“Right outside this lazy summer home, you ain’t got time to call your soul a critic, no.” – Grateful Dead, Eyes of the World
Marcus Stroman put his team in an almost inescapable hole yesterday, but the Cubs were just a few inches away from beating the Reds anyway last night anyway. Cody Bellinger just missed a home run in the 3rd inning and Christopher Morel almost hit one in the 8th. It wasn’t meant to be, so now the Cubs will send Justin Steele to the mound tonight to try to even the series at a game apiece.
The Cubs are in one of their toughest stretches of the season, but help is arriving in the form of third baseman Jeimer Candelario and relief pitcher José Cuas. I don’t think Jed Hoyer is done dealing because the addition of Candelario will cut into the playing time of Nick Madrigal, Patrick Wisdom, and Trey Mancini.
More worrisome is the recent bad stretch by Stroman. Everything he throws is elevated and he took a downright beating last night. He could be tipping his pitches, too, because opponents are feasting on his slider. Stroman has to right the ship if the Cubs hope to make the playoffs.
If you’re looking for a silver lining in last night’s loss, it’s that the Cubs had little trouble with Cincinnati’s best starter, Andrew Abbott. Additionally, Javier Assad did a great job of keeping the Cubs within striking distance after taking over for Stroman. Assad pitched 3.2 innings of one-hit, shutout baseball, including four strikeouts.
We’ll all be watching for today’s transactions, and Candelario should be in tonight’s lineup. There’s a lot of baseball left in the season, no need to panic just because the Cubs have lost two straight.
Cubs News & Notes
- The Cubs sent minor leaguers DJ Herz and Kevin Made to the Nationals to re-acquire Candelario. I had posited that Caleb Kilian and Yonathan Perlaza would get it done, but Hoyer paid less and additionally received cash considerations from Washington.
- Inside the clubhouse, the Cubs view the addition of one of the best bats available as a major vote of confidence.
- The front office still has to open a spot on the 26-man roster for Candelario.
- FOX Sports gave Hoyer an A- for the deal with the Nationals.
- Nelson Velázquez was the price to land Cuas, but at least Baby Boomstick should earn regular playing time with the Royals.
- It is not yet known if Cuas will join the Chicago bullpen or head to Triple-A Iowa.
- With Candelario arriving as soon as tonight, the Cubs are well-positioned to make a move on the Reds and Brewers.
- Stop the presses! Keith Law of The Athletic praised the Candelario trade (sort of), saying the Cubs parted with two prospects who were sliding down the ranks of the system.
- Wrigleyville is abuzz for the first time in a couple of years ($) after Hoyer’s decision to make a run for the postseason.
- Chicago’s North Side Baseballers showed a lot of fight after falling behind 6-1 last night.
- The Cubs finally promoted outfielder Pete Crow-Armstrong to Iowa, which means that a September call-up is a realistic possibility.
- Even if Chicago looks to retain Bellinger in 2024 — he can also play first base — Crow-Armstrong is undoubtedly coming soon.
- Stroman’s struggles have taken center stage despite the cover of baseball’s trade deadline.
- The veteran right-hander’s ERA is 9.00 in seven starts going back to the Cubs-Cardinals series in London.
Odds & Sods
I don’t want to get anybody’s hopes up, but I’d be okay if the mystery team trying to trade for Justin Verlander is the Cubs. Why is this possible? Because the Mets are eating a ton of salary in all their deals to acquire better minor leaguers.
I do have a prediction, though, and it’s that the Cubs will take the next three games of this series after Hoyer spends another day adding to this roster. Just don’t count on Verlander.
Mystery team(s) emerging for Justin Verlander. In other words “other significant interest” beyond the known Astros and Dodgers
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) August 1, 2023
- Cincinnati (59-49): The Reds swung their first deal ahead of Tuesday’s trade deadline by acquiring left-handed reliever Sam Moll from the A’s on Monday for minor league pitcher Joe Boyle. Cincinnati also received international bonus pool money in the trade.
- Milwaukee (57-50): The Brewers and Mets completed a trade that netted Milwaukee outfielder Mark Canha. New York receives pitcher Justin Jarvis in the deal and the Mets are paying all of Canha’s salary above the league minimum.
- Pittsburgh (47-58): David Bednar is one of the best relievers on the market, but would you give up Cade Horton, Jordan Wicks, and Owen Caissie to get Bednar and Rich Hill? I’d laugh at Ben Cherington if he made that offer. You’ve gotta love those FanSided articles.
- St. Louis (47-60): The Cardinals have already traded Jordan Montgomery, Jordan Hicks, and Chris Stratton, but they’re not done dismantling just yet. Jack Flaherty, Dylan Carlson, and Paul DeJong who have been heavily rumored to be on the move. Other names like Tyler O’Neill, Ryan Helsley, Giovanny Gallegos, Juan Yepez, Alec Burleson, Tommy Edman, or Brendan Donovan could be on the move as well.
Climbing the Ladder
“The moon, beautiful. The sun, even more beautiful.” – Yello, Oh Yeah
Hear me now and believe me later, but Morel is about to go on a torrid stretch. Yan Gomes has been lighting it up lately and is Chicago’s hottest hitter right now. I don’t know where Candelario will fit in Chicago’s batting order, but he sure lengthens that lineup. Madrigal is probably a little dismayed about the acquisition and could be dealt today. What do the Cubs do with Wisdom now? I don’t think there is much of a trade market for him.
For those who believe the Cubs gave up too much to acquire Candelario and Cuas, try to relax a little. One of the benefits of a deep system is that position redundancy gives you moveable assets. Hoyer and Carter Hawkins probably like Herz, Made, and Velázquez, but the impact is minimal because Chicago is so deep at all three positions.
- Games Played: 106
- Record: 53-53 (.500)
- Total Plate Appearances: 4,080
- Total Strikeouts: 960
- Strikeout Rate: 23.53%
- Team Batting Average: .254
- Runs Scored: 519
- Runs Allowed: 463
- Chances of Making the Playoffs: 45.0%, 3.3% to win the World Series
How About That!
The Brewers are looking to add more offense and might have a couple of ex-Cubs on their radar.
The Orioles are shopping for pitching and are actively pursuing Verlander according to various reports.
If the Mets decide to say goodbye to Verlander, it won’t be an easy move financially. Verlander is owed another $43.3 million next season and has a $35 million vesting option for 2025. New York is probably inclined to eat a large portion of that to get a worthwhile return for the three-time Cy Young Award winner.
The Reds are a dark horse candidate to acquire Verlander.
Verlander will be the lead story all day.
The Padres are looking for offense and bullpen help.
MLB teams now have less than eight hours remaining to plot out their deadline strategies and to attempt to buy or sell ahead of the stretch run. Remember, post-deadline waiver deals no longer exist.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic is baseball’s most popular insider ($) on deadline day, but he’s mostly echoing the same thing as everybody else. Multiple teams are in on Verlander, the White Sox are open to trading anyone on their roster, and the Yankees are still sitting on the fence this late in the game.
The Yankees are open to offers for their impending free agents.
Monday’s Three Stars
- Hoyer – He swung two deals yesterday, didn’t sell the farm to do so, and I don’t think he’s done yet.
- Tyler Glasnow – The Tampa Bay righty mowed down the Yankees yesterday, leading the Rays to a 5-1 win. Glasnow struck out eight batters in seven innings of three-hit baseball. I’d be willing to bet the last-place Yankees decided to become deadline sellers after the loss.
- Cal Raleigh – One of my favorite names in baseball blasted two home runs to help the Mariners dump the Red Sox 6-2.
I’d like to see David Ross a little more fired up, but it’s nice to see the Cubs going all in again. It’s been a minute.
After two years of selling at the trade deadline, the Cubs made two additions to the roster Monday.
Here’s Cubs manager David Ross on Jeimer Candelario and José Cuas ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/SRs1RN65eX
— Ryan Herrera (@ryan_a_herrera) August 1, 2023
Tuesday Morning Six-Pack
- The Bears have quite the battle at cornerback up at Halas Hall, and rookies Terrell Smith and Tyrique Stevenson are fighting for the starting gig. Stevenson has a leg up, but Smith has closed the gap.
- Justin Fields and D.J. Moore continue to impress, the defense finally outplayed the offense, and the city of Chicago is hanging tough in its quest to keep the Bears from moving to Arlington Heights. We’ve got you covered with all things Bears in this morning’s edition of Camp Notes.
- The USWNT drew Portugal 0–0, meaning they’ll advance to the knockout round at the World Cup, but it was nervy.
- Welcome to August, the month of clever fantasy football names, the rapid fade of MLB playoff contenders, and Starbucks releasing its Pumpkin Spice Lattes before anybody is ready for them. Christmas commercials are right around the bend, too.
- Angus Cloud, the 25-year-old actor who played Fez on Euphoria, has died. And Paul Reubens, the actor best known for creating the character Pee-Wee Herman, also died, at age 70, after battling cancer.
- Wilco is dropping a new album, and the lead single, Evicted, is a heavy-hitter.
They Said It
- “I saw a couple of videos of side-arm sliders [by Cuas]. They look pretty gross.” – Ian Happ
- “It looked like [Stroman]was fighting his delivery a little bit. I know he’s been trying to sync up his delivery. I think that was the main thing tonight. The stuff looked like it was moving OK, didn’t look like he was in sync consistently tonight. Ball was moving middle, just some stuff in the zone. Not his best night.” – Ross
- “Ever since London, I’ve been off slightly mechanically. More so with my slider; the rhythm and the consistency of my slider just went a little off. I feel like my sinker’s good. But then when I go to get to my slider, I feel like it’s very different mechanically. So I’m just looking to find some unity, some uniformity, and I think I’ll get there.” – Stroman
- “Obviously it’s a tough situation to have a couple of bad outings, but we still believe in him. He’s had a phenomenal track record. Instead of hitting the panic button and trying to tinker and do all these things, I think it’s a matter of taking a step back, let’s look in at what has worked and just clean things up.” – Gomes
Tuesday Walk-Up Song
Daryl Hall and the Bacon Brothers? Child, please.