The Rundown: Sogard, Heyward, and Arrieta Struggles Continue, Offensive Resurgence Could Come in Cincy, Both Chicago Teams Shut Out in All-Star Voting
“Now the time has come for you to get up. The rest had you fed up but yo, I won’t let up. On the rhythm and rhyme that’s designed to make your behind move to what I’m inclined to. Pure hip hop, no sell-out… If you ain’t in it to win it then get the hell out.” – Marky Mark Wahlberg, Good Vibrations
Good morning and it’s good to be back. Though it was happening in my own backyard, I basically watched from a distance while the Cubs imploded in Milwaukee, viewing the carnage only through Twitter and ESPN clips. Wow, what a week. Finding anything resembling positive news is a challenge, but hey, Chicago’s North Side baseballers did score seven runs in the 1st inning the other day, so there’s that.
If you’ve lost all hope for a deep playoff run — if the Cubs even reach the postseason, that is — Kris Bryant, Joc Pederson, Javier Báez, and Craig Kimbrel are bonafide trade chips. I really do think the key to turning this season around is getting Eric Sogard out of the lineup. The Cubs are a chilly 13-21 (.382) when the utility infielder gets three or more at-bats in a game, and his 66 OPS+ is probably a good reason.
Maybe Sogard has a future in the bullpen, though. He must be good if he has to be checked for illegal sticky stuff while mopping up games.
Eric Sogard is the *second* position player pitching tonight to get checked for foreign substances.
The Brewers scored ten runs in the inning. The absurdity has peaked. pic.twitter.com/SH90aNAEv4
— MLB Foreign Substance Checks (@StickyCheck) June 29, 2021
Of course, Sogard isn’t the only reason hard times have hit the North Side. It’s been sort of an all-hands-on-deck effort, truth be told. Jake Arrieta is forcing the hand of David Ross to potentially make some changes in the rotation, a once-solid bullpen is in the midst of a run of ugly efforts, and poor Jason Heyward looks like a lost soul each time he enters the batter’s box.
The problem with Sogard, Arrieta, and Heyward is that all are virtually untradeable, even in the most creative of ways. It’s doubly worse with Arrieta because he probably won’t be effective working out of the bullpen, even if you brought him in with two outs in hopes of getting him to face just one batter.
Alas, I said I’d be positive and I do think the Cubs will reverse recent trends and that the bats will break out in Cincinnati. A combination of warm weather, a hitter-friendly ballpark, and suspect Reds pitching should be just what the doctor ordered for a team that may have to withstand some high-scoring games while the pitching staff tries to get untracked.
Additionally, we get to see old friend Nick Castellanos. Imagine how good the Cubs might be right now if they had Castellanos instead of Heyward, Kyle Schwarber instead of Peterson, Vic Caratini instead of the host of backup catchers the Cubs have employed this season, and Yu Darvish instead of Arrieta. On second thought, imagine how good the Cubs would be if they had an owner who put winning ahead of his personal bottom line.
Cubs News & Notes
- Though they finished June with a respectable 12-16 record against some of the toughest competition in baseball, this year’s version of the Cubs now holds the distinction as the worst hitting team by batting average over any 28-game stretch in the history of the franchise. Chicago slashed .181/.263/.359 in what was an epic June swoon.
- Matthew Boyd, Merrill Kelly, and German Márquez may be at the top of Jed Hoyer’s wish list as the trade deadline approaches.
- The Cubs were shut out in All-Star voting and will not have a representative in the exhibition game’s starting lineup. The White Sox drew a goose egg, too, which is frankly surprising.
- The Reds are hoping an emotional win over the Padres will carry over into their series against the Cubs.
- Jose Lobatón was placed on the 60-day IL the other day among a flurry of moves (again) by the front office. Backup catchers and Grateful Dead keyboardists are starting to share an unsightly commonality.
Odds & Sods
Considering it’s been 23 years since the last episode, this is a pretty significant undertaking. This feels like a late April Fool’s joke, because, for the life of me, the only songs I can remember are the ones from George’s answering machine and a scene where Jerry and George sang (in spoken-word) Downtown by Petula Clark.
Perhaps Heyward should use the series segue stanza for his walk-up music.
First-ever soundtrack album to be released for 'Seinfeld' feat. music by Jonathan Wolff (@seinfeldmusic). https://t.co/xUsY1M9GjB pic.twitter.com/xEvailH4Yc
— Film Music Reporter (@filmmusicrep) July 1, 2021
Climbing the Ladder
“And think of the summers of the past, adjust the bass and let the Alpine blast. Pop in my CD and let me run a rhyme, and put your car on cruise and lay back because it’s summertime.” – DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, Summertime
- Games Played: 78
- Total Plate Appearances: 2,955
- Total Strikeouts: 787
- Strikeout Rate: 26.6%
- Team Batting Average: .223
Elevated temperatures will elevate batting averages. That’s not from a fortune cookie, but it could be.
How About That!
The Brewers have won nine straight and, with the Cubs slumping badly, now hold a commanding 6.5 game lead in the NL Central.
The Dodgers will become the first professional sports team to visit President Joe Biden at the White House.
Los Angeles had five finalists in this year’s All-Star voting, but like the Cubs and White Sox, were completely shut out.
Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman has been uncharacteristically bad recently, and it could be due to the ban on sticky stuff.
You’ll need a subscription to access the content, but per the Wall Street Journal, spin rates on sliders were down 3.7% over a 10-day analysis starting June 3, when the league imposed its ban on illegal substances.
Schwarber finished June with 16 home runs, including seven to lead off the game in the 1st inning, setting a major-league record. It’s a virtual lock that Schwarber will be named the National League Player of the Month in June later today.
The Cubs aren’t the only NL Central team mired in an awful slump. The Cardinals continue to fall off the pace and now trail the first-place Brewers by nine games.
The Yankees could be players for Bryant, but the return for the former Rookie of the Year and MVP may not be as great as you might think.
Take Me Out to the Ball Game
The Mariners will go to full capacity starting with tonight’s game against the Rangers.
Thursday’s Three Stars
- Rafael Devers – The Red Sox third sacker enjoyed a 3-for-5 day, including his 20th home run of the season, with five RBIs in Boston’s 15-1 win over the Royals.
- Joey Gallo – The Rangers outfielder homered in his fifth consecutive game on a 3-for-3 night. Gallo also has 20 taters on the season. Gallo plated three runners and scored twice.
- Jacob deGrom – The Mets righty didn’t earn a win (not surprising) despite punching out 14 Atlanta batters in seven innings of work as the Braves edged the Mets 4-3.
The recent story attached to Trevor Bauer is about as off-putting as it gets. Shame on the Dodgers for allowing him to continue to play while the league (and presumably the team) investigates.
In May, Trevor Bauer allegedly used his hands to break a woman’s skull during sex. On Sunday, the Dodgers announced today, he will use them to start a baseball game.https://t.co/0S38ALprLk
— Stephanie Apstein (@stephapstein) July 1, 2021
Sliding Into Home
I’m going through a tough patch right now as my body is unable to fight off infection. I think the scariest part of that is that a simple mosquito bite on my arm turned into a festering wound about five inches in length just because I over-scratched. And I have been battling fevers as high as 103.3 while my body valiantly tries to fight off unwanted invaders. Things are much better this morning and, hopefully, I am fully on the mend.
They Said It
- “I know the trade deadline is on the (mind) of the outside world, but I really think we’re focused on the day-to-day process. And we’ll continue to get guys back and play good baseball. I think we’ve got, still, things to work on, as I say a lot. I think we’re a good team.” – David Ross
Friday Walk-Up Song
The Maker by Willie Nelson with Emmylou Harris – I thought my time was up this week. Happy to be feeling better.