“Well, it’s comin’ together, I finally feel like a man, oh yes I do. I never thought that I’d be where I am. And every day I work a little bit harder.” – REO Speedwagon, Keep Pushin’
The only thing more fun than beating the White Sox and pushing them into sell mode is beating the Cardinals and shoving them off of the same cliff. Thanks to three-hit games by Christopher Morel, Mike Tauchman, and the white-hot Cody Bellinger, the Cubs bombed the Redbirds 10-3 on Thursday evening. Chicago’s sixth straight win pulled the team to .500 for the first time since mid-May. The loss also dropped St. Louis into a virtual tie for last place with the Pirates.
Nico Hoerner, Dansby Swanson & Cody Bellinger all have spent time on the IL this season.
During the 46 games were 1 of the 3 was out with injury, the Cubs went 19-27 (.413). When all 3 players are healthy, the Cubs are 31-24 (.564).
This Cubs team is better than its record.
— Dave Wischnowsky (@wischlist) July 27, 2023
Bellinger, who is the hottest hitter on the planet since July 1, has earned the love of a fanbase that hasn’t had any heroes since Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Javier Báez donned the royal blue pinstripes. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, but the outfielder/first baseman has been playing all month at the same level as he did when he won the MVP award in 2019. His 143 OPS+ for the season ties him for the second-best mark of his career.
Unfathomably, reports continue to indicate that Jed Hoyer is still on the fence regarding the trade deadline. Bellinger is his most valuable commodity, but Marcus Stroman will have his share of suitors as well. Packaging the two together could provide a fat return. That has to be weighing on the president of baseball operations, but for the love of Mike, Hoyer should be making plans to add to this team instead of pushing the competitive window one year further down the road.
I’d rather see the Cubs extend Bellinger, though that may remove them from this winter’s Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes. Then again, it’s only money, and the return in revenue would outweigh any costs associated with signing both stars. Wrigley Field would be as electric as 2016 with the two under contract.
That said, I’m more concerned with the 2023 season. It is with that in mind that I implore the front office to go chips-in this week. Get that power-hitting corner infielder and add some reinforcements to the bullpen. Heck, why not even try to get Justin Verlander on the cheap? I mean, the Mets love getting fleeced by the Cubs, right?
Flags fly forever, even if that one from 2016 seems long ago and nearly forgotten.
Cubs News & Notes
- The Cubs’ underlying numbers paint a promising picture, but their proximity to a winning record reveals something even bigger about their upside throughout a whole season.
- Chicago’s offense is on fire right now. Since June 8, the Cubs are 25-15 (.625), and in that time, their offense is slashing .291/.373/.435.
- In fact, the Cubs are among the MLB leaders in producing high-scoring innings. They’ve scored four or more runs in an inning 31 times this season.
- The Cubs were in St. Louis at last year’s trade deadline, but the temperature within the clubhouse is vastly different this year. The players are pushing for a playoff berth rather than resigning themselves to roster churn.
- The staff at The Athletic believes the Cubs will trade Bellinger ($) and will try to convince fans they tried to keep him. That’s never happened before, has it?
- The article also states that Bellinger will want Brandon Nimmo money. If that’s the case, extend him right now.
- Jim Bowden speculated that the Cubs could trade Bellinger to the Phillies for outfield prospects Gabriel Rincones Jr. and Carlos De La Cruz.
- The Cubs and White Sox are at the center of this year’s trade deadline.
- Dansby Swanson increased the amount of time he spent in the batting cages to avoid a minor league rehab assignment when he came off the IL.
- Drew Smyly is in line to start this evening’s game, but David Ross might use a right-handed opener before deferring to Smyly.
- Outfield prospect Alexander Canario slugged his first Triple-A home run of the season, a 107.9 mph blast that traveled 417 feet.
Odds & Sods
Ian Happ hit Willson Contreras on a backswing and Contreras was removed from the game
Two pitches later, Miles Mikolas hit Happ with a pitch. Mikolas and Oli Marmol were ejected from the game pic.twitter.com/vP3LgdRn3X
— Jomboy Media (@JomboyMedia) July 28, 2023
- Milwaukee (57-46): The Brewers and Pirates completed a trade that netted Milwaukee first baseman Carlos Santana in exchange for 18-year-old infield prospect Jhonny Severino.
- Cincinnati (56-48): One executive believes the Reds have a shot at acquiring Verlander.
- St. Louis (46-58): The Cardinals and Dodgers have been discussing a trade that would send Nolan Arenado to Los Angeles.
- Pittsburgh (45-57): Severino could be the Pirates’ power-hitting shortstop of the future.
Climbing the Ladder
“Your future’s so unclear now. What’s left of your career now?” – Frankie Avalon, Beauty School Dropout
Winning seven of their past eight games means the Cubs’ decision on what direction to take will now come at the “eleventh hour,” according to one team source, per Jessie Rogers of ESPN (link above). Why isn’t winning at all costs a priority today?
Bellinger is the best available player now that the Angels have pulled Ohtani off the market. The Cubs seem closer to a playoff spot than the Angels, so riding the fence seems preposterous. I’d rather see the Cubs pick up some players before they meet the Reds on Monday. It doesn’t take an Ivy League executive to understand that the NL Central is very winnable.
- Games Played: 102
- Record: 51-51 (.500)
- Total Plate Appearances: 3,935
- Total Strikeouts: 930
- Strikeout Rate: 23.63%
- Team Batting Average: .254
- Runs Scored: 506
- Runs Allowed: 451
- Chances of Making the Playoffs: 44.7%, 2.4% to win the World Series
How About That!
Verlander and Arenado are the best players available as of this morning.
The Mariners are considering “trading a starter for a package that would include a hitter of similar age and impact,” per insider Ken Rosenthal. Among contending teams, the Diamondbacks, Rays, and Orioles could make sense as a match with Seattle.
The best deadline deals involved Tom Seaver, Rickey Henderson, Cliff Lee, and Yoenis Cespedes. I always loved the move by the Cubs to acquire Gary Gaetti, though he was a midseason pick-up via free agency.
Thursday’s Three Stars
- Ohtani – The two-way superstar threw his first MLB shutout in the opening game of a doubleheader against the Tigers and then blasted two home runs in the nightcap.
- Tauchman – He doesn’t get enough credit for the Cubs’ resurgence, but he might after going 3-for-6 with a home run in last night’s win over the Cardinals.
- Josh Naylor – The Guardians’ first baseman was 2-for-4 with two doubles and three RBI in a 6-3 win over the White Sox.
Bellinger does a lot more than hit the crap out of a baseball.
Gold Glover ➡️ Gold Glover pic.twitter.com/3Y0Upn0sJk
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 28, 2023
Friday Morning Six-Pack
- Bears legendary DL Steve McMichael is now one of 12 senior finalists for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
- Justin Fields and D.J. Moore have been generating quite a bit of training camp buzz.
- If you’ve been obsessed with Immaculate Grid, you might also like Sports Under 150.
- The Beanie Baby bubble was even wilder than you remember.
- Bud Light parent Anheuser-Busch said it will lay off about 350 employees amid a rough stretch for the brand.
- Search here for your neighborhood to see how others have described your city.
They Said It
- “I love the group of guys here. I’ve been saying that since I’ve been here, but I feel like we all know what we’re capable of when we’re hot. It’s just a matter of going out there and getting wins.” – Stroman
- “We want to convince [the front office] to be buyers because it’s a winnable division. We have the team to do it. Lately, we’ve been playing a lot better, but we have to keep it going. It’s something we could have been doing all year. It’s just happening right now. That’s a good thing. We’re excited about this little streak and hope to keep it going.” – Michael Fulmer
- “There’s so much fight in this team. We’ve had so many big innings now it’s like the if we can just get a little something going, just that belief — we have guys that put together really strong at-bats and to be able to not exactly play the brand of baseball we want early to come back and have that ending. And it just speaks to the character of the guys and the belief that we have on the bench.” – Tauchman
Friday Walk-Up Song
Godpseed Rany Meisner.