The Rundown: The Cubs May Never Win Again (My Column), Former Cubs Get Rings, Roster Crunching

It’s been so long since the Cubs last won a game, you almost have to wonder whether they’ll ever get to #FlyTheW again. Perhaps it’s a karmic reversal from the World Series win, or maybe just that it took so much citywide mojo to get the Bulls a Game 1 win over the Celtics that it cost the Cubs and Blackhawks the opportunity to win. Which, I mean, would you rather lose four straight baseball games or be in an 0-3 hole in the Stanley Cup Playoffs?

I thought so.

But the fact of the matter is that the Cubs are in the midst of a monumental losing streak, the likes of which fans haven’t seen in roughly eight months. The last time the would-be repeat champs actually won a game, people were still pining for Cadbury Cream Eggs. Gas prices averaged a mere $2.392 across the country. People still thought it was a good idea to have a bullpen comprised of several high-leverage arms.

Wow, how times have changed.

Cream eggs are now trash, at least according to this guy. Gas is up to $2.407. The Cubs bullpen is actually bad, especially if we’re viewing it in football terms. Up is down, right is left, thundering sluggers have resorted to bunting for base hits. What in the hell is going on around here?!

What with all the craziness, I hereby grant you free rein to go abso-freaking-lutely nuts and start jumping off the ledge now that the Cubs are under .500 for the first time since the third game of the 2015 season. Because what happens in the first 8 percent of the season is a hard-and-fast indicator of what will happen later. And the bullpen won’t get better. And Kris Bryant is never going to hit another home run.

Don’t expect me to go all TI and talk you down, my friends. Nope, I’m right out there with you and I’m encouraging the negativity. Embrace it, own it, let the hate flow through you. The season’s over, so let’s just sit back and wait for the Bears to come and rescue us from the doldrums of baseball’s long slog. Ugh…that’s like washing down a mouthful of black licorice with a couple shots of Malort.

I’m not about to try to talk sense into you and say that it’ll all be okay, that the bats will heat up and the arms will stop giving up all kinds of runs late. I won’t vehemently disagree with someone who posits that the Cubs have too many solid options in the pen and that that’s why the relievers might not be performing well. No, that’d be silly.

I’m really hoping my plan to cull the weak from the back of the bandwagon worked because, well, more Hot Doug’s for me.

Former Cubs get rings

As a fan, the idea of wearing a jersey is kind of a weird deal. Don’t get me wrong, I have several, but there’s a bit of a disconnect when it comes to wearing gear in support of your team versus wearing it because you’re paid to do so. That’s why it was a little odd to see former Cubs now in the employ of the Kansas City Royals sporting Cubs jerseys to receive their rings last night.

I know it won’t happen and that it’s silly to even entertain the idea, but the impish little guy on my shoulder is stroking his chin and forcing me to picture Dexter Fowler bouncing out of the Cubs dugout in June with his gilded jersey on over his Cardinals uniform. Can you imagine the collective pearl-clutching blowback from both sides of the rivalry were that to occur? Oh man, it would be glorious.

Whither Tommy La Stella?

If there’s anything more compelling than the losing jag, it’s the roster crunch taking place at the bottom of the 25-man. This is an issue that’ll have to be addressed with more finality at some point, lest the Cubs continue to play musical chairs between the DL and the bereavement list all summer. The latest move saw Carl Edwards Jr. activated from the latter pool while Tommy La Stella was added to it.

This is a much more temporary move than the DL, though, so something is going to have to happen in the next few days. Brian Duensing appears to be somewhat entrenched already, so you figure he stays around. Same for the rest of the struggling bullpen, which should right the ship soon enough. And because we’ve seen nothing to indicate that Joe Maddon plans to utilize TLS or Matt Szczur with any regularity, one of those two is likely to be moved in some manner.

It’s still early, but Kyle Schwarber has started every game in left and it’s clear that Javy Baez is going to be the primary second baseman, or at least that he’ll be in a heavy timeshare with Ben Zobrist. That means Zobrist spending a ton of time in right, pushing Jason Heyward to center. Albert Almora Jr. and Jon Jay have performed admirably thus far, giving the Cubs incredibly solid options as the fourth and fifth outfielders.

We could dig even deeper to see Ian Happ decimating AAA pitching, but that’s a whole ‘nother story. As much as I think he’s probably ready for the Bigs, I’m just not sure how much good it does him to be a backup. And make no mistake, that’s what he’d be on this team right now. You want that guy getting all the at-bats he can right now, whether that’s to keep him ready as an injury replacement or to increase his trade value.

Both La Stella and Szczur have become sort of forgotten men at this point, which may actually give the Cubs fewer options. Given that the latter hasn’t done anything to increase his value to this point, the most likely move still seems to be optioning TLS to Iowa once he has to be activated. That, or someone else goes to the DL and we have this discussion again in a couple weeks.

More news and notes

  • Rich Hill back to 10-day DL with blister problems
  • Marcus Semien will have surgery on wrist, out indefinitely
  • Cadbury Cream Eggs are delicious
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