The Rundown: Morel Bright Light in Dismal Season, Hoyer Addresses Losing Streak, Báez Struggling, A’s Draw Ire of League Owners

“Don’t understand what’s going on. Woke up this morning, and all the hurt was gone. This is a new beginning, I’m back in the land of the living.” – Olivia Newton-John, Twist of Fate

The old adage says that if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. With that in mind, Christopher Morel has been a fresh of breath air in an otherwise festering, foul-smelling season, hasn’t he? Yesterday Jed Hoyer intimated that he really hasn’t much of a clue, which means he must luck into the few good things that happen under his watch. He was at least responsible for calling Morel up, so the president of baseball operations is certainly owed a hearty slap on the back for that.

A lot of fans would like to see David Ross showcase Morel’s versatility more, but I’m in disagreement there. He’s thriving in center field and as the leadoff hitter, so why change anything? One of the many issues I have with Ross since he was named manager in 2020 is that he actually tinkers too much. The 22-year-old rookie is slashing .283/.359/.872 with five home runs, two triples, seven doubles, seven stolen bases, and 14 RBI in 125 plate appearances since he debuted by hitting a home run in his first at-bat on May 17.

“He’s got some long levers, real power there,” Ross said recently. “Moving him around the field, his skill set, the tools show up daily. He’s still learning some moments. He’s still a kid out there running around high-fiving everybody, and sometimes we need to rein him in in that area.”

Let’s hope Ross doesn’t rein him in too much. Combining that statement with remarks the third-year skipper recently made about Caleb Kilian makes me think that Ross is becoming a bit curmudgeonly. At his insistence and with his guidance, that 2016 team was the essence of youthful exuberance. Now is not the time to start going fun police on his younger players.

Rooting for Morel and fellow rookie Kilian are the only two things that make watching the Cubs worth our efforts these days. Kilian struggled badly Wednesday night, but still showed a lot of promise. He’ll get at least one more start and we can only hope Hoyer keeps the young righty in Chicago for the remainder of the season.

Morel is almost worth the price of admission considering the Cubs are now mired in their third double-digit losing streak since Ross took the helm. As losses pile up and attendance at Wrigley Field drops, the young outfielder provides some hope that betters days lie ahead. In fact, he’s providing the same lift Seiya Suzuki did during the first two weeks of the season. Once Suzuki returns, an outfield of him, Morel, and Ian Happ should be the easiest everyday lineup choice Ross makes.

Still, a small chance remains that Morel could be reassigned back to the minors once Suzuki returns. It seems as if Hoyer has no interest in designating struggling reliever Daniel Norris, and we all know Jason Heyward isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Perhaps P.J. Higgins will be the odd man out unless Hoyer makes a trade or two. No matter what happens in the coming weeks, keeping the five-tool Morel and his 133 OPS+ on the roster and in the everyday lineup should be a no-brainer.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

The ball should be flying out of Wrigley this weekend, which probably won’t be as much fun as you might hope.

Climbing the Ladder

“‘Til forever on it goes through the circle fast and slow, I know, it can’t stop I wonder.” – Creedence Clearwater Revival, Have You Ever Seen the Rain?

The Cubs looked helpless against Joe Musgrove yesterday and Morel was the only starter to have more than one hit against the Padres. With yesterday’s loss, the North Siders have now been swept five times this season. They lost the only game they’ve played against the Orioles but will play the second game of that two-game set on August 18.

  • Games Played: 63
  • Total Plate Appearances: 2,401
  • Total Strikeouts: 547
  • Strikeout Rate: 22.78%
  • Team Batting Average: .242
  • Runs Scored: 268
  • Runs Allowed: 336

How About That!

The Athletics are drawing criticism from league owners as Oakland prepares to conduct its next fire sale.

The Marlins are reportedly “pushing hard” to obtain Oakland outfielder Ramón Laureano.

The Yankees and Mets are baseball’s best teams and are steaming toward a potential Subway Series.

Javier Báez continues to struggle in his first season with the Tigers.

Outfielder Jesse Winker and the Mariners avoided arbitration when the two sides agreed on a two-year extension.

Pitch clock operators in Charlotte see many challenges ahead for MLB players.

Thursday’s Three Stars

  1. Kyle Schwarber – The ex-Cub blasted two home runs in the Phillies’ 10-1 win over the Nationals.
  2. Morel – No explanation needed. He’s doing everything he can to carry the Cubs.
  3. Anthony Rizzo – The Yankees’ first baseman was 2-for-4 with a home run and a stolen base. His homer walked it off as New York won their 14th straight game at Yankee Stadium.

Extra Innings

Because things are so bad, Hoyer gave an impromptu state of the ballclub address before Thursday’s game, and though he meant to calm the waters, he didn’t exactly accomplish his goal.

Friday Morning Six-Pack

  1. Bears tackle Teven Jenkins is still running with the twos and could be moved to right guard, Chicago’s biggest weakness. Head coach Matt Eberflus continues to tinker with his offensive line in his search for the best five.
  2. WNBA star Brittney Griner is still being detained in Russia, and her time in lockup has been extended yet again.
  3. In case you thought supply chain issues might be improving, they’re not.
  4. A little over a decade ago, we were told measures have been put in place to avoid a massive housing market crash from ever happening again. Don’t look now, but investors are betting on a repeat of 2008 in the very near future.
  5. I’m not much of a Blackhawks fan since the Kyle Beach sexual assault lawsuit, but it appears that young star Alex DeBrincat could be traded, and if that happens, veteran forward Patrick Kane may request to be moved, too.
  6. Twitter offered a work-from-home option starting in 2020 that was extended to a permanent policy as the country started reopening after the pandemic. Elon Musk indicated Thursday that that’s about to change except for “exceptional employees.”

They Said It

  • “Of course, you’re always thinking about the future. You’re always thinking about how this is going to impact those things. But certainly, right now the focus is on really stabilizing the area that’s been a strength for us and getting them back on track. I do think that the bullpen has been really good for us all year and suddenly their struggles have sort of taken center stage. But, listen, I think as with any losing streak, it’s sort of a multi-system failure.” – Hoyer
  • “At some point, [Kilian] will be in [the rotation] as long as he continues to do what he’s been doing. He’s got a really bright future in our eyes. If you go out and do this, you’re never going back down. That’s usually how a major-league player’s tenure happens.” – Ross

Friday Walk-Up Song

It’s safe to say that this song, and quite possibly this specific performance, made Bruce Springsteen a star.

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