I’m sensing the Cubs were getting tired of me writing moral victory pieces. I think I’ve reached the acceptance phase of bad baseball. I’m pretty sure that either one of six straight losses or a 7-1 loss to the Orioles would normally make me frustrated or angry. But I’m just not there. They lost again. Ho hum.
This one was never close. The Cubs mustered six hits as a team. In contrast, someone named Austin Hays had four hits for the O’s. I’m amused looking at Hays because I had never heard of him. But then I look up his profile and see he was a full time player for them last year. On the upside, I’ve never paid much attention to the AL. On the downside, I attended a Rays-Orioles game last year. I’m gonna guess that I’ve seen Hays play. Then again, the O’s were pretty forgettable last year. Literally my whole memory of that game was some Rays fan taunting Ryan Mountcastle throughout the whole game. I didn’t know who Ryan was at the time, but have of course curiously followed him since. Joke is on the heckler really, I think that guy is going to be a really good player.
Here I am a little over 200 words in and I’ve talked more about the opponent than the Cubs. Today is officially fifth grade book report level of writing. You know a lot of words where you try to make it seem like you’ve actually read the book when you really just read the first few chapters, decided the book was boring and then just hoped the teacher hadn’t read that book before.
I think I’m caught between the brave optimism I’ve been trying to put forward the first two weeks and being numb about things getting even worse. I try not to ever blow smoke. I am encouraged by the production out of guys that I believe are here beyond this season. But it’s really hard to look forward to slogging through August and September after even more players are traded away.
To be sure, if you follow the excellent work that Josh Timmers does along with the prospect people around the internet, you can see the importance of the trades that have been made. Baseball America just put out a new Top 30 Cubs prospect list and three of the top five players have been obtained in trades. So, of course, the upcoming trades are important to the future of the team.
That said, barring trades of either Willson Contreras or Ian Happ, the trades this year are unlikely to have a massive impact. This trade season is going to be about the scouts and trying to find hidden talent in some other organization that isn’t yet recognized. You hope to bring in a handful of guys who are far away from the majors but that might press your depth at the periphery of the system.
I think I’m in a little more of an apprehensive place this year because things are already bad. Trading away some of what little talent is already here is probably going to lead to even more losing. The depth will get even more thinned out. There will be more major league debuts. With six straight losses, the Cubs are back teetering on a 100-loss pace. We’ve covered the ins and outs of that. It’s hard to sustain that kind of losing but also the trades will make the team worse than it is right now.
Even in a loss like this, we can find some good.
- Ian Happ had two more hits and a walk. I don’t want to see Ian or Willson Contreras go, but I’ve definitely put them both on the list of people I’d be happy to see get a chance to go play meaningful baseball with a chance to win. The Cubs have to be at least a couple of years from being really competitive and those two will only be in their prime for so long.
- Christopher Morel had a triple and a walk. He scored the only run. Christopher has outplayed any realistic expectations for his already unexpected rookie season.
- I’m going with Nelson Velázquez for the final spot. Things haven’t been easy for him adapting to the big leagues and not being in the lineup consistently. But he did have a double.
And now, we look at Heroes and Goats from last night’s loss.
Game 88, July 13: Orioles 7 at Cubs 1 (34-54)
Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.
- Superhero: Christopher Morel (.072). 1-3, 3B, BB, R, K
- Hero: Rowan Wick (.021). IP (4 batters), H, 2K
- Sidekick: Ian Happ (.011). 2-3, BB, K
- Billy Goat: Justin Steele (-.188). 6IP (25 batters), 6H, BB, 4R (3ER), 3K, HBP (L 3-6)
- Goat: Willson Contreras (-.092). 0-4, 2K
- Kid: Nico Hoerner (-.081). 1-4
WPA Play of the Game: Anthony Santander was the fourth batter of the game. It was still scoreless. There were runners on first and third with one out. Santander doubled and two runs scored. As it turns out, that was all of the runs they would need. (.136)
*Cubs Play of the Game: Nelson Velasquez had a double leading off the third inning with the Cubs down 4-0. (.049)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Someone else (leave your suggestion in the comments)
Rizzo Award Cumulative Standings: (Top 3/Bottom 3)
The award is named for Anthony Rizzo, who finished first in this category three of the first four years it was in existence and four times overall. He also recorded the highest season total ever at +65.5. The point scale is three points for a Superhero down to negative three points for a Billy Goat.
- Christopher Morel +18
- Scott Effross +15
- David Robertson +14.5
- Daniel Norris -7.5
- Jason Heyward -16.5
- Yan Gomes -17
Up Next: The Mets come to town with a 55-34 record, leading the NL East. They’ll be here for four games. Keegan Thompson (7-3, 3.04) gets the opener. Carlos Carrasco (9-4, 4.55) goes for the Mets. I don’t think I’m overstating it when I suggest the Cubs win this first one. There is at least some chance it gets ugly after this. Or uglier or something.