Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

cubs win standings flags scoreboardThe draft will continue today and will remain a heavy focus not only today and tomorrow, but also in the coming weeks as players start signing. But the Cubs are a competitive team this year, and we’ve got to dual track our focus and return to the big league team a bit.

With the Pirates losing last night, the Cubs once again slid back into a Wild Card spot (percentage points ahead of the Pirates). How meaningful is that? Well, not terribly, given that there’s still four months left in the season. But if I told you back in March that the Cubs would be in a playoff spot come June, you’d have been pretty happy about that, right? I sure would have.

Not that I’m giving up on the idea that the Cubs could pull out a surprise and win the NL Central down the stretch. At 6.5 back of the Cardinals, it’s a steep uphill climb – in any other division, the Cubs are still within two or three games of first at most – but it’s not insurmountable, especially if the Cardinals keep facing injury issues.

  • Speaking of which, Matt Holliday left last night’s blowout loss in Colorado with a strained quad, and he’s being evaluated further today. To their credit, the Cardinals have already lost Adam Wainwright and Matt Adams for the year and haven’t missed a beat. They’ve been without Jaime Garcia, Jon Jay, Randal Grichuk, and Jordan Walden for significant stretches, too. At some point, you’ve got to believe the damage done to their roster will take its toll, but, well, Cardinals. They aren’t saying much on Holliday’s injury until further evaluations are completed ( If he has to miss significant time, it could present another opportunity for the Cubs (and Pirates) to make a run. While the Cubs have dealt with widespread injury issues on their bench and in their bullpen, their starters and regulars have remained relatively healthy. You don’t always get good luck like that.
  • Kyle Schwarber, Javy Baez, and Albert Almora, Jr. are up for MiLB’s play of the week (a diving catch by Almora, Baez’s light-tower shot, and Schwarber throwing out Byron Buxton on a steal attempt). They’re all really impressive – Schwarber can definitely do some catching things, folks – but I’ll take Almora’s diving catch because it required a near perfect read and route to the ball *and* then a dive to make the play. The bat hasn’t been what we’d hoped at AA just yet this year, but that glove is so legit.
  • Speaking of Schwarber, Jason McLeod wasn’t going to show his hand on whether the Cubs’ now-top positional prospect could see time in the big leagues this year, even as soon as next week when the Cubs need a DH for a five-game AL tour. You can read his comments last night here at CSN and here in the Tribune, but the gist seems to be: don’t expect Schwarber for today’s and tomorrow’s games in Detroit, and, beyond that, the Cubs’ focus right now has been the draft. I don’t see anything that rules out the possibility, as we discussed yesterday, of Schwarber coming up for those five games next week and then going back to the minors – maybe AAA – to continue catching. But I also don’t see anything that hints at it happening. My bet remains no Schwarber just yet, but we’ll see.

  • An interesting read on former Cubs first round pick Mark Pawelek. I was particularly intrigued by the kind of bidding discussion that took place before the draft even occurred, where Pawelek was essentially picking his team before the team picked him.
  • If you didn’t catch any of the draft last night, you can see how it played out in the live blog. More on the Cubs’ first round pick Ian Happ here, on the Cubs’ second round pick Donnie Dewees here, and from Luke on the first day of the draft as a whole, here.
  • How did I miss this …

Oops! @arizz_44

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