“The lights go out and I can’t be saved. Tides that I tried to swim against have brought me down upon my knees.” – Coldplay, Clocks
I’ve started the clock on Jed Hoyer and David Ross after yesterday’s frustrating 6-5 loss to the Brewers. Hoyer has mastered mediocrity and Ross is the perfect manager if your ultimate goal is to tread water just to avoid drowning. The Cubs are 185-225 since Hoyer replaced Theo Epstein and they’re 219-251 under Ross. In the meantime, small-budget teams like the Orioles, Reds, and Rays are much closer to championship baseball.
I applaud what Hoyer has done with the farm system but as Caleb Kilian, Brennen Davis, and Matt Mervis have shown, nothing is guaranteed and growing pains are likely. Pete Crow-Armstrong is Chicago’s best prospect but the system is bereft of any potential superstars beyond the speedy center fielder. Yes, there are a lot of players to like, but the very best ones are still a few years away.
It’s time to go in another direction if the Cubs fail to make the playoffs, and I believe Tom Ricketts has purposely put the heavy expectations of this season squarely on Hoyer’s shoulders. I am positive the measured statements he makes about the roster and deadline are not coincidental. The team’s chairman knows an overhaul is in order if they have to sell again at the deadline. Chicago is too big a market to force fans to deal with mediocre baseball for a seventh straight season.
Oh yeah, a regime change will take a lot of the heat off Ricketts, too, at least temporarily. If anything, Hoyer is just too uninspiring for a fan base dying for confident leadership.
Put another way, if the Cubs truly intend to be players for Shohei Ohtani this winter, it’s probably not going to happen if Hoyer is calling the shots.
Cubs News & Notes
- Marcus Stroman has opted not to pitch in Tuesday’s All-Star Game, prioritizing rest instead. Dansby Swanson may not play either because of his heel injury.
- Stroman’s sole focus is getting the Cubs back into contention after next week’s festivities.
- Swanson was quick to rule one way or the other his availability for the Yankees series or for the All-Star festivities.
- The four-game split with the Brewers provided the good, bad, and ugly sides of the 2023 Cubs.
- Cody Bellinger was 4-for-4 yesterday and extended his hitting streak to 12 games, matching a career high set back in 2019.
- There is plenty at stake for the Yankees and Cubs in their upcoming weekend series.
- Some analysts are linking Bellinger to the Yankees in a deadline deal.
- Bellinger and Stroman understand the big decisions facing Hoyer ($) after the break, per Patrick Mooney of The Athletic.
- Mooney also mentioned that the Cubs are not inclined to offer Stroman an extension ($) this season.
- Cubs prospects Michael Arias, Jarod Wright, Eduarnial Núñez, and Frankie Scalzo Jr. pitched a combined no-hitter for South Bend Thursday night.
- Cade Horton could be considered for a second promotion this season.
- Here’s everything Cubs and White Sox fans need to know about this year’s draft. The first round takes place on Sunday.
- Pitcher Welington Santana was suspended for 56 games on Thursday following a positive test under the minor league drug program. The Cubs released him a day earlier.
Odds & Sods
Elly De La Cruz has been in the big leagues for exactly one month. The Reds are 21-6. From 5 under to 10 over.
Fun stat if you're a fan: The Reds are 18-17 on the road when trailing in games this season. They are the only team in MLB to have a winning record in that situation.
— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) July 7, 2023
- St. Louis: Chip Caray perfectly encapsulated the Cardinals’ season in their brutal 10-9 loss to the Marlins the other day. “He’s putting incompetence into words.”
- Milwaukee: This week marks the 30th anniversary of the Racing Sausages, and I intend to honor the occasion with a hot dog, a bratwurst, and an Italian sausage at Summerfest this evening. I also hope a quadruple bypass is not on my weekend itinerary.
- Cincinnati: The Reds’ rapid youth movement has turned the team’s season around in a hurry. Paging (clears throat) Mr. Hoyer.
- Pittsburgh: Andrew McCutchen once gave his batting gloves to a set of Pirates fans and years later, he met up with them again in a heartwarming reunion.
Climbing the Ladder
“Take the way home that leads back to Sullivan Street. I’m just another rider burned to the ground.” – Counting Crows, Sullivan Street
The Cubs should have won yesterday’s game despite striking out 16 times against Freddy Peralta and a handful of relievers. Chicago was 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position, including six punchouts.
After a quick start, it’s safe to say Jared Young is not the answer at first base and also that Patrick Wisdom is definitely not the answer at third. Perhaps Hoyer will focus on adding strength at the corners this winter if Mervis can’t turn it around. Maybe Haydn McGeary and James Triantos are the answers, but that’s counting on a little too much right now. It’s hard to believe Frank Schwindel might have actually outplayed all of Chicago’s first base options were he still with the team.
- Games Played: 86
- Record: 40-46 (.465)
- Total Plate Appearances: 3,300
- Total Strikeouts: 792
- Strikeout Rate: 23.80%
- Team Batting Average: .248
- Runs Scored: 397
- Runs Allowed: 374
- Chances of Making the Playoffs: 27.2%, 1.2% to win the World Series
How About That!
Arraez had three hits yesterday, raising his batting average to .388.
Milwaukee’s win put them two games behind the Reds and the two teams will meet this weekend.
MLB insider John Heyman named his first-half MVPs in a piece for the NY Post.
Defensive numbers are up across baseball, and some experts believe the pitch clock is one of the reasons.
Thursday’s Three Stars
- Francisco Lindor – Baseball’s most overpaid shortstop was 5-for-5 with a home run, two triples, and an RBI so he at least earned his Mets paycheck for one night.
- Gunnar Henderson – The Baltimore shortstop was 4-for-7 with two home runs and five RBI as the Orioles crushed the Yankees 14-1.
- Eugenio Suárez – The third baseman paced the Mariners to a 5-1 win over the Astros with two taters and three RBI.
This is a no-brainer.
Vin Scully is voted the No. 1 sportscaster of the 20th century by members of the American Sportscasters Association, July 6, 2000. pic.twitter.com/IxSlwJtqTS
— Baseball In Pics (@baseballinpix) July 7, 2023
Friday Morning Six-Pack
- The Eagles announced their “Long Goodbye” Tour yesterday and Steely Dan will accompany them for the 13 shows that have been scheduled so far. Nothing was announced for Milwaukee or Chicago, though it’s possible a few dates could be added. The band’s PR team said the tour is expected to go well into 2025, so it seems likely they’ll find a gig in Chicago and possibly a few overseas. Don Henley is not afraid to make money, but the good news is that Deacon Frey will play on this tour. I’m not buying that it’s a farewell tour.
- Dave Matthews joined Dead & Co. in Boulder earlier this week and Dead Heads lost their minds thinking Dave might replace John Mayer in the next iteration of the band, which is just Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, and some of their favorite musicians. I promise Matthews will not be joining the band on their next tour.
- Threads is Mark Zuckerberg’s version of Twitter, and the recently launched social site gained more than 30 million new users this week. I wonder when everyone will realize the ultimate goal is to simply keep everybody tethered to their phones and personal devices at any cost. Hard pass.
- The world’s largest spherical structure made its flashy debut this week, and you’ll never guess where it’s located. Care to weigh in, Vegas Jack?
- The average rate on a 30-year mortgage climbed to 6.81% this week, its highest level of 2023, according to Freddie Mac.
- Drinking water from more than 50% of U.S. faucets contains cancer-causing agents known as “forever chemicals” which means there is a lot more Gotham City in this country than not.
They Said It
- “I definitely know what is possible. But I like being here. I’m focusing on helping this team win while I am here. Hopefully, we can get on a little roll and stay together. We have a really good group here. I still have confidence in the whole group.” – Bellinger
- “I love our team. I feel like things haven’t gone our way, to be honest with you, at all. But the commitment and the drive and the attention to detail [are] there. It’s just one of those things where we haven’t really clicked. We haven’t gotten on a roll. Hopefully, we catch fire. Hopefully, one win after another, it starts to kind of roll and we have clumps of big winning streaks.” – Stroman
Friday Walk-Up Song
How long will the Eagles continue to tour? Nobody knows except Henley.