“Here it’s never ending, can’t remember when it started.” – The Replacements, Swingin’ Party
It might be time to start talking about the 2024 Draft lottery instead of hoping for an end-of-season resurgence. After last night’s 7-2 loss to the Cardinals, the Cubs sit just 1.5 games ahead of St. Louis with a 35% chance of finishing in the bottom 10.
It’s a little uglier than that, too. Chicago’s North Side Baseballers are 10-4 against the Pirates, A’s, and Reds, but the Cincinnati team they faced earlier in the season is vastly better these days. Reds fans have a handful of prospects to thank for that, including Elly De La Cruz and Andrew Abbott. The Cubs are 35-47 (.427) against the rest of the league and don’t feel any need to promote Matt Mervis. Playoffs? Surely, you can’t be serious?
To paraphrase Dr. Frasier Crane: The Cubs face a Herculean task to qualify for the postseason tournament this year.
— Sean Holland (@sth85) July 21, 2023
I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley.
As inconceivable as it might seem to all of us, the Cubs are only 10 games behind the Brewers and they still have 27 intradivisional games left, including six against Milwaukee. But Chicago is only 24-26 at home, and if you can’t win games with an alleged advantage built in, the postseason is something that shouldn’t be considered at all. Can the Cubs go 45-21 to finish the season? That seems doubtful. Let’s face it, the Cubs are in grave danger of missing the playoffs and an anticipated sell-off in about 7-10 days should solidify their chances of entering the lottery.
The Rays are among a handful of teams who are interested in Marcus Stroman, and Cody Bellinger is on a couple of radars too. There’s a strong chance Kyle Hendricks could be moved, and Yan Gomes, Mark Leiter Jr., and even Patrick Wisdom would help any contender. The rest of us can start scouting prospects because the sand is slipping through that hourglass at an increasing pace.
Cubs News & Notes
- Stroman struggled to find his rhythm last night, but the defense didn’t do him any favors, either.
- Jameson Taillon has a plan in place to finish the season on a strong note.
- Mike Tauchman has been a pleasant surprise this season.
- Most experts expect the Cubs to be sellers this week and next.
- The Astros are the frontrunners for Stroman and Bellinger ($) per Jim Bowden of The Athletic. “It would be reasonable for the Cubs to ask for righty starter Brandon Bielak off their major-league club and one of their top prospects, such as 22-year-old outfielder Drew Gilbert, Houston’s first-round pick last year, who would become the headliner for Chicago.”
- Here’s the 411 on Gilbert.
- The front office announced 10 more signings from this year’s draft.
- The Cubs, Pirates, and Cardinals are three of five potential 2024 breakout teams. The article also says Pete Crow-Armstrong could “be called up any day now.”
- Top 2023 draft pick Matt Shaw has a “dynamic bat” according to vice-president of scouting Dan Kantrovitz.
- Pat Hughes will be inducted into the Hall of Fame Saturday. He’s the fifth Chicago broadcaster to earn the Ford C. Frick award, joining Bob Elson, Jack Brickhouse, Harry Caray, and Ken “Hawk” Harrelson.
Odds & Sods
The Reds are going to be a dangerous offensive team for the next decade or so. Cincinnati’s quick ascent makes Hoyer look bush league.
Elly De La Cruz graduated, but the #Reds still have a top prospect mashing long homers.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) July 21, 2023
- Milwaukee (54-43): The Brewers are one of the teams that could land Shohei Ohtani, though they are considered a dark horse at the moment. Milwaukee is 18-9 since June 16 and could afford to part with a prospect haul that would include at least Sal Frelick, Jeferson Quero, and Jacob Misiorowski. I’m sure the Angels would also demand Jackson Chourio.
- Cincinnati (52-46): The Reds are hunting for starting pitchers to help in a post-deadline playoff run.
- St. Louis (44-53): The Yankees would love to acquire Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty and outfielder Dylan Carson in one fell swoop.
- Pittsburgh (42-54): The Pirates aren’t interested in moving Andrew McCutchen or David Bednar, but Pittsburgh has a surplas of middle infield depth and might also trade first baseman Ji-Man Choi. Ageless starter Rich Hill will probably be sporting new threads in August, too.
Climbing the Ladder
“Cryin’ won’t help you, prayin’ won’t do you no good.” – Led Zeppelin, When the Levee Breaks
The Cubs are a hot mess. I know most of you don’t agree with me but I think a reckoning is coming to the front office, and that David Ross will not be managing the North Siders next year. The team is no longer fun to watch, and Tom Ricketts will have a crisis on his hands if he sticks with the status quo.
- Games Played: 96
- Record: 45-51 (.469)
- Total Plate Appearances: 3,687
- Total Strikeouts: 882
- Strikeout Rate: 23.92%
- Team Batting Average: .250
- Runs Scored: 460
- Runs Allowed: 427
- Chances of Making the Playoffs: 21.4%, 1.2% to win the World Series
How About That!
Rob Manfred is expected to be re-elected in a vote next week ($) according to Evan Drellich and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
The decision to trade Ohtani might come down to the final minutes of deadline day.
The baseball writers at ESPN painted a thorough picture of what an Ohtani blockbuster will look like.
The Giants also expect to be very aggressive at the deadline.
The Orioles beat the Rays last night to take sole possession of first place in the AL East.
Five weekend series will determine which teams are buyers and which are sellers.
Thursday’s Three Stars
- Corbin Burnes – The 2021 Cy Young Award winner blanked the Phillies on two hits over eight innings with 10 punchouts.
- George Kirby – The Seattle starter nearly duplicated Burnsie’s performance, notching 10 strikeouts over seven innings of four-hit, shutout baseball as the Mariners dropped the Twins 5-0.
- Matt Olson – The Braves first baseman hit two home runs with three RBI in a 7-5 win over the Diamondbacks.
A new hope exists just one state west of Illinois, which is much better than this year’s big league ragtag bunch. That won’t stop Hoyer from combing the desert for additional prospects this week and next.
The @IowaCubs are 18 games over .500 with 24 come-from-behind wins and are 20-3 in one-run games.
If you don't think they are fun, you Terron, may just not be much fun. https://t.co/JPQbaytMeI
— Alex Cohen (@voiceofcohen2) July 21, 2023
Friday Morning Six-Pack
- NFL owners approved the sale of the Washington Commanders to private equity investor Josh Harris, bringing Dan Snyder’s turbulent and controversial 20+ years at the helm to a close.
- The U.S. begins its quest for a Women’s World Cup three-peat today with a match against Vietnam.
- Motor vehicle thefts jumped 34% this year, but the good news is that homicides are down considerably.
- In a wave of strike activity the US hasn’t seen since the 1970s, more than 650,000 American workers are either planning to walk off the job or have already done so, according to Bloomberg.
- Barack Obama dropped his Summer ’23 playlist. His latest picks include SZA’s SOS track “Snooze,” “Not Strong Enough” by Boygenius, and Janelle Monáe‘s “Only Have Eyes 42,” as well as cuts by Bob Dylan, Ice Spice and Nicki Minaj, Aretha Franklin, Jorja Smith, Kelela, Leonard Cohen, and more.
- Country Music Television (CMT) says it will no longer air the music video “Try That In a Small Town” by Jason Aldean after critics of the video said it contained lyrics that glorified gun violence and conveyed traditionally racist ideas.
They Said It
- “There [were] a lot of pretty standard major league plays that should’ve been made behind [Stroman]. He’s getting ground balls all over the place and unfortunately we couldn’t turn them into outs.” – Ross
- “I was just slightly off mechanically, missing the zone, getting behind in counts. [The Cardinals] have a bunch of guys who put a priority on battling, taking counts deep, really doing a good job of just swinging at strikes. I feel like they didn’t expand at all in the zone, so my pitch count got really high.” – Stroman
- “It’s just a dynamic bat. [Shaw] displayed the decision-making that he’s capable of, the ability to make consistent contact, and then the ability to hit for damage. Typically, when you exhibit those three characteristics, it’s a pretty good recipe for success in the future.” – Kantrovitz
Friday Walk-Up Song
When overanalysis leads to abject nonsense, it’s time to stop looking for Pepe Silvia and forget about the playoffs.