“Well, we got a party goin’ on many spirits strong. Ain’t no preacher just a happy to meet ya. Half a bottle ‘neath the bed keeps our spirits fed. My hat’s off to you, to you, and you.” – Widespread Panic, Blue Indian
Eight is great, but nine would be fine. Yes, I am intentionally trying to sound like Ernie Banks, but the Cubs got me in that kind of mood. Beating Adam Wainwright is always a good thing, and yes, it tastes a little better this morning. If Kyle Hendricks can defeat the Cardinals this afternoon, the Cubs will head home for crucial series against the Reds and Braves riding a nine-game winning streak.
The Cubs have gone from probable sellers to mostly standing pat in a span of a week and change, though adding to the roster after last night’s 5-1 win doesn’t seem preposterous, either. The Reds are looking for pitchers, the Brewers added a first baseman, and the Cubs could use some bullpen help and a third baseman with some pop. Fans and bloggers have linked Jeimer Candelario to Chicago, but Jed Hoyer has been in stealth mode all week. Legitimate rumors linking the two are, therefore, impossible to find.
Needless to say, there are hardly any buy rumors anywhere when it comes to Chicago’s North Side Baseballers. Speculation is a road paved with good intentions, but one that nonetheless leads us nowhere. Then again, the market for available players at positions the Cubs need is less than mind-blowing. Candelario is it at third base, and unless Josh Hader is available, the best relievers are Jordan Hicks, Paul Sewald, Keynan Middleton, Scott Barlow, Alex Lange, and Kyle Finnegan. That said, if you’re afraid of getting a rotten apple, don’t go to the barrel, get it off the tree.
We shouldn’t be ignoring the obvious. Nelson Velázquez and Matt Mervis are available at Iowa, as is Ben Brown, who could at least give Chicago a hard-throwing bullpen option. Would the Cubs consider adding Pete Crow-Armstrong to the roster? Probably not until September, and besides, Mike Tauchman has earned the opportunity to regularly play center field.
Keeping Cody Bellinger and Marcus Stroman isn’t a difficult decision, either. Bellinger will net the Cubs a compensatory draft pick if he signs elsewhere next year, and the North Siders have plenty of major league-ready options next season in Brown, Jordan Wicks, and Cade Horton. Though adding reinforcements via trade seems unlikely, maybe the Cubs could dangle Caleb Kilian and a minor-league outfielder like Yonathan Perlaza to get Candelario. That seems equitable to me, but I’m no expert.
As I said, speculation is a road to hell. Hoyer may believe in his roster enough to simply stand pat. Expect Hendricks to help broom the last-place Cardinals today, and look for a big game by Christopher Morel. Stogies all around.
Apropos of Nothing
I stopped writing here to partake in Bloody Mary Day at a local establishment, one that featured a buy one get one special before 9am. There is nothing better than summer in Milwaukee, my friends.
Cubs News & Notes
- The North Siders have checked both of Hoyer’s buy boxes since the All-Star break. In fact, they’ve played .580 baseball over the last 50 games, which is a 94-win pace. “We need to make up ground on first place,” Hoyer said a few weeks ago, “and we need to make up ground on .500. That’s important.”
- The Cubs will reportedly kick the tires on two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani this winter. Just give the man a blank check and an open-ended contract. The highest bidder will likely get Ohtani for 12/$550 million, if my trusted fortune-telling doo-hickey is correct.
- If Ohtani wants to join a perennial contender, the Cubs are trending upward, and quickly.
- Jameson Taillon had another quality start last night and he is one of Chicago’s best pitchers right now. Over his last 4 outings, Taillon is sporting a crisp 1.78 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, and opponents are hitting just .191 against him.
- Tauchman played in Korea last year, an experience that positioned him to make the most of his time with the Cubs.
- Nick Madrigal was recalled yesterday, got the start at third base, and made the most of the opportunity.
- Maybe Madrigal is the third base option the Cubs need down the stretch. In the 19 games he played from June 9 to July 3, the former second baseman was slashing .328/.409/.466 with a home run and 5 stolen bases.
- If Hoyer was looking for an omen as an excuse to roll the dice before the Tuesday deadline, those wins on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday were made to order.
- Hoyer has given David Ross no indication as to what his deadline plans are ($), according to Patrick Mooney of The Athletic.
Odds & Sods
There used to be two All-Star Games per season. Yikes.
Today In 1962: The second Major League All-Star Game of the season is held at Wrigley Field, Chicago! The American League defeats the National League by a score of 9-4! #MLB #Baseball #Cubs #History pic.twitter.com/eHVhdLQSJC
— Baseball by BSmile (@BSmile) July 30, 2023
- Milwaukee (57-48): The Brewers are reportedly one of at least two teams that are interested in White Sox outfielder Eloy Jiménez.
- Cincinnati (57-49): Nick Senzel holds more value to the Reds than he does as a potential trade chip.
- Pittsburgh (46-58): The Pirates continue to lead the league in obscure, random stats.
- St. Louis (46-60): President of baseball operations John Mozeliak said the Cardinals are not going to trade third baseman Nolan Arenado. Who would claim that which is not?
Climbing the Ladder
“In the mornin’ you go gunnin’ for the man who stole your water.” – Steely Dan, Do It Again
Tauchman parlayed Friday night’s game-saving catch into a 3-for-5 Saturday at the top of the order. Ian Happ and Yan Gomes hit home runs off of Wainwright, who seems to his lost his mojo when facing the Cubs. Chicago is now 3.5 games behind the Brewers and three behind the Reds for the final Wild Card berth. Both rivals lost on Saturday.
Taillon is on a heater, and once the season ends we may view his turnaround as the biggest reason the Cubs are in this year’s playoff race. I really like Chicago’s chances with Hendricks taking the bump this afternoon.
- Games Played: 104
- Record: 53-51 (.510)
- Total Plate Appearances: 4,009
- Total Strikeouts: 941
- Strikeout Rate: 23.47%
- Team Batting Average: .255
- Runs Scored: 514
- Runs Allowed: 454
- Chances of Making the Playoffs: 53.0%, 3.2% to win the World Series
How About That!
The Mets and Rangers agreed on a trade that will send mercenary Max Scherzer to Texas for prospect Luisangel Acuña, who will immediately become one of the Mets’ top prospects. As part of the deal, Scherzer has elected to opt in to the 2024 season with the Rangers. Texas will pay Scherzer $22.5 million, while the Mets will cover an additional $35 million and change.
The Mets are the most expensive rebuilding team in the history of baseball.
Mark Canha, much like Scherzer, wants to start a dialogue with New York’s front office to find out what else the team may do before the deadline. That’s one way to get what you want, apparently, if what you want is to be traded.
The Cardinals are rarely in sell mode at the deadline, and their front office is unsure how to navigate the next few days because of it.
Saturday’s Three Stars
- Ronald Acuña Jr. – He hit a home run and stole a base yesterday to become the first player in MLB history to have 20 homers and 50 stolen bases before August 1.
- Alejandro Kirk – The Toronto catcher was 3-for-4 with two taters and four ribeyes as the Blue Jays grilled the Angels 6-1.
- Isaac Paredes – The Rays third baseman was 2-for-3 with two big flies and three RBI in a 17-4 loss to the Astros.
I’d say PCA is ready for MLB at-bats. It doesn’t look like it because he dropped down to get it, but that’s a 414-foot bomb.
Pete Crow-Armstrong takes this one DEEP to continue his hot hitting this month!
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) July 30, 2023
These songs will help you enjoy your Sunday Funday a little bit more.
- Keep on Growin’ by Derek & The Dominoes
- Dreams I’ll Never See by Molly Hatchet
- Bootleg by Creedence Clearwater Revival
- Amoreena by Elton John
- Two Trains by Little Feat
- When the Morning Comes by Hall & Oates
They Said It
- “Running the bases, getting the barrel of the bat out in front, more power has shown up this year than last year. Just getting his rhythm bat, as a whole, [Madrigal] looks much more like the version I think we thought we were getting when we got him from the White Sox.” – Ross
- “I’ve never sat in that seat, so it’s speculation, but it just feels like there’s probably a lot of different avenues that every team works through and conversations that everybody has: ‘If this happens, then that happens. What are the needs? What are the pieces?’ They work through all that. There’s budget stuff that they deal with and stuff that I have no idea about. It just feels like there’s a lot of variability to it. A lot of balls in the air.” – Ross
Sunday Walk-Up Song
The best Sunday morning song not performed by Johnny Cash.