“Every time they were sure they had you caught, you were quicker than they thought. You’d just turn your back and walk.” – Bob Seger, Still the Same
The Cubs beat the White Sox 10-7 on the strength of eight unanswered runs, and the loss was so devastating to the South Siders that they immediately started selling off pieces of their roster. The ChiSox, predicted by many to win the AL Central, are now 41-62. Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo López were traded to the Angels for two of their best prospects, catcher Edgar Quero and LHP Ky Bush. I’d love it if GM Rick Hahn could find a way to move Kendall Graveman or Aaron Bummer to the Cubs.
The Cubs are now one win shy of reaching .500 for the first time since May 12. They’re six games behind the Brewers and 4.5 behind the Reds for the final Wild Card spot.
Chicago’s North Side Baseballers spotted their crosstown counterparts a 7-2 lead before a wild 5th inning. The Cubs scored six runs in the top half with just three hits. It was almost as if the White Sox found a new level of incompetence.
- Miles Mastrobuoni reached on a drop third strike that scored Seiya Suzuki.
- Mike Tauchman walked to force in a run and so did Nico Hoerner.
- Ian Happ and Cody Bellinger hit back-to-back jacks.
- The Cubs stole four more bases, this time off of catcher Seby Zavala. No wonder Hahn traded for Quero.
- Javier Assad, Julian Merryweather, Mark Leiter Jr., and Adbert Alzolay combined to throw 5.2 shutout innings to close it out.
- Marcus Stroman had another rough outing, however, and didn’t help his trade value.
I can only imagine how Ken Harrelson might have reacted to the crazy turn of events. It would have been a perfect evening at Guaranteed Rate Field if Max Patkin and Andy the Clown were in attendance, bless their souls. Go, you White Sox!
All the marbles are riding on the four-game series with the Cardinals that starts tonight. Justin Steele takes the bump in Game 1, facing Miles Mikolas. I’d like to see Hoyer be aggressive immediately but I’m sure he’ll take a calculated and measured approach unless something too good to be true lands in his lap. The absence of Shohei Ohtani in this year’s market should heat things considerably league-wide.
Cubs News & Notes
- The Cubs are open to all kinds of possibilities leading up to the trade deadline, but appealing to the emotional side of Hoyer’s personality is a non-starter. Patrick Mooney of The Athletic believes Hoyer will play the percentages and own any unpopular decisions he makes.
- The moment of truth has arrived for the president of baseball operations, who has some big decisions to make.
- Stroman and Bellinger are still Chicago’s top trade chips, but they could also be key for a second-half push for a playoff berth.
- The Yankees, Astros, Phillies, and Dodgers have varying degrees of interest in Bellinger if Hoyer seeks to trade him.
- That said, the Marlins may have the most interest in Chicago’s hottest hitter.
- Bellinger is singlehandedly making a case for Hoyer to add to the roster.
- Jake Mintz of FOX Sports believes the Cubs should be in sell mode.
- Alzolay is emerging as a bona fide closer.
- Likewise, Assad is showing the Cubs he can handle whatever is thrown at him.
- The Cubs are building team chemistry on and off the field.
- Kohl Franklin is the hottest pitcher in the Cubs’ system. The nephew of former All-Star closer Ryan Franklin has a 1.72 ERA with a 21/7 K/BB ratio in his last four starts over 15.2 innings in Double-A.
- The Cubs now have the No. 3 farm system according to the updated rankings at FanGraphs. Pete Crow-Armstrong (No. 22), James Triantos (59), Ben Brown (60), Jordan Wicks (65), and Kevin Alcántara (72) are all top 100 players. Cade Horton, Jackson Ferris, Matt Shaw, and Owen Caissie are on the come.
Odds & Sods
This tweet didn’t age very well, but it did age very quickly. The White Sox are such a farcical mess.
Imagine getting blown out by a team that’s 41-61
— Sox On 35th (@SoxOn35th) July 27, 2023
- Milwaukee (57-46): Victor Caratini, who serves as a personal batterymate to Corbin Burnes, has been linked to multiple reports by MLB insiders suggesting he’s a trade candidate.
- Cincinnati (56-48): If the Reds fail to win the NL Central, they can immediately point to their 3-10 record against the Brewers. The two teams won’t play again this season unless they both make the playoffs.
- St. Louis (46-57): The Cardinals are riding a five-game home winning streak and hope to derail the equally hot Cubs in a four-game set that starts tonight.
- Pittsburgh (45-57): Pitcher Angel Perdomo has been suspended for three games for intentionally throwing at Padres star Manny Machado.
Climbing the Ladder
“I sailed an ocean, unsettled ocean through restful waters and deep commotion, often frightened and unenlightened.” – Beach Boys, Sail on Sailor
The Cubs have the National League’s easiest remaining schedule, per FanGraphs. The North Siders also have 14 games left against the Brewers and Reds, the two teams in front of them in the division. After the deadline, the Cubs will play the White Sox, Royals, Tigers, Pirates, and Rockies 21 times.
As a group, the Cubs’ first basemen rank dead last in the majors in terms of WAR (-2.1). Their third basemen (1.0) and designated hitters (0.1) aren’t pulling their weight either. Getting increased production at those positions could be a boost for an offense that is clicking otherwise.
The simple way to improve is to recall Nelson Velázquez to play DH, let Christopher Morel play third base, and give Matt Mervis another shot at first. If Hoyer goes the trade route, Jeimer Candelario and C.J. Cron could be options. I still believe the Cubs need a lights-out closer. I like Alzolay, but I just don’t trust him enough yet to declare him the guy.
The Cubs are 5-4 against the Cardinals this season, outscoring them 50-39. Steele is 3-1 against St. Louis in his career with a 3.86 ERA.
- Games Played: 101
- Record: 50-51 (.495)
- Total Plate Appearances: 3,887
- Total Strikeouts: 924
- Strikeout Rate: 23.77%
- Team Batting Average: .253
- Runs Scored: 496
- Runs Allowed: 448
- Chances of Making the Playoffs: 37.5%, 1.9% to win the World Series
How About That!
It’s safe to say that the Angels are no longer interested in trading Ohtani after yesterday’s blockbuster deal with the White Sox.
The Brewers need the most help of any sitting first-place team.
Rob Manfred has been officially extended through the 2029 season.
Wednesday’s Three Stars
- Freddy Peralta – The Milwaukee starter tossed six innings of four-hit shutout baseball in a 3-0 Brewers win over the Reds.
- Dylan Moore – The surprising Mariners shortstop was 3-for-4 with two home runs and four RBI, raising his batting average to .186 in Seattle’s 8-7 win over the Twins.
- José Ramírez – The five-time All-Star blasted two home runs, giving him 22 multi-home run games in his career while helping the Guardians down the Royals 8-3.
Happ is heating up just when the Cubs need him most, and for the love of everything holy, please extend Bellinger.
Happ & Belli go back-to-back! 😄💣 pic.twitter.com/WExV4EHF6a
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 27, 2023
Thursday Morning Six-Pack
- The Bears and Cole Kmet agreed to a contract extension that will pay the tight end $50 million over four years, with $32.8 million fully guaranteed. The extension signals that GM Ryan Poles has entered the next phase of the team’s rebuild.
- The Bears opened camp yesterday. Justin Fields was throwing darts, Chase Claypool is entering the biggest season of his life, and we’re all rooting for superstar Steve McMichael in his fight against ALS.
- The US woman’s soccer team played to a 1-1 draw with the Netherlands in yesterday’s World Cup action but played well short of its best too often.
- Usually, when someone agrees to a plea deal, the hearing where they do it is more or less a formality, but that’s not how Hunter Biden’s hearing on two misdemeanor tax charges went yesterday. Instead, the judge overseeing the case against the president’s son said she could not accept the deal. So, he pleaded not guilty, at least for now.
- Diffen is a website that lets you compare anything, so maybe start casually with the Cubs and the White Sox.
- Sinead O’Connor, the politically outspoken Irish singer, has died at age 56.
They Said It
- “It’s hard to measure these things in baseball but just felt like a pretty good amount of willpower to make that [comeback] happen. Two-game series here but it felt like more than that just with the amount of big moments and excitement that we had and a great atmosphere. Just really high-level, fun baseball.” – Hoerner
- “We believe in this clubhouse for sure. A lot of winners in this clubhouse. We’re playing good baseball and we’re excited to keep it going and continue playing our game.” – Bellinger
- “I think [this next week] is about winning baseball games. That’s what we’ve gotta do consistently, and we need to rack up wins.” – David Ross
- “Last night was really impressive how dominant [Alzolay] is. It just feels like he’s getting more and more comfortable in that. And when you see the emotion, you realize how intense the moment is. How he continues to grow and handle that.” – Ross
Thursday Walk-Up Song
Most will say Nothing Compares 2 U is O’Connor’s best song ever, but I prefer this one.