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Wednesday, July 07, 2021

Why the Cubs need to say goodbye to members of their 2016 championship core and sell at the trade deadline

Eleven. Yes, eleven consecutive losses. They were competitive through much of it. There were six one-run losses through the first nine. They’ve been totally humiliated in the last two, however, and the proverbial writing is on the wall.

That writing very legibly and succinctly states: “It’s over.”

Little by little, the core that won the 2016 World Series has gone away, but the vestiges of that title are some of the biggest names. The Cubs still have 2016 MVP Kris Bryant along with franchise centerpieces Anthony Rizzo, Javier Báez and Willson Contreras. Clubhouse leader Jason Heyward remains. On the pitching side, they still have Kyle Hendricks, who beat Clayton Kershaw in Game 6 of the NLCS to clinch the pennant and then also threw well in Game 7 of the World Series. They brought back Arrieta for this season after a hiatus. That move has been a bust.

As much as the fan base might hold some love for those players—and they should, for the rest of eternity, given the 2016 title—it’s become pretty clear in the ensuing seasons that something is broken with this core. This losing streak has bludgeoned us over the head with the seeming fact that it’s unfixable.

With the trade deadline less than a month away and the Cubs nine games out in the NL Central, it’s time to let go and move on.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 07, 2021 at 07:04 PM | 13 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cubs

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   1. The Duke Posted: July 07, 2021 at 07:37 PM (#6028183)
It’s a conundrum. The Cubs have the horses in the position players to mount a run. I’m not sure I would give up yet. I believe the brewers pitchers will break down or succumb to sticky stuff issues or both. Most of them have never pitched this many innings. The cards are terrible and Cincinnati is a flawed team.

On the other hand, they are in a deep hole
   2. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: July 07, 2021 at 08:46 PM (#6028194)
Yeah, it's interesting how the last two weeks have completely flipped things. They looked like a pretty good bet to slide into the playoffs two weeks ago. Now, only the atrociousness of the Pirates is keeping them out of the cellar of a weak division.

It's still a weak division, but they're nearly 10 games out at this point. I guess they could get hot again, but this close to the deadline, not selling would feel similar to the Mets back in 2004 thinking they were actual contenders and buying at the the deadline.
   3. Walt Davis Posted: July 07, 2021 at 09:17 PM (#6028197)
As I put it elsewhere ... sure, the chance that at least one of Giants, Dodgers, Padres, Brewers will stumble along at 500 or worse the rest of the way to finish at 88-90 wins is reasonably high. The chance that at least one of the Reds, Cards, Phils, Nats, Braves, Cubs will play 600 ball the rest of the way to finish around 88-90 wins is reasonably high. But the chance that all works out to the Cubs' benefit is very low. And Bryant, Rizzo, Baez and effectively Kimbrel are all FA at the end of the year. It simply makes no sense for the Cubs to roll the dice under these circumstances. With the AS break eating up so much time these days, I'm not sure they even have enough time to see if we win 12 of the next 14 or somtehing.

It's also a mistake to think that the Cubs are a better team than the other also-rans. BBR, Contreras, Hendricks, Kimbrel are all very, very good ... but the rest of the rotation is a complete mess, our no-name bullpen has completely blown up (more than a run per inning during the losing streak), the rest of the starting position players are meager and the bench is awful (in part due to injuries). At least Nico is back to provide some glimmer of hope for the future. When you look up and down the roster, there's almost nobody you expect to bust out (maybe Happ). The offense's problems go back farther than this slide -- in the last 22 games, we've scored just 62 runs, 10 of those yesterday in a loss. We've scored 2 or fewer in 15 of those games. We've given up 123 ... we've given up 13+ runs in 4 of the last 8.

We're substantially less talented than the Braves, our only advantage over the Phils on paper is our previously awesome pen, the Nats are somehow 3rd in OPS+ but 11th in scoring. Anyway, the Cubs projected to be about a 500 team, they've played like a 500 team, there's no reason to expect them to play better than a 500 team going forward.
   4. The Duke Posted: July 07, 2021 at 09:34 PM (#6028199)
But that’s not how it really works. They could just as easily rip off a 5-7 game streak while the brewers go 2-5 and everything looks different in a weeks time. And this is a team that could easily win 70% of its games over a short period as it’s already done that this year.

Then you just have to pick up a game or two a week or win head to head battles.

I’m a believer that the brewers pitchers will collapse.
   5. Brian C Posted: July 07, 2021 at 11:05 PM (#6028213)
I'm not so sure it's so easy to just say "blow it up", either. Sure, I agree that on balance it makes sense for the Cubs to be sellers at the deadline, but what are they really going to get? I'm not so sure that most of these guys will get much back in a trade, since all of the free agents to be have their glaring flaws alongside their obvious selling points. I mean, it's not like they won't get anything useful in return. But the general idea among the media and fanbase seems to be that they can use this trade deadline to rebuild all at once, and it just seems like to a large degree they'd be trading just to trade.

I dunno, it just seems to me like they're sorta stuck. Bryant had an awesome start to the season but has been kinda useless lately and who's going to want to give up a major rebuilding piece for two months of him? Rizzo's had a mediocre season, and Baez ... well, you know, is Baez. Kimbrel's probably the most attractive option there but the others are hardly a guarantee to make any difference for a contender. And how many front offices are going to overpay just for big name value these days?

In other Cubs news - how much do the Cubs hate Jim Deshaies these days? What kind of hell have we descended to where he's getting pushed aside for Rick Sutcliffe? Also I really thought Jon Sciambi would grow on me a lot more than he actually has. I frankly think he's kind of annoying, albeit in kind of a vague, hard to pin down sort of way.

   6. Walt Davis Posted: July 08, 2021 at 03:28 AM (#6028219)
But that’s not how it really works. They could just as easily rip off a 5-7 game streak while the brewers go 2-5 and everything looks different in a weeks time.

That's exactly what I described. #### happens and maybe it will happen in the Cubs' favor but that's very unlikely. The Cubs have just 18 games before the deadline -- 4 games, the AS break, then two weeks to the deadline. They don't get to wait to see if there's an Aug or Sept miracle. But sure, they might go 13-5 between now and July 30; the Brewers (or Padres) might simultaneiously go 5-13 and voila, we're back in a race.

But you can't work out a good trade in one day so you can't wait to see if that happens ... much less whether you play 650 ball over July-Aug. The bidding starts on July 16 if not sooner.

The Cubs need to play 600 ball from here on out to get to 88 wins. Fangraphs puts the Cubs odds at 3.4% to win the division and 3.0% to make the WC or 1 in 16 to make the playoffs with a 1 in 500 chance of winning the WS. Those numbers could be off by a factor of 2 and it's still obvious the Cubs should sell.

FWIW, fg rates them as a much better bet than the Cards (2%) but much worse than the Reds (18%). The Braves and Phils also rate much better while the Nats are about equal. As I suggested, fg puts it at about a 1/3 chance that at least one of the Brewers, LAD, SF, SD will fall apart enough to miss the playoffs and if that happpens, somebody has to replace them. And the chance that teamm is the Cubs is about 1 in 5.

That's a very bad gamble if you have expiring assets.
   7. Charles S. is not doing chainsaw bears any more Posted: July 08, 2021 at 09:48 AM (#6028238)
In other Cubs news - how much do the Cubs hate Jim Deshaies these days? What kind of hell have we descended to where he's getting pushed aside for Rick Sutcliffe? Also I really thought Jon Sciambi would grow on me a lot more than he actually has. I frankly think he's kind of annoying, albeit in kind of a vague, hard to pin down sort of way.

Agree with the first part, but could not disagree more with the second. I hate the way the org is treating JD. Deshaies has a funny, cool, seen-it-all, older brother vibe that I really like. Any time Demp or Sut is in there as a third man or as substitute, it lessens the broadcast. They seem like decent guys who might have something to say if they didn't feel the need to pander to the lowest common denominator of Cubs fans. Meanwhile, Ryne Sandberg has been dedicated to preserving his 40-year streak of never having anything interesting to say.
As for Sciambi, he brings the two things that are very important in a broadcast. He does his research, always having an interesting nugget about the game, and he loves baseball. After all those years of Thom and Chip who sounded as if they were forced into the family business and would rather be anywhere besides the ballpark, I have come to really value spending three hours a night with a guy who loves the game. Kasper was (is) the best, and his replacement will pale in comparison, but Boog has forged a solid connection with JD, still lets the game come first, and doesn't take himself too seriously. We knew it would be hard to replace Len, but Sciambi was a home run hire. Just look at the weekend with Chris Myers to see how much worse it could have been.
   8. Brian C Posted: July 08, 2021 at 10:32 AM (#6028243)
Well, sure - I want to be clear that I'm not putting Sciambi in the same category as guys like Thom or Chip or Myers. But there's just something about his vibe that isn't connecting with me. I'm not really even sure how to put what it is about him that rubs me the wrong way - if Deshaies has a cool older brother vibe about him, then I guess I'd say that Sciambi has an overeager younger brother vibe about him.

Don't get me wrong, I think he's intelligent and professional and agree he obviously loves baseball, although I'm not sure I agree 100% that he has a "solid connection" with Deshaies. But at any rate, it's just a personality thing for me. My problem, not his, I'm sure.

Sandberg in the booth is really a spectacular waste of everyone's time. It's not even that he has nothing interesting to say - he barely has anything to say at all. And when he does speak up, he sounds like a kid in the back of the classroom that just wanted to sit there quietly but the teacher called on him and now he has to say something. Like, why do any of the involved parties want this to happen? At least Sutcliffe is good for an occasional fun anecdote.
   9. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: July 08, 2021 at 11:54 PM (#6028344)
Red Sox 1B this year are OPSing .654. Anthony Rizzo, c'mon down! Don't think the Sox want to part with anything decent though, so there is that hurdle to clear.
   10. dejarouehg Posted: July 10, 2021 at 04:44 PM (#6028495)
Sandberg in the booth is really a spectacular waste of everyone's time. It's not even that he has nothing interesting to say - he barely has anything to say at all. And when he does speak up, he sounds like a kid in the back of the classroom that just wanted to sit there quietly but the teacher called on him and now he has to say something. Like, why do any of the involved parties want this to happen?
You aptly described Sandberg his entire public life. He's just a reticent person.

IS there something going on with JD? He's terrific! Loved Len K; thought he and JD were the only announcers to me who could rival the Mets trio, though I really like Boog. Part of the problem, IMO, is that the Cubs play a ton of dull games. Kind of like lipstick-on-a-pig syndrome. There are some games where it's hard to make it interesting.

The musical chairs with announcers is annoying. (See NYY TV side.)
   11. StanR Posted: August 06, 2021 at 03:44 PM (#6033261)
I would like to common on Jon Sciambi doing Cub's games. Maybe it is just me but after listening to him during Cubs games which I get on the MLB app, or when he used to be on ESP, and the games he is announcing are on the DirectTV MLB channel I find him highly annoying because he leaves to space to simply enjoy the game being broadcast. It's like he has to suck the air out of the broadcast to talk over the game. Maybe it is just me and I happen to find him so annoying because he doesn't leave any space. I could watch a game without any announcers and enjoy the game immensely. I also happened to think Alex R is a horrible color analyst. I find that for a former player he offers no meaningful insight, just babbles, and actually detracts from the game.

Maybe viewers and fans like Sciambi's style of relentless drivel. I used to live in South Florida and I'm pretty sure he started off doing Marlins games. I don't know what the criteria is for what constitutes and a great baseball analyst but in my personal opinion I don't care for Sciambi's style and I don't know why a guy who never played the game has a nickname based on his physical appearance to a former beloved baseball player.

Searching the Internet its hard to find any posts, articles, commentary that do not sing the praises of Sciambi and I just don't get it. I watch a lot of baseball and I like David Cone (it appears that many people don't care for him), Keith Hernandez, Ron Darling, Paul O'Neil, Harry Caray of course, Len (why did he have to go to the White Sox?), basically anyone other than Sciambi. He used to do the Sunday Nights game on ESPN or whatever channel and i dreaded having to listen to the Sunday Night broadcasting crew.

I love baseball. I love to see and hear people passionate about baseball but Sciami doesn't contribute anything except one or two comments or observations the research staff digs up for him.

   12. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: August 06, 2021 at 03:55 PM (#6033268)
The musical chairs with announcers is annoying.


The Red Sox have had a lot of variety in recent years largely down to Jerry Remy's health issues. When Don Orsillo was here he turned it into a feature rather than a bug. He did such an amazing job of bringing out the best in whoever he was working with and adapting his style to fit. That's a hard thing to do I imagine though and Orsillo is great.
   13. Buck Coats Posted: August 06, 2021 at 05:43 PM (#6033290)
Yeah my main exposure to Sciambi was when he was doing KBO games for ESPN last year, and I thought he was pretty lousy.

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