“It would sure do me good to do you good, I can help ya.” – Charley Crockett, I Can Help
The Cubs have been one of baseball’s hottest teams since April ended and have registered sweeps against the Cardinals, Padres, Dodgers, and Mets, but Jed Hoyer needs to find a stud starter. Nothing could be more obvious after last night’s 5-2 loss to the Metropolitans.
“I had multiple opportunities to get out of the fourth [inning] unscathed,” starter Jake Arrieta said after the Cubs' 5-2 losshttps://t.co/yNlkl0R95C
— Russell Dorsey (@Russ_Dorsey1) June 15, 2021
Look, I love me some Jake Arrieta, and nothing would make me happier to see him pitch like he did when he led the staff during the first month of the season, but I’d say we’ve all come to realize the man is no longer the ace he was back in the 2014-17 seasons. One of Theo Epstein’s better moves was not bringing Arrieta back when he hit free agency and though the Cubs could really use Yu Darvish these days, there’s plenty of pitching available on the open market.
One wonders how strong Hoyer’s appetite will be to acquire a pitcher who will obviously be less of an impact starter at an even higher cost than he received in return for his former ace. The best starter available may be José Berríos of the Twins, but he’d cost the Cubs too many of their top prospects. Other starters who will likely be available include Jon Gray of the Rockies and Kyle Gibson of the Rangers. Whether either is as good as Arrieta is a question better left for the more astute writers of this site, but with more teams looking for starters than those that are selling, expect costs to be on the expensive side for anybody who is potentially on the block.
In fact, there are just seven teams who are probably a lock to miss the postseason as of this morning. Though the landscape will undoubtedly change in the next six weeks, it might behoove Hoyer to grab a starter from one of those teams now. Matthew Boyd has been a rumored target previously, and he’s pitched pretty well this season despite never having reached the potential he once promised.
The bold move to make would be to trade for Max Scherzer, but even with the Cubs’ history of bold deadline moves, I wouldn’t expect Hoyer to sell the farm for two months of the future Hall of Famer. In fact, the Cubs’ inability to extend any of their core may actually hurt them this summer. The president of baseball operations can ill-afford to part with any decent prospects because the future of his big league roster still has a little too much forward variance.
Cubs News & Notes
- The Cubs may not allocate the financial expense to acquire players at this year’s deadline, though Crane Kenney says that’s not necessarily the case.
- Personnel decisions, including extending any of the team’s core, rest on Hoyer’s shoulders per Tom Ricketts.
- The Cubs have built the game’s best bullpen by banking on castoffs and cheap acquisitions.
- Patrick Wisdom has become one of the more impactful, under-the-radar acquisitions by the team.
- Despite Arrieta’s struggles, Zach Davies continues to look more and more like the top-of-rotation starter the Cubs expected when they acquired him in the Darvish trade.
- Actor and comedian Bill Murray has tossed his hat in the ring as potential team GM, and he makes a pretty solid case for himself.
- Wrigley Field was electric on Opening Day 2.0 and it’s nice to see the Cubs being the talk of baseball again.
- Thanks to Evan Altman for filling in while I was on the 10-day IL.
Odds & Sods
Full crowds and beer cup snakes. Yes, baseball is an audience participation sport once again.
— ESPN (@espn) June 14, 2021
Climbing the Ladder
“Hey, I will stand my ground, and I won’t back down.” – Tom Petty, I Won’t Back Down
- Games Played: 66
- Total Plate Appearances: 2,429
- Total Strikeouts: 616
- Strikeout Rate: 25.3%
- Team Batting Average: .232
The Cubs are in a bit of a slump offensively since June 2, though their 102 OPS+ is still third-best in the National League, and they’ve not been shut out since the Braves beat them 10-0 on April 28.
How About That!
Milwaukee is ranked third in this week’s power rankings. The Cubs are fifth.
With at least 150 scouts out of work, a savvy GM could walk away with a bumper crop of fresh talent before July 31. Somebody needs to separate San Diego GM A.J. Preller from his mobile phone.
The Mets spent $341 million on star shortstop Francisco Lindor, who has yet to hit consistently. They don’t provide run support for Jacob deGrom, they traded away their best prospect, and they still might make the playoffs anyway.
Monday’s Three Stars
- Austin Gomber – The Colorado starter has been nearly unhittable at Coors Field, which is something no Rockies pitcher can ever really say. He was dominant again last night, tossing eight innings of three-hit, shutout ball against the Padres.
- Miguel Cabrera – With a .309 SLG, the first baseman is a shell of his former Triple Crown self, but he was vintage last night, going 3-for-5 with two runs and two RBI. All three knocks were singles, though, and Miggy just can’t drive a baseball like he did last decade.
- Brandon Crawford – The Giants shortstop was 2-for-4, including his 15th homer of the season as San Francisco upended the Diamondbacks 5-2. Crawford’s career-high in home runs is 21, and barring a slump of epic proportions he should beat that this season. Arizona is playing at a 48-win pace. Yikes.
You’re Killin’ Me, Smalls
“Just stand out there and stick your glove out in the air. I’ll take care of it.” – Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez, The Sandlot
The Brewers are acknowledged as one of baseball’s hottest teams right now, and it’s well-deserved considering they’re 17-5 since May 22, but even Squints knows a façade of good baseball when he sees one. Milwaukee is hitting .212 as a team and has done all of its damage against some of baseball’s worst teams, including the Diamondbacks, Pirates, Tigers, Reds, and Nationals.
They’ll need that pitching to hold up all season, and with even minimal regression, that offense can’t bail anybody out.
"He’s very simple-minded. The look of the ‘stache and the curly hair, it makes me smile every time I see him in the locker room."@M_Montemurro's story on how reliever Andrew Chafin's laid-back persona brings a relaxed vibe to the Cubs.https://t.co/7u7koD2P0i
— Chicago Tribune Sports (@ChicagoSports) June 14, 2021
Sliding Into Home
It’s good to be back. It’s been a bit of a health nightmare lately and I am only allowed to sit upright for two hours at a time, at least for the rest of this week.
If I can add to one of the more compelling social media arguments of the past week, how does everybody feel about Anthony Rizzo and Jason Heyward choosing not to get vaccinated? Though I’m pro-immunization, there are no doubt hundreds of conflicting reports and, in an odd twist, the pandemic just sort of ended despite the fact the country has not yet reached herd immunity. With 64.4% of all Americans vaccinated, it’s realistic to believe that nearly 15,000 fans enter Wrigley Field having not been previously inoculated against COVID-19.
I’m not sticking up for or looking down at the choices Rizzo and Heyward have made, but teammates probably find each to be a little selfish and both players are unquestioned leaders of this ball club. I wonder if Rizzo’s refusal had anything to do with his dugout dust-up with Willson Contreras earlier this month.
Tuesday Walk-Up Song
I Am Not Afraid by Charley Crockett – A new discovery while I was laid up in the home infirmary. I’m not a real country music fan unless it is really old school. Crockett is a wonderful throwback to Chicago’s old WMAQ days. As a bonus, the dude dresses like he owns the Grand Ol’ Opry.