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Cub Tracks comes back

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Why Joe Maddon should be smiling, and other bullets

Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Welcome to Thursday and the resumption of Cubs baseball!

Yesterday was an off-day, and there was surprisingly little information available other than All-Star game analysis and dithering, which you’ve likely already seen, and anyway that stuff isn’t my beat, but I dug and I dug and I found a few nuggets for consumption. I’m suuuuure you’d rather read about how jacked Bryce Harper’s dad is, or how he cheated, or how rich the Cubs, Bears, and Bulls are, but this is what we have instead.

eyeroll

wink, wink

And now for the news — as always * means autoplay on, or annoying ads, or both (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Cubs News and Notes:

The Cubs will open the second half of the season with reliever Carl Edwards Jr. and outfielder Albert Almora Jr. back on the roster. — Carrie Muskat.

Zach Britton? Brad Hand? Hmm. Bruce Levine discusses [AUDIO].

  • Patrick Mooney (The Athletic {$}): Why Joe Maddon should be smiling at the All-Star break (even if Manny Machado winds up in L.A.). “...as Lou Piniella might say: this is not some push-button operation.”
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times* {$}): Stress-test series to start the second half for hot Cubs, regrouping Cardinals. “I don’t want to say it’s a big series, but it’s an important series,” Cubs ace Jon Lester said .
  • Steve Greenberg (Chicago Sun-Times* {$}): Embattled Brewers believe they can race alongside Cubs to the finish line. “We’re a group that finds a way to get it done. I think it’s going to end up being pretty close between us [and the Cubs]. I don’t think anyone will run away with it,” said Christian Yelich.
  • Ken Schultz (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): The managerial philosophies behind the Cubs/Cardinals Freaky Friday bodyswitch. “Baseball is so much more fun when it’s the other teams dissolving into chaos.”
  • Vinnie Duber (NBC Sports Chicago*): Cubs’ starting pitching a reasonable discussion topic, but Jon Lester’s no fan of ‘nitpicking’ this first-place team. “We’re kind of pulling at hairs,” he said before the Midsummer Classic on Tuesday night. “We’re splitting hairs right now as far as things that we’re looking for negatively on our team.
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com*): Cubs unlikely to make splash but could add arm. Said Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein: “I don’t think this is the year we’re going to be out front beating the market, but I do think industry-wide there will be a lot of activity well before the Deadline.”
  • Matt Snyder (CBS Sports*): How Cubs’ Javier Baez has taken the leap to legitimate star this season. “Among position players in the National League, Baez ranks fifth in WAR.”
  • Steve Greenberg (Chicago Sun-Times* {$}): The Derby was a blast, but Cubs’ Kyle Schwarber wants in on All-Star Game fun. “I definitely want to be here,” he said.
  • Doug Glanville (NBC Sports Chicago*): The death of the stolen base. “The “run environment” has changed and will continue to change.”
  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Revisiting those 11 bold preseason predictions ahead of second half. Mostly wrong but that’s the bold part.
  • Luke Stuckmeyer (NBC Sports Chicago*): Grinding it out, working as a team: The story of the Cubs. “Five times in franchise history. That’s how often the Chicago Cubs have owned the best record in the National League heading into the All-Star game.”
  • Gregg Doyel (Indy Star* {$}): Cubs fans make pilgrimage to Mordecai ‘Three Finger’ Brown’s Indiana birthplace. “Gripping the ball in a way nobody has before or since, Three Finger Brown unleashed a curveball from hell.”

Food for thought:

Thanks for reading.