The Cubs somehow managed to win two straight in Cincinnati to capture a series victory on the heels of 12 straight losses, and they looked pretty good doing it. That stood in sharp contrast to the previous few weeks, which had showcased some of the worst baseball the organization has ever produced. All the while, Cubs fans were taunted with images of Kris Bryant hitting homers while other former Cubs greeted one another as their new teams squared off.
Kimbrel and Tempera telling Chafin they are jealous of his new shirt on the south side, Kyle and Rizzo discussing if a hotdog is a sandwich at Yankee stadium and KB and Javy writing their name on baseball objects before the Mets play the Giants in San Fran. Have a great night! pic.twitter.com/HiBTfJyjnD
— OBVIOUS SHIRTS® (@obvious_shirts) August 18, 2021
But not every former Cub had a strong go of it over the last few days, with pitchers and a front office executive sailing particularly rough waters.
Jake Arrieta was inexplicably picked up by the Padres and had a very predictable performance that saw him give up five earned runs before being lifted after just 10 outs with what the team said was a mild hamstring strain. Perhaps all those pilates caused his ego to stretch all the way down to the back of his leg. He kept repeating that he still had gas in the tank, but it looks more like he’s running on fumes.
Jon Lester‘s trade to the Cardinals sprinkled salt on the weeping abrasions left by all the deadline trades, but his pitching has resulted in tears from St. Louis fans in the weeks since. After giving up four earned runs with no strikeouts and three walks in 4.1 innings Wednesday night, Lester has now surrendered 16 earned runs over 20.1 innings for the Cards. He’s also got eight strikeouts with nine walks in torpedoing his new team as a sleeper agent.
José Quintana is like a forgotten man out in Anaheim, largely because he was shuffled to the bullpen in June after a little more than three weeks on the IL with a shoulder issue. He had been pitching really poorly prior to being shelved, but then looked pretty good as a reliever. His 20 strikeouts to just three walks over 16.1 innings were great and his 3.86 ERA wasn’t bad at all. Then he started Thursday and gave up six runs on seven hits in just 1.1 innings against the Tigers.
Tyler Chatwood had been in the minors with the Giants after being released by the Blue Jays just after the trade deadline and he was called up this past Tuesday. In his first appearance with San Francisco, the righty took a loss as he surrendered five runs (three earned) on five hits in two innings of work. The homer he surrendered was just his second of the year and he didn’t walk anyone, though he has issued 20 bases on balls in 30 total innings.
Now we get to Shiraz Rehman, the former Cubs assistant GM whose departure to join the Rangers in October of 2018 Cubs Insider actually broke. There were some whispers at the time that Rehman wasn’t really going to be missed in Chicago and that the change of scenery wasn’t entirely his choice, a story that seems to be repeating itself in Arlington.
As Levi Weaver reported for The Athletic, the Rangers have parted ways with Rehman in a move the exec says was mutual but that other sources indicate was a dismissal. Though I’ve got no insight here, it doesn’t seem as though a change like this would be happening at this point in the season if there weren’t some very serious issues at play. Which is to say it sure sounds more like he was fired. Not that it really matters.
It may, however, matter in terms of Rehman’s ties back to the Cubs and why he left the organization three years ago. As the AGM of Strategic Initiatives, his duties consisted largely of developing the team’s database and coordinating technological efforts to better evaluate players. And what’s an area in which the Cubs have failed miserably since about 2015?
It’s probably more than a little coincidental that the Cubs publicly announced a shift in their evaluation and development philosophies in January of 2019.
At the time he was hired by the Rangers, Rehman was supposed to use his previous experience in development and ops to “reorganize and restructure how [they] operate” from a “process and systems standpoint.” The team has a 142-201 record since then, including a current 42-79 record that sees them in fifth place in the AL West and primed for the fourth overall pick in next year’s draft. That might be good news for the future, but their farm system is currently ranked 14th by FanGraphs after being 16th last year and 17th the year prior.
Again, I don’t know everything that’s gone on behind closed doors, but the same kind of stagnation we’ve seen in Chicago seems to be bogging the Rangers down as well and one person has left both front offices during that time. Am I saying it’s all on Rehman? Of course not. But it would appear as though not all the poor decisions from the Cubs front office have involved player personnel.
Maybe it’s more accurate to say that not all the poor player-personnel decisions have come from Jed Hoyer or Theo Epstein. Of course, one of those two has had the ultimate say over the last decade and will have to wear the blame one way or the other. I guess the moral of the story is that sometimes you have to wait a while to see how things play out and why certain decisions were made.