“I think I can make it now the pain has gone…all of the bad feelings have disappeared.” – Jimmy Cliff, I Can See Clearly
Three years from now it won’t be as subtly significant as the last two days have been, but if karma ever intended to show its hand before delivering its kick, it happened yesterday.
- The Cubs and Cardinals were postponed yesterday, putting a raggedy bow atop a disastrous final month of the first half.
- Brennen Davis had a heckuva day in the Futures Game. The 21-year-old outfielder, who is the prize of the Cubs’ minor league system, blasted two home runs to lead the National League to an 8-3 win while earning game MVP honors.
- The Cubs selected LHP Jordan Wicks in the first round of this year’s minor league draft. The Kansas State southpaw had a 95 mph fastball and a plus-plus changeup and could be the first player from this year’s festivities to reach the majors, though the front office shouldn’t be in any hurry to get him to Wrigley Field.
Brennen Davis goes yard in the Futures Game!!! Let’s GO! pic.twitter.com/uG0r3wtvNL
— Cubs Insider (@realcubsinsider) July 11, 2021
We are seeing the first signs of the organization leaving the past behind and looking forward to new beginnings, though whatever you do, don’t call it a rebuild lest you incur the understated wrath of Jed Hoyer. Many fans are still a little loath to get on board, but if you are still clinging to the hope that the Cubs have a shot at making the playoffs this year, let me help you with a couple of slightly-more-sober rationalizations.
- If the Cubs go 10-6 the rest of this month, certainly possible with scheduled games against the Diamondbacks, Cardinals, and Reds, they’d enter August with a 54-52 record. The Brewers have a similarly easy schedule, with only a three-game set against the White Sox as a formidable challenge, but Milwaukee is 14 games over .500 at the break.
- Things aren’t much better in the Wild Card race, either. The Cubs are 7.5 games out in the chase of the also-rans and must leapfrog five teams to earn a postseason berth.
- All of that is presuming Hoyer will be a buyer in the next few weeks instead of a seller, which would significantly hurt the organization by impeding the team’s transition from past to future.
- Is there anybody truly available that the Cubs can afford that will help them make up the eight games in which they trail the Brewers, especially since Milwaukee GM David Stearns is likely to be a buyer and trade rumors have him attached to many of the best available players?
It’s time to let go of the past, and the baseball gods are sending a clear message to the team’s fanbase to do so. We’ll never forget what the last seven seasons have meant. This core won a championship and broke a 108-year-old curse and even if they peaked a little too early, this has truly been the golden age of Cubs baseball. The best thing guys like Kris Bryant, Javier Báez, and Anthony Rizzo can do for the organization going forward is to serve as trade chips to help Hoyer build Chicago’s next World Series contender.
I got a little choked up writing that.
Cubs News & Notes
- Wicks looks a lot like a younger version of Jon Lester and is armed with a similar draft day profile to the veteran lefty.
- Considering the events of the weekend, the Cubs scouting staff is rightfully brimming with pride right now.
- Davis saw hitting in the thin air of Coors Field as a fat opportunity.
- The White Sox and Cubs could theoretically match up in a trade for closer Craig Kimbrel. That seems unlikely, however.
- The trade deadline will likely break up the Cubs’ vaunted bullpen. Besides Kimbrel, Andrew Chafin and Ryan Tepera should be in high demand.
- The Giants could target the Cubs for trade deadline upgrades.
- The Red Sox may have interest in expats Kimbrel or Rizzo.
- Boston has the fifth-worst production at first base this season, so Rizzo would be a big improvement.
- Willson Contreras had some choice words for some of his teammates on Saturday and their perceived lack of effort.
- David Ross believes the results of the last two weeks don’t match the talent of his team. and disagreed with his catcher and the method in which he chose to air his grievances. “With the last 15 or so games where things just fell apart (for) half a month,” Ross said. “I don’t think is indicative of who we are.”
- The Cubs and Cardinals will play their makeup game in September, and both clubs may look vastly different by then.
Odds & Sods
Never forget July 12.
Today In 1979: The infamous "Disco Demolition Night" is held at Comiskey Park! The ensuing chaos and damage to the field forces the Chicago #WhiteSox to forfeit the scheduled second game of a doubleheader vs. the Detroit #Tigers! #MLB #Baseball #History pic.twitter.com/xqvXT1DL5B
— Baseball by BSmile (@BSmile) July 12, 2021
Climbing the Ladder
“The heart is a bloom, shoots up through the stony ground.” – U2, Beautiful Day
With the focus on the future, I dug up some quotes from some of the scouting services with regards to the Cubs’ first-round selection.
- “Wicks is what we consider both stuff and makeup-wise to be a potential big league starter. We thought he was the best college left-hander. We didn’t anticipate [him dropping to 21] happening.” – Dan Kantrovitz
- “His low-80s changeup is his most lethal weapon, and the Arkansas native relies on the plus-plus offering as much as any guy with a 70-grade secondary would.” – Carlos Collazo, Baseball America
- “Wicks has the best changeup in the Draft, a low-80s weapon with tumble and depth that he sells with deceptive arm speed, earning plus-plus grades from some evaluators. He sets it up with a fastball that has added about 5 mph since high school, now sitting at 90-93 mph and hitting 95 with high spin rates that give it riding action.” – Jonathan Mayo, MLB.com
- “Wicks has some of the best command in the class, and arguably the best changeup in amateur baseball.” – Prospects Live
- “Sometimes there’s a thin line between a compliment and an insult. Wicks’ profile inspires a lot of those jump-ball comments. His delivery is so vanilla that it would be named “Generic 3″ in The Show.” – R.J. Anderson, CBS Sports
If you’re interested in my opinion, I did not like the pick, though Kantrovitz is certainly a better judge of talent than I am. Yes, Wicks was the best lefty in the draft, but I liked catcher Joe Mack, who went to the Marlins in the competitive balance round, just a little better.
How About That!
The Red Sox landed the best shortstop in the draft when presumed No. 1 pick Marcelo Mayer fell to them with the fourth pick. There were 14 pitchers and 10 shortstops drafted in the first round.
The A’s selected shortstop Max Muncy with the 25th overall pick, nine years after selecting another Max Muncy in the fifth round. The similarities don’t end with the players’ names: They both share the same birthday.
The White Sox cruised into the break with the best record in the American League thanks to depth and resilience.
Sunday’s Three Stars
- Pablo López – The Marlins righty set a major league record by striking out the first nine batters he faced, pitching Miami past the Braves 7-4 yesterday afternoon. The 25-year-old López broke the mark of eight straight strikeouts to begin a game set by Jim Deshaies in 1986 and matched by Jacob deGrom in 2014 and German Márquez in 2018.
- David Fletcher – The Angels second baseman was 4-for-5 with a home run and four RBI, extending his league-leading hitting streak to 24 games.
- Jon Gray – The Colorado righty improved his stock for the impending Rockies’ fire sale with a 3-1 win over the punchless Padres. Gray struck out seven batters over six innings, allowing just one run on three hits.
Cubs prospect Cristian Hernadez will make his professional debut in the DSL today.
Just so you know, this kid makes his pro debut in the DSL in about two hours against the DSL Indians Red. pic.twitter.com/OfnFp11zeL
— Todd ⚾️🐻🦌 (@CubsCentral08) July 12, 2021
They Said It
- “I can’t put [winning the MVP award] into words, because I feel like [the Futures Game] still happening and I haven’t been able to come down from what just happened and running around the bases. I don’t know. You should ask me tomorrow.” – Brennen Davis
- “I mean being around Ken Griffey Jr. and all the players, I really enjoyed being around all those guys. These are the guys that I hope to play against and play with later on in my career. It’s just awesome to be around [that] caliber of guys.” – Davis
- “We’re in a different situation now than we were in 2012. The decisions we’re making, the processes we’re going through are completely different. That label is certainly something to be avoided. I think that people talk ‘rebuilds’ when you’re doing what we did in 2012. We are going to have roster turnover. We need to do that. That was inevitable. This is certainly not a rebuild by any kind of definition that we’re using from our past.” – Jed Hoyer
Monday Walk-Up Song
Good Vibrations by Delaney & Bonnie – Here’s to the future, plus a reverent toast to the current core. Cubs fans can never thank them enough for 2016.