None of us has ever been part of a major league team. So we can’t know with any certainty what things are like on a night like last night. But it’s certainly not hard to imagine. The players all know that there’s probably an over/under on players leaving the team today at 3.5. Ian Happ, Willson Contreras, and David Robertson are the names most often thrown around. But Mychal Givens, Patrick Wisdom and Rafael Ortega are some other names that could go depending on how things start to unfold.
Baseball has changed in so many ways over the generations. With the advent of free agency, players have become less and less identifiable with a single organization. A player can expect to play with at least three or four teams over the course of their career, assuming they hang around for more than a couple of years.
Another thing that has become a cornerstone of baseball is the trade deadline. I’ve long held that you are interfering with the cosmic flow of baseball if you don’t pick a lane and participate in the deadline. If your team is out of contention, for whatever reason, trade players on expiring contracts. If your team is in contention, trade for those players.
I’m all for loyalty, so don’t get me wrong. If you can lock up a key player before the contract is expiring, then do that. But, if he wants to explore free agency anyway and get a sense of what his worth is, then bring him into the office. Explain to him how valuable he’s been to your organization and that you’d like to have a talk with him in early November to see about a reunion. Heck, even ask if there are a couple of cities that he might prefer to play in for a couple of months that you can try to make happen. You don’t make promises, but if you get comparable offers from a couple of teams and one is a preference for the player, send him there.
Do right by your players and they’ll talk to other players. That’ll help you with not only the original player in free agency but other players. They’ll know that you treat them with dignity and respect and not just as an asset. It’ll make the next guy heading into that situation not shy away from your organization.
With all of these changes, the players have become somewhat vagabond. They all see players come and players go. I imagine the roots among players in general run a lot more shallow than they did a generation ago. That said, by the end of July, you’ve got the guys you are hanging with in the dugout, the guys you grab a bite with after the game and the guys you play cards with on the plane.
With that said, I imagine this past weekend in San Francisco was a bit somber. With the hot streak out of the break, these guys have had a chance to relax and have some fun. You have to play out the string no matter what, might as well win some games. But then on the flight to San Francisco, you had to be recognizing that a number of players won’t be with you when you next return to Chicago. Chris Martin is already gone. You know several more will follow.
That doesn’t mean the Cubs couldn’t win in San Francisco, but you have one team trying to save its season and stay in playoff contention and you have the other distracted. This wasn’t a hard three out of four to see coming. With any luck, this is the last July for a while where the Cubs are sellers and not buyers.
There wasn’t a lot of positive in last night’s loss, but let’s see if we can’t find three of them.
- Rowan Wick gets the top spot here. He faced three batters and recorded three outs, though there was one hit along the way.
- From there, it was an adventure. Erich Uelmen recorded five outs from the pen. It took him eight batters to do it though, hitting two batters and allowing a hit. Can one scatter hit by pitches?
- Brandon Hughes recorded three outs as well. His took five batters and involved a walk and a hit batter.
The Cubs had no extra base hits, no walks and not even a hit by pitch. They had four hits, no one had two of them. So you get three relievers in your three positives, even when none of them worked clean.
Let’s get to the Heroes and Goats from yesterday’s loss.
Game 101, July 31: Giants 4, Cubs 0 (41-60)
Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.
- Superhero: Erich Uelmen (.017). 1⅔ IP (8 batters), H, 3K, 2HBP
- Hero: Brandon Hughes (.011). IP (5 batters), BB, K, HBP
- Sidekick: Rowan Wick (.008). IP (3 batters), H, K
- Billy Goat: Adrian Sampson (-.201). 4IP (19 batters), 5H, BB, 4R, 6K, HBP (L 0-2)
- Goat: Christopher Morel (-.061). 0-4, K
- Kid: Willson Contreras/Nico Hoerner (-.055). Contreras: 0-4, K; Hoerner 0-3, 2K
WPA Play of the Game: With no score in the fourth inning, former Cubs prospect Jason Vosler batted with the bases loaded and two outs. He looped a single driving in two runs. (.207)
*Cubs Play of the Game: With a runner on second and two outs in the third inning, the game was scoreless. Adrian Sampson got Luis Gonzalez to fly out to end the inning. (.037)
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 5/Bottom 5)
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.
- David Robertson +22.5
- Nico Hoerner +19.5
- Scott Effross +17
- Christopher Morel +15
- Keegan Thompson +10
- Andrelton Simmons -8
- Daniel Norris -9.5
- Rafael Ortega -11.5
- Yan Gomes -14
- Jason Heyward -15.5
Up Next: Trade deadline day is approaching, and the deadline is 5 p.m. CT on Tuesday. I’ve seen some suggest that this will be a wild trade deadline. If they are going to be right, then this will be one crazy day because this has been a pretty mild trade season so far. The Cubs are off on Monday, making their way to St. Louis.
Keegan Thompson (8-4, 3.16) will still be here and that means he’ll start Tuesday’s game. He’ll face off against Adam Wainwright (7-8, 3.28) in the first of three games against the Cardinals.