“Yes, I’ve hurt your pride and I know what you’ve been through. You should give me a chance… This can’t be the end.” – Scorpions, Still Loving You
The Cubs have lost 10 straight games, something this franchise last accomplished in 2012 during a time when losing often was the prescription to start the first phase of the rebuild that would earn the team a 2016 World Series victory and its first championship in 108 years. Dale Sveum managed that ’12 team to a 61-101 record in case you’ve wiped it from your memory banks, and Randy Wells was the winning pitcher when the North Siders broke their 12-game losing streak in an 11-7 win over the Padres.
Theo Epstein conducted a midseason sell-off that did little to better the franchise as a whole. However, as the biggest sellers at that year’s deadline, the Cubs made at least one sneaky good move by acquiring Kyle Hendricks for Ryan Dempster. Epstein also traded Paul Maholm to the Braves that summer for Arodys Vizcaíno and sent Geovany Soto to the Rangers for prospect Jacob Brigham.
Cubs shortstop Javier Báez: “To be honest, I don’t know what to tell you about this trade deadline. I’m really not paying attention to it. If anything happens, it would be a surprise to me. I’m focused on being healthy and getting better with my body to help the team.”
— Patrick Mooney (@PJ_Mooney) July 6, 2021
With apologies to Trevor Story, Starling Marte, and Kyle Gibson, if Jed Hoyer decides to become a seller — and that decision shouldn’t be too tough — he could flood the market with a large number of the best players available. There are 16 teams with legitimate postseason aspirations, and a few more, like the Phillies, Cardinals, and Reds, believe they are just a player or two from joining that group.
How might Hoyer help some of those teams? I’m glad you asked.
- The White Sox need a second baseman and could be a nice destination for Javier Báez or Kris Bryant. Báez has played the keystone and Bryant could take over at third base with Yoán Moncada shifting two positions to the left.
- Every contender is looking for relief help, so Craig Kimbrel could be a difference-maker for any of them. We just have to hold our collective breath that Hoyer doesn’t look to the Padres, by whom he’s likely to be fleeced like he was in the Yu Darvish trade. San Diego closer Mark Melancon has blown four saves this season, but the team that truly needs an elite closer is the Red Sox. A sleeper candidate could be the Mariners, and their farm system is stacked.
- The Yankees need a first baseman. Say hello to Anthony Rizzo, who may be the only first sacker on the market.
- Joc Pederson may be a fit for either New York team
- Depending on what happens with Trevor Bauer, the Dodgers may need to replace him and they are already in need of at least one starting pitcher. I’d hate to see Hendricks moved, but he’s probably not the anchor you build a staff around, either. Everybody will be looking for rotation help, so Hoyer should let the market come to him.
- The Cubs have used about a half-dozen backup catchers this season and can’t trade Willson Contreras unless they find a starter and a legit backup in trade, but I’d bet the Angels would love to acquire the game’s top backstop, How about a trade to the Braves that nets brother William Contreras and some pitching prospects? At least that would be fun.
- Ryan Tepera and Andrew Chafin could provide decent returns. Jake Arrieta and Jason Heyward will be impossible to move.
- It seems like Ian Happ really needs a change of scenery.
- At least four teams in the NL East will be calling about Bryant. I don’t particularly like Nationals GM Mike Rizzo, so if Bryant is traded I hope Jed really shoves it up Rizzo’s backside by trading him to one of Washington’s rivals.
The million-dollar question is why are these guys so valuable if they can’t win together as a team? Who knows? Maybe the lack of contract extension talks has robbed them of any motivation. A camera scan of the dugout in the bottom of the 9th inning of last night’s 13-3 loss showed a team that looked like their six-year brotherhood has already ended.
Cubs News & Notes
- If you’re looking for a bit of sunshine from behind the cloud of Chicago’s incredible losing streak, it’s that Nico Hoerner is healthy and back with the team.
- David Ross was ejected from last night’s game for arguing balls and strikes after Bryce Harper was issued a walk on a borderline pitch. Ross later admitted he was wrong.
- Bryant and Kimbrel will represent the organization at next week’s All-Star Game in Denver.
- Expect a flurry of moves after the break. Most teams are preparing for the draft, which until this year always occurred in June, but is now part of the league’s All-Star festivities.
- Speaking of the draft, here are five players to keep an eye on when the Cubs make their first-round selection.
- Chicago’s historical slide coincides with a great run by the Brewers, meaning the Cubs’ playoff chances are eroding even more quickly as the losses mount.
Odds & Sods
I flashed back to my parents’ 1970’s 4th of July barbecues when I saw this. All that’s missing is a keg of Schlitz, a horseshoes pit, and a pig on a spit.
Great facial hair all around. pic.twitter.com/oc4WL4jGtq
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) July 5, 2021
Climbing the Ladder
“Kissin’ the wound from the captain’s harpoon, an unexpected moment of bliss.” – Widespread Panic, Bear’s Gone Fishin’
- Games Played: 85
- Total Plate Appearances: 3,102
- Total Strikeouts: 824
- Strikeout Rate: 26.6%
- Team Batting Average: .224
The Cubs scored three runs last night. I hope the players and coaching staff had a champagne celebration in the clubhouse after the game. The team is under .500 for the first time since May 5, when they were 15-16.
Apropos of Nothing
Though plans to attend games this season have fallen through for me, I will be making my return to Wrigley Field for a Cubs game on August 8 when they host the White Sox, my first since late 2018. I wonder what the team will look like for that series? I will be part of an IT roundtable on the post-COVID shift to a home-based workforce to be held in
Pottersville Wrigleyville that weekend, too.
How About That!
Joe West continues to be an embarrassment to baseball.
Nick Castellanos is a living baseball meme with impeccable or poor timing, depending on how you see things.
Monday’s Three Stars
- Ben Gamel – The Pirates outfielder enjoyed a 3-for-5 night with two home runs and six RBI as Pittsburgh clubbed Atlanta 11-1.
- Franmil Reyes – The Cleveland DH was also 3-for-5 and plated five runs of his own, hit a home run, and stole a base.
- Max Kepler – Though he has struggled a bit this season, the Twins right fielder blasted two taters against the White Sox in an 8-5 win.
The joy on this child’s face after Ohtani went yard for his 31st home run of the season is priceless. God, I love baseball.
Shohei Ohtani’s 31st home run of the season. What the hell man pic.twitter.com/7LdrL2Jci7
— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) July 4, 2021
They Said It
- “I don’t think any big speech that a manager has given in my career has just made things better. This is a winning group in here that’s been a part of winning for a long time. I don’t think anything I’m going to say in the big picture is going to change anything drastically.” – David Ross
- “First of all, I don’t buy or sell. The key is to represent a winning product and someone who can win the division and go into the playoffs doing something special. That is what we try to produce on a daily basis here, and the front office is involved in all that. They’re also watching with an eye on, ‘Do you believe in this group and what they can do?’'” – Ross
- “Obviously when you can’t control what’s happening on the field, it’s a little harder to make sense of because you’d like to be able to go back to things that you could have done yourself or things you can learn from, and all I can really do to help the team was get healthy, and I feel really happy with that process.” – Nico Hoerner
Tuesday Walk-Up Song
Loser by the Grateful Dead – I was at this 1989 show in Philadelphia, and it was one of the best of the 74 I’ve seen. I’ll be attending Dead & Co. at Wrigley Field on September 17, and if you’ll be there too let’s get a beer or a soda and talk music and baseball.