“Sometimes I get so tense but I can’t speed up the time.” – Guns ‘N’ Roses, Patience
When you put up five runs in the 1st inning, it almost seems like a win is in the bag. Then again, nothing is a guarantee when it comes to this year’s Cubs. At least we can take solace in the fact that if Willson Contreras is traded, P.J. Higgins will be a better-than-decent replacement.
PJ Higgins, GRAND SLAM! pic.twitter.com/p9kKrXoGXI
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) July 10, 2022
There were plenty of other feel-good moments on Sunday despite the loss. Nelson Velázquez hit his second bomb of the season and I love the way he always looks ready to attack in the batter’s box; Drew Smyly returned; and Ian Happ was added to the NL All-Star team, where he’ll join Contreras. Digging a little deeper, Rowan Wick pitched an inning without allowing a run.
Smyly’s return is significant because if he’s healthy, he could be flipped before next month’s trade deadline. He probably won’t get the return Jed Hoyer was hoping for when he signed him earlier this year, but then again, the Cubs did get Jake Arrieta for Scott Feldman, so perhaps Hoyer and Carter Hawkins can find a broken prospect that they believe they can fix. Smyly was relatively ineffective yesterday, but that’s irrelevant.
In the meantime, the younger Cubs provide the only reasons for watching these days. Nico Hoerner was 3-for-5 and if anybody should have been picked to play in the Mid-Summer Classic, it’s him. I was hoping he’d have a big series in Los Angeles and he was 6-for-17 (.353) with a home run with two RBI. Christopher Morel hit a home run in Thursday night’s loss and now has nine on the year, but he is really struggling on the road (.228/2/6 with 36 strikeouts in 92 at-bats). Anderson Espinoza pitched three innings of one-run baseball though he did issue four walks.
The Cubs will host the Orioles in a two-game set starting Tuesday, and Baltimore is playing their best baseball in years. The Mets come to town for a weekend series after that before the league shuts down for the All-Star Gane and all its festivities, including this year’s amateur draft. After that, expect the summer stove to be lit, especially in Chicago.
Cubs News & Notes
- Contreras was announced as the National League’s starting catcher on Friday evening.
- The All-Star backstop said he prefers not to be traded and wants to lead the Cubs in their (it’s not a ) rebuild.
- William Contreras was also selected to play in this year’s All-Star Game, so the two brothers will be teammates for the first time as professionals.
- Keegan Thompson and Justin Steele are nearing career-high workloads, and David Ross may have to limit their innings in the second half. That might be tough if the Cubs trade any of their starters.
- White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson gets the bulk of the news, but Hoerner is arguably the best shortstop in Chicago.
- In the span of a year, Happ went from bench player to All-Star. He has 22 doubles and is sixth among NL outfielders with a 2.4 WAR, per Baseball-Reference.
- I know we’re all champing at the bit to see Brennen Davis, but Pete Crow-Armstrong has to be the team’s top prospect at this point.
- Morel had an opportunity to provide a detailed synopsis of his first big league home run for the Cubs’ YouTube channel.
- Davis is planning to play before the season ends.
- Nick Madrigal experienced some tightness in his hamstring on Sunday and was removed from his rehab appearance at Iowa.
- Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic has a nice breakdown of players the Cubs may be targeting in next week’s draft ($).
- In his latest mock draft update, Keith Law has the Cubs selecting shortstop Zach Neto in the first round (also subscriber-only content).
Odds & Sods
I’ve come up with worse ideas but I truly believe that Joe Maddon is perfect for the White Sox. If I was Jerry Reinsdorf I’d give Tony La Russa a gratuitous position in the front office and get the ex-Cubs manager on the horn. Plus, Maddon would singlehandedly make Chicago a White Sox town, at least for the rest of this year.
Climbing the Ladder
“Hey you, don’t help them to bury the light. Don’t give in without a fight.” – Pink Floy, Hey You
David Bote was 2-for-2 with a home run yesterday and raised his batting average 63 points. Small sample size statistics are usually meaningless, but Bote has been hovering at the Mendoza Line for the better part of three seasons, so hopefully, it’s the start of bigger things. Hoerner is now slashing .306/.341/.429 and is Chicago’s best all-around player.
- Games Played: 86
- Total Plate Appearances: 3,292
- Total Strikeouts: 761
- Strikeout Rate: 23.12%
- Team Batting Average: .246
- Runs Scored: 376
- Runs Allowed: 445
How About That!
MLB announced its full rosters for next week’s All-Star Game.
The MLBPA presented a counteroffer to the league regarding a potential international draft. Both sides remain substantially distant in discussions.
Sunday’s Three Stars
- The Orioles – They’ll come to Chicago sporting an eight-game winning streak after beating the Angels 9-5 yesterday. Ramón Urías was yesterday’s hitting star with three RBI.
- Freddie Freeman – The Dodgers’ first baseman destroyed the Cubs yesterday, going 4-for-5 with a home run, a double, and two RBI. I’m guessing he took out his frustration of not being named an All-Star on Chicago’s pitchers.
- Sandy Alcantara – The Marlins starter threw seven shutout innings yesterday, extending his scoreless streak to 19 full frames.
Velázquez hits bombs. That’s it. That’s the tweet.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) July 10, 2022
Monday Morning Six-Pack
- Elon Musk wants to back out of his deal to buy Twitter, blaming the social media behemoth’s failure to comply with its merger obligations.
- The eight richest tech leaders have lost a combined $250 billion this year. That’s most likely the real reason Musk has lost his interest in Twitter.
- Yosemite firefighters are rushing to save some of the world’s oldest Giant Sequoia trees as a raging fire has now covered over 2,000 acres of forestry.
- A new law signed by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey last week makes it illegal for people to film law enforcement activity in certain circumstances, with the stated goal of protecting police officers as they’ve come under more scrutiny.
- NASA will release the first full-color images taken by the revolutionary James Webb Space Telescope tomorrow, which will include photos of two nebulae and two galaxy clusters.
- Actor Paul Rudd is a true American hero even when he’s not playing Ant-Man. Is it just me or does that dude not age?
Apropos of Nothing
A shout out to the contributors in the comments section for posting in Rundown-like fashion. I love the way you all break down my, er, breakdowns. Please keep it up!
They Said It
- “It’s an honor. To be able to call yourself a big-league All-Star is really, really cool. I’m humbled by it. To have that come full circle, from just being at that point to getting an opportunity those last two months of last year, riding that into this year, and having this first half, I mean, baseball’s a wild ride.” – Happ
Monday Walk-Up Song
Does anybody remember laughter?