The First Hundred
Over there. The Cubs have headed out west and started it out on a sour note. This road trip feels more critical than it probably truly is at this point in time. Perhaps it is the fact that teams throughout the NL are deciding what to do ahead of the trade deadline, and a strong performance in this series could provide the Cubs multiple benefits. That said trips out west don't seem to favor Chicago sports teams and last night was the latest chapter. It is probably an observation not based in fact, but it feels like these extreme westward swings are always tougher than the competition. Either way the Cubs won't come back until it's over, over there.
Random and Capricious Accountability
Rowan Wick has pitched very well in 2019, and appears to be an interesting option for the Cubs bullpen this year. I'm thinking Wick deserves to be back. Carl Edwards Jr. was the roster casualty, and a number of people rejoiced at that notion. Edwards has been extremely frustrating, and it is hard to trust him in high leverage spots.
But it does feel like another example of how randomly the front office has decided to enforce the much talked about accountability and production over every other consideration. Edwards got exactly one outing and then was banished back to Iowa to figure things out. The move seems counterproductive given the fact that the Cubs really need good Edwards in the bullpen. There is so little swing and miss in the pen, and Edwards provides that.
This comes at a time where the worst of the punishment for Russell's terrible game was Joe Maddon actually saying mean things about a player out loud. Pedro Strop continues to be given the eighth inning despite showing that he currently isn't the usual Cubs Pedro Strop. However, Edwards has a terrible outing and is sent down.
Maddon and the front office hopefully are making this move more to help Edwards rather than the team at this point. A pitcher struggling to find himself cannot be helped with a demotion following a single chance to prove himself. Edwards is another player who those outside the organization love to psycho-analyze, and I am reluctant to speculate too heavily about confidence levels of a player. But it would be understandable if this type of move would cause a player to press in the future.
The other factor that is annoying is that relievers are the easiest position on the field to find a chance for them to work through struggles at the big league level. Low level situations are easier to find for relievers as opposed to position players who either have to face whatever pitchers the opposition throws at them, or find themselves in the Daniel Descalso role getting a pinch hit appearance every other week.
Edwards hopefully will figure it out in Iowa because the Cubs really do need more strikeouts in the bullpen.
The Cubs are going to add someone before the deadline. I am not certain who and what level of player it will be. But it would be shocking if the Cubs didn't add a single other player from outside the organization prior to August 1. However, it is going to be a tricky proposition because the Cubs are not wanting to expend either prospect capital or financial capital.
According to the most recent reporting from Patrick Mooney and Sahadev Sharma the Cubs might have some concerns absorbing the full four million owed to Nick Castellanos. There should be frustration at this pronouncement. The blame can be spread around between the front office and ownership, but it is a situation that shouldn't exist with this almost fully functional death star of a financial organization.
The front office has made a number of moves that have not panned out. I am sympathetic to the front office since I was a fan of all of the major moves they made. But it is true that the Cubs are spending over $200 million for the first time ever, and that is vastly more financial resources given to this front office than is to most teams.
The Ricketts family though is also deserving of some derision for being unwilling, so far, to stretch any further. The Cubs as an organization have a practically guaranteed return on their investment, and it isn't like adding any one or two players will result in bankrupting the team. In 2016, according to Theo Epstein the Ricketts family signed off on the Chapman acquisition that pushed the club passed the competitive balance tax threshold. Epstein stated that the family was deserved credit for being willing to stretch then. If that is true, then it is only fair that the family receives criticism when they aren't willing to stretch in special circumstances. After limiting the front office to Daniel Descalso and Brad Brach signings in a historic free agent class, it is only fair.
Cubs Common Denominator Lineup
Well the lineup yesterday featured the colorful history of Cubs first round draft picks. Every player was one selected in the "first" round, I included a supplemental selection in there or two. Still the list of Cubs first round draft picks is a pretty quick explanation for the historic futility of the organization.
No puzzle today as I am debating whether to continue this gimmick. I tried a number of different things while writing recaps. We stopped doing the three stars a couple of years ago, but I have refused to give up random references. So it is to be seen whether this will go the way of three stars or random reference.
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