Morning Cubs Roundup: Baseball is amazing, and some thoughts on the trade deadline

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Last Game: Cubs 10, Reds 1

Up Next: Tuesday, Cubs (20-14) @ Pirates (10-21) - 6:10 CST, MARQ

Game Recap

Baseball is amazing. Hundreds of thousands of Major League Baseball games have been played since 1869, and you still get to see things that have never happened before.

All three starting outfielders for the Cubs homered twice Sunday afternoon. Ian Happ, Jason Heyward, and Kyle Schwarber combined to go 6-for-13 with 2 BB, 6 HR, 6 R, 10 RBI. Just, wow.

And hey, this came a day after Yu Darvish dropped his glove while delivering a pitch, a strike in fact. I'm sure that has happened before, but I know I've never seen it, not at any level. And I've watched a few baseball games in my time.

The offensive outburst by the outfielders helped the Cubs to a series to a 2-2 series split with the Reds. The Cubs have the seventh best record and have opened the third largest division lead in the Majors. Their playoff odds are over 95% according to all predictors I have seen.

This isn't a perfect team. Some further tweaks at the deadline are definitely needed to give them a better shot once they reach the postseason, but it does provide some solace that the Cubs have amassed this record despite none of their big names performing up to previous standards (save Darvish). If just a couple of Bryant, Rizzo, Baez, Schwarber, Contreras, Kimbrel, Hendricks get in a groove I do believe this team can achieve another level. They aren't going to reach the Dodgers level of talent, but it needs to be pointed out every year, the best team doesn't always wins the World Series.

Top Performers

Obviously, the outfielders. But we've covered that.

Jose Quintana looked pretty good out of the pen again, and it couldn't be happening at a more critical time. The Cubs have talked about how Q can be viewed as a trade deadline acquisition this year, and in light of Chatwood's injury on Sunday, they really need Q to be productive down the stretch.

I didn't have a chance to write on Sunday, but how about that performance by Yu Darvish on Saturday? He continues to amaze, even when he is "off" as he was on Saturday. It was a grind for him, but he still managed six shutout innings when the Cubs truly needed a good performance out of him. Not only has he become the ace of the staff, but the stopper as well.

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

  • I'm expecting both Kris Bryant and Steven Souza Jr. to be activated for the upcoming series against the Pirates. They both got work in at South Bend over the weekend and will face more live at bats there during the off day today. With the struggles the Cubs have had against left-handed pitchers the team really needs at least one of those guys to get dialed in by the start of the postseason.
  • With the issues against left-handers (and the paltry production out of the DH spot in general), the Cubs made a move over the weekend to acquire Jose Martinez from the Rays. The former Cardinal has been a productive bat over his four-year career, especially against lefties. It is his defense that has always been the issue, but I don't expect him to see the field much with the Cubs. He's here to DH against LHP, and if he gets hot, he could earn starts against RHP as well.
  • I'm curious who the two PTBNL headed to the Rays will be. It is easy to assume both are players not among the 60-player pool (the only eligible players who can be traded in-season), and that the trade may simply be consummated after the playoffs when the restrictions will be lifted. I do think it is possible someone currently on the 40-man could be a part of the deal down the road though. I'm thinking someone like James Norwood (currently on the 45-day IL) or maybe Dillon Maples. Maybe the Rays would want time to assess the medicals on Norwood, and perhaps they could ask the Cubs to try and run Maples through waivers before agreeing to take him. Both are long shots, I guess, but the Rays have always seemed to get the most out of talented arms and I'm curious what they could do with one of those two. Probably just a pipe dream and the two PTBNL will simply be two prospects from the system and the deal will be completed in the offseason, and maybe even after the Rule 5 draft.
  • I feel so bad for Tyler Chatwood. It really felt like he was getting his career as a starter back on track this season before the issues with his back, and now... the elbow. As a guy with a TJS in his past already it doesn't look good right now. Hopefully he will be able to avoid surgery. It does seem like his Cubs career may be over now. But we'll see.
  • As for additional activity by the Cubs at the trade deadline today, expect a left-handed reliever to be at the top of the wishlist, especially since it looks like Jose Quintana is now required to move back to the rotation. Kyle Ryan did throw a scoreless inning yesterday but he has not been the same reliable reliever he was in 2019. His velo is down and he should not be counted on in high leverage situations down the stretch. Daniel Norris of the Tigers is a name that has floated around, but there will be competition for his services. A former starter who has struggled to stay healthy in the past, he is having a strong season out of the pen in Detroit. And hey, with all the potential openings in the Cubs rotation next season, a guy with the flexibility to potentially compete for one of those jobs next spring could be of extra benefit.

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  • Hey everyone,

    I've tried to let people speak their mind over the weekend in the comment's section given all that is occurring in the sports world, and the world in general, of late. But I'm going to start policing it again this week. Please, make it easy for me and refrain from politics (and swearing).

    Thanks.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    When politics and sports collide, there will be discussion. I don't think anyone would prefer talking about this, but it's being forced upon us. When that happens, we as a nation have always had freedom of expression. It is a cornerstone of our democracy, and voices cannot be silenced. We cannot allow only the acceptable opinions to be presented, because history shows bad things happen in that scenario.

    I welcome the days when we argue over Javy's plate discipline. And I still think Mickey Mantle was better than Willie Mays, if not for injury.

    Go Cubs!

  • With 4 weeks left in this abbreviated season, I have dusted off my trusty abacus. It is now time to either look forward to or dread the official Unoffical CubsFanInNorway Magic Number Countdown (trademark pending).

    Quick refresher: I will update this daily until the Cubs’ playoff position is sealed. The Magic Numbers are the sum of Cubs’ wins or closest pursuer losses that will ensure a particular playoff scenario. Three scenarios will be followed: clinching a playoff berth, clinching the division, and clinching the nr. 2 seed in the playoffs. The nr. 2 seed gives a wild card opponent in Round 1 instead of a 2nd place team, although that may not imply a weaker team. I am conceding the nr 1 seed to LAD, at least for the time being.

    A few caveats given the peculiarities of this baseball season. I am assuming that all teams will play a full 60-game slate. I know StL is only scheduled for 58 games, but I believe MLB is still holding open the possibility of them playing all 60. If someone has other intel, please let me know. Also, remember that clinching a playoff spot can mean either finishing in 2nd place in the division, or having one of the two best remaining records.

    The Numbers will be updated daily, posted in either the game recap, Michael’s Morning Roundup, or whatever post happens to be the most recent and relevant.

    So, without further ado, onto the Numbers!

    Clinch a playoff berth: Magic Number is 23. Closest pursuer is MIL (3rd in the division). The two current wild cards both have better records than MIL.
    Clinch the division: Magic Number is 28. Closest pursuer is StL.
    Clinch the nr 2 seed: Magic Number is 27. Closest pursuer is ATL.

    For those perhaps confused as to why the Number for the second seed is lower than that for the division, it is all the makeup games StL still has left to play. StL has played a full 9 games fewer than the Cubs, and that must be taken into account. Those games are not StL losses yet.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Awesome, thanks.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Welcome back. I know it's the second half of the second half of the season when you show up.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Thanks, Jonathan. I’ve always been lurking, just too busy to comment while it’s still relevant. I usually start the Countdown with about 40 games left (7 weeks before the end of the season), decided that 4 weeks/25 games was reasonable for bizarro 2020.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Welcome back, Norway. You are a breath of fresh air that is sorely needed at the moment.

    And thanks for breaking out the Slavonic abacus. We could all do with a little reason from simpler times.

  • I hope the Cubs make some more deals.

    Padres real aggressive, trading away lots of players/prospects. They really have not tapped into their top prospects too much, GM's today all seem to want to hold onto their top prospects.

  • In reply to Naujack:

    Andrew Chafin LHRP to cubs for PTBNL. Chafin on IL. Hopefully not to be much longer on IL

  • In reply to stix:

    I’ve always liked chafin with the Dbacks. Pretty Consistent, underrated lefty reliever. Hopefully his IL stint makes his price in prospects cheaper

  • Josh Osich LHRP from Red Sox for PBTNL

  • Cameron Maybin to the cubs. I don’t know about the rest of you but I’ve seen enough of almora. Cubs need these right handed bats as they’ve been pitiful vs left handed pitchers. This acquisition isn’t good news for Albert, who has just been completely ineffective at the plate since his foul ball hit that poor child.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Agreed. Can't keep waiting. I think Almora was pretty poor before the foul ball too. Time to move on.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    A change of scenery is in Almora's best interest at this point.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Yup. Time to move on from AA. He's had his chances. it's just too bad. Love that kid. He's got alotea heart. Maybe a change of scenery will help him. But . . .

    Whenever I think of Albert Almora I will ALWAYS think of that heads up tag from first to second that put him in position to score on Zobrist's double to take the lead in GM7. Good luck, Albert!

    Finally: I was once a regular here. Posted several times a day. But this year -- for so many reasons -- my heart just isn't into the Cubs and baseball, at least not the way it usually is. So I missed what happened the other day and I just went back to the last post to see what Michael was talking about.

    Having done so just a few minutes ago, I am once again VERY PROUD to call myself a Denizen! I disagree with BarleyPop, but I respect him and I have tremendous respect for the way that dialogue was handled. This place has always been a place where disagreement is not only permitted, but encouraged. so long as those disagreements are handled in a respectful way. It would be nice if the rest of the country could speak to each other in the same way.

    Peace.

  • In reply to TTP:

    Sometimes I don't make my points as well as I should, because emotions get in the way. We all have different opinions, but what is lost in all of this is we agree on so much more than we disagree about. But that doesn't make for good headlines.

    Peace to you, my brother!

    'So I went to the doctor, see what he could give me.
    He said, son, son you've gone too far,
    'Cause smokin' an trippin' is all that you do.
    Yeah!!!"

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    I feel bad for him but here is one guy who could probably benefit from a change of scenery....while I agree the demotion is necessary I know there will come a time when I will say to myself “Almora would have had that”....

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    I feel like it will be every other game. But AA (and Ian Miller) doesn't play launch angle ball so no room on this team.

  • Maybin from Tigers

  • It was obvious the bullpen was woefully ineffective and that it was time to try something different. I hope proverbial PTBNLs shipped are expendable.

  • In reply to IVYADDICT:

    Maybin and Chafin are free agents at the end of the year, and chafin is currently on IL. These aren’t costly moves as PTBNL usually indicates lower level prospects. This team isn’t likely enough to win a World Series this year to trade prospects that you like. These are buy low role players to add depth to this roster, and I think that’s the correct approach.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    I would guess you’re accurate on the PBTNL level but what I understand is that PBTNL this year encompasses those not in the 60 man bubble and could(probably not) include top draft picks not in the bubble.

  • In reply to stix:

    I heard about that but in some of the bigger trades this deadline the teams have been announcing which prospects are being traded. Usually when teams are acquiring prospects that are listed on Mlb.coms top cubs prospect list they tend to announce the players names. When they’re getting lower level prospects that aren’t well known they tend to classify them as players to be named later. I can see the players to be named later being a little higher quality in the Jose Martinez trade, because he’s controlled for 2 more years. But I doubt they gave up much for the injured Chafin or Osich.

    I saw they gave up Zach short for Maybin. Some may think that’s too much on the surface With Short technically being a top 20-30 prospect. I feel we already know what short is at this point at age 25. He can handle SS but he’s not a guy with the type of offensive upside to ever be a meaningful contributor. He’s already 25 and is currently taking up a valuable 40 man roster spot. I think short is a utility guy at best. I’d much rather trade a limited upside guy like that, rather then an 18 year old Venezuelan or Dominican kid whose upside is yet to be determined. Just ask the white Sox whether trading Tatis Jr. was a good idea when they didn’t know what he was yet. All for James shields and his albatross contract. If short didn’t require a 40 man roster spot, then I’d be more inclined to hold onto him as depth.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    From what I’ve noticed this year is that the prospects who would be PTBNL are identified is when they were recently added to the 60 man bubble otherwise they aren’t named.

  • In reply to stix:

    In this case I've done my research. A number of Prospects names (that aren't on their respective teams 60 man roster) were released to the media. These trades where we know the prospects going to the other side include the David Phelps, Archie Bradley, Mike Minor, the Padres/mariners 7 player trade, and the Mike Clevinger trades. The common theme is that all of these prospects names are generally amongst teams top 25 prospects, including Zach Short. The players to be named later won't be significant prospects im guessing, especially with Chafin just returning from an injury. My guess is short is the highest ranked prospect they lose, and I thought he was quite frankly only gonna hold onto his 40 man roster spot for so long anyways. It would be different if Short didn't need to be protected.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Thanks. I didn’t do much research but the few teams I saw moved people onto the 60 man list so they could be identified. Thought PTBNL was limited to those not on the 60 and that they wouldn’t be ID’d until after the season.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    For some reason I thought the Cubs would go after Schoop from Tigers.

    I'm a fan of getting players mid-season,especially roll players.
    Unless they are stars usually don't cost much, and you get a head start on cleaning up the 40 man roster.

    I still don't understand why large market Cubs sign veteran roll players in the off-season to guaranteed deals like D. Descalso to 2 year $5.0 million contracts.

    I feel like that money would be better spent in mid-season deals.

  • In reply to Naujack:

    I agree on your point regarding role players naujack. I honestly many of Theos best moves are when he trades for low to mid level undervalued players like hamels, castellanos, Jesse Chavez, Arrieta, Hendricks, rizzo, etc. Pickups that may not be headline news, but still good value finds. Theo gets into more trouble when he goes into his gunslinger mode, and gives up prospects of meaningful value like Eloy or cease,

    I like that these deals add needed depth and flexibility vs LHPs to this thin cubs roster compared with past years. All at seemingly a pretty low cost in terms of prospects. Personally I like the Chafin and Jose Martinez pickups the most. I think Martinez brings a needed right handed masher that crushes lefties, and hoped fills the cubs needed void at DH. TB had a surplus of 1B/DH types and it sounds like they sold low on Martinez.

    Chafin is due to come back in a couple of weeks unfortunately. But my guess is that's why a pretty steady lefty set up man was available so cheap. If he's successful with the cubs, then I think he maybe a guy they'd like to resign. The cubs are short on lefty relievers with Kyle Ryan experiencing an odd drop in velocity. Chafin is a guy I know Theo was interested in during past years, and adds needed depth and flexibility to this pen. Maybins more of a role player but I think they simply had to replace almora with how he's been slumping. Now at least the cubs have some right handed bats just in case other teams hit them with a bunch of lefties the way Milwaukee did a couple of weeks ago.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Rebuilding, and small market teams are always looking to sign free agents to one year deals, with one eye on flipping them mid-season. Let other teams take the risk of picking the right player in the off-season.

    MLB mid season trades always has back-end starters, middle relief, and bats available for not much cost.

    Theo, seems to be a much better seller/builder than buyer.

  • In reply to IVYADDICT:

    Just seems there have been a lot of Cub minor leaguers who they have spent excessive amounts of time developing winding up being PTBNL’ers...

  • I was so hoping for Norris or Watson. Chaffin and Orsich are both having down years but who knows, maybe a change of scenery... Maybin is a nice addition. He's as good a defender as Almora and a better hitter. Martinez may be the biggie though. Between Baez and Contreras, who look completely lost, and KB's injury issues, Jose could be the spark in the middle of that line up they desperately need.

  • In reply to Ronson54:

    My guess is those guys would’ve been preferred, but neither was traded which tells me the asking price was high on both. Norris in particular I think The tigers really like him as a reliever, and are looking to build up his value for a future trade. Watson is an established set up man who the giants value highly. He’s been on the trade market now 2 trade deadlines in a row, but the giants were asking for a ton. My guess is the cubs weren’t looking to trade higher end prospects for this cubs team that looks more like a playoff contender, rather then a real World Series contender.

  • MIL, StL and ATL all win. With the Cubs off, no change in the Magic Numbers:

    Clinch a playoff berth: 23.
    Clinch the division: 28.
    Clinch the nr 2 seed: 27.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Thanks, Norway.

    I just want to know the number to win it all.

    I'd quote some lyrics in your honor, but I forgot your preference.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    BP, I am open to anything. One does not guide the muse.

  • Anybody thinking Joe Maddon is having any fun now?

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    Probably not so much right now. Joe is a good baseball man and a good dude, but might have become a little caught up in his own creative image. Baseball is a game of adjustments, not in need of being reinvented. I wish him well.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I think Joe will get a pass for this season, maybe a little more so than some others. Bizarro season indeed.

  • I'm glad to see September. 2020 has been rough and its not over yet. I hope all survive. The Cubs have some weaknesses, and there are teams more stacked. Still, I excited about our chances despite the recent downturn. Our good start and history tells us that these guys can get hot and, win it all.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Yes! New month and eyes are on the prize!

    May not go over too well in here but, watch those White Sox! Both teams on top though is always a real good thing.

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