The Rundown: North Siders Running on Empty, Bullpen Officially a Trainwreck, Blue Note Turns 80, Sunday Baseball Notes

The Cubs’ 5-3 loss to the Brewers at Miller Park left me speechless last night. Watching this trainwreck of a season unfold is giving me flashbacks to the 1970’s Cubs teams and stirring up PTSD caused by watching them run out of gas in July and August year after year. It’s difficult to watch this year’s team right now, especially from the 7th inning on.

I almost felt sorry when I saw Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer on television last night as the game ended. I was out with a large group of friends in downtown Milwaukee and when Keston Hiura walked it off against Craig Kimbrel, the Third Ward went completely nuts. The Cubs’ executives looked equally disgusted and dismayed.

Truth be told, I think it’s time to break up the band. The Cubs should sell, retool, and come back to fight again another day.  I believe this team wants to win and is capable of winning against any team, but it’s just not in the cards this season, no pun intended.

Leading Off

Jon Lester emptied the tank last night and his gutty performance reminded me of the Cubs-Rockies wildcard game last year. Big Jon gave his team every opportunity to win and could only watch as his bullpen brethren squandered it away.

Cubs relievers blew multiple save opportunities in the same game for the second time this season. Only the Mets have done that more. If you’re like me, the minute the Cubs remove their starter from any road game you immediately see the impending loss play out in your mind.

As I said yesterday, the Cubs would be undefeated on this road trip if they had a decent bullpen. But they do not, and a 1-4 start has them trending toward third place in the NL Central. It’s almost unfathomable to think, but unless this team can figure out how to win away from home, they are going to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2014.

Cubs News & Notes

Updates on Nine

  1. Multiple executives say New York’s discussions for Noah Syndergaard have clogged the trade market, as teams attempt to figure out the labyrinthine machinations of the Mets. Brodie Van Wagenen seems a bit over his head and out of his depth ($) as a first-year GM. BVW could engineer one of the most absurd deadline weeks in recent history, as the team is allegedly trying to acquire Marcus Stroman from the Blue Jays while simultaneously entertaining offers for Syndergaard, Edwin Díaz, and Zack Wheeler from contending teams looking for pitching.
  2. The Yankees would love to acquire Stroman, but it might cost New York a package that includes their number one prospect, pitcher Deivi Garcia. Garcia has averaged nearly 14 strikeouts per nine innings across three minor league levels this year.
  3. With Zack Greinke, Robbie Ray and number of decent players confirmed to be on the block, the Diamondbacks will be very popular among contending teams looking to upgrade this week.
  4. The Twins, who have seen their AL Central lead shrink by ten games in the last six weeks, made a trade yesterday, acquiring reliever Sergio Romo from the Marlins for Double-A first baseman Lewin Diaz. Minnesota also received Chris Vallimont, a right-handed starter in High-A, and a player to be named later.
  5. The Twins have also discussed a potential trade with the Rangers that would net Minnesota starter Mike Minor. It is unknown if those talks are progressing at this time.
  6. The Reds’ Tanner Roark isn’t as big of a name as some of the other allegedly available starting pitchers, but some clubs might focus on him because of his lower price tag. He’s a free agent in the fall. The A’s, Yankees and Phillies are heavily interested.
  7. Rival GMs say the selling price on Padres closer Kirby Yates remains extremely high, with San Diego indicating that it is perfectly content keeping Yates unless some team offers a wipeout package of prospects. The Red Sox desperately need a closer.
  8. The Giants seem to switch gears on a daily basis. Their front office continues to go through the process of cultivating conversations around Madison Bumgarner and their premium relief pitchers despite indicating more than once this week that they intend to be deadline buyers.
  9. Cubs fans should keep an eye on White Sox reliever Aaron Bummer and Orioles second baseman Hanser Alberto. Bummer is a low cost left-handed relief option that would interest Epstein. And, given Alberto’s ability to play multiple positions, Joe Maddon would love the lineup flexibility. Perhaps the future of baseball is to stock your roster with 13 players capable of playing the keystone. And you though the “opener” was a crazy idea.

Apropos of Nothing

Blue Note Records, the most storied jazz label in the history of recorded music, turns 80 this month.

Their first press release stated “Blue Note Records are designed simply to serve the uncompromising expressions of hot jazz or swing, in general. Any particular style of playing which represents an authentic way of musical feeling is genuine expression. By virtue of its significance in place, time and circumstance, it possesses its own tradition, artistic standards and audience that keep it alive. Hot jazz, therefore, is expression and communication, a musical and social manifestation, and Blue Note records are concerned with identifying its impulse, not its sensational and commercial adornments.”

If you are an audiophile, here are five must-own albums produced by the label in no particular order:

  • Genius of Modern Music Volumes 1 & 2 by the Thelonious Monk
  • Cool Struttin’ by Sonny Clark
  • Blue Train by John Coltrane
  • Somethin’ Else by Cannonball Adderly
  • Moanin’ by Art Blakely with the Jazz Messengers

Saturday’s Three Stars

  1. Will D. Smith – The Dodgers catcher tied a team record with six RBI in yesterday’s 9-3 win over the Nationals. Smith was 3-for-3 with a home run and two doubles.
  2. Nick Ahmed – The Arizona shortstop plated five runs on a 2-for-4 evening that included a grand slam.
  3. Steven Matz – The big lefty tossed a complete game shutout with seven Ks, allowing just five hits and a walk. Matz is is probably the only member of the Mets’ rotation who has not been mentioned in trade talks

Extra Innings

Cubs fans attacking Kimbrel for blowing the game last night need to step back for a second. I’m pretty sure he is the least of the team’s problems. Hiura hit a fantastic pitch to win the game. Chalk it all up to more bad luck for the Cubs, who can’t buy a win away from Wrigley Field.

From the Jeremy Frank Files

They Said It

  • “Not too many times I go up to Joe [Maddon] or Tommy [Hottovy, pitching coach] … but tonight was one of them. Tonight was very tough. I just was gassed. Sixth and seventh inning got to me. With everything going on this week and whatnot, I just was dead.”Jon Lester
  • “We’re just not finishing the game with more runs than the other team.”Craig Kimbrel
  • “It’s tough to be on this end. We’re playing well. We got the guys out there that we want. Sometimes it just doesn’t go your way. Seems like when it doesn’t go your way, it pours on you at times in the season. It’s one of those stretches. You just gotta keep fighting and stay above it.” – Anthony Rizzo
  • “I’ve never seen anything like this. I feel like we’re still playing good ball. I have no answers. I really don’t.”Steve Cishek
  • You go home and you sleep, you get up and do it again. You gotta come back again tomorrow and play. You get back in the huddle, you play, you don’t cry. It happened. We’re going to do it to them at some point also this year. Right now it’s going against us a little bit. But that doesn’t mean you cry and get upset, man. You come back and play it again tomorrow.”Joe Maddon

Sunday Walk Up Song

Running on Empty by Jackson Browne. No explanation necessary.

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