Like a water station in the middle of a marathon in which you are running very poorly, the All-Star break is here. It’s nice to get a drink, but boy was that bad, and now you have to hope to get a whole lot better, mostly with the very legs that betrayed you in the early going.
Many thoughts on the first half will come over the next few days, but for now, there’s a much lighter-hearted take at Twitter under the hashtag #CubsFirstHalfGIFParty.
There are hundreds at this point, but this one struck me as a particularly appropriate homage:
— Javy's Bat Corrine (@Corrinasaur) July 9, 2017
- I wouldn’t expect Cubs manager Joe Maddon to say anything different at this point, and you can read his relatively positive take here at Cubs.com on what could still be coming for the Cubs, but I think everyone recognizes just how underwhelming that first half was, all Cubs coaches and executives included. But this is not a crew that is going to make grand, dramatic, and/or panicked proclamations. They will continue to go about their business, and see what’s what as this month proceeds. As they should. It’s our job as fans to do the grand pronouncing, dramatic flailing, and panicked shrieking.
- It really has been a stunning first half, as the Cubs lived so thoroughly into the “what if the spark is gone now that they won it all” talking point that seemed silly in December. You could argue that, among the players we expected to be regulars this year, every single starting pitcher, as well as every single position player has underperfomed where they were expected to be. You could except Kris Bryant based on his overall numbers, which are very solid again, but his woes in the big moments stand out and his defense hasn’t quite been as top notch this year. Not everyone has been bad, but under expectations? It might be every single guy we expected to be a major contributor this spring outside of the bullpen. Every single one.
- Add to that the fact that Ian Happ might be the only guy who emerged as a surprise contributor, and there’s just not much to take away from the first half that impresses you. Sometimes I’m awed that the Cubs are even within striking distance of .500, given the individual performances.
- Coming out of the break against the Orioles, the Cubs’ first starting pitcher will be Mike Montgomery (Muskat). It’s interesting, not only because the rotation will be in flux after the hoped-for return of Kyle Hendricks during that series or the next, but also because every other pitcher in the rotation would have been available. Even after Montgomery’s rough start against the Brewers last Thursday, I can’t say I’ve got any problem with the decision – I still really like Montgomery as a starting pitcher, and getting him another start (against a team that’s worse against lefties than righties, by the way) sounds good to me.
- So many All-Stars for the Cu … oh, it’s the coaching staff:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 9, 2017
- The Cubs’ one actual All-Star, of course, is closer Wade Davis, who has been among the few bright spots on the team in the first half. There’s a great article at Cubs.com on his teammates talking him up, including how lefty Brian Duensing credits Davis with helping him turn around his career when they were at Spring Training together with the Royals last year: “I was struggling with some of my pitches, and I was talking to him about mechanics, and he ended up talking about some things he’s learned from other guys. A couple things clicked, and the next thing you know, I felt more comfortable on the mound. I think I owe a lot of that success or whatever it may be from Wade, just talking to him.”
- Pitching in a variety of short and long roles this year, Duensing has posted a 2.79 ERA for the Cubs, with excellent peripherals. Thanks, Wade!
- As an 18-year-old shortstop, big bonus Venezuelan IFA Gleyber Torres hit .293/.353/.386 at full-season Low-A South Bend in 2015. This year, as an 18-year-old shortstop, big bonus Mexican IFA Isaac Paredes is hitting .266/.348/.417 at South Bend. I’m not sayin’. I’m just sayin’.
- David Ross, professional baseball player (again), and professional troll:
Big News! I'm excited to be coming out of retirement. I just couldn't stay off the field.
— David Ross (@D_Ross3) July 9, 2017
- Tremendous progress on the BN Blogathon fundraiser for Make-A-Wish, and you’re more than 1/3 of the way to bumping my marathon session at the Trade Deadline from 24 hours to 34 hours:
— Brett Taylor (@BleacherNation) July 10, 2017