The Rundown: More on Cubs Pitching Search, Unintentional Jokes Are the Best Kind, Slow Day at CI

I hope you’re not already sick of hearing about the potential trade market and the role the Cubs will play in it. It’s no secret that they’ll be on the hunt for starting pitching and that that pursuit could include some of the biggest names in baseball. There’s really no need to rehash all those names, though Jeff Samardzija was discussed in a big way following the Giants’ recent trip to Chicago.

And Buster Olney recently explained why Sonny Gray’s market is heating up, reasoning that his recent run of good games and injury history might motivate both the A’s and potential suitors to move quickly. The Cubs are certain to be among those kicking the tires on the righty over the next couple of months, joined by the Astros and Yankees and maybe more. Gray isn’t going to be cheap, though.

Blockbuster trades are really fun to think about and they’re cool on paper, but they rarely materialize and their inherent risk means they don’t always work out the way you wanted them to. The Aroldis Chapman deal yielded its intended results in the end, though the full cost of the move won’t really be known for some time yet. So are the Cubs going to get splashy again this season?

“If you want to continue to be good and perform at a high level and be deep in all areas, you still have to hit on some undervalued players too,” Theo Epstein told Bernstein and Goff this week. “You can’t just go out and sign marquee free agents or trade for players when they’re at the peak of their value. That’s not a formula for long-term success.

“It’s not always the established player, the headlining guy.”

Here’s the thing about all this speculation and rhetoric: none of it’s accidental. Teams are all trying to position themselves in advance of the real action, whether it’s sellers trying to increase value or buyers trying to downplay their desire to land that coveted arm or bat. It’s all a bunch of smokescreens and posturing, at least when we’re talking about what goes on in view of the public.

As Epstein mentioned, it’s not as if the teams looking to move their valuable major league talent are the ones making all the calls right now. All they’ve got to do is hang out in the back and put out the vibe. You can bet there’ll be more back-channel conversations as we move deeper into the season and it becomes clear that someone’s going to have to break the ice.

Then again, continued outings like those we’ve seen from John Lackey might accelerate the timeline the Cubs have for making a move.

Am I terrible for thinking this is funny?

Lackey has not been a good pitcher this season, plain and simple. He’s fallen victim to the longball with greater frequency than ever, giving up a baker’s dozen dingers over 57.1 innings (2.04 HR/9). Really not much else to say about his performance to this point, at least nothing that would be either illuminating or interesting.

But while his Saturday start offered little in the way of humor, I couldn’t help but laugh after seeing this tweet from Lackey’s wife that was shared by the Cubs’ Twitter account.

Absent context, there’s nothing at all funny about this. In fact, it’s endearing to see the curmudgeonly pitcher enjoying breakfast with his little girls. Against the backdrop of a doctored screenshot that began making the rounds a week or so ago, however, the cute family picture takes a sharp turn to Morbid Town.

Slow day

We’re probably going to be a little less active than usual today at Cubs Insider, what with the holiday weekend and all. I’ll be at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for a while, but make sure to check our Twitter feed (@realcubsinsider) for more from a couple of our team members who will be taking in the Cubs game from LA.

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