The Chicago Cubs beat St. Louis last night and evened their record to 51-51, and sit at 5.5 games behind first place in the NL Central and 4 games back in the Wild Card. In short, a better record and potential than last year. The sell off really didn’t happen last year, but this year there is much debate about what they should do with Cody Bellinger and Marcus Stroman, both who are really good but with whom the Cubs lose contract control at the end of the season. I think the Cubs’ chances to make the playoffs this year are real, and at a minimum ownership owes the fans a competitive team for the remainder of the season. I say they should keep both Bellinger and Stroman and make serious intent to sign them at the end of the season. The farm system is not in dire need of prospects.

Right now Cody Bellinger is carrying the Chicago Cubs, so when he is traded some time in the next couple of weeks the Cubs will stop being competitive for a playoff position. Once again the season will be about watching guys called up from the minors. Ricketts has to make a clean sweep of the front office and manager, he can’t keep accepting mediocrity.

Hope Is Not A Strategy

I am resigned to the fact that Chicago Cubs are not going to be a playoff team this year, which makes them sellers for the upcoming trade deadline, and it is this idea of “selling” that makes me mad. We knew that Cody Bellinger was only going to be with the Cubs for a year and if he played to any amount of his capability would be a mid season trade, so his leaving is not a problem. What I don’t want to see is the Cubs trading Marcus Stroman.

Starting pitching is the foundation of a MLB team and the Cubs have no real pitching prospects in their farm system. Every free agent pitcher not on their team that the Cubs sign is an unknown. Jameson Taillon is the most recent case in point, the Cubs didn’t really know what they were getting when they signed Taillon but they hoped he would be as good as he was in previous seasons. When you sign a player not on your team you hope they will perform as you expect, but hope is not a strategy!

Stroman has been the best Cubs pitcher the last two years. You can make the claim he is one of the best pitchers in baseball and the Cubs should know best about his health, his mental make up, and his skills. In other words, Stroman is a known asset, and when you are building a team I think general managers should bias what they know about the players on their team.

If the Cubs trade Stroman, to me that not only means this season (2023) is down the drain, it is also that they are not closer to making the playoffs in 2024. What such a trade tells me is that the Cubs continue to tread mediocrity and have no real plan for returning to the playoffs. Further, if the Cubs trade Stroman and thus are sellers at the deadline ownership must make a change in the front office and the manager. I don’t think Hoyer has any real idea how to build the team, he is just hoping to improve, and hope is not a plan.

The “buyers and sellers” phenomenon is not good for Major League Baseball. The way teams treat free agency is destroying how they build their teams and farm systems for continued success. Now, because most teams in baseball are not very good, most teams are unloading their best players mid season for prospects that might never make it to the majors or at best won’t be on their team until 3 years down the road. Every off season teams buy a bunch of free agents (basically creating new rosters every year), all who are unknowns, and hope they perform well enough to form a competitive team. Most teams find their hopes were ill conceived and they rinse and repeat.

Put it another way, nearly all MLB general managers are doing their job no differently than fantasy baseball managers. Problem is, fantasy baseball is not the real world. MLB does not build rosters based on a draft of the entire pool of available players. Right now the Cubs, and most MLB teams, are building new rosters each year from a small pool of unknowns. I am looking for leadership from the Cubs with a real plan and the funding from ownership to stick to the plan. It is looking more to me that Hoyer does not have a real plan and Ricketts has to find another person to run team who has a plan, otherwise he is no better than all prior owners of the Chicago Cubs.

The MLB All-Star break is over and the Cubs play a rare Friday night game at Wrigley that I am looking forward to watching tonight to end the week. The next two weeks are critical to any hopes for the Cubs making the playoffs.

I am a life long Chicago Cubs fan, and so that gives me the perspective of comparing the current Cubs teams to those of the past. The 2023 edition of the Chicago Cubs is frustrating because there is so much talent on the team that is not living up to its potential, and the result is very inconsistent play. Simply put, the Cubs lose too many games in a row. Really good teams don’t lose more than two games in a row, whereas the Cubs often fall in to a streak of losing 3 or more games in a row, the result is an attempt to move up in standings is like being in quick sand.

Smokey Eye Not Good

I watched the Air Quality Index for my home showing on the Nest Hub creeping up all yesterday afternoon to as high as 193, due to the wildfires in Canada. Right now it is 187 and I am planning on not going on my normal walks. It’s troubling to me for it not to be raining or incredibly hot yet avoid being outdoors. Last night I watched the Cubs play in Chicago, somewhat surprised they were even playing the game with the AQI over 200. I would have expected the teams and Major League Baseball to be concerned about the health of players and the fans. As far as I know, there is no change coming soon.

We have an Airthings Wave Mini in the basement to track humidity and temperature, but it also tracks what they call Volatile Organic Compounds, which are airborne chemicals emitted by every day items. The biggest influence I see on VOC in our house is the furnace and air conditioning and the good thing is that the AC was not running as much as it could so the VOC number has stayed in the good range. VOC is not the same as Particulate Matter pollution caused by the wildfires and currently affecting the outdoor air quality, I would need a different sensor for that reading.

As the Chicago Cubs prepare to play the St. Louis Cardinals today, I reflect on my comments during the winter on how much the Cardinals improved during the off-season in comparison to the Cubs. I did not expect the Cardinals to go 13 below .500 and sit in the cellar looking up at the Cubs. Shows the importance of playing the game. The Cubs need to at least split in London, but really should sweep.

Yesterday the Chicago Cubs swept the NL Central leading Pittsburgh Pirates. The Cubs are currently 3.5 games behind the Pirates with a 31-37 record, the Pirates record is 34-33. The strategy for the NL Central should be to maintain at least a .500 record and you will have a chance to win the division come September, and based on that the Cubs being 6 games below .500 is a concern, but plenty of time to make it up as long as they keep winning series. Unfortunately, today the Cubs start a series against the Baltimore Orioles who are a better team with a 43-25 record. If the Cubs can win this series, they then travel to Pittsburgh for another three game series and an opportunity to make up ground. It’s not too early to emphasize the importance of winning a series, and I think this one with the Orioles is an important one.

The Chicago Cubs are nearly five behind the A.L. Central leading Milwaukee Brewers, which is where I said they were back in December, before the season started.

I think the Cubs are being hurt most by Seiya Suzuki not hitting, continuing to play Eric Hosmer, and Yan Gome’s injury. The Cub really need Suzuki to start hitting and stop putting Hosmer in the line up. If you are going to lose, better for the future to lose with young players getting MLB experience.

The day has come. Today is opening day of the Chicago Cubs 2023 season. In a few minutes Marcus Stroman will start the season with his first pitch to Christian Yelich of the Milwaukee Brewers. The sun is shinning at Wrigley Field with clear skies and 39 degree temperature. Hoping for a Cubbie win!

Will The 2023 Chicago Cubs Be Trade Deadline Buyers? puts the Dansby Swanson contract in context:

“This is the largest deal that Jed Hoyer’s front office has inked during his time in charge, and it’s just really not that big of a contract relative to the rest of the league or the Cubs monetary might. It doesn’t crack the top ten in MLB in years or AAV. It is the second largest deal in the history of the Cubs franchise, and it is nowhere near the top 20 contracts as of 2021, let alone ever.”

What I see in Hoyer is a baseball executive afraid to make a mistake. Under the rubric of sustaining success one may never have the chance to win championships. What we appear to have here is a plan of waiting to see how the season goes, and if half way through they have a real chance, then make trades to sign players you need, which is what happened in 2016.

The question then is whether the Cubs have enough talent going in to the season to have a good first half and be buyers at the trade deadline. With the players they have signed and the young talent they have, the 2023 Chicago Cubs on paper are better than the 2022 Chicago Cubs, the problem though is that the Cardinals have also gotten better, and they added Wilson Contreras to a team with the reigning MVP.

Chicago Cubs Already Five Games Behind in NL Central

No matter how frustrated and angry I am with the Chicago Cubs front office for not signing any free agents of consequence, it doesn’t matter. The only real thing that matters is how Ricketts (the owner) feels about the result. If I am the owner of a team and I give the people running the team the greenlight to spend money to improve the team and they don’t do it, I am not happy with their results and I will come to the conclusion that changes are needed.

Hoyer has been a big part of the decision making since after the Cubs won the World Series. Since 2017 the Cubs have regressed in their effort to return to the World Series. Looking for changes from the same people making decisions is insane, you need to change the decision makers to get a different result.

The bottom line is that the Chicago Cub’s division competitors have become much better this off season than the Cubs, and so they are losing the offseason. It might be that the Cubs surprise with their own talent, but I think that Ricketts has to start losing patience with Hoyer. If the Cubs are at the bottom of the division and out of the running by June, I think Hoyer must go. If Hoyer continues to stay then I can only conclude that he is performing to the level Ricketts expects and therefore all the talent decisions are on him.

Over one hundred years and only one radio play by play person has called a World Series win for the Chicago Cubs.

Wilson Contreras signing with the Cardinals is the absolute worst case scenario for the Chicago Cubs front office. They better hope that Contreras does not become a Cubs killer or the fan base will never let them hear the end of it. The Cub’s unwillingness to do what it takes to keep players who fans grew to love is extremely frustrating.

Six years ago today the greatest game ever played was on a Wednesday in Cleveland.

I think 538 has made a pretty good analysis of the Green Bay Packers’ offense, although I disagree with their inferrence that Rodgers can improve the offense on his own. Truth is, any quarterback, even former MVPs need an offensive line that blocks and wide receives who can get open and catch the ball. Rodgers has neither. Why was Rodgers MVP last year? Davante Adams. Right now the Green Bay Packers have no reliable pass receiver, period.

In my opinion, if the Packers were to make a trade mid season, and I doubt they would because they are still old school, they should trade Rodgers. There is no season hanging on to a quarterback of his calliber if you aren’t going to surround him with play makers. Frankly, they have been doing to Aaron what they did to Brett, it’s just that this time they didn’t draft an Aaron Rodgers to replace him.

I find the complaining about the current results of this year’s MLB playoffs ridiculous. While it’s true that three teams that won more than 100 games this year have not made it to the league championships, those teams had the same chance to win their five game series than the teams they lost to.

No professional nor college sport simply have the regular season league champions play each other at the end of a season to decide which team is the best for that season. Yes, even baseball once had a four team championship series before the World Series. All sport playoffs simply decide who is the tournament champion, and the reason why tournaments are appealing is because they have upsets.

Regular sports seasons are played for a team’s opportunity to participate in the tournament, and for the fan’s enjoyment in watching their team compete for that right. Tournaments are for leagues and teams to make lots of money off the drama they create.

The MLB playoffs have started with the wildcard series games be played today. With the Cubs not in the playoffs, I am rooting for the Phillies and the Guardians, who won earlier today.

Six years ago I felt positive things were happening for the Chicago Cubs. I wrote then about all the young talent that was getting a chance to play and looked forward to the future. Honestly, I feel a bit that way this year. The Cubs young guys who have been given a chance to play have demonstrated they are capable. I think next year they should be competitive in the NL Central.

Shock in Wrigleyville as the Cubs did NOT trade Wilson Contreras or Ian Happ as nearly everyone expected. During the lead up to the trade deadline pundits were bemoaning the fact the Cubs just trade away all the players who were so important to winning the 2016 World Series. Now pundits are bemoaning the fact the trades were not made!

The reason why trades were made is simple, teams didn’t want to pay the price the Cubs were asking for. Contreras is the best catcher in baseball and you don’t just give that caliber of player away for some prospects, except maybe a team of prospects. Before Soto became available Contreras was one of the best, if not the best, hitters available. When the Nationals announced they were open to trades, Contreras was no longer the best hitter, he was just the best catcher available. Teams buying simply decided they had needs greater than catcher.

My hope is that the Cubs make a serious attempt to signing Contreras to a new contract during the offseason. Wilson is a player worthy of being the cornerstone to the next great Cubs team, particularly given the additon of the designated hitter. You need leadership to win in any sport, and Wilson provides it to a team of young players and particularly a team with young pitchers. I think Wilson is worth the money he asks for.

The NFL is simply hostile to people who are fans of teams not in their local market. I started giving the MLB my money the moment I was able to watch every Chicago Cub game, but the NFL doesn’t seem to want my money to let me watch very Green Bay Packer game. I live in the Detroit, Michigan market, but I moved here many years ago and never budged from my childhood favorite Packers. It’s not like my ability to pay for and stream Packer games is diminishing local broadcasts or ticket sales. It’s just crazy!

Much talk regarding the Chicago Cubs probable trades of some of their remaining “core” players, Wilson Contreras and Ian Happ, mostly due to the big sell off last year.

One big difference this year, I think, is that the Cubs may be trading away the best catcher in baseball. As good as Bryant, Rizzo, and Baez were you can’t say they were the best at their positions. The last time the Cubs cast aside the best in his position was Gregg Maddux, and that trade might have contributed a decade or more of “same old Cubs” baseball.

It seems to be that Cubs ownership and front office don’t understand that there is a difference between turning a franchise around, as they did before 2016 and maintaining the culture that as built during the turnaround. Continual selling and tanking was warranted to turn around a 108 year problem, but that is NOT how you maintain the culture, in fact it destroys what culture that has been built.

The St. Louis Cardinals provides the template of excellence, and the Cubs should know this well since the Cardinals have been their main rival since the beginning of baseball time. The Cardinals prioritize re-signing players, even at the price of overpaying, to maintain their culture.

So far, the current Cubs ownership and front office has not had one major re-signing of player on their roster, and that sends a clear message. The message is sends is that while they might now how to turn a team around, they don’t know how to keep it at the top.

If Cubs fans are truly apathetic as described here, I have to wonder whether they are really fans or people who just came on board when the team was winning. I am a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan and the World Series did not change my loyalty nor expectations. I am grateful for 2016 but don’t expect them to win every year and not surprised they aren’t competitive this year. Last year they subtracted much more than they added, and the one big add is really an unknown.

Javy Being Javy

I am enjoying watching Detroit sports learn how great a player Javier Baez is, as a Cubs fan I appreciate his unique talent and was disappointed the Cubs didn’t sign him.

I remember a time when shortstops were considered the worst batter in the lineup and that didn’t matter because shortstops were considered the best athlete and most important defensive player on the team. Ozzie Smith didn’t make is his mark at the plate, he was known as the Wizard because of his defense. I always felt too much attention is paid to Baez’s inconsistency at the plate and not enough value placed on his defense, which I think is worth enough to absorb his bat.

Baez was not the problem in the Cubs lineup, the problem was that everyone else in the lineup was not much better. Put Baez in a lineup with other players who make contact and get on base and you can live with his strikeouts, and revel in his ability in the big moments. I think in some ways Baez is like Brett Farve, high risk and high reward. The defense, and in particular Reggie White, made Farve who he was for the Packers because it could overcome his interceptions. Put Farve on the Detroit Lions and he is not a hall of fame player.

I am happy that even though Javier is no longer playing for the Cubs, he is playing for a team in my area that is on TV every day. Baez is the type of player you tune in just to watch, regardless of your interest in the team, much like Cabrera was in his prime. Tiger fans need to remember the incredible plays that he has already made in four games when he strikes out in that crticial moment in July because it will happen and he will still be worth every bit of money he is paid.