“Nobody walks up the stairway from hell just to walk back down.” – James Blunt and Ward Thomas, Halfway
The Cubs split the London series with the Cardinals, though both games were enjoyable to watch. It seemed like there were more American tourists at the games than locals, but credit MLB for expanding its market.
That said, I do believe the Cubs are about to explode as the season tilts toward its second half. In fact, I expect Jed Hoyer to be looking for players at the deadline rather than shipping bodies out. Tom Ricketts said over the weekend that his team is in buy-mode.
The Angels are already adding pieces in an attempt to make the postseason for the first time in 14 years, and their front office intends to do anything possible to get Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani into the playoffs. They’ve already acquired Eduardo Escobar and Mike Moustakas, but I’ve heard nothing linking Los Angeles to the Cubs. I’m sure the demand will be high, however, for Marcus Stroman, Cody Bellinger, and Kyle Hendricks.
That leaves Hoyer in an interesting position. His team is obviously good enough to win the NL Central despite the recent surge by the Reds. The Cubs have won 11 of their last 14 games and, when healthy, look to be a very strong offensive team with a great rotation that is capable of a deep postseason run. But are they good enough to get to the World Series?
Or, putting it differently, is the organization strong enough to possibly let the three players mentioned above walk away for nothing as free agents at the end of the season? Taking it a step further, is the farm system strong enough to deplete some of its depth in trade to make a post-August 1 pennant run? July is going to be a stressful month once again, no matter which side of the fence you are on this year.
Cubs News & Notes
- The Cubs announced that they will launch standalone streaming via the Marquee Network after this year’s All-Star Game.
- Stroman left Sunday’s start with a blister on his pitching hand.
- Some shaky defense also put the Cubs in a big hole in the loss.
- Trey Mancini apologized for a costly error that contributed heavily to Chicago’s loss to the Cardinals.
- Mancini was pulled after his miscue.
- Stroman was named to the All-Fun Team by CBS Sports, while Nico Hoerner earned an honorable mention. I’d also include Christopher Morel, who wasn’t discussed.
- Ricketts said the decision to extend Stroman or not rests solely in the hands of Hoyer.
- Stroman, Hoerner, and Dansby Swanson indicated where they’d like to play internationally. Stroman prefers Puerto Rico, while Hoerner and Swanson prefer Japan.
- Brendan Hughes and Codi Heuer have been shut down for the rest of the season. Heuer has a right elbow fracture and Hughes is scheduled for knee surgery. The organization also announced that outfielder Brennen Davis will miss at least six weeks while he recovers from core muscle surgery.
- Jake Arrieta is Chicago’s best deadline acquisition of all time.
- Actors Nick Offerman (Saturday) and John Goodman (Sunday) sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the 7th-Inning Stretch over the weekend.
- A drone shot during Sunday’s contest had some fans thinking ESPN was broadcasting a video game.
Odds & Sods
Votto on Elly: "“Has there been a better switch-hitting, speed, power guy? The only comp I can think of is Mickey Mantle – a young Mickey Mantle. That’s unfair to put on Elly, maybe one of the greatest players of all time."
— C. Trent Rosecrans (@ctrent) June 24, 2023
- St. Louis: The Cardinals are probably going to be sellers, which means Jack Flaherty and Jordan Hicks could be moved for prospects.
- Milwaukee: The Brewers are 36-6 when they score four or more runs. That .854 winning percentage is the highest in such games for a team through its first 77 games since 2017. By my calculations, the Cubs are 29-12 (.707) when they plate four or more runners.
- Cincinnati: The Reds desperately need starting pitching and fans are anxious for GM Nick Krall to find reinforcements in the trade market.
- Pittsburgh: The Pirates have lost 12 of their last 13 games and hitting coach Andy Haines has become the popular target of angry fans.
Climbing the Ladder
“Sell a slim body to the man next door.” – Gary Numan, Sister Surprise
The Cubs will reach the halfway mark of the season during their upcoming homestand with the Phillies and Guardians. Ian Happ had two home runs in the first game with St. Louis and Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol opted to pitch around the switch-hitter on Sunday. Despite the error, Mancini had a big two-run double yesterday.
Just throwing this out there, but if the Cardinals do decide to sell, I wouldn’t mind seeing Hoyer acquire Paul Goldschmidt. I expect the front office to look for first and third base help before the end of July. Hicks could be a nice addition, too.
- Games Played: 76
- Record: 37-39 (.487)
- Total Plate Appearances: 2,908
- Total Strikeouts: 696
- Strikeout Rate: 23.93%
- Team Batting Average: .248
- Runs Scored: 352
- Runs Allowed: 320
- Chances of Making the Playoffs: 60.8%, 3.7% to win the World Series
How About That!
Rob Manfred said the league is making plans to hold a series in Paris in 2025.
A schedule reduced to 154 games could be the key to scheduling more series in Europe.
The Braves have surpassed the Rays as the best team in baseball according to the latest power rankings by CBS Sports.
In case you missed it, the Mets gave up four runs to the Phillies on just one hit in the bottom of the eighth inning and lost the game, 7-6. That brutal inning included three walks, two hit batters, and an ugly error. The New York announcers also slammed manager Buck Showalter to the delight of the team’s fans.
Neither the Mets nor the Yankees will have much All-Star Game representation this year.
The Angels scored 23 runs in four innings against the Rockies in a 25-1 win on Saturday and then acquired Moustakas from Colorado. L.A. scored 13 runs in the 3rd inning and followed that up with another eight in the 4th. In doing so, they became the first team in MLB history to score 20-plus runs in a span of two or fewer innings.
Sunday’s Three Stars
- Luis Robert Jr. – The White Sox outfielder was 3-for-4 with two taters and three RBI in a 4-1 win over the Red Sox.
- Eury Pérez – The Miami rookie was dominant over six innings, scattering four hits with nine strikeouts as the Marlins blanked the Pirates 2-0. Pérez is now 5-1 with a sparkling 1.34 ERA.
- Freddie Freeman – The Dodgers’ first baseman joined the 2,000-hit club thanks to a 2-for-5 effort.
I got a note of thanks from legendary quizmaster Bill Chuck late last week and I’m over the moon. As some of you know, I pattern The Rundown off of the late Nick Cafardo’s Sunday Baseball Notes column. Mr. Chuck made my weekend.
That is as kind of a note as you can send to me. Thank you so much.
— The Bill Chuck Files (I support the WGA) (@BillyBall) June 25, 2023
Monday Morning Six-Pack
- The Bears’ offensive line, led by Teven Jenkins, Braxton Jones, and rookie Darnell Wright, is poised for a much better season.
- No Cubs game today, but no problem. LSU and Florida will duke it out in the College World Series in a winner-take-all game tonight.
- This is one of the toughest baseball trivia games you’ll ever play, and there is a new game each day. I got six out of nine correct answers.
- A tweet by NBA reporter Shams Charania during the draft is coming under scrutiny because it moved betting lines, and he has a partnership with FanDuel
- A Harvard professor who studies honesty stands accused of falsifying data in his work, which by the way focused on behavioral sciences.
- Billy Idol has teamed up with the Sex Pistols, but he refuses to perform their biggest single “Anarchy in the U.K.” Idol claims that only Johnny Rotten should perform that song.
They Said It
- “Obviously we’re buyers right now. Things can come off the rails, but I don’t think they will. I think what we have is a core that can compete for the division and compete for the playoffs and now it’s [a matter of] finding the missing parts to add to it. I think Jed had a really good offseason. We came into this year thinking we’d be contending for our division. All the credit to [manager David Ross] and the players for coming together. ” – Ricketts
- “It’s not the first instance lately where I’ve sped up plays that don’t really need to be sped up. Let the game speed me up there, and the game’s 100% on me. I’m sorry to my teammates and all the fans because it’s been such a great trip here, and it would have been nice to get two wins. And I really feel very responsible for our loss today, and there’s no worse feeling than that.” – Mancini
- “We saw everything: Big Ben, Parliament, Westminster Abbey. We learned all about Shakespeare and Dickens. … I’m a redneck from Florida. I don’t know much about world history. But it was all so incredible.” – Ross
Monday Walk-Up Song
Welcome home, Cubs. Baseball resumes tomorrow at the Friendly Confines.