Keep Moving Forward
Another disappointing day on the field for the Northsiders. Jon Lackey wasn’t fooling anybody, giving up 6 runs in the first three innings. This proved to be too much for the depleted offense against Stephan Strasburg, who struck out 13. Between now and the All-star break is going to be a bit of a grind for the Cubs. With Ben Zobrist, Addison Russell, and Jason Heyward missing from the lineup, and Kyle Hendricks from the rotation, it’s going to take some inspired play from some unlikely folks to string together wins. Maybe all this Montero nonsense is the spark they need (though it didn’t seem that way today). Add Kris Bryant to that list as he left tonight’s game with a sprained ankle. X-rays came back negative, thankfully, but don’t count on seeing him in the lineup for tomorrow, if not a few days. Remaining around the .500 mark would be just fine to open the second half, especially given the state of the NL Central.
A late season run in 2016 leading to a short offseason leading to a tetter-totter first tells me one thing: These guys need a break from baseball. It’s been time to hit the reset button since about mid-May, but it doesn’t seem like that’s just going to fall together mid game, or even mid-week. What I’m saying is, essentially, #DontVoteCubs (GASP!). Give these guys a week off to hang out with their friends and kids and forget about the game for a couple minutes. Yes, playing a game for a living is a privilege nobody should ever complain about, but 162 games in 180 days is something the average Joe can’t necessarily comprehend. The All-star game is awesome, and I certainly enjoy watching, but I don’t need to watch the same infield that I watch every day. And by the way, they don’t deserve it! The Cubs have maybe three deserving All-stars in Wade Davis, Kris Bryant, and Anthony Rizzo. None of which should probably start given that Wade is a closer, and the Bryzzo partners have guys like Paul Goldschmidt and Nolen Arenado more deserving, in my opinion. Now that he’ll be nursing a tender ankle, I say Kris takes this opportunity to say thanks but no thanks to a starting spot (That is unless Nolan beats him out, which I am clearly all for). Something to keep in mind is this year’s national league manager, Joe Maddon. Don’t be surprised to see him keep his stars to a minimum workload for those weekend festivities.
Theo has started to tap into the trade market with some minor deals over the past couple days. While a big name, top of the rotation acquisition is surly in the team’s future, it’s still not quite clear to me if that will be this season, or the off season. The front office is always looking for hidden or undervalued talent (see Jake Arrieta). The criteria for the team’s pitching needs are simple, yet expensive, and that is someone young and cost-controlled. A couple names that have caught my eye are Sean Manaea (25) of the A’s, and Jose Berrios (23) of the Twins. The A’s are well behind the Astros in the AL West, and would seemingly be open for business come trade season. The Twins find themselves in a similar situation to that of the Brewers, clinging to first place with a world series team breathing down their neck. As of tonight, the Indians are in first place, and they have been playing better baseball of late. A lot can and will happen between now and August. A trade with the Twins would be interesting. It seems as if they have a core of position players they are trying to build around, therefore if they trade a 23-year-old pitcher they will certainly want pitching in return. I refuse to make any sort of trade proposal, as I usually find myself scoffing at even the most professional writer’s attempts. I will however, say with a decent amount of confidence Jeimer Candelario’s name is being pushed around heavily. Another arm that intrigued me was Royals Danny Duffy (28). He is unfortunately on the disabled list, and the Royals are starting to show signs that it might not be time to blow it up just yet. Again, a lot could happen between now and August.
As for the Miguel Montero debacle, I can only look on and shake my head. Seems as though the guy isn’t handing getting old very well. My opinion on the matter falls in line with those of Joe Maddon, Anthony Rizzo, and Theo Epstein. There is just no room for comments like this when trying to build a winning organizational culture. Still, I will try to remember Miguel for the positive aspects of his Cubs tenure. A couple walk off hits, a NLCS Grand slam that set me off the wall, and of course who could forget his #WeAreGood twitter campaign. You don’t realize it yet, but you’ll miss his pitch framing/presentation as much as you won’t miss his noodle arm. That is not, however, enough to keep him around, as he heads to who knows where with his foot firmly lodged in his mouth. Good luck, Miguel.
The series in DC concludes tomorrow and the team continues on to Cincinnati for what is hopefully a fun weekend series. I’ll be at the games Saturday and Sunday, adding Great American Smallpark to my short but ongoing list of stadiums visited.
Onward. Embrace The Suck. We Are Good.