continue to employ him. Given their alleged financial crunch, I suppose it looks better on the books to treat him like he has been DFA’d rather than really doing that.
- Tyler Chatwood hasn’t been called on very much lately, either.
- Willson Conteras is expected to be added to the roster today. Perhaps this is the day of reckoning for Descalso or Russell.
ESPN’s David Schoenfield lists the top 31 players that could be potentially moved in the next week.
CBS Sports does a deeper dive and offers up 50 players who could be on the block.
Giants’ manager Bruce Brochy believes his front office would rather win now than sell off for the future. I still believe that’s a mistake. The Diamondbacks, who have a better team and a similar record, are largely considered sellers as the deadline nears. The Giants are hot, but may need a reality check.
The Astros remain interested in Madison Bumgarner, Robbie Ray, and Marcus Stroman.
Milwaukee starter Brandon Woodruff will miss the next six weeks due to an oblique strain. That may force the Brewers to seek starting pitching this week.
Marlins’ relievers Sergio Romo and Trevor Richards are drawing interest from several teams.
How About That!
Former Mets pitcher Dwight Gooden is in trouble again. It’s a pathetic look for anybody, let alone somebody who is in his mid-50’s.
The Brewers bullpen has sprung a few leaks, and the Reds took advantage, battering Milwaukee 14-6.
The Reds rank first in all of baseball with 82 1st-inning runs.
The Dodgers will extend their protective netting to the outfield foul poles next month.
Los Angeles also announced that they put $100 million into renovating their stadium at Chavez Ravine.
I applaud baseball’s moves to protect its fans, so I guess I am not as “old school” as this 14-year old White Sox fan, who is vehemently opposed to such moves.
The Atlantic League said they will keep their robot umpires for the rest of the 2019 season.
The Giants have four walk-off wins in their last six games.
Rangers’ outfielder Nomar Mazara really punishes baseballs. I’ve now mentioned the only two Nomars to have played in the bigs in this column. Do I win $50?
Hi, Space Needle. pic.twitter.com/dyZnQmguQZ
— Texas Rangers (@Rangers) July 24, 2019
Tuesday’s Three Stars
- Robinson Canó – The 36-year-old Mets second baseman recorded the first three home run game of his career on a 4-for-4 night in which he plated all five runs in New York’s win over the Padres.
- Didi Gregorius – The Yankees shortstop went 5-for-5 with 7 RBI, including a go-ahead two-run double in the top of the eighth in a wild win against the Twins.
- Trea Turner – The Nationals shortstop recorded the second cycle of his career last night. Both have come against the Rockies. It was the fourth cycle in baseball this season.
The Cubs’ road woes have really burned me up and out, but I have a fun little Sunday planned. I’m going to see the new Quentin Tarantino flick and I’ll be at Miller Park for the Cubs-Brewers clash.
Were I allowed to score this movie, this would be my soundtrack.
Are you thinking what I’m thinking?
#Chicago #Cubs manager Joe Maddon visited the famous Haight Ashbury neighborhood in San Francisco for the 1st time Tuesday. When asked how he liked it, he said: ‘I’m moving there.’
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) July 24, 2019
OK, I really don’t want Maddon to stay behind when the team leaves San Francisco, but Bochy is retiring after this season and the Giants will need a new manager. Maddon’s contract still hasn’t been extended, so…let your mind marinate quote that for awhile.
They Said It
- “These last couple of games we scored four runs both games. It’s frustrating in a sense but we do have to be more offensively.” – Maddon
- “I don’t care about [the trade rumors]. Nobody in here cares about it. We’re trying to win games, we are winning games and that’s all that matters is us. That other stuff’s just noise.” – Madison Bumgarner
- “It would upset the fans [if Bumgarner is traded]. But it’s impossible to say what the next 10 days are going to present, in terms of what our opportunity to contend is going to be or continue to be, and what kind of opportunities the market presents. It’s very difficult at this point to speak in those terms.” – Farhan Zaidi
Wednesday Walk Up Song
Should I Stay or Should I Go by The Clash. The Cubs and Giants, buyers or sellers? It’s going to be an intriguing eight days.