The Rundown: Cubs’ Options Limited During Trade Season, Bellinger Wants to Start Slugging, All-Star Starters Announced Tonight

“It’s time to move on. It’s time to get going. What lies ahead, I have no way of knowing.” Tom Petty, Time to Move On

Can we hashtag and socialize that Petty song to force Tom Ricketts to restructure Chicago’s front office?

MLB Insider Jon Morosi insists the Cubs are in sell mode, and that certainly passes the eye test given the team’s recent struggles. He said as much during an appearance yesterday afternoon with Parkins and Spiegel on Chicago’s 670 The Score.

“They are at this point, now that July has begun, from what I can tell from sources right now, they are taking incoming inquiries right now,” Morosi said. “Where they are at least signaling to other teams that, if not imminently, that at some point in the weeks ahead, they will be interested in and open to trade negotiations of a selling posture.”

That’s well and good, but who can Jed Hoyer trade and what is the market for those players? A pair of X-Ray goggles and a Magic 8-Ball won’t help.

In other words, the Cubs aren’t going to get much better this year or add any decent future assets by being aggressive sellers. Go through that list again. If you were an executive of a team fighting for a playoff spot, would any of those players interest you? Aren’t there better options available elsewhere?

Hoyer has dug himself a hole by believing his 75-win team is good enough to get into the playoffs. He underestimated the Brewers, which seems impossible since Craig Counsell knows that organization intimately. It was shocking when the Cubs didn’t fortify the roster after poaching Counsell from Milwaukee, but did they not lean on his expertise either?

When Joe Maddon was hired, Theo Epstein spent to put the right pieces in place to win immediately. He also traded for a bona fide closer in Aroldis Chapman. Ask yourself this: Which players on today’s roster would have been regulars on the 2016 team? Steele, Hoerner, Suzuki, and Shōta Imanaga are obvious choices, but that’s about it, though I might choose Happ over Jorge Soler. I’d choose Ben Zobrist over Hoerner. Most of Chicago’s current bench options would be unable to force their way onto that ’16 roster.

The anticipation that comes with the trade deadline is usually a fun and thought-provoking time to be a baseball blogger. Not this year, however. Hoyer built a middling team with a decent rotation that is playing beneath its floor. I’ve been watching a lot of Orioles, Guardians, Phillies, and Brewers games this year. The difference in execution between those teams and the Cubs is palpable. Hoyer has dug an almost inescapable hole that homogenized the zeitgeist of the team he inherited from Epstein.

It’s not a lot of fun to be a Cubs fan these days and it seems to me Hoyer stole the blueprint of what the Chicago Bulls have been doing since 1998. Aiming for the middle is not a strategy that breeds continual or even random success, yet Chicago’s president of baseball operations has managed to master that game plan. As I said yesterday, the best thing the Cubs can do is sit tight, fire Hoyer after the season, and hire somebody to fix the roster. I do not trust this front office to right the ship.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

Never forget that Kyle Schwarber was worth nothing to this front office. Nothing.

Central Intelligence

Climbing the Ladder

“Sit around and wonder what tomorrow will bring. Maybe a diamond ring.” – Traveling Wilburys, End of the Line.

Suzuki hit a three-run bomb in the 9th inning, which was nice, but the Cubs look like a team that is simply going through the motions. Most of the players have the same personality traits, so don’t expect anybody other than Steele or possibly Taillon to try to light a fire beneath their teammates. Counsell is wired the same way as most of his roster. There’s nothing wrong with that type of demeanor except when you keep losing games you should be winning.

  • Games Played: 86
  • Record: 39-47 (.465), last place in NL Central
  • In One-Run Games: 14-19 (.424)
  • Total Plate Appearances: 3,221
  • Total Strikeouts: 779
  • Strikeout Rate: 24.18%
  • Team Batting Average: .227
  • With Runners in Scoring Position: 150-for-685 (.219)
  • Runs Scored: 351
  • Runs Allowed: 383
  • Pythagorean Record: 39-47
  • Chances of Making the Playoffs: 3.9%, 0.1% chance to win World Series 

How About That!

Five contending teams have the minor league depth to acquire Garrett Crochet from the White Sox, including the Brewers.

Does Pirates rookie Paul Skenes deserve to start this year’s All-Star Game?

The league will announce its All-Star starters this evening on ESPN.

Shohei Ohtani is expected to skip this year’s Home Run Derby.

The Yankees and Phillies earned the highest grades for their first-half performances.

A series of tribute nights this month at various MLB ballparks will honor legendary guitarist and Grateful Dead co-founder Jerry Garcia.

Peak Performances

  1. Aaron Judge hit his 32nd home run and now has 83 RBI, which puts him on a 60/154 pace.
  2. Grayson Rodriguez of the Orioles tossed 6.1 innings of two-hit ball with 10 strikeouts in a 2-0 win over the Mariners.
  3. Trea Turner was 3-for-4 with two taters and four RBI in last night’s win over the Cubs.
  4. Phillies starter Michael Mercado victimized Chicago for his first MLB win in his first start.
  5. Nathaniel Lowe also had two jacks with four ribeyes, leading the Rangers to a 7-0 win over the Padres.
  6. Texas starter Nathan Eovaldi held San Diego to one hit with six punchouts in the win. He also did not walk a batter.
  7. White Sox CF Luis Robert Jr. plated four runners in a 7-6 loss to the Guardians.

Extra Innings

Your daily silver lining with the caveat that Suzuki’s’ blast was too little and too late.

Silver Salute

Enjoy your 4th of July and please try to keep your digits intact. Thank you.

“Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolets” has stood the test of time.

They Said It

  • “Disappointing [season], for sure. We all had high expectations [going into the season,] and I think overall we still do. Today I thought we put some good swings on the ball, and just some bad breaks, it looked like. But just got to keep on fighting.” – Bellinger
  • “Look, you go through these things during the season. [Bellinger’s] going through a little phase where he’s just not slugging right now. Swings go through that. I think we know that. Collecting hits when you’re going through that is kind of what you need to do to keep production up. Overall, he’s done a pretty good job of that.” – Counsell
  • “There’s definitely a part of me that would like to be a starter again. I look around the league at some teams and think: I could start for that team.” – Smyly

Wednesday Walk-Up Song

I’ll be on the same “jettison Hoyer” soapbox for the remainder of the season. I just hope Mr. Ricketts has the balls to overhaul his front office. That said, if ol’ Jed finds a way to get Coby Mayo from the Orioles I’ll give him a one-year reprieve.

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